According to the latest General Secretary report, there are 4,544 Churches of the Nazarene in USA/Canada and 23,508 Churches of the Nazarene in the world. There are 2,313,216 members in the Church of the Nazarene worldwide (615,610 USA/Canada). You can see the full report here
USA/Canada saw a 1.58% decline in membership in the last year (7.83% decline in the last decade). Every other region has seen double digit growth in the last decade:
Asia Pacific +19.27%
South America +37.94%
USA/Canada has more money, more resources, more clergy, and yet we are sliding down the wrong side of a slippery slope. In fact, USA/Canada has 58.6% of the ordained elders in the world (10,927 out of 18,641)—but accounts for only 18% of the conversions (40,696 of the 225,324 conversions) in the last year. If you are keeping score at home, the conversions to elder ratio in USA/Canada vs. Africa is not even in the same ballpark. In USA/Canada there are 3.72 conversions for every elder, and in Africa there are 39.8 conversions per elder. USA/Canada received 20,401 new Nazarenes last year or less than 2 per elder. Eurasia received 23,161 new Nazarenes with only 905 elders (25.59 new Nazarenes per elder). I could go on and on but you get the picture.
It’s not all on the ordained elders. We are Protestants after all, and we firmly believe in the “priesthood of all believers.” Our culture is changing. All denominations are down. There probably isn’t a simple answer to fixing this dilemma. Still the stats don’t lie. Moreover, if the experts are even half correct, the pandemic has made things worse, not better for our pastors. If USA/Canada clergy were having trouble reaching the culture pre-Covid, what will happen post-covid? If USA/Canada clergy had a burnout problem pre-2020, what will happen in 2021? The outlook might seem as dire as those aboard Apollo 13, and my fellow Nazarenes might want to say, “Lenexa, we have a problem.”
But Instead of crying out to Lenexa, maybe we should cry out to the Lord. Jesus tells us to pray for the workers in the harvest field (see Matthew 9). Usually, we assume that’s solely a call for more workers, but we already have plenty of workers. Instead of more, could we pray for renewed passion, wisdom and strength for the workers we already have? We need encouraged pastors. Could we pray for an army of encouragers to come alongside our weary pastors?
To see a turnaround in the USA/Canada numbers we will need a renewed spirit, a fresh fire among our pastors and laity alike. We need men and women captured and inspired to live out and share the good news. The harvest is still plentiful, but our workers are weary. Pray that the Lord of the harvest might revive us once more.
The simple truth is that our culture is trying to “outsmart” itself. We have become too educated to believe in God. The Bible is seen as irrelevant and full of fables and myths. We would rather believe that mankind is simply an accident of nature (as if that makes any sense) rather than the creation of a loving God. We have become so self-sufficient that we no longer need God. If you want to look at a Biblical precedent, according to today’s standards the prophet Jeremiah would be considered a failure. It has nothing to do with a lack of evangelistic zeal. We are simply living in a culture which has shut up its ears and hearts to the gospel message.