God’s Enery; a Personal Encounter with researcher Christian Schwarz

About Christian’s quest for deeper understanding of God’s energy, meanwhile exploring its relevance to the Business as Mission Movement. By Gea Gort (BAM Netherlands).

Why did Christian Schwarz immerse himself in the Biblical theme of ‘God’s Energy’? This German theologian had already produced a foundational work through his global research on principles related to healthy church growth and related personality tests. However, he delved into a new subject once again. For twelve years he dedicated himself to research and writing The ‘God’s Energy’ Trilogy. His inquisitive mind will have played a role in embracing this new endeavor, as well as his personal history.

At the age of 17, Christian was already writing books, collaborating with his father, a Lutheran pastor overseeing about forty pastors in the Ruhr region. During this time his father was faced with illness and experienced a renewal in his faith. Christian reminisces, “Normally, Lutheran overseers of churches are neutral, and rather dull people,” with a knowing smile, adding dryly, “That’s why they are chosen. But my father became radical and provocative.” Not everyone may have appreciated this change, but many churchgoers did. Churches connected to his district started to grow and flourish. Christian witnessed this closely as he worked in his father’s office alongside forty other staff members, meanwhile also studying theology and philosophy.

A list with hundred questions

When his father passed away, the infrastructure where Christian had been a part of ended. He was no longer part of the network of churches and supporting staff. However, the experience and background he had witnessed, might very well have awakened his inquisitive mind. Anyhow, he decided after his father’s passing that he wanted to study the principles behind church growth. Christian had heard about a program at Fuller Seminary in California where church-growth studies was offered, so he compiled a list of a hundred questions, and headed to Los Angeles. Well-known figures of that time-period, like C. Peter Wagner, were teaching there. Christian had no intention of obtaining a doctorate; he simply wanted his list of questions answered. He recalls, “The teachers were very helpful. If they didn’t know the answer, they’d say, ‘Wait a moment, I know someone who can help you.'” The program typically focused on studying mega-churches in the U.S. and deriving principles from them. However, Christian’s alert mind wasn’t satisfied with that approach. “There are not so many mega-churches worldwide, the majority of churches are small; you can’t export and apply the lessons as universal principles,” he explains.

Christian didn’t make much progress with the questions he had and proposed to the many organisations to research a thousand churches in thirty countries. While they agreed that this was a good idea, they deemed it impossible. “It’s too expensive and labor-intensive. We don’t have the resources for such an endeavor,” he was told by the (usually visionary) Americans. This response must have fueled Christian’s determination for cross-cultural and denominational research. He believed that principles applicable on a broad scale could be found through data and empirical research. So, this German young man returned home, hired staff members, including a socially skilled researcher, and got to work. He decided to borrow money for this venture because he believed in the value it would yield.

The ‘enterprise’ Natural Church Development

This marked the birth of Natural Church Development (NCD) in the nineteens, and started to grow in worldwide influence the years following. Research was broadly applied to various denominations, from Eastern Orthodox and Catholic to Protestant and charismatic. Findings and principles were published and translated into over forty languages. Christian points out, “We did it very economically,” gesturing towards a stack of books, picking one up and opening it to reveal colorful illustrations. “All the books have the same design, except for the Arabic version. It didn’t work in that language because of the right-to-left reading, and some images were culturally unacceptable.”

Offices were established in over thirty countries, where staff members and volunteers were hired. These initiatives originated from the respective countries though, since Christian believes in self-reliance, as he had practiced himself: “We don’t finance any of the local offices, which was a challenge for many people in developing countries because in their minds we were ‘the Westerners with money’. But that’s not how we work.” Regarding his own financial situation, he shares, “Just before the global economic crisis in 2008 we were debt-free for one year. But the crisis caused a 70% drop in our income. We thought it would blow over quickly, but it didn’t. In hindsight we kept staff members for too long and our debt increased again.”  NCD is still active worldwide, more so in some countries than others, depending on the local people involved. “NCD could be called a movement,” Christian continues, “I have no say in how the local branches function.”

