May 30, 2020
In 2012, the General Assembly made a bold commitment — to create an environment within the denomination that would lead to the flourishing of the existing church and the birth of at least 1,001 new communities of worship and witness. The Presbyterian Mission Agency went to work creating a system of resources to support this call to equip presbyteries, help potential leaders discern God’s call, develop a system of grants, build leadership capacity, and create a network of coaches prepared to accompany a new worshiping community through all the stages of development. Establishing partnerships and collaboration with other North American denominations, the reach of these resources extends far beyond the PC(USA).
Eight years into a 10-year commitment, the PC(USA) has launched almost 650 new communities across the denomination in small towns, on college campuses and in urban hubs. The courage and witness of these young expressions of church are breathing new life into our historic communities as they call and form new disciples of Jesus Christ.
Research reveals that 1 in 10 new members of an existing congregation was previously unchurched or dechurched, but 44% of the people participating in these new worshiping communities say they were unchurched or of a non-Christian faith before becoming a part of this new community. One leader describes their mission in this way: “Our greatest focus is on the ‘unchurched’ people in our area. We seek to introduce (or re-introduce) Jesus to people in our area who either did not grow up in the church or left the church for some reason. We seek to do so in the manner that is hospitable, nonthreatening and reflecting the love of which Jesus so often spoke.”
Hospitality is a driving value in these communities, and most are marked by flexibility and creativity in their gatherings. In this time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these young communities have quickly shifted to online worship and fellowship. For others, working closely with vulnerable populations, meeting in prisons and assisted living facilities where digital gatherings are not possible, this is an especially difficult time of isolation. As we remember those most affected by the pandemic, may we especially pray for these young expressions of church among us, often led by bi-vocational leaders, many of whom are recent immigrants serving without the full privileges of U.S. citizenship or ordination in the PC(USA). They are a part of our family because of the bold action of the General Assembly. They are among us because we prayed they would be and became intentional about inviting them. They are here because the Spirit has led them to find a home in this church. We belong to one another.
To hear more voices from our growing family, particularly as they minister in the midst of pandemic, download our most recent podcast season and listen to some of our new worshiping community leaders describe their journey and the joy brimming over in their communities. Listen at newchurchnewway.org/season-2-1.
And to see some of our newest communities in action, visit our library of video stories, go to presbyterianmission.org/ministries/1001-2/about-1001/videos.
Nikki Collins; Coordinator of 1001 New Worshiping Communities; Theology, Formation & Evangelism; Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: 1001 New Worshiping Communities
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
For the leaders of new worshiping communities across the PC(USA)
For presbyteries nurturing new worshiping communities within their bounds
For the staff of the 1001 movement
For the Spirit to continue moving across the church calling new leaders and removing barriers for the birth of new communities among us.