So, he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.” —Zachariah 4:6 (NIV)
Grace and peace to you, in the name of God the Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On behalf of the Board of General Superintendents (BGS), I officially welcome everyone to the 95th General Board, Church of the Nazarene — the first of four Sessions to be held between now and the 2021 General Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Of 53 General Board members, 35 are new this term. Each member carries a personal responsibility for engaging in the governing process in the following ways:
By participating in committees
Speaking and voting in plenaries
Praying for God’s presence among us — that His will be done.
As church leaders serving in a governing role, may we fulfill these responsibilities this quadrennium, by first “setting our hearts and minds on things above.”
—Colossians 3: 1–4 (paraphrased)
History reminds us that all who hold office locally, on districts and regions, in educational institutions, or the general church, are to be “justly accountable.”
CALLED UNTO HOLINESS
The Church of the Nazarene’s Wesleyan-Arminian theology and its mission are inseparable. We preach full salvation in Jesus Christ, which means:
- Justification by grace through faith
- Sanctification by grace through faith
- Entire sanctification available to every Christian
- Witness of the Spirit to the divine work in human lives
- God’s grace calling sinners to repentance, and believers to a deeper, sanctified life
In 2007, the general superintendents further clarified the church’s spiritual task with a new statement of mission — “to make Christlike disciples in the nations.”
Since the 2013 General Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, “Seven Characteristics” are being used to further describe the Church of the Nazarene:
- Meaningful Worship
- Theological Coherence
- Passionate Evangelism
- Intentional Discipleship
- Church Development
- Transformational Leadership
- Purposeful Compassion
We are “Called unto Holiness.” —1 Thessalonians 4:7 (KJV)
And the key to understanding Christian holiness is love—love of God and love of neighbor.
“The Church of God, in its highest forms on earth and in heaven, has its gatherings, teachings, and united worship, but it is all to help the individual into the likeness of His Son.” — Phineas F. Bresee, first general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.
For some time, the global church has been requesting the basics of our church’s teaching, history, theology, mission, funding, and interdependent connections. They wanted this information in a brief, accessible, easy to understand, and user-friendly publication.
In 2014, the Board of General Superintendents introduced “Nazarene Essentials” to help the church understand “who we are” (identity) and “what we do” (mission) as at least one-third (over 800,000) of our membership has joined in the last 10 years.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive from pastors, educators, and laypersons alike. We are pleased to hear that “Nazarene Essentials” is being used in a variety of ways to strengthen our churches. Thanks to the diligence of our translation teams, it is now available in 39 languages with others on the way.
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene, also sponsored by the BGS, debuted at the 2017 General Assembly. It has been translated into five languages with seven more in progress.
Our Board shares in the recent loss of those who were part of the Church of the Nazarene’s leadership:
Stan Toler passed from this earthly life to life eternal with his Lord and Savior, 18 November 2017.
Dr. Toler’s call to preach came at an early age. By 17, he was pastor of a local church. Dr. Toler went on to earn multiple degrees in higher education. A best-selling author, he was well-known for his contributions to training Christian leaders.
Four members of the current Board and three emeriti attended Dr. Toler’s Celebration of Life service at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene, Bethany, Oklahoma, USA.
Faye Stowe, wife of General Superintendent Emeritus Eugene Stowe, passed on 4 December 2017. She was 99 and would have turned 100 in January of this year. Dr. and Mrs. Stowe were married 74 years.
General Superintendent Emeritus James Diehl represented the Board of General Superintendents and Emeriti at the memorial service.
It is with great sadness that we add to the memorial roll our brother in Christ, Mashangu Maluleka. Rev. Maluleka’s sudden passing on 6 January 2018, is a great loss foremost to his family but also the church, the Africa Region, and the Africa South Field, where he served as Field Strategy Coordinator.
Rev. Maluleka was also pastor of Divine Hope Church of the Nazarene and previously served as President of Nazarene Theological College of South Africa.
To Linda Toler, Eugene Stowe, Remember Maluleka, and their families, we offer our deepest sympathies and prayers.
OUR MISSION TO THE WORLD
We are a holiness church and a great commission church.
The command is clear:
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do … —1 Peter 1:15
The commission is clear:
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. —Matthew 28:19–20
Four critical questions arise from this last passage of Scripture:
First: Have we been obedient to His Spirit in extending the reach of our ministry? As of 2017, the church is in:
- 162 world areas
- With 28,719 credentialed ministers (elders, deacons, district licensed)
- 13,325 churches reported involvement in a compassionate ministry
Second: How is the Spirit blessing our evangelistic efforts? In 2017 we are pleased to report:
- 146,577 New Nazarenes
- 221,730 decisions for Christ
- 1,319 new churches
Third: How is the Spirit moving when it comes to incorporating new Christians into the church?
The incorporation or assimilation at the end of last year shows:
- 91,175 baptisms
- 2,550,374 Total Members
- 30,875 total churches
Fourth: How are we allowing the Spirit of God to bless our ministry of teaching our people what it means to be a Christian and mature in their faith?
