In the Great Lakes Megaregion,
7% of Nazarene pastors are female
97 out of 1,418 pastors (2014)
50% of female pastors
have been at their churches
Longest tenure: 1985
Rev. Debora L. Ferch White, ordained in 1988
Sheldon Church of the Nazarene (Chicago Central)
Largest worship attendance with a female pastor:
Plattsburgh Church of the Nazarene (Upstate New York)
Rev. Rebecca Lum, co-pastor
Four churches with female pastors average more than 100 in worship attendance
Median worship attendance with a female pastor
Women in Ministry Infograph
Great Lakes Megaregion Map
15 churches over 1,000 in worship attendance
10 of these churches are on five districts (Eastern Michigan, Northeastern Indiana, Northwestern Indiana, South Central Ohio, Southwestern Ohio)
5 are in Ohio | 4 in Indiana | 3 in Michigan | 1 each in Illinois, Kansas, and North Dakota
These churches also claim
One of every 20 members (5.5%, 20,596 of 375,514)
One of every 10 worship attenders (13%, 21,185 of 163,314)
I am not a fan of making a big deal out of large churches. I do not believe that "bigger is always better." This is a north American fallacy. Church leaders should be weaned from this notion.
I do not believe large churches should be considered leading indicators of spiritual health or missional capacity in relation to districts, associations, or denominations. Large churches have a role to play but it has to be put into proper perspective.
A while ago, I was talking to a friend on staff at one of the large churches in the Great Lakes. He told me they usually do not participate in district events because they overwhelm the planners and leaders with the sheer size of their group. They cannot bring 250 children to a camp with 250 campers from smaller churches. To even do this, the large church needs its own planners, counselors, and volunteer drivers. Once they are finished with these efforts, they might as well plan their own events. They usually do.
Treating large churches as the major leagues supplied by a farm system of smaller churches is not healthy. They do not want to be viewed this way, either. They just do things in a much larger scale. They plan monthly events that most pastors and church volunteers might encounter once a year at district assembly. They plan worship services weekly that most church workers would only see at the annual camp meeting. They organize a weekly army of children's volunteers that are five times larger than entire congregations on the district.
Large churches are basically districts in a building.
We attended and became members of one of the large churches in the Great Lakes megaregion. Our adult Sunday School class was larger than 80% of the local churches in the megaregion. Leadership of the large church at a district assembly or denominational event will sometimes feel like an outsider at a family reunion. This is why I think large churches need to be separated from district oversight and into direct relationship to the regional office.
Regionally planned gatherings can bring together churches of this size to spend time learning from one another as they deal with similar issues. They need a place where denominational officials, who may not have expertise with large church leadership, can listen in and seek out how to pray for those in the large church. In this kind of gathering, large church leaders would be better able to coordinate efforts to develop partnerships and compassionate ministries in other parts of the world.
Large churches make a unique contribution to the missional task of the church. They can become providers of curriculum resources, partners in global missionary tasks, trainers of worship leaders and technical expertise, influential liaisons for compassionate ministries in their regional locales, organizers for clergy training and spiritual renewal retreats, and spiritual nourishers of missional leaders in their contexts producing high-quality podcasts and digital publications for their own congregants but also for smaller church leadership.
Smaller churches should not aspire to become like large churches. Rather, they should become circles of missional impact within their own contexts. Large churches can help make this happen. They can become nodal points in relational pathways guiding people toward the light of the LORD (Micah 7:7-8).
Below is a video clip of a worship service at Grove City Nazarene, the largest church in the Great Lakes megaregion and the US/Canada Region of the Church of the Nazarene.
Large Churches Infograph
Great Lakes Megaregion
Of the ethnic churches in the Great Lakes megaregion,
40% are Hispanic (79)
18% are Multicultural (35)
13.6% are Black (27)
10% are Asian (Korean, Chinese, Tamil, Cambodian, Vietnamese - 20)
7% are Haitian or French (12 & 2)
4% are African immigrants (African, Liberian, Congolese, Ethiopian, Eritrean - 8)
3.5% are Native American (7)
2% are Arab (4)
1.5% are Armenian, Jewish, Russian, West Indian (4)
Note on the "Multicultural" category
The category of "multicultural" is too vague. After a cursory review of the churches in this category, some of the churches reflect urban diversity, such as the Montreal First, Toronto Rosewood, Cincinnati Clifton Avenue, Chicago Reach 77, and St. Louis Bridge of Hope. They might better be categorized as "urban" rather than "multicultural."
