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In this section, you will find answers to frequently asked questions referred to in The 3 Colors of Leadership. To find the answer you are looking for, select the page number to the left that relates to the respective page number in the book.

What is the empirical background for saying, “For every dollar you invest into the process you will get several dollars back”?

NCD’s research in more than 65,000 churches reveals a strong relationship between the increase of church health (measured by the NCD Survey and fueled by the NCD process) and financial giving. This manifests itself in three dynamics that occur simultaneously and are strongly interrelated:
  1. The more the quality of the church increases, the higher the financial contribution per person. In churches with a below-average NCD score, 39% of the members who attend small groups and worship services tithe 10% or more of their gross income to support the church, missions, etc. In churches with an above-average NCD score, this percentage increases to 71% on average.
  2. Since church health (according to the categories measured by the NCD Survey) is the factor that is most strongly related to numerical growth, healthy churches have a higher number of people who tithe.
  3. Healthy churches use resources (including financial resources) more fruitfully. In other words, in healthy churches the effects of every dollar given is visibly greater than in less healthy churches.
Since these processes are usually started by empowered and empowering leaders, investment in leadership development results relatively quickly in church health—and, as a natural side-effect, in increasing financial contribution.

How can I proactively participate in the “3 Colors of Leadership” Community?

The 3colorsofleadership.org website was established to enable networking among existing and potential leaders. Since the majority of the participants will have the results of their Empowerment Test at hand, it is easy to initiate meaningful interaction among the participants, in which each one grows by sharing with others what they have learned. You can contribute to the Community in the following ways:
  1. Connect with others who have taken the Empowerment Test (within your own or other denominations, within your own or other countries, etc.) so that you can grow both in the area of your strength and your weakness.
  2. Apply Spiritual Change Talk (for instance, through Skype conferences) with people you are interacting with on the website.
  3. Share your thoughts and questions about The 3 Colors of Leadership.
  4. Pass on the free second token you received via the bookmark that came with your book, or buy additional tokens on the website and share them with others.
Keep in mind that the quality of the website increases with the number of people participating in the community.

What is the major difference between church leadership and leadership in secular organizations?

As far as the six wing traits of empowering leadership are concerned, there is no difference between churches and secular organizations. The exact same principles apply to both. However, the way in which they are applied may differ. The three most important differences are the following:
  1. In secular organizations (both business and non-profit), it can be legitimate for workers to see their primary task as helping the leader fulfill his or her vision. In churches, however, the leader’s task is to develop a corporate vision, which should not be confused with the personal vision of the leader.
  2. In secular organizations, it can be legitimate to proactively invest in bringing in the best workers from other organizations. In a church context, this should not be done, since the result does not bring increase for the kingdom of God. Churches that follow this path reveal that they have not understood the dynamics of the body of Christ nor of the kingdom of God.
  3. In churches, the final authority is Jesus Christ, not the church leaders. As soon as this becomes more than just a general statement, an enormous difference is experienced, even in the nitty-gritty details of church leadership.

What are the advantages of learning church growth principles from small churches, rather than from megachurches?

The six main advantages are the following:
  1. Principles that have been studied in smaller churches can usually be easily adapted to the needs of larger churches, while the opposite often doesn’t work. Many of the features that larger churches teach are strongly connected to their specific infrastructure.
  2. Smaller churches, on average, have higher quality (in terms of the eight quality characteristics). The danger of confusing “professionalism” with “quality” is less likely.
  3. In smaller churches, the principles of church development can be studied in a more basic form, rather than being embedded in sometimes highly sophisticated programs. This enables easier transfer.
  4. Smaller churches, on average, have lower entertainment needs, i.e. there is less danger of shifting into a “performance mind-set” which easily breeds a consumer mentality.
  5. Small church meetings may have less momentum than conferences of large churches. Even if this looks like a disadvantage to some people, it actually has considerable benefits: The participants are not tempted to confuse positive feelings associated with attending the event with sustainable processes of change (“What is the measurable difference one year later?”).
  6. In some cases, the professionalism of large churches can result in counterproductive “priming dynamics” (compare, The 3 Colors of Leadership, pages 87-90). The confrontation with the “unreachable” standards of the model church can actually lead to weakened trust in one’s own abilities.

What exactly is the difference between leadership styles and leadership principles?

