There are a few unspoken rules in the selection process for a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene:
No Politicking. (yeah right! Well, no visible politicking signs or buttons like Napoleon Dynamite’s VOTE FOR PEDRO).
We expect the Spirit to move (of course).
We believe that General Assembly delegates will discern the Lord’s choice and vote accordingly. (Unless they vote for a university President who discerns that the vote is not the Lord’s will but the result of the delegates’ indigestion from eating too many meals at Indy’s finest restaurants).
We want a General Superintendent to be around 45 years old with 40 years of experience. We want a General Superintendent who understands how to speak to the millennial generation and spends all of their time with the Baby Boomers. They should be a strong Wesleyan in an American Holiness Movement sort of way. We want them to attend all the important functions and meetings 52 weeks a year, yet be a devoted family person. They must be culturally relevant while being true to all of our historical positions. They must like camping in the BIG TENT of the Church of the Nazarene, but only if they are in my corner of the tent. We want the impossible in other words.
Does the way we’ve always picked our leaders provide for the the best candidates?
There are 674,414 Nazarenes in Africa but can you name two qualified leaders from that continent? Surely there are many more qualified African leaders, but do you know them? What about qualified candidates from the Asia Pacific region? Can you name even one person?
How about this novel idea: Let’s move to some kind of vetting process. In the local church, we interview prospective pastoral candidates. We don’t just have the congregation vote until someone gets a required number of votes. More and more districts have the regional director assist in selecting a district superintendent candidate. Why can’t we institute some kind of process that is actually thoughtful and thorough? Why not have the regions nominate a candidate or two? Why does voting for our most important leaders have to be a popularity contest fueled by rumors under the guise of being spirit led?
The coming decade will bring much change in the Church of the Nazarene. With an aging clergy and an aging American church that provides 95% of the funding for the global church, one doesn’t have to be a meteorologist to recognize a storm is on the horizon. We need new ideas, clear vision and a fresh perspective.
I understand that it is too late for this summer’s 2017 General Assembly. The election of our leaders will once again be a popularity contest. Hopefully the most known is also the most qualified. I’m just not convinced that is the case. And I pray that the ones elected will have courage like the university president a few years ago to reject the popularity vote, if she or he is convinced that the popular consensus is not God’s choice or God’s will.
As for me, I’m voting for Pedro.
Thanks for your blog post Rob. I appreciate your challenge for our denomination to give serous consideration to how we elect GSs. However, with two non-USA born Generals on the board I am not sure that many in our denomination are prepared to add more ‘Pedros’. How many will see Pedro as the Church of the Nazarene losing its historically deep-seated, Caucasian male, USA nationalistic dominance? I, and I am certain others, may have wondered if these meetings will ever be hosted in another country; especially since we boast of being a global church.
Thanks for your blog post Rob. I appreciate your challenge for our denomination to give serious consideration to how we elect GSs. However, with two non-USA born Generals on the board I am not sure that many in our denomination are prepared to add more ‘Pedros’. How many will see Pedro as the Church of the Nazarene losing its historically deep-seated, Caucasian male, USA nationalistic dominance? I, and I am certain others, may have wondered if these meetings will ever be hosted in another country; especially since we boast of being a global church.
The cost of having a General Assembly outside of the USA/Canada, I am sure has been a factor. As is the “family reunion” aspect of the GA that many USA/Canada Nazarenes desire. But if we are going to call ourselves a global church, then it makes sense that we would be global in not only in electing officers but in the location of our events. Last year’s General Board meeting outside of the US was a step in the right direction.
This might be too radical for some out there, but here is one baby-boomer lifetime Nazarene and ordained elder for the last 3 1/2 decades who has never fully understood why we need 6 CEO’s. It seems to me that since we really don’t follow Biblical administrative structures (i.e. Bishops, apostle Paul being called “the ringleader of the sect called the Nazarenes, etc) that we might as well yield to the Corporate business model completely and have one CEO with a board of directors (general board). In every other arena of denominational leadership there is one leader- one regional director, one field strategy coordinator, one District Superintendent (except for one case that I know of where “co-district superintendents” were installed which didn’t last very long.)
We have tried to operate with 6 leaders who have 6 visions and 6 mindsets and leadership styles for many years and I believe this could help explain in part in why we have become a bit stagnant (at least us in the west) and are suffering from the current denominational identity crisis we see. Because there are 6, we tend to think that they should reflect all of the church membership by representation, rather than being visionary leaders who are guiding the church into the future. The General board should be that body that represents all world regions equally.
The real issue is that we function with one administrative structure inside the US and one outside. In other world areas there are Regional Directors who deal with much of the hands-on operation of the churches in their assigned area of leadership. In the US, it is pretty much DS’s have a direct line to their presiding general with no need for any other administrative layers. This is NOT the case in our world regions. We basically have a person with the title of Regional Director for USA/Canada but I can assure you that he does not operate with the same measure of authority that the others do. To be truly global, the US would need to be structured the same as the rest of the world. And most aren’t willing to give up their “privilege” of access to headquarters.
I know for many this is way too radical, but my fear is that a vetting process could lead to further politicizing the process because it would be centralized in the group who does the vetting. This, too, could leave out some qualified people who might not appeal the the select group who would do the selecting. I love the Church of the Nazarene and consider myself on by birth and by choice.