My Two Cents on the Split in the Church of the Nazarene Chatter (one pastor’s perspective)

I read a blog this week about a possible split within the Church of the Nazarene and how we might avoid it. It was an interesting read, but honestly I don’t think there will be a “split.” At least there will not be a church split in the traditional sense. By that I mean “Party A” gets mad at “Party B” storms off and starts a new church or movement. Quite frankly, I don’t see a united, passionate storming off by anyone or any group on the right or left of most issues in the Church of the Nazarene. I think church splits on a general church level make for interesting conversation but have little groundswell momentum.

Instead I think what has been happening and what continues to happen is the silent but deadly evaporation of church people into the unknown world of church hoppers, church shoppers, drop-outters and sleeper-inners. We have people leaving because they don’t see the passion and the relevancy of the church. They are leaving because after years of being “silo-ed” into their age group gatherings, they have zero connection to the greater church body. We have people leaving because they fail to see a church captivated by a mission and vision. They are leaving because churches are no longer acting like the Bride of Christ, but look more like the two-timing girl friend of Jesus (we like him sometimes, when it’s convenient).

We can’t fix all the problems in the Church of the Nazarene, but we can make Central Church a place that looks more like the Bride of Christ. Central church does NOT have to accept those ingredients that create a death mix for the church. How? We stick to our priorities. Connecting with God means our worship is alive, vibrant and intent on making disciples; Connecting to Each Other calls for us to be inter-generational and aware that the people sitting along side of us are important no matter their gender, age, color or political affiliation; Connecting to our Community screams for us to be relevant on Bristol Road, in Flint Township and Genesee County. Our neighbors need to know we love them! And Connecting to the World says we are not alone on this spinning globe, but we have a responsibility to be Christ’s ambassadors “to the end of the earth.”

Listen, I have no interest in being the two-timing girlfriend of Jesus. Let’s look and act like the Bride of Christ! Join me in praying for our church and the days ahead.

25 thoughts on “My Two Cents on the Split in the Church of the Nazarene Chatter (one pastor’s perspective)

  1. Bruce Edwards

    I don’t get the sense of a split in the church here at Central Nazarene. As a believer, it would be hard to reasonably split from what I understand to be Biblically-based teaching. Never, in my experience, have I felt a greater sense of mission and vision, and focus, than I do at Central Nazarene now.

    1. Rob Prince Post author

      The blog I was referring to was talking about a split in the Church of the Nazarene denomination– not at Central Church. I think you are right Bruce, God is doing great things at Central and more and more people are seeing that– BUT (as I stated) we have to keep to our Connecting priorities ever before us and so fulfill the Great Commission!

      1. Joyce Mellish

        This is the first I’ve heard of a “split” in the Church of the Nazarene, but not surprised! I’m a “little old lady, 86 years old “. My father became a Nazarene pastor when I was close to 10 or 11. I married my husband and two and a half months later he received his call to preach. We pastored on Eastern Michigan District for 39 years. I have watched the changes. Revivals went from a 2 to 3 week meeting to 3 to 4 days (if the church had one). I have watched alter calls go from lined alters with people waving white hankies, shouting praising their Lord and Savior. I have watched our churches go from Wednesday night prayer meetings to social activities with very little PRAYER. I have watched our church go from Sunday evening services to NO services-and I could go on and on. Some of our younger generations do not see the importants of praying with someone until they died out to themselves and let God have control. We have gone from alter calls to asking people “if you want to be saved, raise your hand and God will forgive you. All I know is….I didn’t get my salvation that way. I had to give up my will to His will, and I struggled, big time. The past didn’t have it all right. A lot of it was very negative, but a very good portion of it was very, very good and God blessed it. What we really need in our Church of the Nazarene are some old-time prayer warriors praying for Gods will to be done not mans.

  2. Chris Burrell

    Well said brother Rob, I appreciate those words of truth. I love the church of the Nazarene, is it perfect, no, but instead of giving up, I agree, let’s dive into prayer and be the bride of Christ! Amen!

  3. Josh Broward

    Thanks for carrying forward the conversation Rob. Like you said, there are lots of local church (probably like yours) that are unified in the mission and doing great things. The question is how do we work together as a larger community of churches, where their is a wider range of viewpoints. What are your thoughts on how we have this conversation on our districts and regions?

    1. Rob Prince Post author

      I do not know how this issue plays out in other regions (if it is an issue or not– I don’t know), but in USA/Canada I think it is imperative to talk about it. In my opinion, we need to be asking some hard questions of why we are where we are and we need to be developing strategies to create a culture of where we need to be. But over all of this, we need to be a people of prayer. Your blog continued the conversation and hopefully mine will too. God bless you!

      1. Josh Broward

        Thanks Rob. Glad this conversation still has legs. What are your ideas on having broader, more intentional conversations on your district?

  4. Dave

    Though I will not disagree with what is said in this article, my experience is people are leaving the church for the mere reason that society, universities, education system, media, etc. are convincing them there is no God. Why would anyone attend church (versus sleeping in, attending a sporting event, watching anything, etc.) if God and faith are not real. We have focused on the love of Christ (which is critical) but have left out the politically incorrect Truth of Christ. Generations are talked out of Christ because they haven’t been convinced He is real. Zero ability to defend Christianity and their faith. My two cents from my little perspective of the world…

  5. Sue Brown

    Left the Nazarene church almost 20 years ago for non-denominational, but in my heart of hearts I still believe the Wesleyan way is best. It just seems the Nazarene’s, as well as, other denominations have lost their way and relevance. Very sad. I’m still extremely thankful for my heritage. Grew up as a Nazarene PK.

