What Are Our Churches Doing?

What Are Our Churches Doing?

The General Secretary has released the 2015 annual report. Nearly 30,000 Churches of the Nazarene were reported this year.

Total churches reported last year (2014) 29,395
+ Newly reporting churches 992
+ Not-yet-organized churches reactivated 10
-Disorganized churches 169
-Not-yet-organized churches closed 282
Total churches this year (2015) 29,946

But what are these churches doing to impact their communities for Christ’s kingdom? Hidden within the annual data are clues to the ways our churches are making Christ-like disciples in the nations.

Discipleship

Two-thirds of our churches report regular discipleship attendance, with most of those using Sunday School as a discipleship method. This varies by region, but a solid majority of churches that disciple use Sunday School as a training method.

Region

Reporting Churches

Reporting Discipleship Attendance

Percent of Discipling Churches Using Sunday school

Africa

8,768

47.9%

76.1%

Asia-Pacific

1,908

73.4%

80.1%

Eurasia

8,100

63.6%

88.9%

Mesoamerica

3,251

75.9%

85.9%

South America

2,655

73.1%

85.6%

USA/Canada

5,264

89.6%

92.6%

GLOBAL TOTAL

 29,946

66.4%

85.7%

Reading this chart: Of 8,768 churches reporting from the Africa Region, 47.9 percent reported discipleship figures in 2015. Of those churches, 76.1 percent reported Sunday school attendance as well. Each line is to be read similarly.

Churches on every region have a special emphasis on discipling young people. Most churches incorporate Nazarene Youth International (NYI) as one of their discipleship methods.

Region

Reporting Youth Discipleship

Percent of

Youth-Discipling Churches Using NYI

Africa

45.6%

85.0%

Asia-Pacific

66.7%

69.7%

Eurasia

61.2%

94.1%

Mesoamerica

74.6%

86.8%

South America

68.8%

92.1%

USA/Canada

83.1%

84.5%

GLOBAL TOTAL

62.9%

87.1%

Reading this chart: Of churches reporting from the Africa Region, 45.6 percent reported either youth discipleship figures or NYI members in 2015. Of those churches, 85.0 percent reported NYI membership. Each line is to be read similarly.

Kingdom Expansion

Nearly three-quarters (71.2 percent) of global churches contributed to the World Evangelism Fund in 2015, according to the General Secretary’s annual report. But many churches went beyond financial contributions in order to further global missions.

Region

Church Sponsors

Churches with NMI Members

Africa

7.5%

34.8%

Asia-Pacific

10.6%

43.0%

Eurasia

2.2%

57.8%

Mesoamerica

20.5%

67.2%

South America

15.4%

62.5%

USA/Canada

7.8%

76.9%

GLOBAL TOTAL

8.4%

54.9%

Reading this chart: Of churches reporting from the Africa Region, 7.5 percent reported sponsoring a new church in 2015, while 34.8 percent reported Nazarene Mission International membership. Each line is to be read similarly.

Nearly one-in-ten churches (8.4 percent) sponsored a new church in 2015. In the Mesoamerica Region, the sponsorship rate was more than twice as high. That means over 2,500 churches were actively involved in sponsorship this year.

Nazarene Mission International (NMI) encourages the church to mobilize in missions and plays a strong role in raising funds for mission activities. More than half of our global churches report on their NMI membership. Most churches on the USA/Canada Region report on their NMI membership, as do large majorities from the other western hemisphere regions.

Holiness in Action

A majority of churches on every region report teaching holiness in 2015. In the USA/Canada region, more than 90 percent of churches did so.

Region

Preached and Taught Holiness

Engaged in Compassionate Ministry

Africa

54.1%

34.1%

Asia-Pacific

67.9%

49.7%

Eurasia

66.7%

7.6%

Mesoamerica

78.9%

60.3%

South America

82.0%

56.0%

USA/Canada

90.8%

83.5%

GLOBAL TOTAL

70.0%

41.4%

Reading this chart: Of churches reporting from the Africa Region, 54.1 percent reported preaching and teaching holiness in 2015, while 34.1 percent said that they were engaged in compassionate ministry within their community. Each line is to be read similarly.

Nazarenes stress their responsibility to act compassionately in this world. As churches mature, they tend to add compassionate ministries as part of their service to their community. The large number of new churches in parts of Africa and Eurasia have pulled down the global percentage to 41.4 percent. Earlier studies have confirmed that older churches on those regions do in fact engage in compassionate ministry at higher levels.

Conclusion

Total membership and discipleship figures are important in determining how well the Church of the Nazarene is carrying out its mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations. It is also helpful to know which methods are being used by our local churches.

Fortunately, the data behind the annual reports is available for such studies. Reports like this article are prepared by Research Services to help our leaders understand how widespread certain programs might be. When a significant proportion of churches are not using these methods, denominational leaders can check with regional leaders to learn about new strategies for discipleship, kingdom expansion, and holiness in action.

Dale Jones is director of Research Services for the Church of the Nazarene.

Notes:

How could we credit more than 2,500 existing churches with sponsorship this year when we had fewer than 1,000 new churches? Sponsorship can last for multiple years since it often takes up to four years for a new church to be firmly established. Also, sponsorship can be a joint effort among several churches. Zone sponsorship is often mentioned by district superintendents in the USA/Canada Region, for instance.

The question on the annual report reflects the importance of a local church’s commitment to starting churches. It is not intended to account for the new churches themselves, which are reported separately.