How healthy is your church? The members of the Phenix City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Phenix City, Alabama, wanted to know. So, they embarked on a journey through Natural Church Development (NCD) to determine which areas of their church needed to be strengthened to continue vibrant health and growth.
The endeavor began in February 2021, with a survey of 30 regularly attending church members, which asked them to rate the church’s success in the eight quality characteristics of growing churches: Empowering Leadership, Gift-based Ministry, Passionate Spirituality, Effective Structures, Holistic Small Groups, Inspiring Worship, Need-Oriented Evangelism, and Loving Relationships. The survey results ultimately revealed that the church’s lowest-scoring quality, known as the minimum factor, was Inspiring Worship.
Once the minimum factor was revealed, two focus group meetings were held. In the first meeting, an affinity exercise was utilized to determine the top three to five issues contributing to the Inspiring Worship quality characteristic score. The focus group members were highly engaged, with post-it notes flying and a steady buzz in the room. They did outstanding work and set the stage nicely for the second focus group meeting, the Action Planning Workshop, which was focused on identifying solutions that would best address the issues.
A CHIP (Church Health Implementation Plan) team, consisting of Dwayne Campbell, pastor, and elders Ray Daniel, Angel LaSalle, Richard Cecere, and Laree Daniel, was selected to take the input from the focus group and narrow down the ideas to the top few. Next, they completed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to finalize the assessment. Once this was achieved, the team was ready to present the list of recommendations to the church.
“Of course, 2020 was a challenging and difficult year for churches all over the world,” said Campbell. “And, because our regular church services were altered for most of last year, it’s not all that surprising that Inspiring Worship was our lowest score. The worship service is the most important part of our congregational experience, and we want that experience, along with the other seven qualities of healthy churches, to be the absolute best it can be.”
“The survey results clearly indicated that our members were desperately missing all of the things they hadn’t been engaged in due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the weekly fellowship meal, in-person afternoon programs and Bible studies in the church, singing in the choir, and various children’s activities,” said Laree Daniel, team lead and coach. “But, the survey also revealed some important areas of the weekly worship service that needed to be improved regardless of a worldwide health crisis, such as more active participation from the members, a greater variety of music, more timely and practical sermons, and enhanced audio and visual performance from the tech ministry.” The recommendations of the CHIP team were approved by the church at an April 2021 business meeting. Utilizing the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound) process, a rolling timeline for implementing the various initiatives was established. The first initiatives were scheduled to begin in May, and the last one was scheduled to start in September 2021. To receive the maximum benefit from the NCD process, the church plans to retake the survey every 12-18 months to properly assess their overall growth and health, with the goal being to see lasting, positive change.
As the characteristic of Inspiring Worship improves due to the efforts of the Phenix City Church over the coming year, another one of the eight qualities will become the lowest polling characteristic, which will then become the next focus of improvement. This ongoing process ensures that the church will always be committed to its members’ and visitors’ spiritual growth and health.
“This has been a very rewarding process thus far. I’m grateful for the participation and enthusiasm of our church members as we move forward with the goal of making our worship experience and our church as a whole, healthier and stronger in 2021, and beyond,” said Campbell.
To learn more about bringing the Natural Church Development program to your church, contact the North American Division Evangelism Institute at 269-471-8303 or visit their website at www.nadei.org.
Gulf States | August 2021