Leadership styles only apply to those who have that specific style; leadership principles apply regardless of the leader’s personal style. In many leadership books, some teachings that are connected to a specific style are promoted as leadership principles, which results in both confusion and frustration.

Does the concept of empowering leadership have a closer affinity to an authoritarian style or to a democratic style?

Neither. People with a more authoritarian style may have a more strongly developed “leading wing,” while those with a “democratic style,” a more strongly developed “empowering wing.” However, neither the term “authoritarian” nor the term “democratic” really express the essence of what the leading and the empowering wings are all about.

What is the psychological explanation for the fact that many people tend to see the enlargement of Box A as an end in itself?

The four most important factors contributing to this phenomenon are the following:
  1. Since the features of Box A are usually more visible than those of Box B, many people perceive Box A as a more adequate demonstration of their success (even if Box B may be relatively small).
  2. Since the leader’s core temptation is pride (see The 3 Colors of Community, pages 40-47), a large Box A can serve as an instrument to express his or her ego needs.
  3. The confusion of ends and means to an end is the basic danger of capitalist societies (“money as an end in itself”). A large Box A perfectly fits into this mind-set.
  4. Since the majority of people tend to see the enlargement of Box A as an end in itself, this procedure is not even perceived as something unusual or ineffective. Most people accept it as expected behavior without question, simply because the culture around them shares that view.

Are there situations in which a focus on appearance is justifiable?

Yes, there are. Generally, a focus on appearance can be helpful to attract first-time attention. In some settings, this kind of fabricated high attention may be beneficial. The danger of a focus on appearance is that it becomes a general pattern of behavior, rather than being restricted to clearly definable (and time-limited) targets.

Aren't there many other leadership principles that are not covered by this book?

According to what we know at this time, there are not. If you should detect “additional” leadership principles, they usually fall into one of the following five categories:
  1. They are not principles (i.e. applicable to everyone and every situation) but features that may be useful in some specific situations, while being irrelevant in others (for instance, public speaking abilities, fund raising techniques, etc.).
  2. They describe a certain leadership style (and so apply to those who have this style) rather than leadership principles (that apply independently of one’s individual style), for example, a feature that is strongly bound to a domineering or extroverted personality.
  3. They can be seen as sub-categories of one of the six wing traits, rather than additional principles (for instance, certain communication skills as part of “Cast a vision” or “Teach the principles”).
  4. They describe techniques targeted on putting the principles into practice, rather than additional principles (for instance, specific coaching techniques or management skills).
  5. They may describe character traits or be related to the spirituality of the leader, which are essential features but should not be confused with the six wing traits (for instance, a specific way of approaching God).

Are successful leaders truly balanced in the three colors, or is there a certain one-sidedness that is connected to success?

The question is how “success” is defined. If the standard is purely to see the leader’s vision come true, a balance in the three colors may not be needed. If the standard of success is the empowerment of the people we lead, the balance of all three colors is essential.

Why is it especially hard for Westerners to understand how polarities work?

The Western mind-set, much more than the mind-set of other cultures, is based on linear thinking patterns (from A to B). Since this has largely shaped the educational system, many Westerners find it harder to understand the dynamics of polarities or cyclical ways of approaching reality than, for instance, oriental cultures. Even if Westerners have understood the dynamics of polarities intellectually, it sometimes doesn’t feel “natural” for them to apply them intuitively.

In which areas should we be one-sided, and in which ones should we be balanced?

We should be one-sided in the area of our gifts (which can include spiritual gifts, natural talents, and skills we have acquired). We should strive for balance whenever it comes to fundamental principles—regardless if these are principles of leadership (six wing traits), of character (Fruit of the Spirit), or of church development (eight quality characteristics). The way to achieve balance is a focus on the minimum factor.

What is the difference between the principles NCD teaches and the tools NCD provides?

Both from a biblical and a common sense perspective, the principles of Natural Church Development (such as, loving relationships, gift-based ministry, empowering leadership, etc.) are non-negotiables. We must all apply them, regardless of whether we like them or not. This doesn’t apply to the tools that NCD has developed (such as the NCD Survey, the Empowerment Test, or the Trinitarian Compass). If you see any of these tools as helpful, use them. If not, use other tools, develop your own tools, or work without tools. This topic is addressed in an online video.

