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8 Quality Characteristics:

1. Empowering Leadership

Leaders Empowering Others | Leadership Fit | Delegation and Sharing of Ministry | Compelling Vision


Effective leadership begins with an intimate relationship with God, resulting in Christlike character and a clear sense of God's calling for leader's lives. As this base of spiritual maturity increases, clergy and leaders multiply, guide, empower and equip others to realize their full potential in Christ and work together to accomplish God's vision.

People are empowered to lead in those areas where it is appropriate for them to do so. Parishioners are being equipped, taught, supported, mentored and motivated to assist the priest in parish leadership. Not every priest is able or even competent to make every decision in a parish; parishioners with leadership skills can work with and even complement the priest in various leadership roles.

2. Gift-based Ministry

Integrating Gifts into Ministry | Significance of Ministry | Support for Ministry | Equipping for Ministry


The Holy Spirit gives to every Christian spiritual gift(s) for the building of God's kingdom. Church leaders have the responsibility to help believers discover, develop and exercise their gifts in appropriate ministries so that the Body of Christ "grows and builds itself up in love."

People are able to use their God-given gifts and talents in ministry. St. Paul in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, and St. Peter in his first epistle very clearly show that God has given all Christians gifts and talents to use “for the building up of the Body of Christ.” The employment of these gifts is therefore necessary for the parish’s good health and growth. Parishioners know what their gifts and talents are, and are able to use them in parish ministry.

3. Fervent Spirituality

Experiencing God | Passion for Church | Passion for Spiritual Growth | Spiritual Interconnectedness: Members "One to Another"


Effective ministry flows out of a passionate spirituality. Spiritual intimacy leads to a strong conviction that God will act in powerful ways. A godly vision can only be accomplished through an optimistic faith which views obstacles as opportunities and turns defeats into victories.

People zealously embrace the Orthodox spiritual life. St. Gregory Palamas teaches us that everyone can encounter the Living God through His Uncreated Energies. All of us are called to a life of ceaseless prayer, in which God fills our hearts with joy and hope. Do parishioners actively keep a rule of prayer, and encourage one another in the spiritual warfare? Do they keep the fasts? Do they enjoy reading the Scriptues on a regular basis?

4. Effective Structures

Effective Planning | Organizational Structures, Systems and Communications | Innovation and Managing Change | Structuring for Effective Leadership


The Church is the living Body of Christ. Like all healthy organisms, it requires numerous systems which work together to fulfill its intended purpose. Each must be evaluated regularly to determine if it is still the best way to accomplish the intended purrpose.

The parish is structured so as to function competently and effectively. Parish vision and mission embrace God's plans and intentions for the community in which they have been planted. The various parish councils, committees and ministries actually get things done rather than lurch from one confused moment to the next. They understand – and practice the difference – between doing things efficiently and doing them effectively.

5. Inspiring Worship

Personal Transformation in Worship | Welcoming Parish | Anticipation/Preparation for Worship | Preaching Excellence


Inspiring worship is a personal and corporate encounter with the living God. Both personal and corporate worship must be infused with the presence of God resulting in times of joyous exultation and times of quiet reverence. Inspiring worship is not driven by a particular style or ministry focus group, but rather by the shared experience of God's awesome presence.

Worship services are truly inspiring. People are excited about coming to services, and actually attend them. Don’t take this for granted! A choir that doesn’t practice (and sounds like it), servers that aren’t trained (and look like it), a priest that has not prepared, a church that has not been cleaned, and worshippers that come and go as they please all send messages from subtle to screaming. As Orthodox, we exist, first and foremost, to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” but we often find that administrative meetings and social events are better attended than Saturday night vespers, weekday services and, sometimes, even Sunday liturgy. Do parishioners feel like Vladimir’s emissaries when they are in church, or is it merely a Christian duty to be fulfilled? If we are really ready to meet the Risen Lord in divine worship, we cannot just pay lip service to it.

6. Holistic Fellowship Groups

Developing Spiritually-oriented Parishes | Multiplication of Disciples, Leaders, and Groups | Integrating Newcomers | Group Relevance


Holistic fellowship groups serve many purposes: meeting individual needs through teaching and fellowship, and providing caring spiritual support, but they also serve to develop each person according to their God-given gifts and raise up leaders to sustain the growth of the church. Like healthy body cells, holistic fellowship groups are designed to grow and multiply.

