In response to those that would make haste of the reformation and turn it into an "occasion of division, war, and insurrection," Luther wrote,
"'Give men time. I took three years of constant study, reflection, and discussion to arrive where I now am, and can the common man, untutored in such matters, be expected to move the same distance in three months? Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit wine and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? Such haste and violence betray a lack of confidence in God. See how much he has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.'"
(Chapter XII, The Return of the Exile, p. 214)
"In God alone can man ever find peace. God can be known only through Christ, but how lay hold on Christ when his ways are likewise so incredible? The answer is not by sight but by faith which [p224] walks gaily into the darkness. Yet once again, how shall one come by this faith? It is a gift of God. By no act of will can it be induced . . .
"No, but man is not left entirely without recourse. He can expose himself to those channels of self-disclosure which God has ordained. They are all summed up in the Word. It is not to be equated with Scripture nor with the sacraments, yet it operates through them and not apart from them. The Word is not the Bible as a written book because 'the gospel is really not that which is contained in books and composed in letters, but rather an oral preaching and a living word, a voice which resounds throughout the whole world and is publicly proclaimed.' This Word must be heard. This Word must be pondered. 'Not through thought, wisdom, and will does the faith of Christ arise in us, but through an incomprehensible and hidden operation of the Spirit, which is given by faith in Christ only at the hearing of the Word and without any other work of ours.' More, too, than mere reading is required. 'No one is taught through much reading and thinking. There is a much higher school where one learns God's Word. One must go into the wilderness. Then Christ comes and one becomes able to judge the world.'
"Likewise faith is given to those who avail themselves of those outward rites which again God has ordained as organs of revelation, the sacraments.
"'For although he is everywhere and in all creatures and I may find him in stone, fire, water, or rope, since he is assuredly there, yet he does not wish me to seek him apart from the Word, that I should throw myself into fire or water or hang myself with a rope. He is everywhere, but he does not desire that you should seek everywhere but only where the Word is. There if you seek him you will truly find, namely in the Word. These people do not know and see who say that it doesn't make sense that Christ should be in bread and wine. Of course Christ is with me in prison and the martyr's death, else where should I be? He is truly present there with the Word, yet not in the same sense as in the sacrament, because he has attached his body and blood to the Word and in bread and wine is bodily to be received.'
[p225] "These were Luther's religious principles: that religion is paramount, that Christianity is the sole true religion to be apprehended by faith channeled through Scripture, preaching, and sacrament."
(Chapter XIII, No Other Foundation, pp. 223-225, boldface added)
"Luther was, in fact, less impelled to voice a protest against immoral abuses in the Church than were some of his contemporaries. For one reason he was too busy. In October, 1516, he wrote to a friend:
"I could use two secretaries. I do almost nothing during the day but write letters. I am a conventual preacher, reader at meals, parochial preacher, director of studies, overseer of eleven monasteries, superintendent of the fish pond at Litzkau, referee of the squabble at Torgau, lecturer on Paul, collector of material for a commentary on the Psalms, and then, as I said, I am overwhelmed with letters. I rarely have full time for the canonical hours and for saying mass, not to mention my own temptations with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. You see how lazy I am. "
(Chapter IV, The Onslaught, pp. 68-69)
Again, pretty straight forward information from this infograph.
Tucson is the midway point between Hermasillo and Flagstaff, right around the 400 km mark.
About half of the churches are 75 or more in attendance, and so they could plausibly support a pastor.
A trend is developing among the megaregions studied so far (Northeast, SoCal, Great Lakes, Cascadia) including Arizona Sun. About one quarter of Nazarenes in this megaregion are being discipled by a small segment of the churches. In this case, three-percent of the local churches are making 25% of the disciples called Nazarene in the Arizona Sun megaregion.
Churches that run 600 in worship attendance or more are designated (by me, at least) as missional centers, serving as a base for missional strategy, training, and resourcing. They give missional support beyond finances to the other churches in the megaregion, if they wanted to. This megaregion does not have this luxury. There would need to be a strong contextual, outward orientation. Is there a missional base here? I really do not know.
These blog posts on Nazarene presence in megaregions are meant to be descriptive of a snapshot in time, to give a starting point for further questions, to assist those making prescriptive decisions in the megaregion, to be used by those setting missional strategy. So, the need for missional centers is something to think about.
One element to the missional strategy of the Church of the Nazarene is to go where they church is not yet present. I think it also includes places where the church used to be. I would also add: it is where current churches are not yet oriented. This is a megaregion with four distinct polities of organization within one context. How long will it take to re-orient to such a diverse context? Five to twelve million people (see below) are dying to know if the news will be good for the Arizona Sun megaregion.
How long will it take to re-orient to
One-third of churches in this cultural mosaic are ethnically identified. This is no surprise.
Of the ethnic churches on this megaregion, two of every three is Hispanic. Again, no surprise. (NOTE: Does not include Mexico Northwest Churches).
