Last week General Secretary of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Gary Hartke, released the denominational statistics for 2019. The report seen ( here ) glowed with the numbers– telling of the Church of the Nazarene’s increased membership among other things. But let’s crunch those numbers a little bit:
Good News: Membership is up! 2,616,741 (2019) from 2,579,243 (2018) an increase of 37,498 or a 1.45% and an increase of 34.5% since 2009. Praise the Lord!
Bad News: Membership in the USA/Canada region in down. From 628,339 to 621,278, a loss of 7,061 or 1.12%. Only USA/Canada and South America saw declines last year, and only USA/Canada has had a decline over the last decade (down 5.8%).
Good News: Average worship attendance is up. Hallelujah!
Bad News (maybe, could be, probably bad news): The Average worship attendance (unlike Membership numbers) was not given by region. The Average worship attendance increase is slightly lower than the membership increase (1.12% over 1.01%). It seems logical then that there would be similar attendance increases and declines in the regions. In other words, the USA Average Worship Attendance is probably down (and may be down significantly).
Good News: The number of professions of faith for 2019 was 111,777. The Bible says: “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). So, if there is rejoicing over one sinner, then clearly there is much rejoicing over 111,777 professions of faith in 2019! Thank the Lord for the work of the church worldwide!
Bad News: The number of profession of faiths are down from the previous year (down 7,057 or 5.94% and down 19.14% for the decade). The number of new Nazarenes is also down (down 5.6% and down 16.24% for the decade). In other words, our mission to make Christ-like Disciples in the Nations is doing worse not better.
Good News: 72.4 percent of the churches reporting gave all or some support to the World Evangelism Fund.
Bad News: Key word in the above statement is “reporting.” The stated number of churches reporting was 20,409 churches, but there are 30,875 churches. Assuming that if churches do not take the time to report, are probably not taking the time to give to the WEF– the more accurate numbers of all the churches might look like this:
Churches paid in full: 23.3%
Churches that paid some of WEF: 24.5%
Churches that paid nothing to WEF: 52.3% (numbers are not exact because of rounding up)
Good News: USA/Canada Per Capita giving is $1,233.33 (up from $1,226.51 or an increase of 0.56%).
Bad News: Throughout the rest of the world the per capita giving varies from a low of $13.99 in Africa to a high of $232.22 (Asia-Pacific). Per capita giving in the USA/Canada is $1000 more than the next highest giving region and $1219 higher than Africa the largest region in the world. In other words, USA/Canada continues to fund the majority of the ministry and work of the Church of the Nazarene worldwide.
Conclusion: Praise the Lord for the new converts. Praise the Lord for especially working in places like Eurasia and Africa. But all Nazarenes should be in deep prayer for the state of the church in USA/Canada. The USA/Canada church is aging fast– losing in membership and attendance. As the USA/Canada continues to age and die off, giving will also decline. Yet the global church is extremely dependent on “grandpa” USA/Canada for its funding. You don’t need to be a math major or an expert in gerontology to tell you once grandpa is dead, the money well is over. For the mission of the Church of the Nazarene to continue worldwide, the USA/Canada must be alive and vibrant. The numbers indicate that Nazarenes worldwide need to be praying for revival for the USA/Canada church. Without a reversal of the USA/Canada attendance numbers (and eventually giving numbers), the entire church will suffer and cease to operate as it currently operates.