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Based on 25+ years of research in more than 90,000 churches on six continents, NCD describes universal principles that are applicable regardless of culture or spiritual style


Church Health




NCD focuses on increasing the quality of your church rather than on numerical growth goals. 

The center of NCD is the “all-by-itself" principle that can be observed in healthy churches around the globe. 

Rather than selling a specific church model, NCD helps Christians and churches to discover and develop their individuality.

NCD assists believers in rediscovering central biblical concepts and relating them to everyday life. 

The NCD strategy

Natural Church Development (NCD) is a principle-oriented way of approaching the Christian life that strives to integrate biblical standards and empirical learning. The growth principles identified by international research and communicated in the NCD books can be applied both by individuals (church members, active believers, nominal Christians, non-Christians) and at a corporate level (local churches, small groups, denominations, para-church organizations, etc.).

NCD has developed an extensive toolbox targeted at helping people relate the principles to their specific contexts and needs. All tools of Natural Church Development are focused on increasing the quality of the Christian life. NCD research indicates that this investment in quality, i.e. increasing health in individuals, is key to activating quantitative growth, i.e. increase of churches and Christianity as a whole (Schwarz, 2006).

A central part of NCD is a diagnostic tool called the NCD Church Survey, a resource that enables churches to precisely assess their present quality and to identify the area of greatest need (“minimum factor”). As a second step, the church conducting a survey is supported by specifically designed tools and coaching to increase its quality in the respective area. After a given time, the church conducts a repeat-profile to monitor the actual progress. According to NCD theory, this investment in the quality or health of the church is the factor that has the strongest correlation to numerical growth.

To learn more about the History, Research, Philosophy, and Strategy behind NCD, 

click here.
To learn more about the Hallmarks of NCD (i.e., what can I expect from the research,
what are its goals and scope, what are the universal principles and/or theology of NCD,
etc.), click here.

The founder of NCD

Christian Andreas Schwarz is a German author, lecturer, and researcher. He is the founder and president of Natural Church Development (NCD International). He started his journey towards natural church development early in his life, influenced by the ministry of his father, a Lutheran church superintendent. On his 18th birthday he was diagnosed with an incurable disease, which has had a strong influence on his priorities, plans, and the intensity of activities in the years to follow. An unexpected healing eight years after the diagnosis intensified his decision to invest the rest of his life into the cause of helping churches get healthy.

Schwarz has written various books focused on church development and life transformation. His most popular books have been published in the NCD Discipleship Resources series, with five titles so far (The 3 Colors of Leadership, The 3 Colors of Ministry, The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, The 3 Colors of Community, The 3 Colors of Love). His books have been published in 40 languages. The major strategic building blocks of NCD are the eight quality characteristics of healthy churches, the six growth forces, the minimum-factor strategy, and the Trinitarian Compass.

The scientific method of NCD

Please review this document

The trinitarian compass

It is difficult if not impossible to communicate the dynamics related to a Trinitarian understanding of God in mere words. What we call the Trinitarian Compass is a graphical representation of these dynamics, related to specific topics at stake. Many people may have a hard time reading and understanding the 15 books of Augustine’s work on the Trinity. But almost everyone can relate to the Trinitarian Compass, immediately and without years of study. A weekend’s introduction can lay such a solid foundation that years if not decades of our lives will be shaped by that experience, and they will be shaped in a highly fruitful way.

We have opted to use the language of the colors of light to communicate this truth: In order to produce pure white light, the colors green, red, and blue must be displayed simultaneously. The absence of all colors results in darkness; the full presence of all colors is the presence of God. The absence of one or two of the colors leads to a blurred view of reality, an indication of a decay in spiritual health.

The importance of the three colors

The Three Colors approach helps churches and their congregants stay in balance and follow God’s light – made of equal parts of each color. The Three Color approach demonstrates that we need each other and must work together if we want to reflect God more fully, as each one of us has different strengths.

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