How can the church communicate God's transcendence and immanence to the New Age community using nature?

I have a heart to reach out to local communities with deep pagan and New Age beliefs. I’m learning how to make the gospel message accessible to them where they’re at, without compromising truth along the way. In so doing, I keep looking at what the modern church offers and am asking myself if we’re missing something.

For some time now, I have been attempting to ponder on the idea of God’s transcendence (His distinction, independence from and existence over creation) being simultaneous with his immanence (His ‘remaining in’ and involvement in creation). Both ideas are brought nicely together in Ephesians 4:6 - “one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

I’m thinking about this particularly in the context of the natural world around us today. One of the ways in which I personally engage with God is through being in nature. More and more, I’m able to understand and experience a fraction of both God’s transcendence and immanence when I’m surrounded by trees and leaves, birds and wild flowers. These things speak to me of concepts like God “upholding the universe by his word of power” (Heb 1:3). Also, I see the gospel message woven throughout so much in creation (e.g. a caterpillar to butterfly transformation = resurrection, new life; miles long underground myconium networks sending nutrients to whole forests = God’s transforming power working throughout the body of Christ etc), it’s breathtaking!

At the same time, I see a very fine line between moving towards nature to worship God and falling into the trap of worshipping nature. When I think about these things, I’m often reminded of what CS Lewis writes in Chapter 2 of ‘The Four Loves’;

Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.

This resonates with me so much. Being in nature helps me understand what the Bible has taught me about God. It gives a visual and sensual experience to the words of scripture. Sadly, when someone is not rooted in the words of scripture, they take this experience of nature and apply a different divinity to it. CS Lewis also writes about those suffering from ‘Dark Gods’ i.e. paganism:

Those suffering from Dark Gods can equally use her (I suppose) for their creed. That is precisely the point. Nature does not teach… We must make a detour - leave the hills and woods and go back to our studies , to church, to our Bibles, to our knees. Otherwise the love of nature is beginning to turn into a nature religion".

He has explained so concisely what is happening when someone seeking spiritual understanding turns to nature and goes no further. In stark contrast, the standard church gathering is in a room, filled with technology, synthetic lighting, screens, rows of uniform seats, and rarely any windows. (Also as an aside, I notice how the standard church’s tea, biscuits, cakes and sweets is incredibly off-putting for the New Age community). I know God moves powerfully in every setting, but I do find this disconnection with what He’s made a little distracting for me, and no doubt for many people involved in ‘spirituality’. Yes, worshipping and sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ is being present in God’s creation - a very essential practice - but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. Most of the time, I’d say these elements of modern church practice fulfil very practical needs. But I am so aware it is off-putting to those we’re evangelising to in the New Age and pagan community.

We have the potential of reaching out to people using nature to reflect concepts of the creator and the Gospel message by going out into the environment that God originally placed us in. At the same time, we have the very big challenge of teaching people that worshipping nature is sinful and that we’re to direct our love to the creator only. I believe that we can all benefit from understanding God’s glory more intimately through being present and more connected to nature.

Is there a way we can step out into the natural world more to engage those with spiritual hunger, without it being at the cost of faithfulness to God and the gospel message?

What can the church be doing differently regarding this? And does anyone have any experience of these things I’ve raised, or aware of Christians who are already engaging in the New Age community this way?

(I appreciate that this is a very niche question!)


Hi @alison,

Thank you for this lovely and thought-provoking question. You’ve taught me a lot through these quotes and experiences.

One framework I might attempt is a fulfillment framework. The Apostle Paul’s sermon in Acts 17 is helpful. He starts with the people’s extremely religious character, then he says, there’s a greater power than you know: the God who made the world and everything in it - he is Lord of heaven and earth.

To put it as simply as I can:
If someone is disenchanted with the world, I might see if there is a note of unfulfillment and emptiness that could be met with the reality of Jesus’ love and joy.

If someone is enchanted with the world, I might see if they want even more than nature can give. Perhaps if they had stronger, greater desires this could lead them to worship the Creator rather than the creation.

However, I am stepping out of my own experience and areas of research in saying this. So I offer this more as a proposal for your consideration rather than the definitive answer. But I’m interested to explore this with you and others.


Thank you, @Carson , I have been looking into this for sometime, but am unable to really find any discourse on this topic because it is obscure and unconnected with many Christians’ experience of evangelism. I appreciate your thoughts!

