“I know the plans I have for you” declares the LORD,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12

Trinity Lutheran Church is stepping forward with revitalizing our spiritual and congregational life using the Natural Church Development (NCD) program. NCD is a plan to renew and revitalize our congregation, and it is very simple:

1. We pray for our church and its future.
2. We find an area of our church life that most needs improvement.
3. We make a one-year plan for improvements and we work on making those improvements.

The next year we may repeat the process. In this way, we will steadily make improvements in the areas that need it the most.

The NCD program is guided by the Church Health Team: Marleen Gruenberg, Marvin Davis, Norm Jede, Dorothea Pfalz, Margarete Schwarz, Pr. Markus Wilhelm.

PRAYER: We ask you to pray for the future of our church. Pray that we’ll find God’s plan for our congregation. Please let members of the NCD health team know that you will pray. Our Team and our Church will feel encouraged and strengthened knowing that they are lifted up by your prayers.

SURVEY: A survey is filled out by active members of the congregation. The responses help us to determine the area of our church life where improvement is most desirable. A diverse group of participants based on: activity in the church, age, gender and language preference (German/English)completed the survey on September 17.

WORK: Participation by every member is required in the second and third phases. Church Council and the Church Health Team invite all members of Trinity to a Visioning Workshop on Saturday, November 19 at 10:00 a.m. in the Luther Centre. You are asked to bring your best ideas and suggestions to the table for improving the area we have identified in the survey. The Church Health Team will then create a one-year plan with the help of key leaders for the area.

Finally everyone will be involved in the implementation of the plan.

The cycle may be repeated the following year.

Why NCD?

Church Council has been working on creating a strategic plan for our congregation. In the last few years we have seen our overall membership and worship attendance shrink. We are concerned but do not understand why this is happening.

As we were considering our situation Pastor Markus returned from a Professional Development session in Saskatoon with news about a program that helps churches identify what they need to support a healthy growing congregation.

Natural Church Development (NCD) is a paradigm – a way of thinking about church growth. Growth should be about quality (health) and not just quantity (numbers). In fact NCD suggests that quality should take priority over quantity in church growth thinking.

At the heart of the paradigm is the Scriptural picture of the church as a living organism, not just an organization (albeit a spiritual one). Looking at the church “organically” gives us a different perspective on what “growth” means. The growth of organisms focuses on their health, their capacity to reproduce, and how the individual “body” parts interact. They are grown, not built. They are nurtured, not assembled.

The NCD paradigm says that if church growth is about growing an organism, the health (quality) of the organism will have a direct impact on its size (quantity). If a church becomes increasingly healthy over time, it is more likely and better able to reproduce disciples, ministries and eventually itself.

We have been tracking the numbers of people in Sunday services but really have no true sense whether the members of the church community are growing to greater spiritual maturity and contributing all they can to God‟s work. Is size really a true measure of health? The NCD paradigm helps you think about growing your church as a healthy living organism.

Why do we need to do a survey?

At the heart of the NCD process is a sophisticated diagnostic tool, the NCD Survey. The Survey was developed in Germany and is based on the only comprehensive international research ever done into what causes churches to grow or decline. The NCD Survey complies with the highest international statistical standards for validity and reliability.

Surveys are done annually, offering an accurate up-to-date “snapshot” of your church’s health. Each survey enables the church leadership to see the current state of health, how the church’s health has changed over the previous year, and what areas need greatest attention over the coming year. Put several “snapshots” together and you have a motion picture of the life of your church. This reveals longer term trends, enabling you to identify and address the most significant issues impacting long term health and growth.

Just like a blood test or an MRI can tell a doctor things about the health of a patient that cannot be easily diagnosed by looking at the person, so the NCD survey serves as a diagnostic tool to help church leaders understand in-depth the overall state of the congregation.

As one Canadian leader so eloquently put it, “It gives every church leader the clear view of their church from 40,000 feet that they need when so much time is spent in the day-to-day.”

What Can I Do?

The Church Health Team has taken responsibility for managing the implementation of NCD at Trinity. If you want more information about the NCD process please speak with any member of the Church Health Team or any member of Church Council. Survey results are summarized in a display in the Atrium – take a look at what we’ve found out, talk to any member of the Church Health Team, any member of our ministry team or any member of church council about your questions or concerns and then join us on November 19 to help plan our future.