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NWC Manual (Revised 2021)
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New Worshiping Communities Manual

Pittsburgh Presbytery

Pittsburgh Presbytery

New Worshipping Communities Commission

901 Allegheny Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA  15233

Revised June 2021

Table of Contents

Why Start New Worshiping Communities        

What is a New Worshiping Community        


Core Values and Benchmarks        


Strategy for Starting New Worshiping Communities        

Guidelines for Organizing as a Congregation        

NWCC Charter (DRAFT)

NWC Task Force Responsibilities for Commission Members        

NWCC Discipline Policy (DRAFT)

Contact Information












Why Start New Worshiping Communities

In Pittsburgh Presbytery we invest in the creative, risky, and joy-filled work of bringing New Worshiping Communities to life. This means we choose to dedicate human and financial resources in support of emerging faith communities and their leaders. This means we are listening for the Spirit to lead us, and we are eager to find collaborators in both existing congregations and in unexpected places across our county. We worship and serve a God who wants to be a blessing to the nations and who goes looking for lost sheep, coins, and people, calling them back into communion with God, with one another, and with the world. Part of being adopted into the family of God is participating in God’s activity in the world.  

Jesus was sent to be the incarnate love of God. He came to seek and save the lost
, not to be served but to serve and give up his life. “Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21-22).  At the very end of his earthly ministry, Jesus sent the disciples into the world just as God had sent him. He sent them and still sends us today with his peace and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He sends us proclaiming, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9).  Filled with peace and the Holy Spirit, early followers of Jesus spread the gospel through a web of relational networks and saw exponential growth in a very short period of time. Therefore, if we are today’s stewards of the love of God by our very nature; if we are in fact a people sent by Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit… THEN… to whom and where is God sending us?

Consider the United States of America as a
 field ripe for the harvest of new disciples. There is an enormous need in post-Christian America to plant new indigenous faith communities that will meet the Holy Spirit out beyond the spaces we have known as church.  In addition to post-Christian Westerners, there are non-European immigrant populations coming to the US in massive numbers. We believe that the call of God is a call to do life together. If we truly want to participate in faith with the post-Christian West and the growing immigrant populations, we must create new worshiping communities that encounter God as God is known locally, opening our understanding of scripture and opening our lives to community and relationships with God’s people.

Church planting is also one of the greatest ways to renew and revitalize established churches because it connects congregations to the work of God in their neighborhoods, while fanning into flame the missional Spirit of God in the local congregation. That excitement washes back into the life of the established church.

The planting of new worshiping communities will require fresh and innovative strategies and partnerships within our presbytery.  We will likely not be parachuting into strategically predetermined neighborhoods with fully
equipped ministers with a pre-packaged agenda. Rather, together we will be looking and listening for the wind of Spirit blowing and seeking to hoist our sails into that gust of God’s Spirit. We will be identifying emerging local leaders in our churches, seminaries, and neighborhoods who are evangelists and apostles already at work building community and then asking one another how Pittsburgh Presbytery can come alongside the work of God in our midst. This kind of missional leadership is about being prayerful, present, watchful, and attentive.  It will necessitate adaptive and discerning leaders, attentive to the rumblings of God in our church and in our neighborhoods. This will require a connectional spirit among all our churches, together seeking the peace of our neighborhoods.  It will require us to let Christ build the kin-dom of God while we make disciples and see more heaven on earth as Christ’s king-dom comes near through his sent ones, Pittsburgh Presbytery, participating in the work of God.

New Worshiping Community Definition

A New Worshiping Community is…

Brief Definition

Long Definition




Responding to Christ’s gift and call, we do all these things only by God’s grace, seeking—above all else—to glorify God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.


The vision of the New Worshiping Communities Commission (NWCC) is that the churches of Pittsburgh Presbytery will unite in their dedication to living out the Great Commission. At the core of that commitment is a passion to share the good news of Jesus in word and deed and to gather together in new worshiping communities. These new communities will engage people in the saving love of Jesus Christ, encourage them to put their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, stimulate their growth as disciples who love one another, and participate in God’s work for justice, equity, and reconciliation in the world. This vision will connect with the denominational initiative, 1001 New Worshiping Communities.