This is a helpful way of seeing the issue here: enchantment with the world; over-enchantment, to the point of idolatrous worship. This is certainly the direction that I feel conversations need to go in general with people in this community. However, I’m very aware that once they come along to church, they enter into a building full of all the mainstream gadgets that many in the pagan community are trying to escape from. For them, a stuffy building with lights, screens and rows of seats doesn’t shout ‘Jesus has greater power than the world’ but probably shouts ‘we’re disconnected from the creation that was breathed into existence by the word of God’. I feel fairly sensitive to this antithesis to paganism because I try and bring New Age friends along to church and I hear what they’re seeking. I believe the Gospel has power, and that we don’t need to dress it up or down for the truth to be made known. However, I also see churches always trying to make themselves relevant to the local urban community, but I feel this is one area very overlooked, naturally because churches are found within towns and cities.

However, I’m also painfully aware of some churches in the world who do try and make themselves relevant to the New Age community by hosting Spirit cafes and Psalm readings that is basically a Christianised New Age practice, to try and draw people in based on the spirituality. They are trying to connect with the NA community by adopting their practices under a Jesus guise which I believe is erroneous and unbiblical. I’m therefore trying to navigate what a scriptural engagement with nature that truly reflects the surpassing greatness of Jesus would look like in practice.


Hey, @alison!
This is such a great question, and one which I have wrestled/am wrestling with myself. Though, mine would be in more of an ‘ecotherapy’ setting rather than an evangelistic setting.

I wanted to begin with something you said, which seems to reflect the crunch you (and others) feel.

With this statement, it sounds like to me that you are saying that nature only matters insofar as it has evangelistic value. That is, that it’s only a tool for evangelizing people. Now, knowing you, I don’t think you actually believe that, but I realize that the crux of your question is evangelistic in nature and that you are wondering more specifically about the evangelistic value of nature.

I think that in order to get to and understand the evangelistic value of nature, one must acknowledge/recognise/revel in nature’s overall intrinsic value. I think you have asked elsewhere on the forum, What is the purpose of nature? (Or something along those lines…)

My pithy response is that the purpose of non-human nature is exactly what the purpose of humanity is: to be, to do (what God has created it for), and to glorify the Creator. The natural world is absolutely teeming with life, and that life is life for its own sake. It is not there merely to serve our human purposes. That is, it is not merely a tool – whether a tool to help us survive (leaves for air oxygenation, wood for housing, soil for growing, animals for food, etc.) or a tool for discovering spiritual truths.

I observe and lament with you that, oftentimes, we in the more urban, Western world live completely disconnected from the natural world. We seldom know how to engage with it or read its signs (that is, a mode of communication). It is only a tool to us…something to be controlled and/or wiped out if we deem it necessary. It has no value apart from its value in relation to us.

It’s like, for so many eons, we were at the mercy of nature, and, oftentimes, “she” was brutal. But now, technology has allowed us to largely master “her”. (Those last two sentences just sort of came out of me, and now I’m wondering if, like Carson’s fulfillment/enchantment musing, there is also a layer of questioning whether domination/warfare or collaboration correctly describes the relationship between humankind and nature.)

I mean, ultimately, it seems you question comes down to just that: How are we to correctly relate to the natural world? God commands us to neither worship nor neglect it.

Tangentially, can I ask if you have found any common ground re. nature on which to stand with your New Age friends? If you’re wanting to make a case from nature, perhaps there needs to be some common starting point.

Perhaps we (that is, the church) start with stepping out into and engaging with the natural world for its own sake, and not merely for it to be a vehicle for spiritual truths. We are fellow creatures, after all, and together we can glorify God.

I somewhat disagree with Lewis when he says that Nature does not teach. And I don’t think I’m alone, for Paul writes to the Roman church:

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. [1:20]

Even Jesus answers the Pharisees:

‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’ [Lk. 19:40]

…and seems to speak to the intrinsic value of non-human life:

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them… Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. [Lk 12:24, 27]

I believe the natural world has value with and without respect to us humans, and, furthermore can and does communicate. What it communicates is perhaps a good discussion to have with those from a more pagan/New Age background.

P.S. what does it mean to worship nature? Would your New Age friends say they are “worshipping” nature? I’m just wondering how they would conceptualise it. :slight_smile:


What a thoughtful question @alison ! I can relate to that desire of wanting to be closer to God’s creation when worshiping God, something that’s often absent in modern church buildings. I grew up visiting hindu temples, which are commonly built on mountain tops. Climbing the mountains, listening to the birds, or the sound of water trickling down the mountains and feeling the breeze would fill me with a sense of awe for the Creator. So when I started attending churches, nature was an aspect I greatly missed, especially in churches that looked more like movie theaters! When I have had the opportunity to enjoy christian corporate worship amidst nature during church retreats, I have found those services to be thoroughly refreshing. Perhaps, planning a church retreat closer to nature can be a mode of reaching out to your new age friends. It may spark new questions and conversations to really get to know what they believe about nature and God.