  6. Robert Weimer

    Joyce, I don’t know you but I remember those days you speak of. I wish there was a way to go back and experience the mighty move of God like in my childhood. I saw drunks saved at the altar and changed forever. My grandkids have never seen the things I have seen. But I tell them, and anyone else that will listen.

  7. PAS

    Our family left the Nazarene church for a non-denominational church due to the “do’s and don’ts” I have come to realize that it has nothing to do with what I do and everything to do with what He has done for us, grace is free and for everyone who accepts it. Nazarenes, in general, (though I LOVE many of them and still attend yearly family camp) are so worried about being “good” that they lose the “sinners” out there that only God can change in His time. A person who has a life of what they perceive as good works has no easy pass to get into heaven, everyone who believes and knows Jesus enters, it’s not based on how good you may think you are, it’s a free gift, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do that is good enough, it is all about the free gift of eternal life offered to those who believe

    1. John Stauffer

      PAS, I understand your comment, yet I question what it is that you seek in the non-denominational church that COTN does not believe. Does calling sin as such wrong, does the COTN not minister to all including sinners? Do yo mean that even beyond tolerance of a sinful life style even after proclaiming regeneration, should be lovingly accepted. And I ask sincerely, what”don’t” exists that you object to? In my seventy two years in the church have not seen the list.

      1. PAS

        Your statement that the COTN ministers to all “including sinners” is complexing, we are all sinners, even ones who go to the COTN, I am not against calling a sinful lifestyle sinful, but prefer to pray for them to seek God’s grace rather than judge them. Our pastor said something like this in a recent sermon: if 2 people stood on the ocean in California and each jumped to see if they could reach Hawaii, who would get there first…. there is nothing we can “do” to get there, we are all sinners and it is only by God amazing grace that we are guaranteed admittance into His kingdom, because we believed and accepted this gift. I will say that after we are saved, he works in our lives and that may or may not be evident on the outside to others. I truly love the COTN and our friends/family we have at a few of the churches we have attended, I am not judging. I’m just trying to say that the COTN is perceived as being judgmental and trying to do good to get to heaven, just my 2 cents

      2. John Stauffer

        Thank you for your comments in response to my reply to you. It’s seems that your decision to leave the COTN is well founded in your situation. Yet , you did not answer my question, you do not have to, I do understand that if we do not agree with doctrine it is best to leave and establish worship else where. I do not question your relationship with God, nor to I intend to argue that COTN is trouble free. I have chosen to remain to effect change. I have seen positive loving change where needed, I.e. Divorce and remarriage is just one. Your comment that we are all sinners tends to require re-crucifixtion daily. I rather lean to Luther’s thought of coming to the cross daily for examination rather than to remind God of my sin that according to His word , once forgiven, is removed as far as the east is from the west.

        Understanding the transformational process toward perfection has caused many to run from the Wesleyan tradition and doctrines of salvation. In recent years a better reading of Wesley, Palmer, Bresee et al has helped me to live with the understanding that sin is un escapeable outside of complete consecration no matter which church you choose to worship in and to serve.

        It is good that you have been able to do that.

      3. PAS

        John, you’re right, I neglected to actually answer your question regarding doctrine. I struggle with this because in my heart I am a Nazarene through and through, but have come to realize that some of the doctrine from the churches we had attended had caused people to become discouraged and never feel good enough. The specific doctrine I refer to is going to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, no dancing, no alcohol use, no smoking, etc. I have seen the church come around to accepting going to movies, but the older ones still shun such. Although I choose not to drink alcohol, I do go to many outings and dinners where alcohol is consumed by family members and friends and don’t have a problem with that. In my heart I wonder if our restrictions as parents have led our daughters to become uninterested in “religion” and this has been a source of great conflict for me personally. I do truly love the Nazarene ministry and we do plan to return to our home Nazarene church when we retire and relocate. Thank you for being kind and interested in my thoughts on this. God bless you

  8. Rev. Dr. Mary M Lloyd

    Sadly it seems that church splits, murmuring have gone on since the Book of Acts (really since Moses & the Israelites after the Exodus).
    Yes, we all have opinions & “what we think oughta be.” But Jesus first! What does He say? If He speaks to you, then be obedient! But don’t drag others with you through accusations & inciteful grumblings. If He has spoken to you, the you set out with your eyes on Him! Don’t cause others to stumble & possibly fall. Go! Be obedient! But leave others to follow the leadership God has placed them under.
    A video clip I have used to help lead through this type of troubled waters is from Sermon Spice ‘Life Saving Stations’ Some of us just have different callings & gifts.

  9. John Stauffer

    I am saddened to read such an eventuality, but as anyone begins to identify a need for increased inclusivity through a watering down of the gospel so that the making of disciples of the nations increases, our mission has failed. I stand in the Joyce Mellish camp. I shall continue to pray and to work for the teaching and preaching of solid embracing of the Scripture way of salvation and not the world loving to be a Nazarene because the have become more world like instead of more Christlike.

  10. Justin

    “Instead I think what has been happening and what continues to happen is the silent but deadly evaporation of church people” Finally someone with the courage to call out the real problem!

  11. Vickie

    I know this way off of your topic but I was hoping you might answer a question I have about the Church of Nazarene. I am very interested in all denominations and their beliefs. I was baptized Lutheran, but have visited many other churches throughout the years. My question Reverend/ Pastor is, am I correct in my readings that the Church of Nazarene does not believe in the Trinity? Thank you so much for replying ahead of time.

    1. Rob Prince Post author

      The Very first Article of the Faith in the church of the Nazarene is on the Triune God it reads:

      We believe in one eternally existent, infinite God, Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe; that He only is God, holy in nature, attributes, and purpose. The God who is holy love and light is Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      So the Church of the Nazarene has always held to the orthodox, traditional position of the Church in belief of the trinity.


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