About NCD International

NCD International is an international ministry committed to helping leaders and churches experience qualitative and quantitative growth. All of its training and resources are based on the paradigm of Natural Church Development (NCD). NCD research indicates that investment in qualitative growth, i.e. increasing health in individuals, is key to activating quantitative growth, increase of churches and Christianity as a whole (Schwarz 2006, pages 40-47).

1. History

2. Areas of ministry

2.1 Research

2.2 Resource development

2.3 Training and coaching

3. Strategy

4. Reach

5. Leadership

6. Structure

7. Finances

8. References


In 1989 the German theologian Christian A. Schwarz founded the Institute for Church Development. After a phase of extensive international research, the results of which were published in the book Natural Church Development in 1996 (Schwarz 2006), the Institute was renamed Institute for Natural Church Development. Now, this ministry is generally referred to as NCD International.

Some of the activities (such as publishing, web development, test construction, etc.) have been delegated to companies specifically focused on that topic (such as NCD Media, NCD International GmbH & Co KG, Journey to Life Ltd.).

NCD International works through NCD Partners in 65 different countries. These partners are independent organizations that are responsible for making the resources of NCD available in their cultures and languages and to support individuals and churches by training and coaching.

In July 2016 NCD International decided to give the "C" in NCD a threefold meaning: it stands for "character" and "community" as well as for "church."

Areas of ministry

NCD International has primarily three areas of ministry:


All of the tools that NCD offers are based on empirical research that has been conducted at an international level. The huge data base that has become available to the Institute over the past two decades (by now, 70,000 churches have done an NCD Church Survey, covering 84 countries and 112 denominations), has enabled the evaluation of many theological statements about the Christian life in an empirical light.

Resource development

NCD offers various tools focused on church development and life transformation. The basic tools have been published in the NCD Discipleship Resources series. An increasing number of tools have been made available in a web-based format, primarily in the form various eTests.

Training and coaching

NCD offers either directly or through NCD Partners training for church leaders and coaches. These coaches support groups and organizations (such as local churches, denominations, or para-church organizations) in the implementation of Natural Church Development.


The major features of Natural Church Development can be summarized in the following characteristics:
• principle-orientation (Schwarz 2006, pages 18-21; Schwarz 2005, pages 82-83)
• interdenominational application (Schwarz 2015, page 72)
• intercultural learning (Schwarz 2005, pages 28-32)
• scientific evaluation (Schwarz 2006, pages 18-21)
• quality focus (Schwarz 2005, pages 25-27)
• spiritual balance (Schwarz 2005, pages 56-67, 178-181)
• process-orientation (Schwarz 2006, pages 108-125).

The major strategic building blocks of NCD are the eight quality characteristics of healthy churches (Schwarz 2006, pages 18-50), the six growth forces (Schwarz 2005, pages 89-103), the minimum-factor strategy (Schwarz 2006, pages 51-64), and the Trinitarian Compass (Schwarz 2005, pages 45-71).

A central part of NCD is a diagnostic tool called the NCD Church Survey. This resource enables churches to precisely asses 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 (Schwarz 2006, pages 40-47).


By July 2016, the NCD Church Survey has been used by more than 70,000 churches, covering 84 countries and 112 denominations. NCD tools are available in 40 languages. In 65 countries, there are NCD Partners who offer support for churches and individuals who want to increase their health and see numerical growth.


The ministry is directed by Christian A. Schwarz, Christoph Schalk, and Adam Johnstone. This leadership team is supported by an informal advisory board with representatives of different cultures and denominations.

The team of NCD International together with church leaders from Korea, at their annual team meeting in Emmelsbüll


As it functions as a pure network, NCD International does not have any legal authority over other groups or individuals. This is intended as a means of ensuring that those involved in the ministry are engaged purely because they are personally convinced of its value (Schwarz 2005, page 160).


NCD International does not actively pursue donations, but instead endeavors to fund all of its activities directly from the fruit of the ministry itself, e.g. sale of resources, seminar honorariums, etc. (Schwarz 2005, page 161).


• Schwarz CA, 2006. Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (7th updated and revised edition). ChurchSmart, St. Charles. ISBN 978-1889638003

• Schwarz CA, 2005. Color Your World with Natural Church Development: Experiencing all that God has designed you to be. St. Charles: ChurchSmart. ISBN 978-1889638478

• Schwarz CA, 2015. The All By Itself Pathway: An Introduction to Natural Church Development. St. Charles: ChurchSmart. ISBN 978-1936812110. The All By Itself Pathway is available in various denominational versions, for instance, The All By Itself Anglican, The All By Itself Adventist, The All By Itself Salvationist.