What is surprising is that one of every five members attend these churches.
And, only about one of every seven churches have more than 75 in worship attendance.
There is a lot of history here with the earliest church organized in 1946.
The challenge for this megaregion in my estimation is to create a shared vision for engaging this context with the gospel. This vision needs to cross many barriers--languages, traditions, histories, prejudices.
The hardest and most difficult task will be to accept the answer to the question: "What is good news for this context?"
t is truly a missionary context for all those in ministry in this place, and grace will be need to make anything worthwhile to last if it may happen at all.
This infograph speaks loudly enough without much commentary.
Interestingly, there are three male & female pastoral teams: two are spouses, and another is an associate along with a retired DS as interim.
The traditional cultures enmeshed within this context may not make it easier to provide routes for women into ministry as a senior pastor. The viability of some of these congregations may make it impossible without multiple charges. Almost all of the female ministers in senior or co-pastoral ministry have been assigned to their current church within the last seven years.
Sticking to the theme of durability on this megaregion, pastors stay for a long time. Notably the five longest tenured pastors are from the Latin American and Native American districts with tenures of 42 years (Latin American - Chandler Primera), 39 years (Native American - Kinlani Church), and three more at 24 to 25 years.
This district also has the fewest churches on a megaregion without an assigned pastor. Interestingly, there is a lay pastor and interim pastor that were not in the data, but had to be identified in the District Journal for Arizona. Still, one of ten churches do not have an assigned pastor in this snapshot of the megaregion.
The intermingling of cultures, and among very traditional and slow-changing ones, will make clergy development an interesting process. I'll leave that here. -- Okay, I'll say one thing--can someone minister in this area without functional capacity in the Spanish language, at a minimum. An awareness of the cultural history of what Colin Woodard calls El Norte would also be helpful.
This megaregion has the most potential right now of being the epicenter of kingdom life in north America. Even so, I'm a little reluctant to write about the Nazarene presence on the Arizona Sun megaregion.
I am afraid people will not like what the numbers say about Nazarene presence in this geographic area, mainly because of the political and ethnic boundaries that traverse the border between the United States and Mexico. I have heard a story from a local church on this megaregion, in which a good number of parishioners got up and left the sanctuary during a worship service when a Scripture passage was read in Spanish. It was a few years ago, but not too long ago to be easily forgotten by the first language Spanish speakers present on that morning.
Nazarene presence in the Arizona Sun megaregion includes several ethnic identities, regardless of national boundaries. Nazarene churches are found in a landmass that stretches not only from the high deserts and extinct volcanoes surrounding Flagstaff but also crosses the U.S.-Mexico border into the Sonora state of Mexico and its capital of Hermasillo.
Add into this mixture the local churches from the Nazarene districts known as Southwest Latin American and Southwest Native American that contribute a portion of local churches to this megaregion, some of these churches are less than a mile from churches on the Arizona district. Same neighborhood, same denomination, different organizational structure and missional strategy. The boundaries of church polity do not easily make sense any more than the national and political boundaries that dissect this geography.
I do not dismiss the ability or necessity for districts that are ethnically identified to self-regulate without intrusion from dominant cultural expectations. I think gathering in this way can be helpful at times, however . . . Geographically, politically, ethnically, economically, and administratively, this megaregion makes for a major headache in terms of missional strategy in local context. The context needs to be regarded as the same place. All local eyes are necessary to localize fully the church's presence there.
All local eyes are necessary to localize fully
I have already analyzed the Arizona district churches as part of the Southern California megaregion. So, as one reads the data analysis of SoCal it will include numbers from the Arizona Sun analysis. It is still important to take a specific look at the Arizona Sun megaregion as a particular context because of its complexity.
This analysis does not include every church from the Nazarene districts found within the Arizona Sun's general and estimated borders. There are a few churches on the southern and northern edges that are outside of the north-south corridor of U.S. Interstates of I-17, I-10, I-19, and Mexican Federal Highway 15. These highways string together the cities (north to south) of Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, and Hermasillo. There is Nogales, Arizona in the United States as well as a Nogales, Sonora in Mexico.
In this study, I have included some churches as northern boundaries. Along I-40, the northern border of this megaregion includes eastward from Ash Fork to Sun Valley churches (Arizona District) along Interstate-40, including Round Cedar (Native American) as a entrance into the Hopi Reservation.
Show Low traces the eastern border so as to include the several Native American reservations (Fort Apache and San Carlos) in eastern Arizona. The southern churches include Brisbee (Arizona District) and Agua Prieta (Mexico Northwest) along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as Guaymas and Ciudad Obregon to the south of Hermasillo (Mexico Northwest).
In other words, I made a judgment call to not include Yuma, Arizona to the west or the entire collection of local churches in the Hopi Reservation north of I-40, and churches north of Flagstaff, such as Cameron. I needed to be somewhat faithful to the notion that the Arizona Sun corridor unites this megaregion in terms of transportation, commerce, and education.
