RESOLVED that the 27th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene empower the Board of General Superintendents to conduct a study on the Nazarene Future focusing on our ecclesiology, polity, and missional strategy. Particular attention should be given to the role of the general superintendency.
This study group is to reflect the rich diversity of our faith community around the world.
The Board of General Superintendents will receive annual reports on the progress of this study and will report to the General Board in the year preceding the 28th General Assembly.
The General Board will bring any necessary recommendations to said General Assembly for consideration and action.
In 2009, a Board of General Superintendents' White Paper called for a study of the Church of the Nazarene’s future, while keeping in mind its historical past and present day realities. The paper’s focus was on being prayerful, obedient, and intentional with the plans God would reveal to the church as it moved into its second century.
That same year, the BGS sponsored General Assembly Resolution SR-757, which called for a study group that would report to the BGS in the 2009–2013 quadrennium.
The study began with a presentation by General Superintendent J. K. Warrick, then BGS chair, which examined 2009 church data (the most recently available at the time) from the general secretary’s office. Using this information as a baseline, qualified projections were made by the GMC Research Center to show a possible scenario for the church in the year 2030.
J. David McClung, a layman from Gig Harbor, Washington, USA, chaired the group, and Ken Mills, superintendent of the Mid-Atlantic District, USA, served as its secretary. The BGS appointed 14 additional members as representatives of local churches, districts, fields, regions, educational institutions, and the denomination’s Global Ministry Center. Engagement of the international church was achieved through the use of surveys and discussion groups involving close to 400 participants from various regions.
Over a three-year period, the study group met for a total of 12 days on site at the Global Ministry Center, with additional individual and committee work carried out elsewhere. A final report and recommendations from the Nazarene Future Study Group were received by the BGS in the summer of 2012. The BGS carefully reviewed the recommendations, and wrote its report in late 2012.
Duarte emphasized that the purpose of any proposed changes, including those related to the general superintendency, must be seen as a means of fulfilling the Church of the Nazarene’s mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations.
“The mission system of the denomination requires periodic examination in order for it to remain effective—and cost efficient—in its service to the church,” he said. “A review is a form of accountability and stewardship.”
In addition to ecclesiology, polity, missional strategy, and the general superintendency, the study group also considered the recommendations of the International Church Committee for a redesigned Church of the Nazarene Manual. This initiative will continue moving forward with participation by global mission regions in the redesign of the Manual and creation of an Administrative Handbook for world areas.
Final approval of any Manual redesign rests with the 29th General Assembly.
The Board of General Superintendents expressed gratitude to McClung, Mills, members of the study group, support staff, and survey participants for their contributions to this cooperative effort.
The report is not complete, however.
“Much was accomplished by God’s grace,” Duarte said. “However, to remain a spiritually vibrant church there is need for ongoing review. It is the desire of the Board of General Superintendents that the Nazarene system of mission under the leadership of the Holy Spirit be worthy of its members who give generously and sacrificially to make it possible.
“The church’s past and present are testimonies to God’s faithfulness. The church’s future is in the promises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—the hope of the world!”
The 13 resolutions presented by the BGS and adopted by the General Board will be sent as implementing legislation to 2013 General Assembly committees in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, for further review and action.
For the full report of the Board of General Superintendents to the Nazarene Future Study Group's recommendations, see Nazarene.org by clicking here. This report is also available in French, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.
The complete Nazarene Future Study Group report will be published in late March 2013.
--Board of General Superintendents