Should we continue to train people for leadership if they have significant flaws in their character?

Character flaws should not prevent us from providing training in leadership principles. Dealing with the principles can provide the opportunity to work on character flaws. However, significant character flaws may be a reason not to assign a specific leadership responsibility to someone who might otherwise be gifted for that responsibility.

Are there situations in which it is justifiable to see followers as helpers of the leader?

Yes, there are some situations in which this can be justifiable. Consider the following, for instance:
  1. In secular organizations it is legitimate for the leader to define the vision and the goals of the organization. The workers are paid to contribute to helping the leader fulfill his or her vision.
  2. The same applies to many Christian para-church organizations. They can be shaped by the vision for which the leader is seeking support.
  3. Within a local church, the situations in which followers should be considered as the leaders’ helpers should be restricted to two areas: (a) For people who have the spiritual gifts of helps or of service, this role is an adequate expression of their divine calling. (b) Every believer should be prepared to “help” a leader in special situations need. However, this should not become their permanent role.

Why do most multiplication processes come to a standstill after a while?

The two major reasons are the following:
  1. After initial success, ongoing multiplication is not given enough emphasis or support.
  2. The environment changes (often because of the initial success of the multiplication process), producing factors that reduce the speed of multiplication.
While the first reason reveals a flaw, the second reason describes a natural dynamic. Within God’s creation, no multiplication process is supposed to increase without limit. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully distinguish between category 1 and category 2 causes.

Can I get in touch with NCD Davids in my geographical area?

Yes. NCD International is in the process of discovering more and more NCD Davids (who are willing to be approached as NCD Davids) and arranging for them to be easily found on this web site. There is still work to be done on this project, so be sure to subscribe to the 3 Color World mailing list in order to find out when these valuable connections can be made.

If an NCD David is the leader of a megachurch, in what respects does that church differ from other megachurches?

For NCD Davids the size of the church doesn’t matter. If they pastor a megachurch, they still show all of the characteristics of NCD Davids as outlined in the book. These kinds of megachurches typically have a far lower performance-orientation than the average megachurch. They are based much more on primary than on secondary virtues (see The 3 Colors of Leadership, pages 18-20).

When applying the Test at a corporate level (small group, whole church, or denomination), what are the quantity discounts?

Click here to discover the discounts for groups of all sizes.

Ideally, how often should the Test be repeated?

For those familiar with the NCD Church Survey, it is common to repeat once a year. However, making progress in the area of the six wing traits is considerably faster. You can move forward significantly during every conversation. As a rule of thumb, take a repeat test whenever you notice that something has changed within you. Take care to select people to fill in the questionnaire for you who have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the areas of your most recent growth.

How do I decide whether I should view myself as an emerging leader or an established leader?

This is not so much a question of the number of people you are responsible for, but more of the security you sense in your own leadership role. If you feel secure, you should focus on your weakest wing trait from the beginning. If you feel insecure, you should start with the wing trait that has the highest score.

Are there situations in which Spiritual Change Talk shouldn’t be applied?

The two settings in which Spiritual Change Talk shouldn’t be applied are the following:
  1. The person you are dealing with indicates that he or she doesn’t want you to apply this conversation technique, for whatever reason.
  2. The person you are dealing with is not willing to change. The readiness to work on personal change is a clear prerequisite for applying Spiritual Change Talk.

How can I use the Trinitarian Compass for vision casting?

You can fill each of the three “color segments” (in their broadest meaning of what green, red, and blue is meant to communicate) with specific and context-related elements of a corporate vision. This procedure guarantees two results:
  1. The vision is balanced, since none of the three color segments is neglected. In this way, it is far less likely that the vision simply communicates the leader’s personal hobby-horse.
  2. By relating the specific elements of your vision to the broad categories of the compass you make it easier for people to link in and make the vision their own.
When using the Trinitarian Compass in this way for vision casting, the colors help to interpret the specific statements of your vision, and the specific statements help to interpret the colors.

When it comes to the two wings of vision, is there a difference between churches and secular organizations?

The major difference is that the corporate vision that has to be developed in churches should not be confused with the personal vision of the leader. In secular organizations (just as in parachurch organizations) it is legitimate and often even useful for the personal vision of the leader to become the organization’s vision.

What are some practical ways to facilitate a spirit of experimentation?