Aritz ona is a Basque phrase for "good (ona) oaks (aritz)." Word has it that early Spanish explorers and missionaries gave this name to the Sonoran desert when they first saw the grand abundance of this place. Spanish missionary Father Kino first noted the circular migratory routes of the local indigenous peoples. They would move in a circular direction according to seasons for the best hunting grounds and growing cycles, following the footsteps of ancient ancestors. N.B.: Today's U.S.-Mexico border transects this area.
There are many similarities to the missions of southern Texas and along the California coast: same missions, similar history, different contexts. All this to say, this is a context of continual transition.
Father Kino established not only left a trail of missions in present-day Arizona and Sonora, but was the first to begin large scale ranching and skill training in blacksmithing and construction. He opposed enslaving indigenous peoples in nearby silver mines, but it happened. Commerce left a legacy not far removed from the present-day. The Jesuits and later Benedictines were pushed out by the secular Mexican government which was later seceded by Americans as they moved west.
One-third of active churches were started or organized since 2000. And, of those organized, nineteen of twenty-one are still active.
Until the 1980s, the decades with the most churches organized were the 1950s (12) and 1980s (17). Twelve organized in the 1950s are still active, as well as twelve from the 1980s. The importance of organization is not to be underestimated.
Average years of active ministry among all ethnic groups is strong--23 years among Hispanics, 35 among Whites/English speaking, and 50 years among Native Americans. What is amazing is that there are 25 active years in ministry on average among all churches in this megaregion.
Durability is a quality right at home among these churches in the desert locale.
The next point does not have to be belabored, but a trend is developing around church closings.
The trend continues with closing churches on a predictable basis. By the end of the first two years see one-fifth of churches will close (10 - 22%), one-half within seven years (23 - 50%), and six out of ten within twelve years (27 - 58%). By twenty years, seven out of ten churches will have closed on this megaregion. This is true in the Northeast, Cascadia, and Southern California megaregions.
There is a need for training church planters not only at start-up, but for the two-year mark, seven-year mark, and twelve-year mark.
2007 was the year with the most closures with eleven. This year is also consistent with many church closings in the Northeast (40), Cascadia (37), and Southern California (26) megaregions.
There is something that cannot be looked past. Consider the population numbers now (5.7 million in 2010) and later (12.3 million in 2050).
Using the metric of one church per 10,000 people as a way to gauge presence in an area, Nazarenes have 89 churches where there should be 570.
In three decades there will be a need for 1,230 churches. There is a wave of people entering this area, and the church may not be ready to engage this context for its next demographic shift.
This is like Wiley scrambling up a cliff, not quite catching up to the Roadrunner, and in the end being outwitted again. The context will always matter in missional strategy.
This is going to be just a brief reflection on the data below.
Reminder--Missional Centers are churches that are not the largest churches but usually run between 600 to 800 in worship attendance. They have multiple staff, extensive programming, well-established facilities, and experienced pastors. They typically anchor district events and personnel. They have self-educated, lifelong learners, generous, visionary, and engaged lay leadership. These churches are what Rev. Mark Bane calls "high impact" churches.
Nine churches fit this criteria in the Northeast megaregion. But, get this. They claim one out eight members, and one of every six worship attenders!
One-third of the megaregion's churches run 75 or more. This is the bare minimum number for what Alan Hirsch refers to as "oikos" communities. Seventy-five will be a group that has a designated leader, draws several groups of people together on a regular basis, and engages in ministry that seeks to multiply.
Half of the churches are 45 or less in worship attendance. I wonder if a few of these churches could not be gathered into "oikos" communities.
Let me do a little thought experiment. Let's bring together several strategic concepts--Alan Hirsch's Hirsh's oikos communities, Mike Breen's missional communities, and Francis Asbury's circuit rider into one organic network.
What if there are leaders trained as shepherds over the smallest churches, or missional communities (less than 45). These churches are places of prayer where people are cared for and discipled, operate on low-overhead expenses, maybe have a volunteer or bivocational pastor.
Of these leaders, a few leaders could be designated as oikos network leaders of a church or several churches (total attenders of 75 to 90). They will probably be full-time or in a few cases bivocational, but mostly available to nurture and lead several of these churches. Nazarene polity recognizes churches in groups, such as mission areas or zones.
The missional centers will be places of encouragement and education, as well as places from which oikos network leaders and missional community shepherds might be called. A staff member at this church could provide apostolic (strategic and missional) oversight for oikos network leaders.
Just thinking aloud.
Longevity assisted by adaptability
One of the data points about large churches on this megargion that jumped off the page was pastoral tenure. Three of the largest churches have pastoral tenure over two decades.
These churches also average over 60 years of average ministry. Again, the Northeast megaregion exemplifies longevity even in the midst of great diversity. This is a quandary.
One expects great diversity to equal continual change. Maybe longevity is aided by adaptability in the midst of diversity. Therefore, change is possible.