'n Prakties-teologiese beoordeling van Natural Church Development se agt kwaliteitseienskappe van groeiende kerke
De Kock, Henning Kruger
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Although the gifts of the Spirit were given for edification of the body of Christ, dwindling membership numbers point to a church that is definitely not busy building itself up. Several scholars have been quoted in this study that quite rightly compare the quantitative growth of the church with the qualitative index of the church. However, the quality of the church is not measured against secular standards, but rather against the Word of God. Christian A. Schwarz (1996) introduced a scientific instrument called the Natural Church Development (NCD) questionnaire to measure the quality index of a congregation with regard to eight specific characteristics. This study shows that the eight qualities were indeed derived from Scripture and can certainly be used as qualitative criteria. The following general research question arose: How are the eight characteristics of growing churches, as presented in the Natural Church Development research, applied in a practical theological way in the Reformed Churches in South Africa - and how can this be expounded upon? The methodology used was as follows: In Chapter 2, basis-theoretical principles, relevant to each of the eight quality characteristics, were derived from Scripture. These basis-theoretical principles were deduced as a result of literature studies and exegesis of applicable passages of Scripture. These principles were grouped into five basis-theoretical principles. In Chapter 3, meta-theoretical perspectives on the application of the eight quality characteristics were also considered. Meta-theoretical perspectives were formulated with regard to each one of the basis-theoretical principles by means of a study of recent, practical literature on church-growth and Management Science. An empirical study established to what degree the eight quality characteristics of Natural Church Development are operative in three Reformed churches in South Africa. In Chapter 4, practical-theoretical guidelines were given as a result of the hermeneutical interaction between the basis-theoretical principles and the meta-theoretical perspectives. General practical-theoretical guidelines are deduced as a result of the specific guidelines that emerged after a study of one congregation. The final conclusion that was reached is that the eight principles of Natural Church Development can be enhanced in the Reformed Churches of South Africa by vision driven ministry of the specific services. These services will then achieve pre-determined goals, based on on-line information generated by the Natural Church Development questionnaire as well as the will to increase the general quality index by the encouraging, motivating, equipping and empowering of members of the congregation to realise their vision. The results of the NCD questionnaire can constantly be evaluated and goals can be reformulated when needed.
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