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A New Church For A New World – Downloadable Course


Prepare your community to thrive in our changing world!



The COVID-19 pandemic of the last two years has already changed our world in significant ways. Many of these changes are still to be identified and it will take years for us to fully understand all that has shifted in our society, our relationships, our work routines, and our own psychology. As a species, human beings have been connected in a universal experience as never before—although we have responded in a variety of ways. The online or ‘virtual’ world has become more deeply integrated into our in-person or ‘real’ world. As one commentator put it, ‘screens have won.’

The impact of these changes is unfolding before our eyes, and as churches, we do not have the luxury of waiting to see what emerges before we change. Unless we begin to act now we may well find that we’ve been left behind by the time the new world becomes clear. The great challenge is that we do not yet know for certain what the nature of our new world will be. We can begin to speculate based on the data that we have available but there is nothing that can give us absolute certainty about what the future holds.

Many Church leaders are dealing with high levels of anxiety and uncertainty. We haven’t been trained for the situation in which we now find ourselves. We need guidance and direction to help us make sense of the world and our ministries. Only then can we manage our anxiety and think clearly enough to prepare for the world ahead.

What we need now, perhaps more than ever, is the capacity to collate information and trends from a wide variety of disciplines and areas of our lives. We need to develop highly flexible strategies for identifying trends and influences, assessing our options, and changing course as we navigate our changing world. And we need to recognise that disturbing trends in the decline of the church can no longer be ignored. COVID has accelerated the decline dramatically.

As frightening and troubling as all this is, there is also hope. The pandemic is not just a crisis. It is also, potentially, a kairos for the global Church—an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, reignite our passion for ministry, and reconnect with the society and people around us.

It is with this challenge in mind that I have developed this A New Church for a New World course. In these six sessions, you will be inspired, challenged, and equipped to reimagine your life as a Christian community. You will be empowered to expand your ministry to reach, and become relevant again, to people who are trying to make sense of the world and their place in it. And you will discover new ways of being Church that, I hope, will excite you and unleash your creativity.

Welcome to a new world! Let’s explore it and learn to serve it together!


Here’s what the A NEW CHURCH FOR A NEW WORLD COURSE has in store for you!

In the six sessions of the A New Church For A New World course, you will be exploring almost every aspect of your community’s life. You will be able to identify how the changes in the world are impacting your community. And you will be given the tools to imagine a new way of expressing your community’s core values, priorities, and purposes.

The six sessions will be shaped around the following six themes:

SESSION ONE: Coming to Grips With the New World

To build a strategy for navigating the new world, we first need to grasp the changes that have happened and how they affect us. Then we need to work through false hopes, unlikely predictions, and our own fears so that we can discern more carefully what is required. Finally, we need to embrace the paradigm shifts and new ways of being that will be needed to thrive in the future.

This session is designed to provide these insights. It will help you to observe your own community and country more carefully, think more critically, and dream more creatively as you work with your team to discern what is needed in your specific situation.

SESSION TWO: A New Worshipping Community

In this session, we explore principles and best practices for online worship. We identify the challenges and benefits of developing an intentional, creative online worship strategy and how to ensure your ministry remains sustainable for the long haul. And we examine how online worship could potentially be affecting what people expect and need from in-person worship.

SESSION THREE: A New Caring Community

In this session, we explore the purposes and characteristics of authentic community and how to nurture those qualities in your own church. And we explore new ways of caring for a faith community and ensuring that members can find the support and help they need in their times of crisis.

SESSION FOUR: A New Growing Community

In this session, we explore what disciple is and how life change actually happens. We come to grips with how the new, online world is informing and shaping the faith of our communities. And we explore how to develop meaningful processes of discipleship, teaching, and transformation both online and offline.

SESSION FIVE: A New Serving Community

In this session, we reimagine what it means to be a serving church and how to draw the entire congregation into the serving ministries of your community. We explore new ways of thinking about mission, evangelism, and outreach, and we discern together what priorities your community should embrace as you reach out to your neighbourhood.

SESSION SIX: A New Way of Sustaining Community

In this final session, we explore innovative ways to fund ministry. We examine how you can manage your energy and that of your volunteers to ensure sustainability. And we examine various technologies and platforms to streamline systems and structures. Finally, we review the entire course and ensure that all the action steps you have developed for your community are remembered and able to be put in motion immediately.

8 reviews for A New Church For A New World – Downloadable Course

  1. Bruce Cornwell

    My wife and I took our church’s leadership (consistory and staff) on an overnight retreat last weekend. Our focus was not only on what the post-pandemic church might look like, but also on what it might look like in our specific context. As both of us have been faithful participants in A New Church for A New World, we had far more resources and information available to us than we could ever possibly have used. We had lively, thoughtful and inspiring discussions about our church’s future. At the end, all were in agreement that our time together had been time extremely well-spent.

    Thank you, John for putting all of this together.

    Bruce K. Cornwell, Pastor
    Community Reformed Church of Colonie

  2. Rev Marc Whitehead

    Undergirded by the findings of the most current research, and yet presented with great humility, “A New Church for A New World” sheds light on the challenges facing the post-pandemic church, while offering practical and relevant suggestions about how to embrace as opportunities those new and emerging realities.

    Timely, and engaging, “A New Church for A New World” helped me to make sense of what I am currently experiencing in my own community of faith, and restored my optimism for its future.

