The Point of Pilot Point

By David A. Busic

It has often been said that the union of three different groups to form the Church of the Nazarene at Pilot Point, Texas, USA, was to promote the biblical doctrine of holiness as expressed in the teaching of John Wesley and the American Holiness Movement. While that is certainly true, what is less well-known is that at the very same time, nearly 30 other prominent groups in the U.S. held this same conviction. So why did these three groups merge to form our denomination, but not the many others?
 1908HallelujahMarch.jpg

The three groups that merged at Pilot Point held several common ideas that were essential to their unity:

  • The strong affirmation for the ordination of women
  • A baptismal theology that included infant and believer’s baptism and was not bound by a specific mode for baptism
  • The willingness to allow for freedom of conscience regarding eschatology. The early Church of the Nazarene included post-millennialists, pre-millennialists, and a-millennialists
  • A view of divine healing that did not exclude modern medicine
  • A shared believers’ church ecclesiology

While many other holiness denominations held exclusive and narrow viewpoints on these issues, the Church of the Nazarene chose to unite holiness people around middle-way (via media) practices. We have never been at our best as a church when we live in the extremes.
 
But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Pilot Point was that the Church of the Nazarene was able to do what few other evangelical churches could in the divisive years that followed the American Civil War — overcome issues of regional politics, prejudice, and the lingering hatred that follows horrific conflict.
 
Names like Bresee, Jernigan, and Reynolds came together from north, south, and east U.S. to embrace a transformational idea: Christian holiness can break down any walls of separation. It was a movement of God unprecedented in U.S. church history.
 
Nazarene Historian Stan Ingersol powerfully summarizes the miracle of Pilot Point:

The union of churches at Pilot Point was a shining example of the social reality of Christian holiness. At the heart of the Christian message is a word of reconciliation: first between sinners and Divine Love; and second, among the members of the human family who are estranged from one another. Pilot Point signifies the reality that holiness heals hearts and unites people otherwise driven apart by sin, politics, and conflict. (Stan Ingersol, “Born In Hope, Borne Onward In Love.” A paper delivered 26 June 2017 for the Fraternal Delegates Luncheon in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)

In such a time as this, in a world filled with great political strife and extreme polarities, can the Church of the Nazarene return to the spirit of our founders at Pilot Point? It was unlikely to happen then, but by the will and power of God, a union was formed. Our founders were not able to do everything, but they have given us hope that we can also deal with the issues that divide us today.
 
We serve the same God and have the same purpose. This is our holiness legacy. Let’s get back to the point of Pilot Point. 

*I am indebted to Nazarene Historian Stan Ingersol for these insights.

The Church of the Nazarene in Curacao

Some exciting things are happening with the Church of the Nazarene on the island of Curacao.  This work was begun a few years back, but has just recently been officially recognized by the denomination, which is an important milestone.  We realized that readers of this blog may have not heard of the origins of the Church’s ministry in this Dutch-speaking country in the Caribbean.  So, without further ado, we present to you an article that was originally published in NCN News:

Nazarene presence officially recognized in Curaçao

Jonathan and Lissett Petrus moved from the Netherlands to the island of Curaçao for work. It was during this time that they felt God leading them to Christian ministry. A couple years later they began partnering with Nazarene churches from the United States to minister to the people of Curaçao.

Curaçao, one of the “ABC islands” —Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao—on the north coast of Venezuela, is being introduced to the Church of the Nazarene. This is a story of new beginnings, for a country, for a young pastor and his team of church planters, and for an American pastor and his local church.

In 2010, the leadership of the newly-constructed Mesoamerica Region—formed out of the Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean Regions—took a hard look at itself. What they learned presented a challenge: the witness of the Church of the Nazarene was the weakest in the areas with the most population. Fifty-eight percent of the population of the region lives in 169 large cities and islands, but only 28 percent of the church membership is in those areas. This called for fresh thinking and a new strategy.

Hope springs from another factor. Across the region, a revival is occurring, with youth and young adults experiencing a call to missions. “We don’t need to rely only upon missionaries coming from North America,” they are saying. “Let us carry the gospel into these new areas.”

The Genesis Project is the region’s response. Twenty-eight large population centers are targeted to receive teams of four missionaries each by 2020. Missionaries Scott and Emily Armstrong in the Dominican Republic was named to develop the strategy and a training program.

