Natural Church Development

Six Biotic Principles




"Biotic" = "life-giving and sustaining"

These six principles give direction  to the leadership team on how to improve their minimum quality characteristic.



"Are people and programs purposely interconnected to one another mutually dependent?"


"How do we increase the connections between people to people and people to programs?"


The first principle is interdependence, that is all parts of a living system are interconnected. Just like the rock, dandelion and butterfly are connected and act within one organic system, so also are all the programs, people and ministries of the church. This principles ensures that everything is purposely interconnected and interdependent upon one another; that is, they are working for one anotherís mutual benefit and health. It recognizes that changes in one area affect other areas, as well as the community as a whole.




Can programs expand and reproduce themselves?


Are ministries and programs connected to evangelism?"

The second principle is multiplication, that is, healthy organisms reproduce themselves, they do not just get larger and larger. In other words, the purpose of the butterfly is not to grow into the size of 727 jumbo jet. It is to make more butterflies. The purpose of the dandelion is not to produce seeds, but to make more dandelion plants. So also it should be with every Christian and the church: to multiply, not to just get larger, smarter or more holy.


Energy Transformation


Are peopleís complaints used to promote the visions, values and mission of the church?


Is enthusiasm and energy being generated and used to promote the congregationís, and the individualís, health?


Are the energies generated by joy, fun, complaining and discontent being harnessed to extend and improve the work of the church?

The third principle is energy transformation, that is, the energy of one part of a system is harnessed and used for the benefit of the whole system. The dandelion produces pollen that attracts the butterfly which pollinates it and other plants around. The butterfly's desire for food (its energy) is harnessed to reproduce other dandelions. The desire of the rock to stay put is being used to stabilize the ground and retain moisture for the dandelion; thus improving the health of the dandelion. In the church, we need to find ways to take the enthusiasms, disagreements and complaints of the people, harness it and direct it for the church's health and growth.

This principle seeks to redirect both positive and negative energies to reach the congregationís goals. When people complain, they are listened to and the time is spent to gain understanding and recommitment to the vision, mission and values of the church. It seeks to use a personís passion and gifts for the church. 





Are programs serving multiple purposes?


Are leaders being developed from within? 


Are leaders able to perform different functions and ministries, or are they limited to just one task?

The fourth principle is multi-usage, that is, in living organic systems, each part serves multiple purposes. The rock protects against soil erosion, provides shade and moisture retention for the plantís roots, keeps rain from washing the dandelion out, and provides a home for various bugs, which in turn helps the soil be in good condition for the growth of the dandelion. In the church, we need to see to it that the various activities and programs are purposefully being used to meet various goals; that limited resources are used to increase the mission of the church and to sustain the health of the church; and that programs are set to expand from within, without needing new leadership from outside or an outside authority to authorize it.  This principle seeks to increase the flexibility of people, ministries and programs in the church in order to help sustain the multiple ministries, vision and goals of the church.




Can divergent or dissimilar people and programs work together to make a greater impact upon the community? 


Are people, programs and resources used for maximum effectiveness?


Are people cooperating or competing for limited resources?

The fifth principle is symbiosis, that is, healthy natural organic systems emerge and are sustained because they cooperate and help one another. They do not compete for resources. In the same way, each person, mission and program in the church must find ways to cooperate so as to maximize effectiveness and best utilize the resources available.

Sometimes when dissimilar organisms are brought together, their biotic properties are enhanced.  The rock and the dandelion are dissimilar, but together, they increase the life cycle of the dandelion.  So also, the church can combine groups that don't normally interact together for special programs and services in order to make a greater impact to those around them, for example, having the youth and deacons together go visit and work for the shut-ins of the church.





Do systems and programs actually work according to their stated purpose and the churchís desire?


How can we improve our current systems, services and programs?


How well are we evaluating our ministries, programs, services and leaders?

The sixth principle is functionality, that is, if a life form does not function correctly, or does not fit into the environment, it will naturally die out. Nature weeds out the ineffective. In the same way, the church must also keep an eye on its own functionality: it must have discernable, measurable and intended goals; evaluate effectiveness of existing programs and services; improve working ones; and after seeking to improve malfunctioning programs, be willing to phase it out and completely stop the program.

Definition Survey Qualities Process