Meanwhile, Christian became increasingly fascinated by the theme of God’s Energy. Since 2010, he has devoted 60% of his time to research and writing the God’s Energy Trilogy. The last part was published in 2022. Once again, this theologian gives space to his business-oriented mindset: interested individuals can undergo for a fee the ESP (Energy Synchronization Process) trajectory, a training consisting of seven sessions.

God’s Energy

How did he come up with the idea of God’s Energy? A straight-forward answer to this question is not provided. It seemed it evolved; more and more questions and ‘aha moments’ arose during his research on church growth and how people flourish. Christian: “I discovered, for example, the working of energy behind the so-called deadly sins. Take pride, for instance. There’s the energy of power behind it, which can empower people, while pride alienates us from God and others. The energy behind it though seems to be the same: either it is directed towards empowering or towards pride. You can’t suppress energy; it comes out one way or another.”

Forbidden word

Another thing which triggered the decision to provide a foundational work on energy, was that Christian encountered time and again that energy was a forbidden word in Christian circles. In his Natural Church Development publications, he used the word ‘energy,’ but publishers in various countries repeatedly asked him to use different words. Meanwhile, he had learned that in the original Greek 34 references to the word ‘energeia’ were used in the New Testament.

Christian argues, “It’s not just one word but a whole word group: a noun, verb, adjective. It’s a broader concept. Think of ‘love’, that is also a broader concept. But, just like the term love can be misused in the world,” he continues, “this doesn’t mean that we eliminate it from our Christian vocabulary.” He adds: “It’s also confusing if we use other terms for energy.” This was all part of a growing conviction that a fundamental work on this topic was necessary.  Link to Bible Scriptures on Energy >>



Thus, the extensive work God’s Energy Trilogy became a reality, a scientific treatise with promising titles such as:

  1. Part 1. God’s Energy – Reclaiming a New Testament Reality
  2. Part 2. God’s Energy – Refocusing our Image of God
  3. Part 3. God’s Energy – Transforming Christianity


God’s Energy & BAM

What can these relatively unknown insights on energy mean for the BAM (Business as Mission) movement? This is not yet clear, but worth of exploring. For example, greater understanding of the Biblical theme of God’s energy can help expose dualistic thinking. His energy: as the trans-personal dimension of God, who is before, under, and behind us. This might help unmask dualistic thinking, which is crucial because of the gap between Sunday and Monday, which is often experienced by Christians. This gap makes it challenging to hear God’s calling as an entrepreneur and expect the Lord to be active on and from the work space.

Connection with non-believers

The concept of energy also provides ways to connect with non-believers, of whom many have a sense of spiritual awareness. Through exchanging experiences how we can experience God’s divine spirit ‘as energy,’ they would be able to engage in the conversation and relate to it. Just to clarify, Christian emphasizes that he distances himself from pantheism (the belief that everything and everyone is divine), and explains how and why this isn’t Biblical. Yet in his conversations with non-believers, he experiences a natural connection around the exchange of how the trans-personal aspect of God can be experienced. After such discussions, he has witnessed in numerous occasions that a desire is expressed to learn more about the personal side of God. Being able to develop natural connections could be of interest to people within the BAM movement because many entrepreneurial Christians have a passion for evangelism and are seeking language and approaches. Could ‘God’s energy’ provide answers and bridge the gap to a common experiential world with believers of other faiths?

The unfamiliarity over the centuries with the Biblical concept of ‘energy’ has linguistic and cultural reasons. This is extensively explained in the first part of the trilogy. Christian remarks, “Throughout history, there have been numerous discussions on various theological matters, but regarding energy, I have found very little to nothing.” As mentioned, it is still unclear what a deeper understanding of this theme will mean for BAM and for the broader Body of Christ. Christian Schwarz also doesn’t have clear answers, but is convinced: “What the implications will be, is not clear yet. But that there will be implications, that is for sure.”


More info Business as Mission international / Gea Gort 


www.bammoves.com  (Podcast & Training)



God’s Energy / Christian Schwarz

Scripture verses ‘energy’ >>

Natural Church Development (NCD) >> 

Traject Energy Synchronization Process (ESP) >>