For example - they may have a different view about transcendence and immanence though they use the same words that you have described .

They are probably put off by by the absence of nature in churches because they may see nature as a part of God or see themselves as influencing nature through worship.

As I read your question, I thought about the many times Jesus preached in the natural world while using examples from it. John 15 comes to mind where Jesus describes himself as the vine and the Father as the vinedresser and how we can do nothing apart from him! Romans 1:25 is another helpful verse. It was a verse that was shared to me when I was still a hindu. It convicted me to give glory where it is due. It is similar to the approach Carson shared.

I think the second option is what worked with me in drawing me to Christ! Love how clearly Carson states the logic behind the approach.

I also agree with Kathleen that christians are neither to worship nor neglect nature. I would be curious what a new ager perceives the Christian approach to nature is.


Thank you @kathleen and @lakshmi for your thoughts, it’s so helpful for me as I process this topic further.

Yes, this is the deep issue. And from that, how can we use it to evangelise. You’re right, I don’t see this as the only purpose of nature. For me, it reflects that abundance of God. Do there need to be that many types of rose/shark/grass etc? The over abundance of species, forms and settings illustrates a wonderful and generous maker. It reflects his glory.

I also struggled to agree with Lewis’ statement at first, but I finally took him to be meaning that whilst creation does point to the creator (Romans 1:20), unless we have some direction in which to understand the creator, we will make sense of it within our own context of life. The Bible is a guardrail against falling short of the full lesson that nature can teach us. I may be wrong in how I understood Lewis here, but it’s where I got to in this thought process.

Interestingly, I have just dug up an essay by Paul Kingsnorth, a British commentator and writer, who is passionate about the environment. I’m so glad I just came back to this essay, which happens to offer some insight for this conversation. In his essay, (of which I’d highly recommend you read entirely) The Cross and the Machine, he describes his journey from atheism to spirituality in which nature was a dominant signpost:

Trudging across moors, camping by mountain lakes as the June sun set, I could feel some deep, old power rolling through it all, welding it together, flowing from the land into me and back again. With Wordsworth, I was dragged under by “A motion and a spirit, that impels / All thinking things, all objects of all thought / And rolls through all things.” Nothing humans could build could come close to the intense wonder and mystery of the natural world; I still believe that to be self-evidently true. This was my religion. Animism, pantheism, call it what you will: This was my pagan grace.

How much this sounds like Lakshmi’s experiences of climbing the mountain to the temple! It has just reminded me of the quantity of imagery used in the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern texts of gardens and mountains as the places in which to encounter God/the gods.

From this atheist worldview, Paul KIngsnorth got involved in wicca and Buddhist zen, as he desperately searched out the spiritual parameters of the creation he was enjoying. I think this illustrates the point that I think CS Lewis is trying to get at. It was only after Kingsnorth started hearing nature placed in the context of Biblical narrative did it fully make sense, and he finally converted to Christianity. It’s certainly something I see played out in the New Age community around me. I think it’s an important thing to be aware of.
Kingsnorth writes about those who have not yet understood the Gospel as the framework to understand life:

G. K. Chesterton once declared, contra Marx, that it was irreligion that was the o pium of the people. “Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world,” he explained, “they will worship the world. But above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.” Here we were.

I find his pre-Christian conclusions alarming and poignant, and rather hitting the nail on the head:

I went searching, then, for the truth. But where to find it? Elders, saints, and mystics are notable these days for their absence. In their place we are offered a pick’n’mix spirituality, on sale in every market stall and pastel-shaded hippy web portal. A dreamcatcher, a Celtic cross, a book about tantra, a weekend drum workshop, and a pack of tarot cards with cats on them, and hey, presto: You’re ready for your personalized “spiritual” journey. On the other side, you will find no exhortation to sacrifice or denial of self, and certainly no battered and bleeding god-man calling you to pick up your cross and follow him. No, you will find instead the perfect manifestation of everything you wanted in the first place: the magnification of your will, not its dissolution. Expressive individualism disguised as epiphany, the reaching prayer of a culture that doesn’t know how lost it is.

I’m still working on it! I did offer the explanation of ‘God’s glory’ but that doesn’t seem to have gained traction yet. Clearly there’s a disconnect in what that even means which I need to ponder on. @Lakshmi, great idea to have church retreats in nature, in which we can blatantly enjoy the surroundings and praise our creator for them. This seems a great setting in which to invite New Age friends, and yes, it was what Jesus did!


Hi @alison,

I went looking and this video expresses some creative concepts that might be useful to you:

It’s intriguing that Jesus was connected to nature and appreciated nature. This gives us a paradigm for our own approach to God’s creation. I also appreciate that he provides summaries of scientific research about how being immersed in Creation is restorative for our health and well-being. There’s also a discussion about how we are called to care for creation, and not simply use it as a tool.