    Marc Whitehead (Rev)
    Crescent Fort Rouge United Church

  3. Ian Harris

    The course has been very stimulating in that it’s given a fresh voice to the issues facing the church in the 21st century. While some of the words might be the same as used in the past, John has given them fresh interpretation for the time and environment in which we now live and seek to live out the embodiment of Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God. Lots of material is provided that requires an equal or greater amount of effort by participants than put in by John to produce the material in the first place! I suspect that the real value for participants and others will be obtained by working through the paper and video material to interpret it into the local context, to discuss and enthuse and be enthused by others, be encouraged to take a fresh look at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

    Ian Harris, New Zealand

  4. Rev Jill Buhr

    Thanks so much for this course. It has been a great blessing to me and as we implement the information practically, I have no doubt that it will be a blessing to the work that God is doing in our church.

    I found the new church worship session most helpful as we will be trying to apply some of the insights that you taught about. At present for our services, we record live on a Sunday (on Facebook). Then download and convert to MP4. Then send it out on WhatsApp to the elderly folk who “don’t do Facebook.” We are finding Facebook is not satisfactory because we can’t do music. (We don’t have any musicians and rely on canned music which isn’t allowed on FB). We are looking into ways of pre-recording?… Or YouTube….so I may just need help!

    Your session on community also has been so helpful as we are communities within the larger community. Some really practical ways of developing a deeper sense of community and oneness in this new world.

    Thank you again for all your help and this great course.

    Rev. Jill Buhr
    Tzaneen Methodist Church

  5. Pastor Annette Buckley

    I would thoroughly recommend the A New Church For A New World course. A group of lay people participated in this course with me, and this led to some fascinating and enthusiastic conversations. It has sparked a renewed sense of purpose and hope for the future. Many people commented on how clearly John explained complicated issues, and how engaging he and the material he presented were. We will encourage as many of our members as possible to consider the questions raised by John over the coming months. Inspired by the issues discussed in the course, we plan to have a retreat weekend early in the new year to begin to discern together how we might live out our call to follow Jesus in fresh, contextual and sustainable ways.

    Thank you John for your gift to us, and blessings on your ministry.

    Pastor Annette Buckley
    Macedon Ranges Partnership
    Uniting Church in Australia

  6. Maree

    In his series, “A New Church for a New World”, John van de Laar provided an insightful look at ‘Church’ now and in our post COVID future, giving us an opportunity for self analysis and creative thinking. It was a thought provoking and challenging six week journey.


  7. Rev Anne Preston

    Rev Anne Preston
    Parish Superintendent
    Christchurch North Methodist Parish

  8. Rev. Dr. Ritva H. Williams

    Thank you John so much for all the time, energy and creativity you pour into this work. The Sacredise website has been bookmarked on my computer for many years now.

    As a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I am always looking to supplement denominational resources because my personal leanings include social justice, eco-theologies, ancient-modern practices, and liberation perspectives. Your lectionary based resources have been especially helpful over the years and my congregation often hears prayers written by “Pastor John van de Laar” or hears quotes or see liturgical pieces “adapted from Pastor John van de Laar at sacredise.com.”

    My goal in coming to St Stephen’s 10 years ago was to lay foundations for mission and ministry in this place for the 21st century, and so we have spent the last decade moving from old organizational models to more nimble, dynamic and fluid structures. We began to incorporate digital media in worship in 2012. We adopted a welcome statement in 2014 declaring our intention to be a place that fosters the full participation of all people, particularly our LGBTQ+ siblings. Our community now is blessed with the presence of many. We committed to serving our neighborhood by partnering with other not-for-profit organizations addressing hunger and homelessness. Just before the pandemic struck we had launched a capital campaign to renovate our facilities to ensure the full participation of persons living with physical disabilities. That was paused.

    All of these steps prepared us well for the pandemic. We were able to pivot quickly from livestreaming just the Sunday sermon to livestreaming the whole worship service. In recent months we were able to secure a digital ministry grant from our Synod that we used to upgrade our camera. We are blessed with a sound/AV/tech team that includes computer engineers and a videographer. During the lockdown we housed two refugee families (one in the church basement, the other in a small house we own). We opened our space to Family Promise of Linn County, a not-for-profit that works with the homeless. We opened a small free pantry, and planted an urban garden that over the last two growing seasons has produced 2000 lbs of vegetables for food pantries in our community. The murder of George Floyd resulted in the formation of an Anti-Racism Team that has spent the last year leading us in recognizing our implicit biases, i.e. how we have been catechized by a white supremacist culture!!

    St Stephen’s is a passionately committed faith community that struggles because of its small numbers (both members and dollars).

    The six sessions of “A New Church for a New World” have been wonderfully helpful. My intention is to share them with our leadership team. We have a tradition of spending the season of Easter doing a small group study of a book that helps focus some aspect of our mission and ministry. My plan for Eastertide 2022 is to adapt your materials into a 6 week process of visioning.

    In addition to serving as a full-time pastor, I also teach New Testament exegesis and interpretation part-time at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque IA. Consequently there is always more work than hours in a day.

    Praise God that there are creative people in the world like you to generate materials that people like me can use to enrich our ministries.

    Blessings from a very appreciative,
    Pastor Ritva

    Rev. Dr. Ritva H. Williams
    St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church

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