This designation also includes compassionate ministry centers which are not ethnic as much as affinity-based or need-based, such as the Kansas City Rescue Mission and Target Dayton.
Others could be designated by one of the specific ethnic categories, such as Lakota New Hope Ministries (Native American) or Iglesia del Nazareno Piedra Angular (Hispanic).
Just some suggestions in working through the data on ethnic churches.
According to a related study from Pew Research on racial diversity among U.S. religious groups published on July 27, 2015, the Church of the Nazarene reflects a membership that is 88% White with only 7% Latino and 2% Black. Nazarenes rank between Presbyterians and Unitarians on a diversity index. Assemblies of God ranks first among Evangelical Christian groups, and Methodists and Lutherans near the bottom of the list.
Ethnic Church Infograph
Great Lakes Megaregion Map
2,357 churches closed since 1909, an average of 22 churches per year.
1944 was the first year with more churches closed than organized.
It was also the year with the most church closings.
The next year with more churches closed than organized was 1968.
Since 1968, there have been 36 years with more churches closed than organized.
Every year since 1989 there have been more churches closed than organized.
Since 1990 the ratio is one church organized for every 3.6 churches closed.
1 : 3.6
Great Lakes Megaregion
3,444 Churches Organized.
There are 30 years since 1916 that averaged one church organized per week.
The last time this happened was 1958.
172 more churches have only a start date; not yet organized.
1958 The year with the most churches organized
90 Churches organized in 1958
93 Churches organized between 2005-2014
There have been 2,358 churches closed between 1909-2014.
More on this in a later post.
Nazarene Research Services, Lenexa, KS
Church of the Nazarene District Journals 2014
Raw Data - Nazarene Research Services - June 2015
TL;dr A supercity in China plans for 130 million people covering a land mass equivalent to the State of Kansas.
A new megalopolis is in the making. The article written by Ian Johnson with a July 19, 2015 byline and related video (link above) unveil a massive undertaking to create a megaregion, a geographic area of contiguous human population interconnected through transportation, commerce, and communication.
According to the article, the main component of the plan will be a high speed rail project: the same motive behind America 2050. It could be decades when (and if) this ever comes to pass.
According to Johnson, Yanjiao, a "bedroom community" located 25 miles from Beijing, has ballooned to a population of 700,000 in ten years with 25-story apartment complexes, a few hospitals, overcrowded schools (with classes over 60 children), no theaters, no bus terminals and limited public services, such as inadequate drainage. The plan could be vibrant threads connecting people or too-many nightmarish slums-in-process.
Further, the article suggests the imagined rail line, hitting speeds over 150 miles per hour, will connect residential areas to industrial zones, cultural centers, and educational opportunities. The railways hope to expand the 60-mile radius (or one-hour commute by car) that is the standard for Western urban planning.
The new megalopolis is nicknamed Jing-Jin-Ji after Beijing, Tianjin, and "Ji", the popular name for the Hebei province of China.
TL;dr A supercity in China plans for 130 million people covering a land mass equivalent to the State of Kansas.
Megaregions and the Church in North America, www.professorprice.net
"As Beijing Becomes a Supercity, the Rapid Growth Brings Pains" by Ian Johnson, July 19, 2015, New York Times, July 19, 2015
Hat tip to the observant redittor rollotomasi07071 at the subreddit r/worldnews
Megaregions are a primary source of missional strategy for the church in north America, including the Church of the Nazarene.
Since 2007 half of the world's population now resides in cities. It is crucial for the church's mission to engage people wherever they are. They will be increasingly found in megaregions.
A megaregion is a geographic area of contiguous human population interconnected by a network for communication, commerce, and transportation.
Below are several slides from my presentation on megaregions that I have given to several groups of leaders around the country and in the classroom since March 2014. I have given this presentation several times at Shepherd Community in Indianapolis since May 2014. The staff at Shepherd Community has also shared these slides with other denominational groups in recent weeks.
The statistical information comes from America 2050 and other research I have conducted on global urbanization, urban planning, New Urbanism, and urban church planting, especially in the context of megaregions.
The first slide is an overview of the primary megaregions of north America.