Among all age groups, the opportunities for knowing Him better are as good as they have ever been:
- 1,961,853 total discipleship enrollment; 1,268,470 in attendance
- 425,508 NYI Membership
- 621,352 Children’s discipleship enrollment; 419,387 in attendance
How is the mission fulfilled?
To make Christlike disciples, we must be Christlike disciples: Laity. Pastors. Missionaries. Evangelists. Chaplains. Sunday school teachers. Educators. Compassionate ministry workers. That is how a heavenly vision is reduced to human scale.
The Manual says, “It is in the local church that the saving, perfecting, teaching, and commissioning takes place. The local church is the expression of our faith.” (Preamble to Church Government)
Who are those 31,000 churches?
Did you know?:
- On an average Sunday in 2017, about 1.5 million people worshipped in a Church of the Nazarene and did so in 190 different languages?
- Nearly one-third worshipped in English and about one-sixth in Spanish.
- Nearly two-thirds of our churches report fewer than 50 people in worship on an average week? The median attendance is 35.
- Even with all those smaller churches, half of Nazarene worshippers attend a church that runs at least 100 in worship? Just over 25 percent of our worshippers are in churches that average at least 250.
As church historian Dr. Philip Jenkins reminds us, it is not numerical success but strength of witness that makes the difference. [“Christianity Today,” Interview with Dr. Philip Jenkins, March 2002]
Vision 2020 faith projections call for 3.5 million total members, with 2.5 million in worship attendance, 2.5 million in discipleship attendance, in 50,000 churches.
The denomination reported 685 missionaries and their 379 children were deployed from 59 world areas, including 225 volunteers. There were also 314 short-term volunteers and 9,166 Work & Witness team members. All missionary deployment types receive some level of support from the World Evangelism Fund (WEF) through the Church of the Nazarene.
A Compassionate Church
In the last half of 2017 and early into 2018, our world was affected by significant natural disasters. The events were devastating, but during tragedy Nazarene churches mobilized quickly to respond, in part through the support of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries:
- 140,000 people received aid through Nazarene disaster response efforts between July and November 2017
- 1,585 local Nazarene volunteers were mobilized to serve through the disaster operations
Nazarenes demonstrated their compassion through time, giving, prayers, and provision in the following global ministry opportunities this past year:
- South Asia floods
- Sierra Leone Mudslides
- Mexico earthquakes (8.2 magnitude quakes, affecting tens of thousands of people)
- Hurricane Harvey, South Texas USA
- Hurricane Irma, St. Martin
- Hurricane Maria (Dominica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands)
- Dengue Fever Outbreak, Sri Lanka
- Famine in East Africa
- Wildfires and Mudslides in Southern California USA
- Refugees (Nazarenes in the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of the world continue to minister to refugees of war and terrorism in partnership with the greater Body of Christ)
A Generous People
On behalf of the Church of the Nazarene, the Board of General Superintendents extends its appreciation to Nazarenes everywhere for their love, prayers, financial gifts, and acts of kindness to people in need.
You are a generous people!
FUNDING THE MISSION
The funding model for our denomination draws on the scriptural idea of “Storehouse Tithing.”
All who are part of the Church of the Nazarene are urged to contribute faithfully one-tenth of all their increase as a minimum financial obligation to the Lord and freewill offerings in addition as God has prospered them for the support of the whole church — local, district, educational, and general. Manual par. 32.1
Anyone who advocates giving to global mission should also advocate giving to local mission.
This past year, 71 percent of churches either gave over 5.5 percent or reported some World Evangelism Fund giving.
- 37.8 million was reported given to World Evangelism Fund (over $400,000 less than in 2016)
- $33.7 million was given for Approved Mission Specials (over $2.5 million more than in 2016)
The principle established by the Board of General Superintendents of equal sacrifice—not equal giving—remains a pillar of global stewardship.
At the same time, it is important to acknowledge with gratitude the financial responsibilities carried by USA/Canada churches, who gave 96 percent of World Evangelism Fund (WEF) and 97 percent of Approved Mission Specials.
Even as giving to World Evangelism Fund (WEF) is increasing in other parts of the world (nearly 6,000 churches from other global mission regions gave at least 5.5 percent to WEF this year compared to only 2,546 in 2011), funding the mission is largely dependent on laity, pastors, district superintendents, and Nazarene Missions International leadership in USA/Canada.
The above figures are those reported by local churches globally. Not all missions giving comes through the Global Ministry Center (GMC) in Lenexa, Kansas, USA, but $68.4 million for World Evangelism Fund and Approved Missions Specials was entrusted to the general church for disbursement.
The following chart shows the broad categories in which these funds were invested in the mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations.
Church of the Nazarene Foundation
The year 2017 was the Church of the Nazarene Foundation’s best year.
In numerous cases, the Foundation was able to distribute funds for ministry at exactly the time they were needed. In 2017, $12.7 million was distributed for Kingdom work. This one-year distribution is twice as much as any previous year’s distribution.