The NWCC intends to lead Pittsburgh Presbytery to dedicate itself to the work of starting new worshiping communities by:

Discernment of Person & Place

Each NWC will emerge in a unique way. Some will come from a move of the Spirit in a particular individual with a sense of call to a particular place or people group. Others may come from the need to put a NWC in a particular location that is discerned by the NWCC. Some will come from a decision of an established congregation to expand or rebirth its ministry. Whatever the case, special care and attention will be taken to assist the leaders to discern the genuine nature of the call and the reasoning behind the desire to initiate a particular NWC.

Core Values & Benchmarks

Core Values

In order to carry out its vision, each new worshiping community will hold the following core values:


Getting started:

The Leadership Team uses Starting New Worshiping Communities, a discernment process of the PCUSA, to develop an identity statement, identify a target community, and establish a mission plan.

The NWC will work to meet the definition of a new worshiping community on p. 4 of this manual.  By the end of its first full year of gathering, a new worshiping community will show:

  1. Oversight

  1. Sustainability

  1. Outreach


This is a sample covenant. An actual covenant will be developed in conversation between the NWC Commission and the leaders of a New Worshiping Community.

This covenant is between Pittsburgh Presbytery (through the NWC Commission) and ______________ (name of new worshiping community).

Pittsburgh Presbytery (through the New Worshiping Communities Commission) will:

The Task Force will:

The New Worshiping Community will:

The NWC leader(s) will:

  1. Work with NWCC to develop the NWC
  2. Attend the Discerning Missional Leadership Assessment (DML) within the first year
  3. Attend at least one training event per year, including the 1001 Accelerator Training, within 12 months of the NWC receiving a Seed Grant.
  4. Attend ethics seminars at Pittsburgh Presbytery
  5. Administer sacraments as authorized by the NWC Commission
  6. Meet with the task force
  7. Provide pastoral oversight as prescribed by the Book of Order (PCUSA)
  8. Cultivate excellence in leadership of worship, stewardship, discipleship, outreach, and mission
  9. Be accountable to the NWCC
  10. Meet monthly with a coach


___________________________________________________        _______________________

NWC Leaders(s)        Date

___________________________________________________        _______________________

Task Force Chair        Date

___________________________________________________        _______________________

NWC Commission Member        Date

Strategy for Starting New Worshiping Communities

Each New Worshiping Community is different. The order in which the activities are carried out may vary.  These are guidelines rather than a recipe for starting new worshiping communities. This strategy assumes that groups will be using the Starting New Worshiping Communities resource from PCUSA.

Phase 1: Discerning

Who will do it?

Potential NWC leader, discernment group, partner congregation or NWC Commission


Starting New Worshiping Communities (pp. 4-24)


  • A decision to move forward
  • A discernment group (a group of people willing to pray and explore possibilities for a potential NWC, who may not plan to be part of the new community on a long term basis)
  • An understanding of the expectations of the presbytery and denomination
  • A covenant with Pittsburgh Presbytery (see p. 9 of this manual)


Gather a discernment group that will commit to meeting regularly for Bible study, prayer, and discernment using Starting New Worshiping Communities, pp. 4-24

  • Consult with the NWC commission as early as possible in the process
  • Covenant with a NWC coach (coordinated by NWCC)
  • Identify a discernment team
  • Explore the definition of “new worshiping community” (p. 4 of this manual)
  • Complete the DML process
  • Review the NWCC manual with your liaison
  • Develop and sign a covenant with Pittsburgh Presbytery (p. 9 of this manual)

Phase 2: Gathering A Team

Who will do it?

NWC leader and discernment group with support from NWC Commission


Starting New Worshiping Communities (pp. 25-35)


  • Leadership Team
  • Covenant
  • Seed grant application


  • Meet weekly for prayer and discernment
  • Consult with the NWC commission
  • Walk prayerfully around the community with the discernment team
  • Use the guide to discern the leadership needs of your proposed community
  • Develop a leadership covenant (see p. 34 of Starting New Worshiping Communities)
  • Apply for a Seed Grant

Phase 3: Values

Who will do it?

Leadership Team with support from NWC Commission


Starting New Worshiping Communities (pp. 36-42)


  • Statement of core values of your community


  • Study theology of mission
  • Identify the core values of the leadership team

Phase 4: Vision

Who will do it?