Some practices recommended:

  • Gratitude
  • Awareness and appreciation with all of our senses
  • Pick up trash
  • Create ephemeral art
  • Meditating on Scripture in the context of Creation
  • Draw what you see or journal about it

I hope that might spark some creativity for you and your friends as well.


@Carson , this is really great - exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. It’s really great to hear how they suggest using nature to connect with God. They suggest methods that I’ve only seen practised in other spiritual contexts, so it was really freeing to see it in a biblical framework, and not squashed in to force it to work theologically, but they talk about it as a natural outworking of being in God’s creation. Practically, they make room for nature habits that I already try and include in my own life. They talk about sitting still and giving thanks. In a lot of spiritual nature engagement practices, this is often called a ‘sit spot’ and gratitude is given in many spiritual contexts. I know people who will thank the tree for its bark, or thank the fairies for the herbs. It’s so refreshing to see gratitude directed to the creator, and not some nameless force!

The lady in the video seems to be coming at it from the point of view of first disciplining Christians in order to work with nature, which I think is great. The guy, on the other hand, seemed to talk more from the perspective of using nature to disciple. For example, one starts in creation to know God, the other starts by knowing God to understand creation. I really liked the subject being approached from both ends. I’m imagining an outdoor church setting which would have maturing Christians and also drawing in new/not-yet believers. This seems like a good double pronged approach to meeting the different discipleship needs.

They seem rigorous in the way they approach Bible teaching, and it’s experiential, and makes room for the Holy Spirit. I’m so encouraged by this, thanks for finding it!


When I hear the word or think of the word nature, I immediately think of all wildlife, and then all the beauty of plants, trees, mountains, and flowing water. All I see is God!

The perfect song out there right now for this topic is by Leanna Crawford called ‘How Can You Not’. I so can relate to her song every time I am admiring the beauty of God’s infinite creations. If you haven’t heard this song yet, here are a few of the lyrics of it to clarify what I am meaning.

I see the sun rise in the morning
And a million stars at night
I hear the birds, they can’t stop singing
I see the sunset and I wonder
If He paints it just for me
Nobody else could make a world so beautiful
How could I question his love when
It’s everywhere I go
Wherever I look I find another miracle
How can you not see God
In every little thing
In every little moment
How can you not feel loved
How can you not
How can you not

Seriously, how can you not? :heart_eyes:

I never knew that there are people out there that actually worship nature as they would God. I wonder if it started out that way for them. Or do they become impatient and do, in a sense, what the Israelites did when they created the Golden Calf?

Its a bit funny to me, when I will look at a flower, lets say an Orchid. I admire all the beautiful colors, and details in its petals. Some would say nature created that, not knowing that nature is actually God. He created everything! He stops the bodies of water to not go past the shoreline, although there is enough water in probably one ocean to cover the entire earth. As we know trees give off oxygen, which we need to breathe. The earth didn’t just come up with that idea, God did. All things that God has created to grow from the earth ALL have a purpose. Not just for human purpose but also for all the insects and animals living in the wild. Koala Bears only eat Eucalyptus leaves, and God puts them in areas surrounded by Eucalyptus leaves! Look at the Chameleon. I find it just amazing how it will change colors to camouflage itself for safety! The caterpillar who encloses itself in a cocoon to be turned into a beautiful butterfly! :smiley:

Look at the insects that are so beneficial for us and for the earth. Honey Bees being #1 with pollination. Then we have those pesky bugs, mosquitos, etc. But God even provides spiders, snakes, opossums, mice etc also to counteract them. Everything for a reason. Well, except for gumball trees!!! I am really anxious to find out the purpose of those except for making a nuisance out of yards and make people look like they are walking around looped! LOL

How about the seasons and how they are laid out for us. Each season does not only change the way the trees and plant life exist, but it also affects the animals and bugs, insects etc. Bears hibernate, snakes shed their skin, others migrate 100’s of miles away, many lie dormant, reproduction within the wild only happens for certain types during specific seasons. How squirrels and other types will “store up” for the winter. How tedious a bird will make their nest! ALL GOD! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Then we have our faithful companions called dogs! <3 I have always believed that dog backwards spells God for a reason! They give unconditional love, and the only other place we can get that is from God! They have so much compassion, loyalty, love and security just like we get from God. NO, I do not worship my dogs! LOL But I do believe they are a gift from God to never be taken for granted.

Sorry for the long post. I am just so excited to be able to openly talk about our Lord without being shut down for it! <3 <3