The Dutch island of Curaçao presents its own challenge. The high cost of living makes it difficult for missionaries from Mexico or other parts of the region to live there. Yet, its diverse population of 150,000 needs the gospel. There are some 80 Protestant churches on the island, nearly all of them with memberships below 50. No Dutch-speaking evangelical church is proclaiming the message of heart holiness.

An international team is responding to this challenge with a strategy for planting a new Nazarene church on the island. Through divine orchestration, a team has come together to open the Church of the Nazarene in Curaçao: Kevin Hardy, pastor of Crossroads Church of the Nazarene in Ellicot City, Maryland Larry Orwig, Nazarene Missions International president at Crossroads Richard and Karen Brash, members at Crossroads, and sensing a call to full-time ministry Jonathan and Lissett Petrus: Young Dutch immigrants with a calling Scott Armstrong, missionary responsible for development and implementing Genesis in Mesoamerica Region.

Hardy.jpg

To find out more about this extraordinary story go to nazarene.org/generosity, and let’s keep praying that God continue to open doors where the church is not yet.

 

Fast Facts – Church of the Nazarene (2017)

NMI17_NoText.png

  • The Church of the Nazarene ministers in 162 world areas.*
  • In 2017, there were 685 missionaries originating from 59 world areas (including 225 long-term volunteers). Last year, 110 new missionaries were added. Within these missionary families, there are 379 missionary kids.*
  • 9,480 volunteers participated in Global Missions in 2017. In addition to the long-term volunteers, there were 314 short-term volunteers, and 9,166 Work & Witness team members.
  • Churches in global mission areas numbered 30,875 churches (increase of 0.98 percent) with 2.55 million members (increase of 3.19 percent from last year).*
  • 479 districts have been established around the world in 2017 with 28,719 clergy.*
  • 5 graduate seminaries, 30 undergraduate Bible/theological colleges, 14 liberal arts institutions, 2 nurses training colleges, and 1 teacher training college had a 2017 combined enrollment of 50,799 students globally.*
  • People were treated at community-based clinics and health care centers all over the world with concentrated efforts in India, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.*
  • 221 retired missionaries received pensions.*
  • NMI membership was approximately 1 million, and the number of organized local NMIs have risen by 2.33 percent to 17,293.
  • NMI and JESUS Film Harvest Partners, through WEF, helped provide infrastructure for 608 Nazarene JESUS Film teams to share God’s love. In 2016–2017, the teams reported 2.67 million evangelistic contacts. Of these contacts, 638,319 (24 percent of contacts) indicated decisions for Christ with 379,669 (59 percent of decisions) initial discipleship follow-ups. The teams started 7,544 preaching points in 2017.
  • NMI partnered with pastors, church boards, Global Missions, and Stewardship to help churches raise US $37.44 million through the World Evangelism Fund during the 2017 fiscal year (FY).*
  • Churches globally gave US $30.86 million for Approved Mission Specials (up 17 percent from FY 2016).
  • In 2017, 110 districts gave 5.5 percent of their income and beyond to the World Evangelism Fund (up 21 districts). WEF giving beyond 5.5 percent invests in new works in all world areas, including the USA and Canada.
  • Missionary Health Care provided approximately US $472,769 in medical assistance for Nazarene missionaries (up 6.76 percent from FY 2016).
  • NMI partnered with World Mission Broadcast (WMB), giving approximately US $367,327 to provide radio, television, and Internet programs to share the gospel globally.
  • Nazarenes gave US $3.7 million in deputation offerings for missionaries, up 15.9 percent from FY 2016.
  • NMI generated approximately US $253,347 through Links (up 4.94 percent), a vital personalized connection between local churches, districts, and missionaries around the world.
  • Nazarenes gave US $2.46 million for Alabaster (up 0.24 percent) to fund construction projects in 2017. In 2016–2017, Alabaster funds were released for 216 projects for the Church of the Nazarene in all six regions around the world. The Alabaster Offering is used in all six global regions. No Alabaster funds are used for administrative costs.
  • International Student Scholarship Fund (NMI 80th Anniversary project) provided 89 scholarships for students to attend Nazarene theological institutions globally.
  • NMI partnered with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to give more than US $9.28 million for disaster response and compassion projects around the world and to support approximately 12,000 children through Child Development Centers and Pastor’s Kid programs. Churches sent 52,320 Crisis Care Kits and 9,700 School Pal-Paks.
  • NMI assisted Work & Witness in raising approximately US $1.66 million to deploy 647 teams, an average of 12 teams per week. 9,166 people participated in Work & Witness in 2017, donating the equivalent of 329 years of labor.
  • Nazarene churches around the world operated 1,439 pre-school, primary, and secondary schools with a total enrollment of 166,231 students.

