Archive for the ‘Series’ Category

An Invitation to Help Write Sermons

Monday, March 14th, 2011

At NCL, our sermons are the result of many conversations.  The process begins and ends with teams of volunteers who help with everything from the initial ideation to find implementation.  That is how it should be if we are to offer services that really meet people’s needs.

We are expanding our sermon writing team to pull in more of an on-line presence.  If you are interested, here is the specific way to go about joining us.

  1. Meetings are 2:45 PM to 3:30 PM, Thursdays
  2. If you are interested in receiving an “invite”, send an email to by 2:30 PM the day of the meeting
  3. An email invite in return will be sent to you from our WebEx account.
  4. Step one – follow the email directions for the call in feature via your phone.
  5. Step two – follow the email directions for visual/ video via your computer.
  6. Share your thoughts with us!

I chair the meetings and we use the time to discuss the sermon that will be delivered the following Sunday. It is very fun meeting – thought provoking and inspirational.

What Does NewChurch LIVE Look Like?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011


Since our restructuring, what will NewChurch LIVE look like?  February 13th hopefully answered many of the questions.  For those fans of NewChurch LIVE, this blog entry describes what we are doing to continue building a thriving congregation.  Join us this weekend to check it out!


Our focus on message remains the same.  In a fall survey, the NCL congregation was clear – message is our most important asset.  Our messages focus on relevance, in taking what we talk about on Sunday and having it be transportable into Monday.  To accomplish that task we first look at God’s Word and how it can answer the questions of the 21st century world.  We often use contemporary examples wrapped in culturally relevant imagery.  Our hope is that people will continue to leave feeling inspired.  (Video: How To Build A Sermon)

We are also likewise big believers in a teamwork approach.  Services involve upwards of 20 individuals who help with everything from ideation, to graphics, to sermon construction.    Individuals also often tell parts of their own story as part of the service, either in words or in music.


We purposefully chose more contemporary music.  This is because our primary audience is the first time attender. Many of them are at best uncomfortable with “Christian Rock.”  We are a definitively Christian church – just a branch of Christianity more interested with the inclusionary claims of Jesus vs. the exclusionary claims made by some Christians today.  We seek to reach people where they are.  Secular music with a deeply spiritual message best conveys the message that “you are welcome here.”


Kids are very important to us as a congregation.  We seek to serve families.  Curtis Childs, aka “Mr. Curtis” does a wonderful job with this element our program.  Designed for those in the elementary grades, KidsLIVE seeks to convey the simple yet profound message of God’s presence in their lives.

We recently moved our KidsLIVE program from a separate building into the lobby of the Mitchell Performing Arts Center.  For those too young for KidsLIVE, we are opening the “Green Room” at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center (MPAC) during the service, a very comfortable space where families with young children can watch their children and the service at the same time.

Volunteering/ Service

These elements continue to be critical to NewChurch LIVE.  Approximately 40 individuals volunteer every Sunday at our Sunday worship environment.  Others help out during the week.  Many folks in addition serve on community service projects both local in the greater Philadelphia region.

Small Groups

Small Groups are frankly our biggest “win.”  If a person involves themselves in a small group they often find religion coming alive in new ways.  Our offerings rotate. For example right now, we are offering 2 Bible Study groups, 1 support group for working mom’s, and a bi-weekly program called “Strength” – a program for those with habits, hurts, and hangups (aka all of us!) who want to employ the 12 Steps of recovery to spiritual growth.

Online Presence

All our services are posted online via our homepage, Vimeo, and YouTube.   People can join a live chat on Facebook as well.  We also publish services via Podcasts for those who like to listen while walking!


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

In October we are doing a series called “Toxic.” It focuses on handling the “Hazardous Materials” in our heads – thoughts and concepts that actually get in the way of connecting with God and with others.

Examples so far include being told “Don’t have too much hope.” Other examples were around overly idealistic views of life that left no room for making mistakes.

What would it be for you?

Am I part of Creation or apart from Creation?

Monday, July 19th, 2010

With “Footprints” wrapped up, a few closing reflections.

From a Christian New Church/ Swedenborgian perspective, we as human beings were created as part of creation not apart from creation.  At one time we did live as placed creatures within creation.  That meant we could see God everywhere in creation – the two being inseparable.

Humanity however chose a different path – to place ourselves outside of creation.  So we held God with one hand and creation with the other.  With ourselves encamped in the middle so to speak, we now can “dominate” creation and yes even “dominate” God.  We can push both to the edges of our lives.

What does it mean to have pushed creation to that edge?  What does it mean to have God pushed to that edge?   As I understand NewChurch theology, when we become the sole and only reference point, our lives in a sense collapse in on themselves.  True happiness is when we bring God and creation back to the center.

Emanuel Swedenborg wrote extensively about that connection.  Want to know about the course of our life?  Look at a tree. Want to know how heaven is organized?  Look at the human body.

When we put ourselves on the circumferance, we can then look with awe, wonder, and curriousity into the center.  Ironically, we will then find ourselves not “lessened” but “strengthened” as we act in more integrity with the great notes of the Universe.

So that is where we choose.  Shada Sullivan offered moving reflections at the close of Footprints to that effect.  Yes, we can avoid leadership.  If we are honest with ourselves, as she said, that avoidance often stems from a desire to avoid responsibility.  Stepping up is challenging.  And we need to step up.  We need to really figure out our place in creation.  We need to candidly look at areas in our lives which are driven by greed and envy and obey God’s command – “Thou Shalt Not Covet.”  We need to take seriously the Sabbath – 1/7 of our lives dedicated to the active rest the Sabbath calls us to.    We can do all this with a smile on our face -with grace and elegance – with joy in our heart.  Those changes – a part of the Jesus’ 3rd way – in the end may actually be a part of returning home.

Is it possble to live an “unsurrendered” life as a Christian?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

The short answer – no.

A remarkable piece of Christianity is the concept that we must surrender our lives up. It is a surrendering however to God in a way that helps us to uncover our true selves.

It is so easy though to play with faith. We live in a culture that worships the individual. And of course, that is a source of strength in many instances – loosing ourselves to a “system” is Orwellian.

But there are limits. As Tutu said, thankfully there really is not a “self-made man.” We are where we are by the grace of others and the grace of God. None of us got here “alone.”

A hope – that Christianity rediscovers its heart. We have played such games with faith. Games that include the view of a Church as a club, as a “golden ticket.”

Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door to protest the Pope’s use of indulgences. Emanuel Swedenborg, the New Church’s Martin Luther, figuratively nailed progressive Christian principles to the door of the Protestant Church to protest the concept of salvation by faith alone. Faith needs trust, compassion, kindness, service to be real. It is far more than belief.

Recapturing the heart requires surrender.

Brace for Impact Trailer

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Trailer for our new Series Brace For Impact

Who Inspired You?

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I posted the 10:2 version on my FaceBook page yesterday. This is Christine McDonald’s tribute to her brother Sten Alfelt sans all the other NCL 10:2 stuff.

Everyday Heroes: Lindy Bochneak

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Ellen Herder tells us why her friend Lindy Bochneak is her hero.


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

This week we host a special Valentine’s Day Service to kickoff our “Heroes” series. Not just for married couples, this service is for all of us – single and married alike. We worry what “Love” means. God offers us a great deal in terms of a definition that is both challenging and
comforting. We hope to see you there!

A special service to benefit Haiti Earthquake Relief

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

A piece of New Church theology: “A person living a life of love and compassion is constantly at worship.” Join us in worship, a worship grounded/ planted/ taking root in what we do today out of love, out of compassion.