Mission Centers and Larger Churches | Nazarene Presence in the Cascadia Megaregion (1905-2015)
There is only one church over 1,000 in worship attendance (McMinnville in Oregon Pacific). There are six potential mission centers that run over 500. It could mean more weight and responsibility to equip, send, serve, and support the mission on the megaregion and beyond will be carried by the 27 congregations over 250.
Someone somewhere is going to need to rise up to the challenge.
Right now, the six largest congregations account for one of every four members as well as one of every four attenders in the Cascadia Megaregion.
Only 86 churches run over 75, these are the beginnings of an Oikos network, and 42% are under 45 offer outposts of ministry and presence throughout the megaregion.
The efforts on this megaregion are going to be uphill. There are 3.5 million more people expected in this area by 2050. Just to keep up with the population and its projected growth, using the metric of 1 church for 10,000 people, there will need to 1,190 churches. Right now, the Churches of the Nazarene report attendance in 188 local congregations.
We will need 1,000 more local churches in thirty years.
Welcome to our future.
The road will be long and winding . . .
if there even will be roads.
There are nine female pastors on the Cascadia Megaregion. Seven of them have been assigned since 2010.
The median worship attendance for churches with a female pastor is 16.
The largest congregation with a female pastor runs 43 for worship attendance.
If you're still keeping track, there is one female out of 20 assigned pastors serving on this megaregion. Nine out of 178 assigned pastors.
There are 178 assigned pastors on this megaregion.
They host a median worship attendance of 58, which is fairly consistent with the Great Lakes and Southern California megaregions.
There are 25 churches without an assigned pastor, only six of them are ethnic churches.
Pastoral tenure again creates a stir in the findings. The median tenure is six years, assigned since 2009. There are 36 pastors that have been in place for more than 12 years.
28% reflects the percentage of pastors assigned to the same church for more than ten years or less than three years. Less than half the pastors are in the middle range between four to nine years.
Interestingly enough, the average pastor tenure for churches over 200 in worship attendance is 8.6 years.
The numbers were fairly simple for this slide. There just are not many ethnic churches on this megaregion.
There are 26 church with 20 assigned pastors. Three of the twenty are women.
The ethnic members comprise 4% of the total for this megaregion (1,157 of 28,008).
The vague designation of "Multicultural" makes up the majority of the ethnically identified churches.
Nine are Asian, seven are Hispanic. one is Eritrean.
There were a total of 69 churches with ethnic designations that existed throughout the history of the districts in Cascadia. The two earliest were Swedish congregations on the Oregon Pacific District: Portland Scandinavian (1912-1922) and Killingsworth Street (1914-1915).
The first decade of the 21st century (2000-2009) had the most closings with 48.
2007 was the first year in which church closings were in the double digits. Twenty-three (23) churches closed in 2007. More churches closed in 2007 than entire decades except for the 1980s (32) and the 1990s (24).
The only other year in which more than ten churches closed was 2011 with 13.
The decade with the second most closings was the 1980s with 32. This decade also had the most newstarts and organized churches (72). With risk there is hope.
Like the Church of the Nazarene in the Southern California megaregion, the rate of closure is very similar to Cascadia. The same critical time period for church longevity is between seven to twelve years.
Is there a need for regular checkups at various points in a new church's lifespan, especially at the markers for two years, seven years, and twelve years?
One additional, and perhaps the most important, aspect for Cascadia is that the fact that one-sixth of churches (43) closed after only one year.
There is risk inherent in reproduction. Yet, being able to multiply is also a key sign of healthy maturation.
I chose to work on the Cascadia megaregion next because it is considered one of the least religious areas of the country. This place also offers the greatest missional opportunities on the US/Canada Region.
According to Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey (2014), less than half consider belief in God very important in their lives in the states of Washington (44%) and Oregon (45%). Only three out of ten residents attend religious services per week in Washington (30%) and Oregon (29%). These numbers are only gain significance in light of the projected population growth of this area.