The three most important things are the following:
  1. As a leader, constantly demonstrate a spirit of experimentation in your own life (for instance, by speaking about your own mistakes as much as about your successes).
  2. Consistently and publicly cherish people who have taken risks and have failed.
  3. Offer coaching to help people learn from their mistakes.

Are there mistakes that should be avoided at all costs?

Mistakes that harm other people or that qualify, biblically seen, as sin, should be minimized. However, if these mistakes should happen (and they will), it is all the more important to provide practical support in learning from them, so that even they become a chance to grow.

Why do so many groups teach, “Focus exclusively on your strengths?”

This is the effect of the philosophy of “positive thinking” which has permeated vast parts of Western society. While there are a number of beneficial elements in that philosophy (especially when contrasted with the equally one-sided philosophy of “negative thinking”), in many cases it has become an ideology that blinds people to the darker aspects of reality, including within themselves. In contrast to pure “positive thinking,” biblical teaching enables us to deal both with our (allegedly) “positive” and negative sides.

“Weaknesses” can refer to a variety of different things—what are the most important categories to distinguish?

Weakness can be positive, negative, or neutral:
  1. Admitted weakness can be a positive feature—in fact, a central aspect—of maturing spirituality. 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
  2. Weakness can be a description for sin. This is a kind of weakness that has to be overcome.
  3. Weakness can describe certain skills we have never acquired. In this case, it is a neutral term.

What exactly is the difference between vision and goals?

Vision communicates purpose; it doesn’t necessarily show how to achieve that purpose. Goals are ways to see the vision come true. Goals may change (because some may turn out to be inadequate means for seeing a specific vision become reality); vision doesn’t change quickly, and in many cases it doesn’t change at all. A vision can be expressed in metaphoric language (being somehow deliberately ambiguous), while goals should be precise. Vision speaks primarily to the unconscious mind; goals are meant to speak, first and foremost, to the conscious mind.

Which preconditions are necessary before a church initiates an NCD process?

There is absolutely no precondition for a church to initiate an NCD process. Throughout the process, every church will experience changes, but none of these changes should be demanded as preconditions to launching the process. Regretfully, in their eagerness to see “success,” some groups have established a number of preconditions for churches to meet before launching an NCD process. That practice is not in line with NCD teaching.

Since NCD is committed to sharing all acquired knowledge, why is the survey data not publicly available?

As a matter of principle, the survey data is the only part of the NCD knowledge base that is not publicly accessible. The two main reasons for this policy are the following:
  1. NCD International must guarantee the anonymity of data. People will only receive information about a specific church or an individual person, if that church or individual chooses to share their information with others.
  2. The NCD Survey is made available exclusively through licensed NCD National Partners. Public access to the formula on which the NCD Survey is calculated (based on research in 65,000 churches) would undermine the accountability structure established by NCD International with those Partners.

How can we best apply model-oriented learning based on NCD principles?

The principles of Natural Church Development can best be learned in practice, i.e. in the context of specific “models.” A fruitful method is to study several models simultaneously and look for the common denominators. Each model can be evaluated according to the standards of the NCD principles. This approach helps you to focus, from the outset, on the features of the model that are really relevant to you, rather than being sidetracked by the specifics of a given model which may look interesting at first sight, but don’t qualify as principles. However, in the process of studying models you may detect certain features that, while not universal principles, are nevertheless helpful for you in your specific situation.

How can I include the NCD Discipleship Resources in Spiritual Change Talk?

The books in the NCD Discipleship Resource series help you relate the change process to a specific content (for instance, growing in love, in spirituality, in leadership, etc.). Every book in the series helps a person to discover both their greatest strengths and their growth areas. People are usually very teachable at the time when they discover more about themselves from these tests. This can be an ideal starting point for a serious change process. Spiritual Change Talk provides the bridge between the discovery of your strengths and weaknesses, on the one hand, and a practical growth process, on the other. The 3 Colors of Leadership relates this dynamic to the topic of leadership. The other books in the NCD Discipleship Resource series relate it to other topics that, for many people, may be even more relevant.

Where can I find more information about the average growth that can be expected as a result of an NCD process?

On the basis of our research, we have developed a tool for growth prognosis. For more information, click here.

Which schools of psychology have most influenced the development of Spiritual Change Talk (Plus)?

