A historic meeting occurred February 19, 2008, as the Church of the Nazarene’s Board of General Superintendents, regional directors, and the Nazarene Headquarters’ Global Mission Team met together for the first time.
According to incoming jurisdictional General Superintendent Jesse C. Middendorf, “This meeting is the shape of new things to come. From now on, all members of the Global Mission Team and the regional directors will periodically meet together with the Board of General Superintendents to collaboratively engage the mission of the Church of the Nazarene”
An awareness of the significance of this meeting was not lost on individual members of the group. General Superintendent Paul G. Cunningham opened the meeting by reading from Acts 27, reciting the story of St. Paul’s shipwreck experience in the middle of a powerful storm on the Mediterranean Sea. Vividly describing St. Paul’s adverse situation, Cunningham emphasized the conclusion of the story by reminding the group that, “everyone reached land safely!” The general superintendent acknowledged that this historic moment signaled a course change as the Church of the Nazarene adjusts to new opportunities presented by the success of engaging its mission.
The group heard reports describing the ongoing work of designing a mission-shaped configuration of Nazarene Headquarters and its ministries. This is an important step as it moves toward becoming the Global Ministry Center in just a few months. Middendorf showed the participants a matrix-based schematic that aligns ministries and services with world region needs. This matrix emphasizes a renewed commitment on the part of the Board of General Superintendents to foster the matching of resources with global needs that empower and equip the local church.
Regional directors provided reports of God’s activity on their regions, citing the moving of the Holy Spirit in both renewing the Church as well as multiplying its presence. Acknowledging the results of present endeavors, Eurasia Regional Director Gustavo Crocker said, “The Church should move from production to enablement. We should move beyond expensive production to expansive enablement.” Following this comment, Mexico and Central America Regional Director Carlos Saenz reported new churches are being planted in Guatemala City, with over 100 new cells offering the promise of explosive growth.
Africa Regional Director Eugenio Duarte noted there are now 100 new churches in the West Africa nation of Benin, and that 80 new churches have been built by local Nazarenes—“on their own”—in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest nations. As the participants in this meeting were celebrating these reports, Asia-Pacific Regional Director Verne Ward indicated that the district superintendent in Japan has requested prayer “for new pastors for Japan and for a spirit of evangelism to help save the lost.”
USA/Canada Mission/Evangelism Director Tom Nees acknowledged reports from some sources, saying the Church in the U.S. and Canada was in decline or even dying. Refuting these reports, Nees noted, “Giving and per-capita giving is strong. This is not the sign of a dying Church!”
Nees went on to offer four points describing the health of the church in the U.S. and Canada:
- Remarkable and innovative things are happening in numerous locations that demonstrate vitality and growth.
- There are more churches over 1,000 in attendance than at any time in the denomination’s history.
- Many churches are becoming global in their outlook and ministry.
- The Church’s clergy corps is younger than most denominational averages.
General Superintendent Middendorf concluded the day-long meeting by adding, “We want to inspire partnerships, not curtail them, so that more can connect with the great dream of missions.”