General NCD Information

Natural Church Development (NCD) is a principle-oriented way of approaching the Christian life that strives to integrate biblical standards and empirical learning. The growth principles identified by international research and communicated in the NCD books can be applied both by individuals (church members, active believers, nominal Christians, non-Christians) and at a corporate level (local churches, small groups, denominations, para-church organizations, etc.).

NCD has developed an extensive toolbox targeted at helping people relate the principles to their specific contexts and needs. All tools of Natural Church Development are focused on increasing the quality of the Christian life. NCD research indicates that this investment in quality, i.e. increasing health in individuals, is key to activating quantitative growth, i.e. increase of churches and Christianity as a whole (Schwarz, 2006).

A central part of NCD is a diagnostic tool called the NCD Church Survey, a resource that enables churches to precisely assess 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.

To learn more about the History, Research, Philosophy, and Strategy behind NCD, click
To learn more about the Hallmarks of NCD (i.e., what can I expect from the research,
what are its goals and scope, what are the universal principles and/or theology of NCD,
etc.), click here:

Christian Andreas Schwarz is a German author, lecturer, and researcher. He is the founder and president of Natural Church Development (NCD International). He started his journey towards natural church development early in his life, influenced by the ministry of his father, a Lutheran church superintendent. On his 18th birthday he was diagnosed with an incurable disease, which has had a strong influence on his priorities, plans, and the intensity of activities in the years to follow. An unexpected healing eight years after the diagnosis intensified his decision to invest the rest of his life into the cause of helping churches get healthy.

Schwarz has written various books focused on church development and life transformation. His most popular books have been published in the NCD Discipleship Resources series, with five titles so far (The 3 Colors of Leadership, The 3 Colors of Ministry, The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, The 3 Colors of Community, The 3 Colors of Love). His books have been published in 40 languages. The major strategic building blocks of NCD are the eight quality characteristics of healthy churches, the six growth forces, the minimum-factor strategy, and the Trinitarian Compass.

To learn more, click here

NCD does not have a central location, and thus does not have an office and workers. Instead, NCD is a network of people around the world, working together.

NCD America – This is the NCD America website, and houses our eStore. NCD America owns and operates this website.

NCD Church Survey – This site is for producing NCD profiles. NCD International owns and operates this website, while national partners their pertinent part.

NCD Research – The research behind Natural Church Development

3 Color World – This is the site for the eTests; our NCD partners in Australia operate it.

NCD Tools – This website houses all tools related to the theory and practice of Natural Church Development.

NCD Tools – Mini Seminars – This site contains six mini seminars (each 4-5 minutes in length), introducing each of the six building blocks of NCD.

NCD Tools – 26 Videos – This site contains a series of 26 videos (each 2-12 minutes in length), explaining the theological and strategic backgrounds of NCD.

NCD Tools – NOW! – This is the Start page of the Now! Process. Invest eight hours of your time and launch a viral process of transformation.

Additional NCD resources can be found on the NCD International website, which is hosted by NCD International founder, Christian A. Schwarz.

You can find the NCD America Store here. This site houses our NCD America Store. If you have an account and are a licensed NCD coach, you can purchase discounted books and profiles at wholesale prices.

It is difficult if not impossible to communicate the dynamics related to a Trinitarian understanding of God in mere words. What we call the Trinitarian Compass is a graphical representation of these dynamics, related to specific topics at stake. Many people may have a hard time reading and understanding the 15 books of Augustine’s work on the Trinity. But almost everyone can relate to the Trinitarian Compass, immediately and without years of study. A weekend’s introduction can lay such a solid foundation that years if not decades of our lives will be shaped by that experience, and they will be shaped in a highly fruitful way.

We have opted to use the language of the colors of light to communicate this truth: In order to produce pure white light, the colors green, red, and blue must be displayed simultaneously. The absence of all colors results in darkness; the full presence of all colors is the presence of God. The absence of one or two of the colors leads to a blurred view of reality, an indication of a decay in spiritual health.

The Three Colors approach helps churches and their congregants stay in balance and follow God’s light – made of equal parts of each color. The Three Color approach demonstrates that we need each other and must work together if we want to reflect God more fully, as each one of us has different strengths.

General Survey Questions

Yes, the current version of NCD survey (revised in 2007) includes the same survey for
everyone. There is also a facilitator’s form, which is filled out by the pastor; this form is
mainly for gathering demographic information.

Based on extensive scientific testing, 30 surveys have been determined to be the optimal number for a church of any size to complete. If your church is smaller than 30 people, all the people in your church should fill out the survey.