Since it’s founding in 2004, the Foundation has distributed $67.9 million to more than 538 local churches, districts, schools, missions, and other organizations.
In 2017, $7,027,378 was distributed from the Foundation to Global Mission and related ministries. In addition, the Foundation distributed $5,466,797 to Nazarene educational institutions, districts, local churches, and other Nazarene and non- Nazarene ministries.
After just 13 years of operation, the Church of the Nazarene Foundation distributed to ministries an amount equal to one-third of the 2017 World Evangelism Fund.
New Global English Manual
- A “Global English” Manual was mandated by the 2017 General Assembly. It is a simplified version of the Manual that will be used in a variety of ways, including a Manual translation for tier-two languages.
- 1 April 2018 is the deadline for a draft of paragraphs 1–99.
- Global Theology Conference, 2018: The Theme is “To Know Christ”; Leesburg, Florida, USA, 18–21 March 2018.
- PALCONs: Africa, Asia-Pacific, and USA/Canada regions will host PALCONs in 2018
SIX QUADDRENNIAL PROJECTS
Members of the BGS will oversee six key projects in 2018. These include:
- Articles of Faith Project (David A. Busic and Filimão M. Chambo):
- The Church of the Nazarene has determined that our Articles of Faith are the centering point of our theology and mission. Therefore, any changes to the Articles of Faith must be done with prayerful and prudent discernment. The 2017 General Assembly voted for another group to be appointed to continue the study of our Articles of Faith over the next three years.
- Nazarene Missions Project (Gustavo A. Crocker and Eugénio R. Duarte):
- The main purpose of the Nazarene Missions Project is to redefine and realign the missionary arm of the denomination to both update and describe Nazarene Missions for our generation. Of special importance will be a contemporary definition of Nazarene Missions, missionary strategy, and missionary sending.
- To accomplish this project, the Board of General Superintendents has finished the strategic design phase, and now we are committed to listening to all the constituencies involved in the missionary enterprise to ensure that if and when the project is fully implemented, we will have the same levels of engagement enjoyed throughout the history of the denomination.
- Communications Project (Carla D. Sunberg and Gustavo A. Crocker):
- The Communications Project is charged with clearly articulating the mission and vision of the Church of the Nazarene, for this is vital to fulfilling the work that God has placed before us.
- This project is analyzing the status of communications within the GMC and to the broader global church.
- The Board of General Superintendents has committed to message development and to study the possibility of new language surrounding the World Evangelism Fund and approved specials. The plan is operationalized through the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
- Covenant of Christian Conduct Project (Filimão M. Chambo and Carla D. Sunberg):
- The BGS appointed a global study group, to study and review Manual paragraphs on the Christian Life and Sanctity of Human Life, paragraphs: 28, 29 and 30, with all the sub-paragraphs, and 929 and 930. (Manual 2017–2021).
- The study and review of the Covenant of Christian Conduct is an expression of our commitment to holiness of heart and life.
- Church Administration Project (Eugénio R. Duarte and David W. Graves):
- The following resolutions are related to Church Administration: DA 209 – Renewing District Superintendent Relationship; LA 411 — Electronic and Multimedia Meetings, Local Church; MED-517 — Use of the Title “Pastor; and” MED 517 — Restrictions for Persons Guilty of Sexual Misconduct Involving Children.
- These resolutions reflect the church’s continued appreciation of her relationship with both lay and clergy leaders, and her care for their well- being as well as the well-being of others. The Board of General Superintendents approved the creation of two groups made up of men and women, and clergy and lay members of our global church to study the above matters and submit a final report back to the Board by December 2020.
- General Assembly Study (David W. Graves and David A. Busic):
- Since 1993, a total of 17 separate resolutions were presented to delegates proposing changes in the number of years between general assemblies. Those resolutions recommended moving the denomination from the current four-year interval to five-, six-, or even eight-year intervals. Each resolution coming to the floor was defeated. With this background, the BGS proposes examining how the Church of the Nazarene designs and programs general assemblies — not their frequency. This General Assembly Study Committee will be charged with evaluating travel, locations, venue, housing, conventions, length, and worship services.
- A review of how business sessions are organized and scheduled is part of the Study Committee’s assignment. The committee will include, but not be limited to, individuals with experience in different aspects of general assemblies. There is also the possibility of an outside firm to help in the study.
BY HIS SPIRIT
Do we believe that we have been chosen to collectively accomplish something of significance in the amazing plot that God is writing, and not just changing to accommodate our preferences? That He is putting it together in such a way that everyone who is willing to obediently find a place of both rest and endeavor will find it.
God calls us to believe, to depend, and to respond to His call, relying upon the leadership of His Spirit for the results.
Prayerfully and respectfully submitted,
Board of General Superintendents: Eugénio R. Duarte David W. Graves, David A. Busic, Gustavo A. Crocker, Filimão M. Chambo, and Carla D. Sunberg
Prepared and read by Eugénio R. Duarte
NOTE: This is a summary of the full BGS General Board presentation. For the full report, click here.
Holiness Today, May/Jun 2018.