While we are an international church with congregations all over the world, we don’t have churches everywhere. We recognize that many who share interests in New Church teachings are not going to be near a congregation. We frequently get requests from people wishing to plant a new New Church congregation near them, since they love what they see about New Church beliefs and theology.
How Can You Have a New Church Congregation Nearby?
We aren't a church planting organization, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a New Church group in your community. We offer a great many resources that you can use to worship and be involved with the New Church; either in your home, or in a small group setting. Read on to get started. And if you are already a pastor with your own congregation, we can help you learn more about New Church theology to use in your ministry.
Starting a church group can be as easy as getting together with other people to study the Bible, or other religious publications together. This is a great way to work towards having a church group. Learn more about small group discussions.
Worship is an important component of a church group. We encourage you to expand your group to include worship in several different ways depending on your preference, and we provide vast resources to help with this. Many congregations livestream their services. Learn more or watch these services live with your group.
Or you can create your own worship service, using New Church resources. We provide a vast collection of New Church sermons in various formats: video, audio, and text (pdf) that you can use at a time of your own choosing. The audio versions are searchable by topic, keywords, speaker, etc. Build your worship service around one of these sermons, and add accompaniment music from New Church Music (at newchurchmusic.org).
Some congregations have a very formal order of service, and others have a simpler, streamlined approach. The format of your worship service can be as simple as you like, and can vary according to the number and ages of participants. The format is not the important aspect.
A possible simple format may be to include any or all of the following:
- Light a candle or candles. This can be a great way to involve children
- Open the Bible reciting a simple passage from scripture such as "The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."
- Read a story from the Bible
- Read, listen to, or watch a prepared sermon, or talk about the Bible story with children.
- Sing a song or songs
- Have a prayer, or say the Lord's prayer
- Close the Bible with a benediction, such as "The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."
- Put out candles, if you used them. Again, this can be a great way to involve children.
Additional worship resources are available for developing a Sunday School program, and any of these could also be incorporated into a worship service.
Worship Is of Life
“Worship does not consist in prayers and in external devotion, but in a life of goodwill.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Apocalypse Explained 325)
“You can see that a life of religious devotion without a life of kindness is not a spiritual life, which we must have if we want to worship the Divine.”(Emanuel Swedenborg, New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 124)
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Sometimes, when we think about "church", we think about Sunday worship, or a church building. But the Lord makes it clear that church is more than that; worship is more than a Sunday of singing, prayers, and sermons. So, while those are important, starting a church needs to focus on more than those. It is so important for everyone to love the neighbor. What does that mean? We love the neighbor when we are serving others.
Anything you can do to encourage your group to live their faith, to be of service, to create a personal ministry of service for each member will go a long way towards growing your church group. So concentrate on getting your group together in service opportunities, in ways to serve other people. Doing this gives a cohesiveness to your group, and has them looking to what the Lord asks of us.
Volunteer activities within your group can be one element. Volunteering to lead Sunday School, or for setting up the logistics for a weekly worship service are some examples. Group volunteer activities to help others around you can be even more powerful. Bringing meals to a family in distress; helping a family to rebuild after a disaster; there are countless examples. Serving together is what it is all about.
“Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:26-28)