Wednesday is for Bits and Pieces
Schwarz, Christian A. "Chapter 3: The Principles." Color Your World with Natural Church Development: Experiencing all that God has designed you to be. St. Charles, IL: Church Smart Resources, 2005, 81-123.
Schwarz begins chapter three with a complaint that churches speak of "principles" but apply the term to what he considers "models," not what he considers true principles. He proposes that a principle "(a) is universally valid, (b) has been proven by research, © is focused on the essentials of the church, and (d) needs to be individualized in different situations" (Schwarz 2005, 82). He insists that principles will always work, though the need to be individualized seems to contradict this blanket statement.
Schwarz, drawing on Mark 4:26-29, holds that the church will grow all by itself if given the space and time. His prime goal is to remove human inpediments to divinely caused growth (Schwarz 2005, 84).
At long last, on page 87, Schwarz says he will introduce all the actual principles. There are also tools for implementing the principles, but he is clear that while the principles always work, the tools may or may not work. He divides the principles into "six growth forces" (Schwarz 2005, 87) and "eight quality characteristics" (Schwarz 2005, 88). Consistent with his Gnostic tendencies, Schwarz says there are underlying dymamics which prvent us from dividing the principles clearly. He spends an inordinate amount of time explaining that we have all misunderstood reality and need tobe shown that these are actual principles. However, starting on page 92 he does define each of the growh forces and quality characteristics in turn.
Of the growth forces, the first is "interdependence," which Schwarz equates with a biblical view of "wisdom" (Schwarz 2005, 92). Developing interdependence may allow for long-term success. Schwarz sees it as superior to linear thinking which expects only one outcome to an action.
The second force Schwarz envisions is that of multiplication, as opposed to continued growh of one unit. He compares it to a tree, which doesn't grow indefinitely but does reproduce (Schwarz 2005, 94).
The third force Schwarz defines as "energy transformation." He thinks the energy which would be expended in opposition to the Gospel should be redirected and transformed to support the Gospel (Schwarz 2005, 96).
A fourth force is sustainability. This does not contradict the second force as one means of sustaining something is reproduction (Schwarz 2005, 98). Schwarz continues the metaphor of reproduction by urging that we look for a seed that will continue in the fruit of every activity.
Schwarz' fifth growh force is "symbiosis," in which he would seek out "win-win" solutions for dissimilar organisms (Schwarz 2005, 100). Within the Church, here he would celebrate diversity. It is not clear whether he thinks there are theological convictions which are essential.
The sixth growth force Schwarz identifies is fruitfulness, which he specifically sees as a long-term goal which can be measured and should be tested (Schwarz 2005, 102).
The first of Schwarz' eight quality characteristics is "empowering leadership" (Schwarz 2005, 106). By this he means not a leadership guru, but leadership which empowers others to grow and lead.
Schwarz' second quality characteristic assumes that God has appointed people to function using different spiritual gifts (Schwarz 2005, 108). Our role is to help people learn to function within the gifts God has given them.
Passionate spirituality is Schwarz' third quality characteristic. Here he says the importance is "the degree to which the faith is actually lived out with commitment, passion, and enthusiasm" (Schwarz 2005, 110). As before, Schwarz does not seem very concerned about the content of the spirituality.
Schwarz sees effective structures as a fourth important quality characteristic. Here he means structures which can and do change as a means to an end. He does say that these cannot conflict with the unchangeable essence of the church (Schwarz 2005, 112).
The fifth essential quality characteristic Schwarz identifies is inspiring worship services. Schwarz is not clear on how this can be identified. However, he sees it as evident in liturgy, in teaching, and in praise (Schwarz 2005, 114).
Schwarz' sixth quality characteristic is to have "holistic small groups" which he describes as groups which break down anonymity and nurture heads, hands, and hearts (Schwarz 2005, 116). In microcosm, these cell groups could function in every way as the church.
The seventh caracteristic is evangelism which deals with people's needs for prayer, care, and the Gospel (Schwarz 2005, 118). He considers this need-oriented" evangelism. Schwarz says it "can only take place when everyone in the body of Christ is investing his or her individual gifts in all three areas" (Schwarz 2005, 119).
Finally, Schwarz considers loving relationships. He measures this love based on compliments given to others, invitations to meals, and time spent outside of church services with others. It is to be centered around justice, truth, and grace (Schwarz 2005, 120).
Schwarz closes this chapter with a reminder that church leaders and individual Christians both bear responsibility for applying his principles (Schwarz 2005, 122).