* Supported either directly or indirectly by World Evangelism Fund (WEF).

Denominational statistics for 2017

Nazarene Missions International

Ten Observations on the Church of the Nazarene 2017 Global Statistics

By Scott Armstrong

General Secretary David P. Wilson and Nazarene Research Services recently released the annual Church of the Nazarene statistical reports for 2017. These detailed reports documenting the missional activities of the denomination on a global scale show growth for the Church of the Nazarene over the statistical year, as well as continued growth over the past decade.

“We have seen some significant increases in several areas and we’re grateful for the leadership of the Spirit and the hard work of God’s people around the world,” Wilson said.

Nazarene Logo Background (2) 1024x768.jpg

Next week I will share my observations on the Mesoamerica Region specifically.  However, for now let’s focus on our denomination at large.  Here are my initial observations:

  1. The denomination is growing and has steadily grown during the past 10 years. In 2007, 20,958 churches were reported, and in 2017, 30,875 were reported.  Total membership has risen from around 1.73 million to more than 2.55 million in that same time.  Plus, in no year did we see a decline in membership worldwide in the last decade. This is encouraging growth – nearly 50% growth in only 10 years!
  2. We are not receiving as many new Nazarenes as we were ten years ago. Although our membership is steadily increasing, the number of new Nazarenes joining the church per year has declined 14% (from around 170,045 to 146,577).  In addition, every one of the previous four years (2014-2017) has produced fewer new Nazarenes than any of the first four years of this report (2007-2011).  Could this be attributed to a lack of evangelism? Is there less emphasis in some contexts placed on membership, and more on attendance?
  3. Every region has shown significant growth except one: the USA and Canada. It is common to hear some evangelical leaders proclaim that “the Church is dying” in the USA and Canada.  I would not go that far, especially since we presumably call ourselves Wesleyan optimists.  Saying the Church is dying means at some point (soon?) it will be dead.  How can a passionate Christ-follower throw out that maxim as a truth, without factoring in that the Church has proven itself to be historically adaptable and resilient? Nevertheless, an honest look at our current reality is mandatory.  In ten years the membership of our denomination has decreased in these two nations by -3.5%? It’s jarring. Pastors and leaders in the USA and Canada must change their methods drastically if they do not want to become an afterthought in the American and Canadian cultural landscape.
  4. The region with the most Nazarenes is now Africa, followed by USA/Canada and Mesoamerica. This is a seismic shift.  In only one decade, African Nazarene membership has nearly doubled, from 364,698 to 674,414.  Put another way, one in every four Nazarenes worldwide is from Africa.  It is significant to note that two of our six General Superintendents are from that continent.  I fully expect that our leadership on all levels will continue to greater reflect the momentous reality of the growing African Church.
  5. Some of the places deemed most difficult or even hostile to the Christian faith are growing: Eurasia and Asia-Pacific. Remember also that many of our brothers and sisters from what we call “Creative Access Countries” in these regions cannot be reported officially due to governmental restrictions and persecution.
  6. Total Church membership has increased in the last decade by 816,602 (47%), while attendance at weekly worship services has increased by 288,799 (24%). What the USA and Canada have seen for many years now could possibly be occurring in other regions: the average church member is attending worship services less frequently than a generation ago.
  7. Membership in Nazarene Youth International has increased only 7% in 10 years. This concerns me, especially since I have seen greater ineffectiveness in many of our local churches recently with regards to their youth ministries.  All of our churches want youth to come and be a part (or so we say).  However, are we willing to have them lead and – gasp! – change our methods and strategies when the standard operating procedure has proven stagnant? We must be more creative, and we must intentionally invest our time, resources, and love into children and youth.
  8. With drastically more members and churches globally, we see that giving has actually decreased by -8% in the last decade. This has to be attributed to the majority of giving coming from the one region that is not growing: USA/Canada.  There is a misunderstanding in many of our churches regarding the World Evangelism Fund (WEF) and why it is important.  I have recently had conversations with local and district leaders from three different regions that all have expressed confusion regarding this “pillar” of our denominational missions’ system.  This leads us to #9…
  9. WEF giving is far from universal. Bright and colorful on the first page of the report, the facts are stunning, if not sickening.  Only 26.8% of global congregations gave the full 5.5% of WEF last year (almost all from USA/Canada).  29% of our churches did not give a single cent or peso or rand to WEF.  How can this be?!  We have to do better than this as Nazarenes.  I realize that there are many great methods to give missionally to a variety of excellent organizations.  It could be that many people are just choosing to do that, right? Well, diving deeper, it appears that globally our maturing financially has not kept up with our growing evangelistically.  Sure, the Gross National Product (GNP) of Nicaragua or Nepal is way lower than that of the USA.  But our current model of churches multiplying around the world while neglecting to give to the primary denominational missions sending fund is unsustainable.  As the General Superintendents have been fond of saying in the past five years, “We do not seek equal amounts of giving; we seek equal sacrifice.”
  10. Discipleship attendance is up 60% in 10 years. This is significant and remarkable.  I recall how in the last decade our Global Church has placed much emphasis on holistic discipleship – ie. not just Sunday School being the only way to disciple.  I have seen much more creativity in reaching and teaching children, youth, and adults through small groups, Sunday School, and even – as in our local church’s case in Dominican Republic – Houses of Prayer.  May this renewed focus on discipleship be a calling card of Nazarene congregations in the coming decade as well.