The next slide identifies the Great Lakes megaregion, which is the primary concern of my current research. I hope to assist the church's missional strategy in north America for the next 30 years. The other ten megaregions are as important to the overall strategy, but I live and work in the Great Lakes megaregion. the Great Lakes are my home and my context.
The Great Lakes megaregion is also the largest of the eleven in geographic area, generates 1/5 of the U.S. GDP, and is home to one of every five Americans. In the next 25 years, almost 16 million more people will call this place home.
The next slide shows the Great Lakes megaregion in more detail. The circles represent major urban areas. I tend to think of them as neighborhoods in a larger megalopolis, which is another term for a megaregion. Each neighborhood/city has a particular personality and identity within the region. Smaller towns are not left out since they could be considered similar to individual streets in the megalopolis.
The details on the map below include the major urban areas located here as well as the Nazarene districts within this megaregion. A brief overview of population data is also included.
If asked about where people reside and where things happen in the United States, one is tempted to point toward the coasts, especially New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. located on the eastern seaboard. The megaregions in the Great Lakes and the Northeast, however, are comparable in every area. Below is the data slide for the Northeast megaregion.
The purpose of the research
The purpose of the research is to seek a missional strategy for the Church of the Nazarene for the Great Lakes megaregion. Strategy needs a context. I have collected data not only from America 2050, but also the Nazarene Research Services and other relevant sources. This is a developing picture of the context.
Of course, I hope to be a part of the strategizing, along with many more already working diligently in these places. All others are invited to use these data on megaregions as they seek to proclaim and demonstrate the Good News where they live.
I will roll out the information mined from these data over the next few days and weeks, including:
If there are data that interest you, let me know and I will try to include it or track it down for later.
Not sure how scientific or credible this test is. It's fun, so there it is.
Click on the image below to try to the Staples reading test. Read a page from a well-known novel, answer three questions. Discover how many words per minute you read with comprehension. Find out how you compare to average reading speeds for others like high school juniors or college professors. See how long it will take for you to read several classic novels at your reading speed.
How does your reading speed compare to others?
What books would you actually try to read because of this test?
Semi-related. Books I'm reading right now.
Two books about Mars--a novel about human conflict and revolution on a terraformed Mars in the not-to-far-away future, and a treatise on what it will take in terms of science and politics for humans to even get to the red planet.
Also, a densely-worded work by Anglican theologian named John Milbank on why he basically despises the social sciences while at the same time guarding the portions he thinks aid a theological program. Now, I've just entered into the mountainous terrain of Milbank's mind, so there's much more to be said about what will be read.
All of these books make me feel like I'm walking with giants.
Life Sized Decisions
Large-scale events create the space teenagers need to experience genuine faith. Life is only lived by a teenager with others, especially peers. Things only make sense by testing their thoughts by interacting with someone else. This whole process is amplified when 7,000 of them get together at the same time and place. Now, they are home.
I wrote a paper a couple of years ago for the journal Missiology. You can read the whole thing if you want. TL; dr -- The gist of the research contends teenagers listen most closely to God's calling when they are in a group setting, outside of a regular routine, and have the ear of a close mentor figure. NYC took care of two of the three. What teenagers need now is a mentor figure.
Try not to dump a bunch of things from the world these teenagers left: chores, work details, stressful stuff that happened at home while they were gone. Let them ease back into home life.
They might have already talked about the Big Important Things That Happened at NYC.
Now, it's the small conversations and quiet realizations about what God means to them or what He wants them to do with their lives that might still bang around their skulls; they are not sure ... yet ... what to do with these thoughts and decisions. This could take some time for them to sort out.
They think you want them to be a doctor, but they've heard from God Who wants them to learn Spanish and live in an urban barrio ministering to drug addicts, and they are worried sick about how Mom or Dad are going to react. Be ready and prayerful and patient, did I mention being ready, already? Let your response be less reactive and more receptive.
True, you the parent might need as much grace as the child in responding to God's calling. Be ready. Ephesians 6:15 calls all Christians to be prepared (with the "readiness") to take the "gospel of peace" wherever it is needed. It might be needed in your teen's heart and mind right now. So, be ready.
As my friend Moise in Benin would say, "C'est chaud!" [French pronounced like "say show" meaning "it's hot!"] In other words, don't wait until memories fade, and things cool down. The time is now for these major decisions to turn into life trajectories. Keep the momentum going.
Mentors will help keep the energy of last week rolling forward into the rest of your teen's life.
