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.