Leadership Team with support from NWC Commission


Starting New Worshiping Communities (pp. 43–63)


  • Vision statement for the NWC


  • Design and carry out neighborhood exegesis visits using the SNWC guide.
  • Identify the “who” (people God is calling you to engage)
  • Develop a statement that clearly articulates the overall vision for the NWC

Phase 5: Embedding, Experimenting, Evaluating

Who will do it?

Leadership Team with help from the NWC Commission


Starting New Worshiping Communities (pp. 64-76)


  • Activities designed with the intended constituency in mind
  • Investment grant application


  • Meet with NWC Commission
  • Spend time in the community
  • Design and carry out experiments in engaging the community
  • Evaluate the activities
  • Review year 1 Benchmarks (see pp. 7 of this manual)
  • Apply for an Investment Grant if appropriate

Phase 6: Mission Plan

Who will do it?

Task Force with assistance from the NWCC


Starting New Worshiping Communities, pp. 77-94


Growth grant application if applicable

Mission plan for the NWC which includes:

  • Leadership and decision-making structures
  • Worship
  • Finances
  • Benchmarks
  • Accountability
  • Outreach
  • Community gathering


  • Meet with NWC Commission and COM
  • Brainstorm ideas for putting the values into practice
  • Draft a mission plan
  • Set benchmarks
  • Apply for Growth Grant if appropriate

Guidelines for Organizing as a Congregation

  1. NWC has been worshiping regularly for at least 1 year.
  2. The number of people participating in the life of the community is adequate to sustain 75% of the budget. This number has been sustained for a year.
  3. Organizing pastor (or other spiritual leader) has been in place for at least 1 year.
  4. Potential elders have been trained in leadership and church governance.
  5. Task force meets regularly and, with the pastor, effectively provides spiritual, financial, and strategic leadership for the community.
  6. Vision has been effectively communicated to the community.
  7. Community membership qualifications and processes have been developed.
  8. Community holds appropriate liability insurance.
  9. Financial procedures are in place and operating effectively with appropriate accountability and ownership.
  10. Pastor/leader has received ethical training by the presbytery. Background checks for all leaders have been completed.
  11. 10% of community giving is directed to mission.
  12. Community is incorporated as a non-profit organization.
  13. NWC shows evidence of consistently setting and reaching benchmarks.
  14. Bylaws have been approved by the Task Force.
  15. PIN number has been obtained from PCUSA.
  16. Plan of union (for union congregations) has been approved by governing bodies.
  17. Congregation has elected officers.
  18. Congregation has obtained EIN# from IRS using form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.
  19. Pastor has been called by the congregation (if appropriate); call forms are signed; the pastoral call has been approved by presbytery.

New Worshiping Communities Commission Charter and Membership


At the September 1999 meeting of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, the Presbytery adopted the following recommendation, creating what was then called the New Church Development Commission.

Council recommends that Presbytery create an administrative commission to be known as the New Church Development Commission [G-9.0503a(2)], which will report semi-annually to the Presbytery and have the following powers:

  1. To create two new church development (NCD) task forces to plan and implement new church start-ups in a) the Pittsburgh north side community affiliated with the Pittsburgh Project and b) the western area of Allegheny County;
  2. To create and supervise future NCD task forces as appropriate;
  3. To request budgets from Presbytery to implement and staff such new church developments; and
  4. To assume all powers and responsibilities of a session for the benefit and ministry of the new congregation and to lead such a church as authorized in G-7.0200, Organizing a Particular Church, or to delegate such powers and responsibilities to the new congregation when said Commission deems it appropriate to do so.

Since 1999, there have been significant changes in the Book of Order, the structure of the Presbytery, and within the PC(USA) regarding new church development and new worshiping communities.  As such, at its meeting on December  1st 2021, the Commission approved the following charter for adoption by the Presbytery:

  1. Membership
  1. The New Worshiping Communities Commission shall have twelve (12) members, of whom six (6) shall be ruling elders and six (6) shall be teaching elders.
  2. They shall be elected in compliance with the principles of inclusiveness, participation, and representation.
  3. The quorum of the New Worshiping Communities Commission shall be a majority of its membership.
  4. Standing Members - Any individual serving in the following roles shall be asked to serve as a member of the commission if they meet the qualifications listed in 1a-b
  1. 1001 New Worshiping Communities Staff Members.  
  2. The Director of the Center for Adaptive and Innovative Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary or its successor program.  
  1. These individuals shall serve regular terms as part of a rotating class, and shall not serve more than two consecutive terms as a voting member.  
  2. If a standing member is ineligible to serve as a voting member, they shall be afforded voice but not vote as part of the commission.  