To learn more, click here

This survey has been scientifically tested; if the specified criteria are followed, 30 surveys are enough to generate an accurate report. If churches want more than 30 surveys, they can choose the electronic version or a mixed version of printed and electronic surveys, which they can collect and enter online.However, when the printed version is ordered, only 30 surveys will be sent to the church to be filled out, and only 30 filled out surveys entered into the system by the NCD team to produce the church’s profile. 

Before the first international study, there were a number of explorative studies starting with (1) gathering the existing information provided by other research, continuing with (2) several versions of provisional, non-scientific tests, and leading to (3) a scientific evaluation of the existing assessment tool, including suggestions for its further development.

After it had been field tested with churches in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the newly developed survey was used for studying the first sample of 1118 churches with 34,414 respondents in 32 countries. This is the research phase that is represented in the book, Natural Church Development.

The huge amount of data collected worldwide has made the NCD files an extremely promising base for conducting secondary studies, without the necessity of collecting new data by means of newly designed questionnaires. The secondary studies use the original raw data, including the possibility of measuring development over time.

Learn more here:

Pastors/facilitators of the survey sometimes underestimate the proper selection of participants and then wonder about the results. The participants should not be selected as those who are pastor’s favored members. There are three criteria that each participant should meet:

  • Each individual participant must regularly attend the worship service, AND
  • Must have some form of regular task in the church (no matter what it is), AND
  • Must be part of some form of small group in the church (any subgroup of the worshiping community).

In addition to fulfilling the above three criteria, the collective survey group should be representative of the church as a whole; that is, it should include non-leaders as well as leaders, a proportionate number of people from different age groups, ethnicities, genders, etc.

The Basic Church Profile (which includes the surveys) is $239.95; Profile Plus (which
gives you more in-depth results) is $83.95. Follow up costs depend on the coach with
whom you work.

We have books addressing the areas that you may need to address based on your
survey results, as well as online resources (NCD Cycle starters) to help start the process
of improvement. We also provide 2-day NCD training for pastors/leaders/coaches:

Paper Surveys

While it is impossible to determine an exact time, the process goes like so:

  • When you do the paper survey, you will be sent the paper surveys. You will then arrange for the selected participants to fill them out. Once you have collected all of the paper surveys, you will send them back to our office. We enter the data and send you the results by email (in PDF format).
  • When you choose the electronic version, we will set up an account for you; you will then be free to start your church project. You will enter the names and email addresses of participants on the website, and they will receive an automated email invitation with a survey link. This link can open on their smartphones, iPads or computers – it should be relatively simple for them to fill out the survey online. You are always able to log into your account and reopen your church project, seeing who has filled out the survey and who has not, adding more names and email addresses if needed, etc. until you have the 30 surveys returned. After filling out the facilitator’s form, you hit “Produce Profile” button, then “proceed” and in half a minute, you have the results popped on the screen in from of you. You can immediately download them in PDF format.

Electronic Surveys

If you are interested in an electronic version of the survey (i.e. having church members filling out the survey via computer, smartphone, iPad, etc.), please enter the coupon code “electronic” in the cart section after you add your product to the cart. You will not be charged shipping, as nothing will be physically shipped to you. (Instructions are available on the website when you purchase the Basic Profile.)

Add more names and email addresses at the end of the list. Do not try to correct previously entered email addresses or names – just add in new ones. You can also add the same email address twice (if a husband and wife are using the same email address).

  • Log into your NCD Survey account.
  • Start a new church project by clicking on “Start a Survey” > create a name of the new project (name of the church works best).
  • Collect 30 email addresses (or more, if you wish) of the people in the congregation who are selected to participate in the survey.
  • Insert their email addresses and their names in the online option.
  • Set up reminders, including a reminder with the survey instructions (you can include a custom message to them, if you desire)
  • Click on the button at the bottom. Once you do that, survey recipients will receive an automated email with an invitation to take the survey and the survey link.
  • You can come back to your survey project later by clicking on the “Incomplete” option on the top banner, and then selecting the church’s name.
  • You will be able to see who completed and who did not complete the survey. Based on how many people completed the survey, you may decide to add more email addresses at a later time in order to have the 30 surveys completed in optimal time.
  • Make sure the Facilitator’s form (pastor) is completed in addition to the 30 member surveys.
  • Once all 30 surveys have been completed, click on “Produce Profile” > click on “Proceed” > the results will pop up on your screen.
  • If the church has created previous profiles, you can click on “Create Advanced Profiles, checking up to four boxes in front of the profiles done by your church > choose “Basic Comparison” from the menu > hit “Produce Profile” button below and wait until the results pop up on your screen.
  • The same process can be followed for Result Guides > click on “Create Advanced Profile > click on desired box(es) > choose “Result Guides” from the menu > click on the “Produce Profile” button. A result window will soon pop up. With Result Guides, you may want to click on the “Just the results” option, as this will allow you to open and download four PDF reports that are part of the Result Guides (Summary Guide, Story Guide, Status Guide, and Strategy Guide).


