I would tell the General Superintendents, “We love you. We honor you. But you work too much. As such there is a new scheduling rule: Your cannot be away from your home for more than six Sundays over the course of two months. On those “off” Sundays you have to really be “off.” No side preaching gigs (even if the church is close by); no bringing greetings from your recent travels, no nothing. Attend worship at your home church with your spouse. Renew your soul. Sing, praise, and worship; be encouraged, convicted and uplifted just like every other believer in attendance. We desperately need well rested, creative, visionary, leaders– not over-worked, over-tired, over-stressed bureaucrats. “
I would tell our international brothers and sisters: “We need you.” We need your input. At the recent General Assembly– there were 159 resolutions considered. 155 of those were from the USA. Four were from the other 158 countries where there is a Nazarene presence. I’m not a math whiz– and I’m not exactly sure what those numbers fully mean– but I don’t think it’s good. If we are going to be a global church– we need voices from around the globe to be heard.
I would tell our USA/Canada brothers and sisters: Quit crying over living in a post-Christian America and do something. Try to reach your neighborhood. Try new things. Try building bridges. Try loving the unlovable. Try. Try. Try. Will everything work? Nope (not even close). But some things might. Take risks. Be adventurous. Be evangelistic. Do not except the excuse that reaching the unchurched population is harder now. America still needs Jesus (more than ever?). The Gospel is still the Good News that must be shared.
I would tell local churches– quit “boo hooing” over budgets too. They are not a tax. They are not franchise fees. If we want to make Christ-like disciples in the nations– they are a necessity. On my district we had eleven churches that didn’t give one dime toward any of their apportionments. Zero. Zippo. Nada. I get it that not every year is going to be a good financial year. Sometimes the decision is light bill or college apportionment? (Chose electricity, Mr. Edison). There might be years when “Paid in Full” is not next to your church’s name in the district journal. It happens. But giving zero to missions? Zero? If just one person in the church, gave up one Starbucks’ coffee a week– that would be $250 in a year. How can a church not give a lousy buck to missions and call themselves a place that cares about reaching the lost? Giving to missions is doubly important when one recognizes that a far majority of the new converts are coming from one of the 158 nations not named “United States.”
I would tell our people to celebrate baptisms more. Baptisms are the result of conversions. Too often “New Nazarenes” are the result of a church split at the Baptist church down the road. I have no interest in disgruntled sheep exchanging one pasture for a greener Nazarene pasture– I have a lot of interest in seeing those completely lost sheep finding the Great Shepherd, Jesus. I believe the commission is to “Go and Baptize…” not “Go and make Nazarenes” or any other thing. We are to make disciples, Christ-like disciples, baptizing them in the name Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
That’s what I would do on my first day on the job if I were the Nazarene Czar.
Rob, well said!!
I would add, “Stop complaining, griping, and generally spending so much time focused on what you don’t like about the denomination.” There are many things we are all concerned about, but like Jesus told Martha, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (Luke 10:41-42). If I were czar there are probably a few things I would change, but I wouldn’t want to mess up the world of things we are doing right.
I would add…. Preach holiness! I am a lay person, so I may not explain myself well and I certainly don’t intend to offend. I think our message of holiness and a love relationship with our Abba Father has been watered down or even abandoned. We can love others all day long, but until we are truly immersed into our own love relationship with Him, our love to others is just a clanging cymbal. It doesn’t come off as genuine, but rather judgmental. Holiness – in its purest form- is the Father’s love towards us, in us and through us. We love Him so much that moment by moment we ask ourselves, “Am I in Your will?”
Good points Duane and Jody. Jody, we are a holiness church and I hope we always will be. At Cenral we just finished a series called “Sanctify” affirming our strong belief that we are called to live a holy life. Duane– I agree there is much to love about the Church of the Nazarene. That’s why I am still a Nazarene!
Really appreciate your words here brother….number 3 really struck a chord with me
I would add allow alcohol. For all those you are so concerned about in foreign countries who have tried to get alcohol allowed but were shot down…where alcohol is part of the culture, you alienate them. Plus, as soon as you tell your non-christian friends that alcohol is not allowed at church, they go to the church down the street where you can have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with the football game and still go to heaven. Focus on the ADDICTION and not the alcohol…that is why I don’t return to the Nazarene church…the church that I love…my home church. Because I love wine and I love inviting my unsaved friends to church, but I cannot invite them to a church that has such a stupid rule.
Brooke I really hear what you are saying and would love to continue that conversation (may a topic for another blog post). But I must admit– I am a son of a former alcoholic– I know the devasting effects that alcohol can have on generations (not just one family).
That is not to say that meaningful dialogue should not take place– in fact I think the CoTN has been slow in giving a thoughtful theology of why we would side with those who have alcohol issues and abstain. Thanks for the input.