People can find intimate community at the parish - if they know where to look for it. Whether a parish is large or small, the risk of isolation and alientation is fearsome for many. Isolation is one of the biggest social fears among people today, and comfortable cliques can easily alientate newcomers.

Healthy parishes are places where people can feel attached, involved, integrated and assimilated. Call them what you will – small groups, regional groups or ministry groups – fellowship groups are great ways for (especially new) people to find intimate community, practical help and teaching and dynamic social and spiritual interaction. It is also an excellent way to introduce inquirers to the life of the parish and to its people.

7. Need-oriented Evangelism

Compassionate Church | Corporate Evangelistic Efforts | Personal Evangelism | Open, Friendly and Encouraging to Inquirers


Need-oriented Evangelism intentionally cultivates relationships with people regardless of whether they are Orthodox or not, or even if they are Christian or not. The intent is to invite them, allow them, and develop them to become fully devoted followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to become full and active participants in the life of the Church, the Body of Christ, and its local incarnation, the parish. Using appropriate ministries and authentic relationships, believers can guide others regardless of their current spiritual standing into the parish family as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Parish efforts at evangelism are not characterized by triumphalism but rather by the needs of those they are trying to reach. Outreach efforts aren't "in your face" (even pushy or bombastic) shows of who's "right" or who's "wrong" or expenditures of time and effort directed only at finding and keeping "ours," reaching out only to those who show a willingness to "accept" us. Rather, the healthy parish is attempting to address the questions, fears and needs of non-Christians, the (literally) half of the country that isn't even baptized at this point in time.

8. Loving Relationships

Affirmation and Encouragement | Atmosphere of Joy and Acceptance | Deepening Relationships | Conflict Resolution


Loving relationships are the heart of a healthy, growing church. Our Lord Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by our love. Practical demonstrations of our love builds authentic Christian community and brings others into God's Kingdom - the Body of Christ.

People in the parish really love and care for each other, and it shows. How often do parishioners spend time with each other outside of church? How often do they visit with one another in their homes, go out together, share meals together, even know each others personal problems well enough to know how to pray for them? And, when they get together at a service, are they really happy to see one another? Don’t be surprised if newcomers and guests to your church pick up on this real quick. Healthy parishes clearly understand the importance of the New Commandment that Christ has given us: that we love one another.


Learn more about the ONCD model
The ABCs of Orthodox NCD
 

Order
here

ONCD: An Introduction for Parishes and Church Health Teams

Parishes using ONCD (partial list):

FIRST SURVEY CYCLE:
St. John the Baptist, Euliss, TX
St. Demetrios, Fort Worth, TX
St. John the Baptist, Beaverton, OR
Ss. Peter&Paul, Glenview, IL
St. Haralambos, Peoria, AZ
Holy Cross, Macon, GA
St. Innocent, Macon, GA
Annuncation, Dayton, OH
St. Mary's Assumption, Worcester, MA
Holy Ascension, Mt. Pleasant, SC
St. Nicholas, Wyckoff, NJ
Arch. Michael, Colorado Springs, CO
Holy Trinity, East Meadow, NY
Ss. Peter & Paul, Boulder, CO
St. Catherine, Greenwood Village, CO
St. Spyridon, Loveland, CO
Ss. Constantine&Helen, Cheyenne, WY
Assumption, Bayard, NE
St. Demetrios, Concord, CA
St. John the Baptist, Pueblo, CO
Holy Trinity, Tulsa, OK
St. Elias, Battle Creek, MI
St. Nicholas, Jamaica, NY
St. John Prodromos, Amarillo, TX
Ss. Constantine&Helen, Webster, MA
St. Nicholas, Tacoma, WA
Holy Anargyroi, Rochester, MN
St. Lawrence, Felton, CA
Nativity Holy Virgin, Waterbury, CT
Christ the Savior, Southbury, CT

SECOND / THIRD SURVEY CYCLE:
St. Philothea, Watkinsville, GA
Holy Spirit, Omaha, NE
St. George, Trumbull, CT
Annunciation, Sacramento, CA
Holy Trinity, State College, PA
Arch. Michael, Port Washington, NY
Holy Resurrection, Brookville, NY
St. Mary, Minneapolis, MN
St. John Theologian, Shirley, NY





















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