God-called and Church-recognized ministers are fulfilling their callings around the world.
Christian ministry comes in a variety of human packages: Children inviting their friends to neighborhood Bible studies, retirees counting the Sunday offerings and preparing bank deposit slips, and of course, pastors carefully preparing next week’s sermon and faithfully calling on the homebound.
Indeed, every member of the Church of the Nazarene is a minister of the gospel. When uniting with the church, we indicate our commitment to “holy service,” to faithfulness “in all good works,” and to “the advancement of His kingdom.”
But, at least since the time of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13: 1-3), the church has recognized that some people are specifically called by God for leadership roles, and the church provides special recognition for these people. As of the 2016 annual report, just over forty thousand men and women had received this recognition from the Church of the Nazarene.
The Manual of the Church of the Nazarene clearly defines the various levels of ministry recognition. Normally, the local church first acknowledges that the person has received a call from God for specialized ministry and imparts the local minister designation. When the district recognizes that the person is progressing in training and experience, the person becomes a licensed minister. After completing a course of study for his or her particular calling, the minister may be ordained as either an elder (involving a preaching ministry) or a deacon (usually not focused on preaching).
Ordained elders and deacons are recorded at the Global Ministry Center. In addition to documenting the actions of the denomination in ordaining these ministers, further information is often recorded. As a result, we know a bit more about our ministerial force than just how many there are.
While ordination forms do not mention gender, the majority of ministers do report it. Of those who do,
- Over half of deacons are women (54%).
- About one-in-six of our elders are women (15%).
Not all ministers report their preferred language. Of those who do, 98% report speaking one of four languages:
- English (79%)
- Spanish (10%)
- Portuguese (6%)
- French (3%).
The USA/Canada region also supplies information about licensed ministers. Among non-retired USA/Canada licensed ministers:
- Nearly three-fourths (73%) are under 50 years of age,
- More than one-third (36%) would be considered Millennials (under 35 years of age).
Dale Jones is director of research services for the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2018