The Most Ignored Paragraph in the Church of the Nazarene’s Manual (by far)

What are the most ignored words in the Church of the Nazarene’s Manual? 

We have fundamentalists in our camp that do not understand our statement on Holy Scripture. Plenty of people who just flat out don’t get the “cardinal doctrine” of Article X on “Christian Holiness and Entire Sanctification.” In some circles the statement on social drinking is overlooked by Nazarene members. When the lotteries get over $500 million, some break our statement on gambling. Sadly, too many secretly ignore our stance on pornography. No one is naïve enough to think that every Nazarene fully adheres to every word in the Manual. 

Last week I posted on Facebook and Twitter the Church of the Nazarene’s statement on Social Media. It’s paragraph 933. It is the very last words in the Manual (before the indexes). You could correctly say the final, final, final words of the 2017-2021 Manual are these: 

Use of Social Media. First and foremost, the content that we share should be respectful. As in all interpersonal relationships, we believe that the content of our social media should also be a reflection of the sanctified hearts for which we strive. Clergy and laity alike must be mindful of how their activities on social media affect the image of Christ and His church and impact its mission within their communities. Our activities should be life giving and affirming and should seek to uplift all persons. (2017)

The statement regarding social media in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene is the most ignored words in the book. By far. It is broken by members on a daily basis. Nothing comes close to the blatant disregarding of our statement on Social Media. Many of us have seen posts by District Superintendents, pastors and laypeople alike which ignored the instruction that “first and foremost, the content we share should be respectful.” Likewise, we’ve all seen substance shared on-line by Nazarenes which was not close to the final words of the Manual to be “life giving and affirming and should seek to uplift all persons.” 

People who would never in a face-to-face conversation say hurtful words, use their keyboard to spew hateful things. The sharing of gossip, rumors, name-calling, passive aggressiveness, veiled innuendoes, bullying, conspiracy theories or theologically sounding mumbo-jumbo hurts our witness as much as anything. All sides (right/left; conservative/liberal; republican/democrat; Calvinist/Wesleyan; any-side/all-sides) are guilty of misusing social media. Too often, our news feeds are jammed with unkind posts designed to build a following at the expense of our brothers and sisters who might vote different, worship different or look different. We have a lot of information. Not much wisdom. Even less grace. Mindless or hurtful posts take us further and further away from the loving kindness expressed in the Fruit of the Spirit.

Someone commented on my posting of the statement on social media that they didn’t know there was such statement in the Manual. Many know it, they just ignore it. A pastor friend recently said that the breaking of Manual Paragraph 933 is tantamount to “conduct unbecoming a minister.” Better stated it is “conduct unbecoming a follower of Jesus.” 

Social media is not evil per se. It’s a tool. Like all tools, it has the potential for good and bad. A saw can cut a board in two. That’s good, if building a house. It can also cut off your arm.  Usually that’s bad. How are you using this modern-day tool? For good or bad? I’m thankful for paragraph 933. I just wished that Nazarenes would read it, believe it, and follow its instruction.