Simply said one token = one NCD results report. Without a token, no report can be generated – even if you have gathered all the surveys electronically.

Once you have collected your 30 surveys and are ready to produce your profile, you click on “Produce Profile” and “Proceed”. In about half a minute the results pop-up on the screen, and you can download them in PDF format. The production of the profile is possible only with the token present.

If you want to produce the Profile Plus, you will click on “Create Advanced Profile”, choose the church and select the type of profile you want (the scroll down menu will actually show only the products you have token for), and then click on “Produce Profile” – the same as what you did with the Basic Profile. You will be able to download these results in PDF format, too.

NCD Basic Profile

The NCD Church Profile is a church health assessment report based on 30 surveys, comprised of 90 questions each. Printed surveys are shipped to you by postal mail. You will have the selected participants fill out the surveys, fill also the pastor’s form, and send all the forms back to NCD America. You can also use an electronic version of the survey (see question about electronic version of the survey). The Basic NCD Church profile shows the basic scores of eight qualities and provides follow-up information related to the minimum factor (the quality with the lowest score).

NCD Advanced Profile

To create an advanced NCD profile, follow these instructions.

  • On your NCD account on ncdchurchsurvey.org: click on Results > click on Create Advanced Profiles > then select the church (by clicking on the box in front of the church’s name)
  • From the scroll down menu, select the type of Advanced Profile you want to create (provided you have purchased the profile).
  • Scroll down > click on the blue button “Produce Profile.” Wait for a moment and the results will pop up on the screen.
  • You will get the results on the screen again and can download them in PDF format. When you produced Result Guides, you will click on the “Just the Results” option to see four links that you need to click on (each separately) to download the four different guides in PDF format: Summary Guide, Story Guide, Status Guide, and Strategy Guide. – When each appears in the window, below the window is a link that will open the Guide so you can download it in PDF format.

Profile Plus

Profile Plus provides a deeper level of analysis of the NCD Survey (NCD Church Profile – product code “SUR”). While the standard survey report gives information on eight key areas of church health, this report goes deeper, showing which questions were asked for each of the eight areas, as well as how your church answered the individual questions compared to the national average. For churches that have done two or more surveys since 2008, you can do a number of comparison graphs for no extra charge for up to four— which is a great way to track your church’s progress! To purchase Profile Plus, visit the NCD America website.

Survey Scoring

In the survey, the mean value is set at 50. In other words, an average church would score right at 50. We could equate this with getting a C in school. Not exactly something to jump up and down about, but passing nevertheless. If a church does better than most churches in a specific quality characteristic, it would score above a 50, or below 50 if it is not doing well. Seventy percent of churches will score between 35 and 65. Fifteen percent of churches score below 35, and 15% score above 65. Different approaches to implementing improvements are needed, depending on your overall average score.

An average score below 35 is cause of concern. Resistance to change is a major issue in churches that are below 35. The lack of health didn’t happen over night; it has become the norm for the congregation. To reach optimal health, significant change will be required. On a positive note, reality can now be faced and hope for a brighter future is possible. For this step to take place, outside help is required. It is advisable for the church to see the assistance of an outside consultant.

It is natural that the members of these churches can’t help by share their enthusiasm for the dynamic church they of which they are a part. The church grows through word of mouth…naturally! Testimonies of God’s works are regularly heard. However, this side of heaven, there will always be areas for improvement. Churches who score a 65 or higher should especially focus on the lowest 10 questions (particularly those that fall below a 50). Another important consideration is to work on decreasing the distance between the lowest scoring category and the highest scoring category (known as the min-max factor). This number should ideally be less than 15. Tightening the scores between categories will better enable the church to continue with excellent health.

When a church has successfully reached 65 and above in all eight categories, this is cause for rejoicing. These churches become a resource to others who are on the journey to increased health. However, they must remain vigilant, just as a successful marathon runner must continue their workout regimen.