Make Your Gratitude Obvious
Finally, be thankful for events like NYC. Be grateful for the adults that planned it and accompanied them. Write a quick note to one of the organizers like Justin Pickard at NYI's US/Canada office or if you're from the East Central U.S. Field (East Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio districts), let James Smith know how much you appreciate the work put into this event. Maybe even send your district organizer(s) a gift card. They put a lot into your children this past week/month/year. Make your gratitude tangible.
Things happen at NYC that could never have been planned or anticipated. God works through events like this one. It's scary, I know, a lot has happened in a few days.
I've been a teen, a youth pastor, and a parent. This is what God created us--and our teens--for.
Let His Kingdom come and shine forth!
We lived in France, the Alps of Savoy to be exact, about a decade ago. We were there to learn French before returning to west Africa. After living in the mountains, nothing else really compares. Every day I walked my kids to the French public school, and I could look up at Belle Etoile (Beautiful Star), a mountain rising 3,000 meters over Val d'Isere (pictured above).
The beauty of this moment--the memory of the sight of the crisp blue mountain air, the steamy breath of those walking up to the school, the invigorating bite of the brisk wintry breeze--brought to mind the words of the Psalmist, one of my favorites, in # 121:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
It was awe-inspiring. All I could think was, soak in this view because soon you'll move away, and it will only be faint memory.
So, I did.
Every day I looked up at this mountain; it held my gaze. I remember the weekend afternoon a group of us hiked the winding trail through the conifer forest up the side of Belle Etoile, and threading our way between the expanse on either side of the saddle all the way a to the summit. The view of the valley, and the surrounding mountains, including the majestic Mont Blanc seventy kilometers away but seeming much closer, cannot be fully depicted with words. If I tried to describe it, it would only be a pale comparison to the real thing.
A Teenager's View from the Summit
The experience of a group event--like Nazarene Youth Conference, summer camp, camp meeting revivals, music festivals, mission trips, ministry events like Catalyst--can be as indescribable as this mountaintop view. What can be said when nothing else compares?
There are photos and videos to aid our memories, but they do not always translate the emotion, the sounds, and the imprint of the context. Here is an example of what I'm talking about: it's a clip of worship at NYC 15 Louisville taken by my friend Jim Hampton, who as a teenager attended a similar Nazarene youth conference held in Mexico in 1983, and has worked as paid staff or as a volunteer at every NYC, except one, since then:
Describing the Indescribable
How do you expect a teenager to find words for something they have never quite experienced before? If they complain about the paucity of worship at their local church on Sunday, honestly, can you blame them? No worship band, even the best out there, could ever replicate this . . . moment.
I mean, words have trouble describing it, too.
After experiencing the mountaintop, it's important to try not to repeat it, or expect it to happen just like it did, ever again. Kind of depressing when you think about it, which is why the participants at NYC
--adults and teenagers-- are probably feeling a little let-down the week following the event.
The best thing to do as a teenager is simply remember it, rehearse it, tell others about it. Talk about what happened there. Don't hold it in. People want to know why you're so . . . different now. Take a deep breath of that mountaintop air, and talk it through to anyone who will listen, often and out loud. (Then, remember to live out these life changes even louder!)
If you're around a parent or mentor, let them ask about what happened, and how it felt, what went through the your mind as all of this was taking place, what your friends thought about it, what changes took place in your lives, the commitments you all made, what you hope to do now, as crazy as it might sound.
The best response from someone who is listening: nodding their heads, smiling a lot, and praying. Let them affirm what God has done, and is doing. If you can, pray that God will bring about the new life-changes and commitments you've recently made. Let parents and mentors pray for you even as they listen so that God will make it so.
Walking into the Next Step on the Path Ahead
A lot of people, and experiences, and just about everything about life back home could become major obstacles to following God's voice. Even good people and good intentions can get in the way of God's trajectory for your life.
Take care to not compare the home church or youth group or family life to the NYC experience. Nothing could live up to this expectation. Savor the mountain view, and live in the memory.
Don't let anyone talk you out of what God has done in you. Remember, it's His kingdom; and it will only come into this world through you.
"And the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." This verse, though, only makes sense in context:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)
More posts are going to follow over the next few days and weeks to help you pursue the momentum of God's work in and through your experience at NYC and beyond.
A Parent's (Brief) Guide to the Aftershock of Nazarene Youth Conference