In particular, it has been influenced by some features of systemic coaching (de Shazer), logo-therapy (Frankl), Gestalt therapy (Perls), hypnotherapy (Erickson), client-centered therapy (Rogers), and cognitive therapy (Beck).

What can we observe from the way that Jesus tried to help people change?

It is especially striking to observe the following three dynamics:
  1. Jesus always acknowledged the starting point of a given person.
  2. He was a master in harnessing the energies within people.
  3. He primarily asked questions in order to help people discover the truth.
In many teachings about Jesus, these three factors aren’t given sufficient attention.

Why doesn‘t the Perceive phase of the NCD Cycle in this context deal with the perception of present rather than future reality?

In most cases in which the NCD Cycle is applied, the Perceive phase relates, for good reasons, to the perception of present reality. It is a specific feature in this phase of Spiritual Change Talk to focus on the perception of future reality (and subsequently to address present reality). The major reason for this is to avoid exploring the future by primarily engaging the rational mind. Spiritual Change Talk is supposed to help people experience future reality (“perception”) even before it has become an external reality. This is targeted on releasing unconscious resources that wouldn’t be released by just speaking about the future on the level of the rational mind.

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Life Streets in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

What are the most important precautions to keep in mind when encouraging experimentation?

By definition, any experimentation includes the readiness to make mistakes. You cannot encourage experimentation and at the same time strive to avoid mistakes. However, you should try to minimize those mistakes that might harm other people or would biblically be labeled as sin. When considering this question, you should keep in mind that the attempt to avoid risk-taking measures may contribute to sin as well (for instance, the sin of neglect).

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Role-Plays in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

Rather than focusing on both strengths and weaknesses, isn‘t it wiser to look exclusively at one‘s strengths and ignore the weaknesses?

It is true that your focus should not be on “getting rid of weaknesses,” but on building up strengths. However, both strengths and weaknesses must be addressed. The attempt to simply ignore weaknesses can have disastrous results, both in terms of character development and in terms of efficiency in reaching one’s goals.

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Scaling Techniques in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

What is the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious mind in Spiritual Change Talk?

In contrast to mainstream coaching techniques, Spiritual Change Talk gives credit to the powerful influence that the unconscious mind has in the area of attitude and behavioral changes. Particularly in Change Talk Plus, the unconscious mind is consistently addressed. While techniques that are primarily based on the rational mind and on will-power can be adequate for reaching some goals, deep-rooted attitude and behavioral changes can only be expected if the hidden needs of the unconscious mind are synchronized with those of the conscious mind.

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Intuitive Decision Making in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

When should provocative techniques be applied, and when not?

As a rule of thumb, provocative techniques can be applied much more frequently than our societies’ code of politeness would make us believe. The most important precondition for using these techniques is the following: The people we are dealing with should sense that we accept them as persons, and that we respect their views. On the basis of this, the irritation that emerges from all provocative techniques—provocation is meant to be irritating—can trigger deep-rooted change processes. The stronger the foundation of acceptance and respect (and the stronger it radiates from you), the more effective the provocative techniques. People who don’t naturally radiate acceptance should be more reluctant in applying provocative techniques.

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Provocation Techniques in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

Why do most people who start a change process successfully, not manage to follow through?

The two chief reasons are the following:
  1. These people don’t have a coach (mentor, counselor, leader) who supports them in this process.
  2. Their coach (mentor, counselor, leader) has no clear strategy for the time beyond the actual coaching process.

How can I get a copy of the e-book, Text Messaging in Spiritual Change Talk?

You can download a synopsis of the e-book by clicking on the 'Spiritual Change Talk' tab to the left. This synopsis gives you an overview of the concept, the contents, the publication date, and the price.

How can I find more detailed information about the three factors undermining the empowerment process?

All three factors have a common denominator—pride. The book The 3 Colors of Community describes in detail the background of the link between pride and leadership, and how the energy behind pride can be used in the process of investing in the empowerment of people.

What is the philosophy behind the focus on asking questions in Spiritual Change Talk?

At its deepest level, it is an expression of what NCD calls the “all by itself” principle. Most of the questions being asked in Spiritual Change Talk do not focus on collecting information, but on providing stimulus to help the trainees discover the answers on their own—in other words, releasing the potential that God has already placed within them.