The largest cities on the U.S. part of this megaregion are Seattle (#18 704,352) and Portland (#26 639,799), according to 2016 U.S. Census bureau estimates. If the populations of Tacoma (211,277), Bellingham (87,574), and Olympia (51,202) are added to Seattle, the population around Seattle rounds out at just over one million (1,054,405).
According to the website Statistics Canada, Vancouver has a population of 2,280,695, or more than half of the population of the province of British Columbia, and twice as many as the Seattle area. BUT, this is only two-thirds of the projected population increase by 2050.
Population in the Cascadia megaregion will increase by an estimated 3.5 million people by the year 2050, or three times the current population of the Seattle and vicinity. Using the metric of one church per 10,000 people, there will need to be 350 more churches just to keep up with the population.
Nazarenes have been present in this area for over a century. All of the work in this area is organized into three districts: Oregon Pacific (OP), Washington Pacific (WP), and Canada Pacific (CP).
The earliest organized church still active today is Ashland Gracepoint on the Oregon Pacific District (1905). There are actually 15 active churches in this megaregion that are more than a century old!
Of the sixteen churches over 100 years old, only one has been closed:
Ashland Gracepoint (OP), Portland First (OP), Monroe (WP), Everett First (WP), Seattle First (WP), Bellingham New Beginnings (WP), Marysville (WP), McMinnville (OP), Salem First (OP), Tillamook (OP), Newberg (OP), Portland Moreland (OP-closed), Canby (OP), Countryside (OP), Portland Rose City (OP), Ridgefield (WP)
What happened in the 1960s and 1970s? The troughs are pronounced in these decades.
One of the more interesting statistics is related to churches that were started but not organized.
88% of churches started but not organized were eventually closed (100 out of 125).
This is the first of several blog posts about Church of the Nazarene Presence in the Cascadia megaregion.
Mission Centers and Large Churches | Nazarene Presence in the SoCal Megaregion (1895-2015)
I use the term "mission center" in a specific manner. I believe there are some churches that are geared not to stockpile believers in a single building but rather these centers are meant to send believers into the surrounding communities. These churches are going to see many called into equipping ministries, maybe even full time. They will host training seminars, family workshops, and marriage retreats. They will hire multiple pastors, staff and support employees. They will generously give toward global missionary efforts, and maybe even produce resources that smaller congregations can use. Mark Bane, I think, would call these "high impact" churches.
It is also notable that one-third of the churches on the SoCal megaregion are less than 45 in worship attendance, and only ten percent are more than 250 in attendance. There is a heavy burden for these mission centers to be centers of training and support WITHIN the megaregion.
I do not believe it is a missional responsibility to make larger churches of the smaller ones, however. These small churches are outposts, serving communities and neighborhoods where a larger one cannot go. More of these smaller churches means: rapid multiplication will more likely happen, more leaders will be identified, more disciples made, more compassionate ministries will engage and transform communities, more widespread influence will be felt locally through Nazarene presence.
Remember that there will be 15 million more people living in the SoCal megaregion in 2050. Add the seven million from the Arizona Sun megaregion and it's now 22,000,000. Using the Southern Baptist metric of one church presence in a population of 10,000, it will take nearly 2,000 more local congregations, in addition to what is already there, just to be minimally present in this part of the world. In the next thirty years. The mission centers and smaller organic churches will need to work together strategically to make an impact in Southern California.
Just a small side note that Riverside, California is about 160 miles (300 km) from Porterville, CA in the north to Ensenada, Mexico in the south. It is only 60 miles from the coastline. It might be a good place for gathering, training, and sending. If you've been through this area, the new highways and construction projects reveal that there are others that also see the value in this location.
And, here's a personal note. For the past year, I have wondered why Pastor Kevin McDonald left central Kansas for Gateway Church of the Nazarene in Murrieta, California, located just south of Riverside. I first met him at a DCPI training in Joplin, Missouri. I've heard his miraculous story, we've all seen him create Level 5 multiplying churches. I trust that he is led of God, therefore I have also trusted his judgment in making this move. I realized now after this week that Kevin has simply followed God into the geographic center of, and the gateway into, the Southern California megaregion. I cannot imagine a better place for Pastor Kevin to be than right where he is.
