Critics of the church growth movement have often emphasized the need for quality congregations. We should not focus on numerical growth, but rather, we should concentrate on qualitative growth.Christian Schwarz has done extensive research world-wide and found that healthy, growing churches seem to share eight quality characteristics. These characteristics are:
Schwarz uses the illustration of a barrel with eight staves to symbolize the eight quality characteristics. The barrel can only hold water to the height of the lowest stave. So too, Schwarz argues, a church can only grow as far as their 'Minimum factor,' which is the lowest of the eight quality characteristics in their church. He challenges churches to resist the temptation to work on improving areas in which they already excel, for by doing this they do not increase their minimum factor or their church quality.This revised version of Natural Church Development now includes Schwarz's '3 Colors' teaching.