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A man named Christian Swartz investigated the principles involved in growing churches and discovered 8 essential qualities. He wrote a book called Natural Church Development that was published in 1996. He used a scientifically valid method of investigating the growing churches in different parts of the world and compared them with the stagnating and declining churches. So this was a truly scientific study done on a large scale.

Science is a word that comes from the Greek tongue and means knowledge. Of course, in the English language of today, it means a process of investigating the natural world around us in a logical, systematic way, using what is called "the scientific method." Pretty heavy stuff, huh? Science is just checking out the physical world around us in an orderly fashion.

Perhaps you have taken a science course in school, so you should understand the basics of testing, experimenting, and investigating natural settings and social settings by observation, testing, and in the case of social situations, using questionnaires.

That's what Christian A. Schwarz, the author of the book, Natural Church Development, did in order to investigate church growth. It was a massive endeavor and was done in different churches in many countries.

He discovered eight qualities that are the bottom line to achieving growth in attendance and membership in a "church" known in original Biblical manuscripts that were written in the Greek language as an "assembly of believers." An assembly of Christ followers is a local gathering of believers with a simple organization.

This is a pet peeve of mine--the misunderstanding of the nature of the assembling of believers during the first three centuries AD. The King James translators did not use the true translation of the Greek word for a Christian assembly. That's because they were afraid of being beheaded by King James. They created the word church, which has absolutely no etymology--no existence anywhere else--because King James wanted to keep total control over all Christians and their leaders by being the "head of the Church." But I digress.

Here are the eight essential, bottom-line, qualities of Healthy, Growing Churches discovered in this study:

  • Empowering leadership

  • Gift-oriented ministry

  • Passionate spirituality

  • Functional structures

  • Inspiring worship service

  • Holistic small groups

  • Need-oriented evangelism

  • Loving relationships

You can buy a used copy of Natural Church Development on ##

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Updated: Mar 11

Church attendance has been declining for decades, but it was very noticeable during the COVID-19 shutdown. The COVID-19 shutdown was an accelerator of an already happening trend.

Has that event awakened church leadership to the fact that Christianity in the USA is in precipitous decline? At the very least the traditional way to attend "church" is in decline.

The traditional Euro/American model is actually out of line with the original biblical model. I've written about this often in order to make Christians realize they do not need an official-looking church building in order to assemble together the Biblical way. If persecution comes, we still can meet--even if only in twos or threes.

The "sit-down, shut-up and listen, close your eyes when we pray" model was totally alien to the New Testament church model. It was actually a holdover from the Roman Empire's takeover of Christianity in the Western World. Martin Luther reformed theology, but not church structure. He still kept the model of the country being hooked up in collaboration with the state.

The New Testament model, which is holy, inspired Scripture and our blueprint for Christian living, was a meeting held, not in a building furnished with pews. They met in homes, in borrowed halls, down by the riverside, and in caves. I have actually visited the remains of communities of Christians living and hiding in homes carved into mountains. I saw a room in which Christians could meet together carved into these underground caves. This was in what we know today as Eastern Turkey. The persecuted Christians had to hide from the government and the population when they met.

It is imperative that Christians meet together. It does not matter the size because Jesus said, "where two or three meet together there am I in the midst." Jesus did not say where two or more meet together in a church building with a pulpit and pews there am I in the midst.

I think you get my drift: The motive for Christians to get together is not "to be the church." It is to meet with Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as we await the soon return of Christ, continue to meet with the brethren. You can do it without an ordained minister if you must. Sit, talk, pray, read Scripture and talk about it, sit quietly, then give testimony, then pray, then read more Scripture, etc., until the Holy Spirit of God Himself tells your group, "go be Jesus to your community." ##

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Proverbs 16:28 (CSB)

A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

Whenever the people of a congregation are effectively living the Christian life then we know that the Holy Spirit is involved. And when the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding followers of Jesus, there will be peace in the congregation. God will burden them for those who have not heard the Good News and had the chance to be saved from their sentence to Hell. God will use them to comfort the brokenhearted.

However, when people are not being led by the Holy Spirit, when they are not surrendering each morning to Jesus, then conflict and every other sinful activity will manifest itself in their lives. Then, they will bring their inner confusion and anger to church.

Also, Satan hides lost people in the church in order to lead Christians astray. Jude had something to say about this in his letter to the churches:

These people are dangerous reefs at your love feasts as they eat with you without reverence. They are shepherds who only look after themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn—fruitless, twice dead and uprooted.

Jude 1:12 (CSB)

If your church has a conflict--little or large--I have a book available online that is suitable for a study group in the church. I use the metaphor of a seagoing ship with barnacles as a euphemism for a church with "dangerous reefs at your love-feasts" or "trouble-makers" in the church.

Here are quick summations of each chapter:

Chapter 1--The reality of church sin and carnality

Chapter 2--The cause and cure for carnality

Chapter 3--Is the church about worship or fellowship?

Chapter 4--The barnacle of unconfessed sins within the church

Chapter 5--Tough-love as a barnacle remover

Chapter 6--Politics in the church

Chapter 7--The need to realize the role of Satan in a carnal church

Chapter 8--Becoming the pastor in the hearts and minds of the people as well as in fact

Chapter 9--How to handle aggressive opposition

Chapter 10--How a healthy fellowship repels barnacles

Chapter 11--The traits of a Barnacle Buster

Chapter 12--A Barnacle Buster's work will model Christ's act of clearing the Temple

Chapter 13--Some churches suffer from group mental illness.

Find the book online at Or follow my links at ##

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Please put a link to my website on your website and I'll put your website link on my website. Be sure and let me know when you have linked to me!
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