Three Considerations for 2017 General Assembly Delegates

In Church of the Nazarene at District Assemblies across the world, delegates are being elected for the annual Nazarene family reunion known as the 2017 General Assembly.  As these individuals are being chosen I offer three considerations for the newly elected representatives to prayerfully ponder as they prepare for General Assembly:

1)    International delegates must be more engaged before the General Assembly.  97.48% of the manual resolutions proposed for 2013 Manual came from the USA/Canada caucus (155 of the 159 resolutions).  Either the international church doesn’t care about such matters or doesn’t feel their voices are heard.  If it’s the former, let’s quit having general assemblies and simply vote for leadership roles electronically; save everyone the cost and time to gather; and let the USA/Canada office argue over the nuances of the manual.  If it’s the latter, then international delegates must embrace their role and offer meaningful manual resolutions for consideration. We need to hear and learn from our international brothers and sisters.

2)  National diversity on the General Board is guaranteed through the election process,  but gender diversity is not expressed in leadership roles throughout the church.  Please don’t think by simply electing a female General Superintendent we have done our duty as it relates to gender equality. The General Board, university presidents, directors and senior leadership roles in the Church of the Nazarene are heavily male dominated. Can you name five women in highly placed leadership roles in the church?  Me neither.  Let’s do something about this.

3)  Can the General Assembly theme of One Body, One Spirit, One Hope be achieved when we have Six Heads?  Maybe its time to consider that One Body and One Hope is best accomplished when there is One direction and One Leader. Our antiquated leadership by committee structure (the Board of General Superintendents) has been an ineffective model for casting vision and oversight for a while.  We’ve given these godly leaders an impossible task and removed any real authority from them.  Consequently, we are bearing the fruit of an ineffective system (a downward attendance trajectory and less engagement with the culture).  Maybe its time for the newly elected delegates to consider taking One bold step with One Heart and One Spirit by saying, “We need One Godly Leader.  We need a modern day Moses, Joshua or Nehemiah to courageously lead the way through the wilderness of secularization and the challenges of the 21st century.”

May this lead to meaningful conversation as the church thinks and prays before we gather in Indianapolis in 2017.

4 thoughts on “Three Considerations for 2017 General Assembly Delegates

  1. Jeff Stevens

    Interesting comments. I have the most strong feelings on #3. I think that we should AT-LEAST drop the number of GS’s to 3 from the current 6. I see it as utilizing Gods money in a better manner.

    1. Brannon Hancock

      I agree, Jeff, and have been saying so in my circles of influence for awhile. I’m not sure we could go from 6 to 1 in one “move” at GA2017, but we could go from 6 to 3 to 1. (Or, with 2 retiring, just not elect anyone new; I’d rather have an odd number than an even, but unless somebody stepped down, maybe 4 is the most likely option for now.)

      The big consideration is that this would take District Assemblies and ordaining authority away from the GSes, and place it in the hands of the DSes. (If we have fewer that 6 GSes, there’s no way they can make the rounds to preside over every district assembly every year…and I think that’s just fine. They can barely pull it off as it is, and it leaves them with little time or energy as leaders to do anything OTHER than this.)

      From an ecclesiological standpoint, I think this is fitting: our DSes ought to function as bishops, rather than middle-managers, and our leaders at the general level (however many we have) should be “firsts” amongst equals, kind of like archbishops – having leadership and symbolic authority, but divesting a bit (compared to our current structure) of their authority down to the district level.

      I’m sure the concern is that this is a move not toward but away from uniformity and hence unity. But I feel like it’s a place where we should trust the Holy Spirit to guide and unify God’s church, rather than attempt to ensure it through our systems and structures.

  2. Joe Shreffler (@joeshreffler)

    Just read this today. I totally agree about the benefits of moving to a single head of the church, but the one caution is that doing this at a time when the COTN is so clearly divided into at least two clear camps (Wesleyan/American Holiness; conservative/progressive; Concerned Nazarenes/sane people; take your pick), any movement to a single head of the church would necessitate that at least one of these divisions would “WIN” to the exclusion of others and likely accelerate the schism we’re all talking about. Truthfully, under current conditions, I see no way to make that move without creating at least two bodies out of one.

    Given that, however, maybe this IS the right time to do it.

  3. Verla Lacy Powers

    Solving problems in our church is not as easy as understanding that they exist. Regarding your points: 1. The pride of becoming an international church stood in the way of preparing to have a functional international church. We are still playing “catch-up” with regard to being unified. 2. Believing that being a woman is sufficient qualification for holding any position (either secular or in the church) is buying into the world’s notion of discrimination. Most certainly, there are other major qualifications for being a minister. As a successful minister yourself, you have to realize that. Thinking that organizing women’s only minister’s groups or whining about the glass ceiling helps in any way is off-base. These things do not prepare a woman for successful ministry or help her to gain respect. 3. The only way our church leadership seems to get it that the structure is top heavy and they are overspending is when they are forced into reality and have to make crisis moves such as selling our loan fund, mass layoffs at headquarters, or cutting back on missions efforts.

    Just the personal opinions of an old lady who remembers when organized campaigns were not the basis for the elections of general superintendents; when God’s money was treated as a precious resource and not squandered; when pastors cared about their people and being in their pulpits on Sunday more than they valued golfing and traveling to places where they are in the spotlight and praised.


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