There are undoubtedly many nuances and other points to be gleaned from these statistics.  What did I miss? What jumps out at you, or what of my observations encourages or alarms you the most?

 

Let’s Not Forget

For many around the world, a disaster in another country grabs our attention as long as media covers it.  We are moved to pray, often to give, and sometimes even to send a relief team.  Thank you, Lord, for your Church worldwide that has done all this and helped meet the enormous needs before us!

At the same time, in the Caribbean we have not forgotten the devastation of the recent hurricanes that have destroyed many of our islands. Long after television crews have left, the hard work of rebuilding is still taking place. And it will be so for months and years to come in places like Puerto Rico, Dominica, and St. Maarten.  Nazarene Compassionate Ministries has released three videos in the past month that show how those three countries are still reeling. However, at the end of the videos they have chosen to highlight images of hope: a smile of a woman who has lost her home, a congregation praying and embracing, a pastor standing at his pulpit even with his church walls demolished around him. You can be a part of this rebuilding process still.  You can help bring hope to thousands of hurting families in these places.  Please visit www.ncm.org for more information.

41269_image_editor_result.jpg

Here are the videos.  Let’s not forget.  Let’s act.

First Cross-Cultural Orientation in Haiti

With 21 participants and a leadership team from three different countries, a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO) was held in Montrouis, Haiti from December 7 to 9, 2017.

IMG_2918.JPG

During each activity and workshop, there was an atmosphere of expectation; those who attended were eager to learn more about missions. Our Haitian brothers and sisters were enthusiastic to learn more about missionary service and how they, too, can be part of what God is doing through the Church of the Nazarene around the world.IMG_2920.JPG

Although this is the first CCO that has been held in this country, it will assuredly not be the last. It is undoubtedly exciting to see that God is calling people from everywhere to everywhere!

IMG_2917.JPG

Marc Versil, Global Mission Coordinator of the Haiti Field, said: “Thank you all for your prayers.  The CCO in Haiti was a very interesting and productive event, and we give all glory to God!”

IMG_2923.JPG

One participant shared: “The CCO made me know how I can be an effective missionary, and how to help people to know Christ and to be his disciples.”

IMG_2921.JPG

Finally, Scott Armstrong, Global Mission Regional Coordinator, said: “This was a historic event.  For the first-time ever the CCO was able to be held in Haiti, a country that has for many decades received missionaries.  It was encouraging to see, however, that God is calling missionaries from Haiti and they are responding!  It will be exciting to see how this country rises up as a sending and sustaining missionary force in the years ahead.”

25189057_1530060233736957_5457176672842701792_o.jpg