Why the Role of Regional Director in the Church of the Nazarene Should be Redefined (or maybe better stated “defined”)

The Church of the Nazarene has very detailed descriptions in the Nazarene Manual for the different roles in the church. Every job is spelled out using many explanatory words. The office of General Superintendent, General Treasurer, General Secretary, District Superintendent, Local pastor, Minister of Music (do we even call them “ministers of music” anymore?) and the Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries Superintendent (speaking of a long title that is not used in any of the Nazarene churches in the entire world), all have job descriptions consisting of many words, sometimes spanning several pages. But the second most influential position in the church has barely a blip in the Manual.  

Three out of the last five General Superintendents have been Regional Directors before being elected to the highest position in the church. Clearly this in the new feeder role to the office of General Superintendent, as opposed to being the pastor of a large USA Church (read: pastor of Olathe College Church). The majority of delegates to General Assemblies have viewed the Regional Director position to be a very important role in the church. This fact makes the comparatively little mention of the duties, responsibilities or function of the Regional Director’s position quite surprising 

The Church of the Nazarene Manual section concerning the Regional Director (346.4) consists of three paragraphs.  The second paragraph briefly concerns the election or removal of a Regional Director. The third paragraph (one sentence) states to whom the Regional Director is accountable. The first paragraph is the “job description.” It’s also one sentence. One long, clunky sentence (62 words. Yes, I counted them) that reads as follows:

A region may have a director elected by the Board of General Superintendents in consultation with the Global Mission director, and ratified by the General Board, to work in harmony with the policies and practices of the Church of the Nazarene giving leadership to districts, churches, and institutions of the region in fulfillment of the mission, strategies, and program of the church. 

That’s it. Not a lot of detail in the above paragraph. The Regional Director is to work in harmony blah, blah, blah and give leadership. We have two and a half pages describing the work and duties of associate pastors of a local church (see 159-159.8) and one sentence for the feeder position for the role of General Superintendent?  

Maybe the light-on-detail job description is the result of the great diversity of the regions. For example, the Regional Director in USA/Canada (Dr. Bob Broadbooks, who will be retiring soon and is a godly man) would have a far different role and function than the regional director of Eurasia (until very recently there was not a regional director for Eurasia, a region that spans 14 time zones, who knows how many languages and goes from Great Britain to Bangladesh. No joke. This region is a monster in size and scope. No wonder it took a while to decide upon a Regional Director). Still, it seems there could be a better, more detailed and accountable job description than one long, clunky sentence.

Moreover, since this role is such a vital position in the church and is the ticket for prime consideration for the General Superintendent’s chair, shouldn’t the regional delegates have a role in the selection of their leader? Instead of being elected by the six General Superintendents, who consulted the Global Ministries Director and had their choice ratified (rubber stamped?) by the General Board,  should we not consider voting for this role in the regional caucuses at General Assembly?  This would allow the people of the region to have a voice in selecting their leader who could speak into the unique concerns and issues of their region. As the General Superintendents have been reluctant to address what they consider to be nationalized issues, an engaged Regional Director could be that voice the Church of the Nazarene needs in such times. 

The Regional Director’s role has grown as the church has grown beyond the USA/Canada borders in its committed to being an international church. It’s too important of a responsibility to relegate its place to a long one-sentenced job description. Given these facts, it makes sense that a resolution should be developed for the 2023 General Assembly to provide a more complete job description with new methods and procedures of accountability for the Regional Director’s position. Moreover, the position should not be decided upon by a six-person committee (BGS), but elected by the people of the region.  Thereby this strong regional leader, chosen by the regional delegates, can offer an authoritative voice to localized situations as they arise.

To be strong for the rest of the 21st century, the Church of the Nazarene needs strong, accountable, well defined, elected-by-the-people regional leadership.

3 thoughts on “Why the Role of Regional Director in the Church of the Nazarene Should be Redefined (or maybe better stated “defined”)

  1. harold Bowlby

    You say we have too few words to describe the duties of the Regional director as compared to the number of words to describe the duties of associate pastors etc. Maybe, just maybe, we have too many words describing the duties of associates, etc. I have a Manual from the 1950’s and I compared it to the present day Manual and found it has gone far beyond the ;middle aged spread’. Me thinks – “the fewer the words – the better.”

    Reply
  2. Shionel Blas Gesite

    This is a very valid observation Rob. There is even a “lower” function that you could have attached to this discourse, the role of the Field Strategy Coordinator, also with a 1 or 2 paragraph job description. Both are practically “alter egos” of the Jurisdictional GS. RDs wield very vital roles and powers to districts, being the warm body at a striking distance of District Superintendents. They are actually duplications to the JGS roles. And have become more powerful than the JGS in terms of its “Jurisdictional” role; the JGS becoming a “rubber stamp” in its vital role.

    To avoid these duplications, and with the boiling ideas of having Regional Manuals, I think it would be better for the global church, to locate JGS s in regional locations, where they can be more physically accessible to District Superintendents, on a monthly basis. This way, JGS s will have a more reliable pulses of the regions where they have jurisdictions. This can also “save” valuable dollars, instead of having 3 administrative costs to only one, the savings of the WEF funds going to “real” disciple-making activities, and not administrative maintenance… My thoughts… And many more..

    Reply
    1. Rob Prince Post author

      Thanks for your input Shionel. I’ve thought about the role of the FSC in the scheme of things. We don’t have them in the USA/Canada (and I’m not sure I’d want the added level of bureaucracy or the cost), but I do wonder if they are a valuable resource in the making of more disciples. Again, USA/Canada with no FSCs is in decline and the other regions with FSCs are not (for the most part). Maybe it’s totally unrelated and the decline in USA/Canada would be happening no matter what the level of bureaucracy is. As to the idea of regionalization– in my heart of hearts, (even with the BGS dragging their collective feet because they feel– maybe correctly– that it will kill the unity and the message of the church) we are heading there. It may be that the global pandemic has pushed us even closer to this reality. I certainly have never claimed to have all the answers, just want us thinking of the best way to make Christ-like disciples in the nations.

      Reply

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