What is a new church or new congregation?

According to UMC Path1:

We believe a new congregation is more than a mission project, new worship service or new building. For us, it is a newly organized faith community that is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and:

  • includes regular community worship
  • is theologically Wesleyan
  • has an effective discipling system
  • receives new members
  • demonstrates faithful stewardship
  • is deeply involved in community outreach
  • is willing to plant a new congregation in its first decade

Annual conferences will obviously continue to define what they consider a new congregation.

This definition does not have anything to do with numbers or the way that worship is facilitated. I would add to the list one, holy, catholic, apostolic.

I believe that a home, small group or house church would fit this definition and forget about a decade for this type of community to start a new church. I would say within the first 10 months.

What do you think?

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

5 replies on “What is a new church or new congregation?”

I like reading your post’s because they are generally spot on and to the point – even brief! You have the gift of making your points in few words! I believe you captured the majority of what a new start should be about. Keep up the good work!


Couple of things: 1st, location has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of a church congregation. In fact, most churches (not all) begin to die the moment they locate and build buildings; although, it is not evident at first and they appear to be growing they are in a life cycle point that dictates the coming end. For this reason, I tell the people of Connections UMF that we may never have a permanent church home, which is unsettling to some, but most see it positively. 2nd, a new church is constantly spawning new churches most of which are reabsorbed. Hopefully some will grow and break away to form their own church entities. 10 months or 10 years doesn’t matter; it’s a constant process or fact of life in the generation of the new church(s). Hope that helps and doesn’t confuse the issue. It’s just what I’ve come to see in the past year of actually planting a new church, which is constantly morphing and growing its own personality.

I think I you’re right on. I serve at a mega-church and some of the most effective expressions of church come from these home groups and decentralized forms of church that spring up around us. These are groups that are intentionally seeking Christ in community and seeking to make Christ known in the community. And with that kind of model, we definitely don’t have to wait a decade to plant a new community.

the white elephant in the room andrew is that the institution (which has funded path1) wants growth to happen in the form of numbers that will inevitably invest back in the system.

its not a bad thing, or even unreasonable, but let’s be honest that its part of the equation. if it wasn’t then we’d be planting ‘missions’ that are just about reaching needs of the poor and sick.

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