In my study of the Great Lakes megaregion, I included a slide on large churches in the Great Lakes megaregion, so I have also added one below. The ratios of membership and worship are quite similar between the Great Lakes and SoCal.
Just imagine for a minute, seriously take 60 second to stop and imagine the the ramifications of the scope of responsibility held by these four large churches for the mission of the church "to make disciples in the nations." Every month more than ten percent of Nazarenes in Southern California attends four churches, hears one of four pastors preach, worships together in one of four ways, gains the ability to think theologically about what it means to be Christian, and enters into the mission of the denomination because of four local churches.
I mean, these things probably happen, and I'm probably overselling the influence to some extent, but the possibility of influence rests in these four gatherings every week. The four churches below show that they are discipling, or potentially discipling, one of every ten Nazarenes in the SoCal megaregion.
These four churches also have a history, and it would be a wonderful thing to hear the stories behind the people that have entered faith and served through these congregations over the years. Between them, these local churches are older congregations with an average of 75 years of active ministry between them. There are lessons to be learned from these places and people.
Anaheim and Los Angeles districts have by far the highest concentration of ethnic churches.
60% (94 churches out of 157 total) of ethnic churches on the SoCal megaregion are on these two districts (Anaheim and Los Angeles).
One-fifth of the ethnic churches have more than 75+ in worship attendance. Almost all of them are staffed with assigned senior pastors. Of note, though, one-third of unassigned churches are ethnic churches (19 out of 67 churches without an assigned senior pastor).
The earliest organized ethnic congregation was Corcoran Spanish Church of the Nazarene in 1913 (now on the Central California district). There is, however, no reported membership, attendance or assigned pastor for this church. The most recent organized ethnic congregation was Hawthorne Hispanic Church of the Nazarene on the Anaheim District in 2015.
About 80% of ethnic churches are Hispanic but also include congregations from southeast Asia to eastern Africa (Swahili).
There are only five ethnic churches on the Arizona District. This is of interest due to the Arizona Sun megaregion which anticipates nearly seven million more people to inhabit the stretch of interstate highway between Flagstaff to Nogales over the next three decades.
The entire SoCal megaregion will grow by 15 million people (or the equivalent of five times more than the current population of Los Angeles estimated at five million people) by 2050. Add this number to the Arizona Sun megaregion, and this means 22 million more people in thirty three years.
My hunch is that this will not be a sudden and dramatic increase in birth rate, though I'm sure the good people of Arizona are up to the challenge, but rather more people--MANY, MANY MORE--moving into this area from the West and the South.
Numbers reflect District Journals from the Church of the Nazarene reported in 2015.
Last year one of the largest Nazarene congregations in the US/Canada region, and the second largest one on the SoCal megaregion, went through an extensive review and pastoral search for a new minister. Pasadena First Nazarene, or PazNaz, called Rev. Tara Beth Leach. as senior pastor.
Follow the numbers: 880 churches started, 461 have been closed, and that leaves a remainder of 419 churches. Look at the slide below and it's not a typo. There's only 352 current senior pastors (Eight pastors are assigned to more than one church).
A rough count shows around 67 churches without an assigned pastor for reporting year of 2015. Let this sink in a bit. I cannot imagine that there were more more than this number of ministerial students matriculating from the 2015 classes in ministry from Point Loma, NTS-Kansas City, and the six district courses of study.
One of twenty pastors (18) have been in their assigned ministry for more than 25 years.
Twice that many (39) have been in place for two years or less.
Median tenure is seven years, or assigned since 2009.
Pastoral tenure is a key issue since more than half of churches in this megaregion will struggle to survive the first seven years of existence; and only three of ten churches will probably survive the 12-year mark.
Less than one-third (100) pastors are in a current assignment between seven to twelve years.
NOTE: Las Vegas is considered part of the Arizona District and is included in this research.