  1. Authority - The Commission is established per G-3.0109b(4):
  1. Administrative commissions are designated to consider and conclude matters not involving ecclesiastical judicial process, except that in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities they may discover and report to the designating council matters that may require judicial action by the council.  Functions that may be entrusted to administrative commissions include, but are not limited to developing immigrant fellowships, organizing new congregations, merging congregations, or forming union or federated congregations (G-5.05);

  1. Powers and Responsibilities
  1. To create and supervise new worshiping community task forces as appropriate;
  2. To request budgets from Presbytery to implement and staff such new worshiping communities; and
  3. To assume all powers and responsibilities of a session for the benefit and ministry of the new worshiping community and to lead such a community as authorized in G-1.02 (Organizing a Particular Church).

  1. Accountability - The Commission shall be directly accountable to, and shall report directly to, Presbytery. The Commission shall hold stated meetings and may, with due notice, hold special meetings as called by the Chair or by two (2) members of the Commission.

NWC Task Force Responsibilities (For NWC Commission Members)

Members of the NWC Commission serving on NWC Task Forces:

  1. Will be the primary representatives of Pittsburgh Presbytery on the Task Force
  2. Will attend Task Force meetings as voting members
  3. Will attend worship services and other programs of the NWC when possible
  4. Will stay up-to-date on NWC strategy through attending training events and reading relevant resources
  5. Will take an active role helping the Task Force develop NWC strategies that reflect current NWC principles
  6. Will pray regularly for the NWC
  7. Will report to the NWC Commission at each commission meeting
  8. Will assure that the NWC provides financial, attendance, and mission reports to the commission at least quarterly
  9. Will assure that covenant and benchmarks are developed, adopted, and annually reviewed and revised and that progress toward meeting the benchmarks is regularly evaluated
  10. Will provide pastoral support to the project

New Worshipping Communities Commission Discipline Policy (DRAFT)


The proper administration of church discipline is central to the reformed understanding of what it means to be the church.  Within our Book of Order, the Rules of Discipline outline the process, procedures, and limitations in regard to matters of church discipline.  The New Worshipping Commission is entrusted with all powers normally given the Session of a congregation, as they pertain to New Worshipping Communities which would include administration of discipline as needed.

  1. The primary area of responsibility for the commission will be discipline matters of those who are employed by the Presbytery as leaders in a New Worshipping Community.
  2. If the commission receives an accusation, either in writing or verbally[1], against someone under the authority of the commission, it shall report the accusation to the General Minister of the Presbytery and the Personnel Committee of the Presbytery.  
  3. If the person against whom the allegation has been made is under the authority of another body[2], the commission shall notify that body of the accusation and relinquish all authority over the matter until the discipline process is completed.  The commission retains authority over the individual’s employment status during and after the discipline process.  
  4. If the commission is deemed to have sole authority over the individual in question, they shall conduct an inquiry into the allegation to determine its veracity.  
  5. If the commission is unable to determine the veracity of an allegation, it shall request the assistance of the Stated Clerk in appointing, training and supporting an investigating team to inquire into the accusation.  
  6. The Investigating Team shall uphold the principles and practices of the Rules of Discipline in conducting their work.  
  7. The final report of the Investigating Team shall be shared with the entire commission, the Personnel Committee, and the General Minister.  

NWCC Contact Information


Elder Vera White (

Elder Gene Walker (

Staff Liaison:

Rev. Brian Wallace ( / 412-323-1402

[1] A verbal accusation would be one made in the presence of at least two members of the commission

[2] This would include the Session of the congregation for someone who is a member, the Commission on Preparation for Ministry if the person is enrolled in the ordination process, or the Presbytery for an ordained minister of word and sacrament.