Several years ago in a land far away (Germany) there lived a man named Christian Schwarz. He was a Christian who was absolutely committed to seeing the church reach her full potential in Christ.

He decided to travel the globe to discover what really made churches healthy and grow. Many people doubted that he could objectively determine quality in a church but feeling called of God, he set forth.

Schwarz studied big church and small churches, he studied growing churches stagnant churches and dying churches, he studied healthy churches and unhealthy churches. After studying 1000 churches on 5 continents, in 32 countries and in 18 different languages, he evaluated the 4.2 million pieces of data he had collected. What he discovered was ground breaking!

He discovered that of all the factors that make up a healthy church, there were eight essential quality characteristics. Each of the eight had to be present for a church to be healthy and grow.

Our Bishop wants us as a church in the Deanery to engage with these Eight Essential Qualities.

It is important that we make every effort to work at imbedding the ‘Eight Qualities of Growing Churches’ into every part of our church life if indeed we want to see growth.

So, here are the eight:

1. Empowering leadership. Leadership which seeks to identify, train and empower other leaders, giving them responsibility for people and projects.

2. Gift-orientated ministry. Valuing the ministry of all people and the variety of gifts in the body of Christ. Helping people identify their God-given gifts, skills and abilities and encouraging each person to use them in the overall mission and ministry of the church.

3. Passionate spirituality. A spirituality nurtured through prayer which supernaturally naturally exudes the love of God in Christ.

4. Inspiring worship. Worship (whatever the style) which inspires people, enabling them to connect with God in a way which energises and sustains them, and which is such a positive experience that it is a highlight of their week, which they want to bring others along to share in.

5. Holistic small Groups. Commitment to small communities (6-12 people) within the larger community, which act like 'mini-church', where closer relationships can be formed, and where worship, prayer, pastoral support, ongoing discipleship, Bible application and outreach take place in a smaller setting.

6. Need-orientated outreach. Outreach which has a priority of discovering the practical needs in the communities served by the local church, and meeting those needs as an integral part of their overall outreach.

7. Loving relationships. A community where people are committed to welcoming, serving, loving, caring for, and forgiving others. Growing churches also tend to have a lot of laughter in them.

8. Functional Structures. Organisational and leadership structures which enable all of the above to happen rather than obstruct it! Structures which are flexible enough to change when necessary.

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Church of England in Warwickshire