In the Mikagura-uta, we read:
Since firmly we are determined to believe,
As can be inferred from this verse, Oyasama must have encouraged Her followers to form brotherhoods, or fellowships, fairly early on. Church Headquarters, however, was established at Jiba only in 1888, the year after Oyasama withdrew from physical life. Thereafter, fellowships that had been formed at various places were formally established as churches, one after another.
At local churches, the medo (symbol of worship) of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto and the medo of Oyasama are enshrined, as are the memories of deceased church head ministers, Yoboku, and followers. Church Headquarters and local churches are taught as being "a single breath." Thus, it is by receiving the truth of the Jiba and having Church Headquarters serve as the central basis that church activities are able to unfold in all directions and advance the work of single-hearted salvation.
We are taught that our churches are training centers for single-hearted salvation--centers where the intention of God the Parent should be imparted to more and more people. We are also taught that our churches are to serve as models of the Joyous Life for their communities. We Yoboku, who are affiliated with one or another of these churches, should always cultivate the mind of saving others, implement salvation work, share the joy of faith with one another, and help one another in a unity of mind so that our churches may fulfill their role.
Church head ministers, who are to serve as their churches' core, should nurture their Yoboku and strive to accomplish the mission entrusted to each church--namely, performing the services and spreading the teachings.
There are over 17,000 churches throughout Japan and in a number of overseas countries and territories. To obtain permission to establish a local church, we must strive for the salvation of others, have them join us in the joy of being saved, and together apply to Church Headquarters.
To apply for permission to establish a church, there must be at least sixteen Yoboku, who have received the truth of the Sazuke. At least five of them must be kyoto, or ministers. Each Yoboku is an important member of the church.
Churches are classified as "directly supervised churches," which are under the direct supervision of Church Headquarters, and "subordinate churches," which belong to one or another of the directly supervised churches. According to the numbers of their subordinate churches, they are also classified as "grand churches" (fifty or more subordinate churches) and "branch churches." Overseas churches are called "churches" instead of "branch churches." All grand churches are directly supervised churches.