The funding of the Nazarene mission includes the World Evangelism Fund (5.5% of total income), Pensions and Benevolence (2.25%), Educational support (2.25%) and district ministries (various percentages). No one I know legitimately argues against Pensions and Benevolence funding. We need to take care of our retired ministers. While the World Evangelism Fund may have those that wonder how the funds are dispersed or the openness of the expenditures (for the less than complete view of spending and how the nearly 39 million in WEF funds were utilized see the 2015 Annual Financial Summery), still few argue against missions giving. The college funds are less enthusiastically embraced by those in some regions of the country, but again most Nazarenes appreciate the core commitment to higher education. But legitimate questions can and should be raised in relation to the inequality of the district apportionments.
Why, for example, should a Nazarene in Wisconsin have 9.39% of their tithe used for district management, when a Nazarene in Kansas City pays only 3.25% and in Oregon only 3.05% of their tithe used in district apportionments? I guess that means you get 6% more for your ecclesiastical dollar in Kansas City or Portland than in Milwaukee. In 2015, Nazarenes in USA gave over 31 million to fund district management. 31 Million! Did we really get 31 million dollars’ worth of benefit from our district taxes? Last I checked districts didn’t baptize anyone. Districts don’t dedicate babies. Districts don’t lead anyone to Christ. They don’t make funeral dinners. But we spent 31 million dollars for their oversight. Africa spent a little less that one million and has nearly twice as many districts (130 to 76) and about the same number of members.
I’m not advocating eliminating district budgets, but developing a more equitable system. More specifically, there should be a limit on district allotments and a cap on how much an individual church should be required to pay. If the district can not make ends meet on a 3 or 4% limit then maybe it is time to consider merging districts. Or maybe like in other parts of the world, the District Superintendent also pastors a church. This bi-vocational DS in other parts of the world hasn’t hindered growth. In fact, quite the opposite, those are the areas were the church is growing. The amount of the cap on district apportionment could also be debated, but it seems that no church should pay more than $25,000 toward district management. All this to say, districts in the future will need to get more lean or creative as local church dollars stay more local.
As USA church dollars are stretched more and more, it seems legitimate discussion should be had on how to keep more monies with the local church and less toward the costly endeavor of district management.