The NCD survey should be taken annually. It is counterproductive to take the NCD survey one time and then do nothing with it. There should be ongoing analysis with new steps for improvement every year. When you work on a low area, it should improve. But, how much did it improve? Is there another area that has emerged as a concern? Has the overall health been impacted positively? These questions can be answered and addressed by taking another survey.

The min-max factor reflects difference between the score on your lowest quality and your highest quality. As an example, if your church scored a 64 on need-oriented evangelism (a very good score), but a 32 on loving relationships (not such a good score), what is the different between these scores? 32. Ideally, the spread should be 15 or less. A spread of 15-30 needs some attention. If a church has a spread of greater than 30, it is likely that conditions in the church are such that a lot of energy is being expended just to maintain the current condition. This big spread often indicates a significant level of stress in the congregation. Again, some outside help is recommended with a spread greater than 30, regardless of your overall average score.

The Minimum Factor Manual providing helpful “next steps” for your church health team and is on pages 5-17 in the church profile report; this can be duplicated for your church health team.

Additional input is in Cycle Starters for NCD Implementation. These are free to download here.

Past Reports

If you currently do not have access to previous profiles generated for your church in 2007 and later, send an e-mail to info@ncdamerica.org, and we can transfer previous church profiles to your account.

From there, you can create comparisons as follows:

  • Create the Basic profile by following the instructions in the account.
  • When you have created the Basic profile without comparisons > click on results > select “Create Advanced Profile.”
  • You choose up to three past profiles and the new profile by clicking on the box in front of each profile, and then “select” from the scroll down menu.
  • For a basic comparison, click “Produce Profile Below;” you will get the comparison on your screen after half a minute and can download the report in PDF.
  • You will repeat the process again (click on boxes) and select from the scroll down menu
  • For a Profile Plus, click “Produce Profile Below;” you get comparison on your screen after half a minute and can download the report in PDF.


The following are included:

  • The 3 Colors of Leadership
  • The 3 Colors of Your Gifts
  • The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality
  • The 3 Colors of Community
  • The 3 Colors of Love

You can find additional e-tests here.

Please note that each of the above listed bundle books have their eTest available (with the exception of The 3 Colors of Love – the instrument is only available in the book).

The newest eTest available on that site is called the “Stewardship Test;” it is connected to Effective Structures


To access a complete list of coaches by state (as well as their email addresses), click here.

There are two coaching packages: the Basic package and the Golden package. To learn what is included in each coaching package, as well as apply to become an NCD Coach, visit our website.

NCD America offers two types of training: 1) an initial two-day training about the unique NCD process, including conversations about the NCD model, as well as what it means to be an NCD coach; and 2) a specialized online training process (called Coaching Collectives) for NCD coaches that offers the best practices of effective coaching in NCD congregations. Learn more here.

For Coaches

As a coach, you have the option in your account to create a sub-account. The pastor will receive automated email, asking him to set his password. If a pastor has an individual sub-account, s/he can proceed with the process described above on his/her own (s/he will be able to insert the email addresses him/herself and fill out the facilitator’s form as well). In this case, you need to release the token(s) purchased by this church (Basic and                  perhaps Advanced), which then the pastor will use to produce the results. Although you will not have access to his/her account, you will see the results in your account.

Keep in mind: It is not possible to see incomplete surveys on a sub-account under your own account (i.e. if the pastor has sent the surveys under a sub-account, you will not be able to see the incomplete surveys from your account).

If you bought the token, please click on “Tokens” > then on “Provide Tokens Directly” > below that, type the name of the account and send the token to them. The token recipient will need the token to produce the Basic Profile (and if you have the Advanced Profile token, you can send it to them as well).

When you have collected all 30 paper surveys, follow these instructions.

  • Log into your NCD Survey account.
  • Start a new church project by clicking on “Start a Survey” > create a name of the new project (name of the church works best).
  • Enter the data by clicking on “Add” in the paper participants section.
  • Before you click on “Produce Basic Profile,” be sure the pastor’s survey has been entered. If it has not, click on “Edit Facilitator’s Form” and fill in the survey.
  • Since you have the tokens in your account, you can produce the Basic Profile with two clicks (blue button > then “Proceed”). The results will appear on the screen in a new window that pops up shortly after you click on “Proceed.”
  • Download the profile by clicking on the “Download Profile” link underneath the window and save as a PDF. (If printing, choose landscape to have the print straight.)

Other Questions

Pricing for the eTest varies, depending on how many you purchase. Discounts are available when multiple tokens are purchased. To learn more, click here

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