This morning I presented a training session on posmodern evangelism to over twenty church leaders from across the United States and from Kenya. The hope is to be humble enough to listen, draw near, and engage people in conversation along the journey toward Christ--the trajectory of grace through the threshold of faith. Below is the downloadable powerpoint file.
Later, I will be able to link to a video of the training session.
Thanks to Black Dog Coffeeshop in Lenexa, Kansas for providing the necessary caffeine for an early Saturday morning. And, to the Lord, for pointing us all toward the Life we all seek.
Link to the video file on dropbox: CLICK HERE
"The biblical tradition reveals that whenever the prophetic gift is lacking in any group or religion, such a group will very soon be self-serving, self-perpetuating, and self-promoting. Without prophetic criticism, all sense of mission and message is lost. Establishments of any kind usually move toward their own self-perpetuation, rather than 'What are we doing for the world?' In fact, the question of mission is not even asked because self-perpetuation has become an end in itself."
- Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations 2018
About one-fourth of the churches in the Front Range megaregion are designated as ethnic.
Only 15 have assigned pastors; one is in a dual charge assignment.
Two of the 15 assigned pastors are women.
Twelve percent have more than 75 in average worship attendance.
One out of every ten Nazarene members on this megaregion belongs to an ethnic church.
The predominant ethnicity is Hispanic.
There are six female Nazarene senior assigned pastors in the Front Range megaregion.
That's 8% of the senior assigned pastors here.
The largest church attendance with a female pastor is 92; however, the median attendance is 25.
Two-thirds of the women have served in their current assignment for less than eight years.
It seems as if there is going to be enough churches to reach the coming population expansion in this megaregion, women seeking ministry will have to be sought, encouraged, and nurtured into ministry just as much as men. There is a clear emphasis on male leadership when there honestly may not be enough men available or responding to the call to preach.
Whatever may be the case, where are the women and who will open doors, clear the pathway, and become mentors for them?
What would it take for a current pastor to mentor more women into ministry?
There are 75 senior assigned pastors on this megaregion, one pastor has a dual assignment in two churches. There are 17 churches without an assigned pastor.
The median tenure for pastors on this megaregion is 2012. That means half of the pastors have been in their current assignment since this date.
One-third of these pastors have been in their assignments for less than four years, and another one-third for more than eight years. Eighteen pastors have been in their assignments for more than a decade.
Median worship attendance at churches with an assigned pastor is 57.
This is for a population of 5.5 million (see second image below). This megaregion will add another 4.8 million people in the next three decades.
If the current number of pastors (75) is maintained during the population growth that will occur, the following ratios apply:
One pastor for 73,333 people (2010)
One pastor for 92,000 people (2025)
One pastor for 136,000 people (2050)
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the active churches in the Church of the Nazarene on this megaregion are designated as ethnic. That's 113 out of 217.
By comparison, the next three in the list below--Florida, Northeast and SoCal megaregions--have more active ethnic churches--125, 230, 157, respectively--but with smaller percentages of ethnic churches (52% in Florida, 38% in Northeast, 37% in So Cal).
One-third of total membership is also within ethnic churches.
About 12% of the ethnic churches have a female pastor.
One-fifth of the ethnic churches have more than 75 in worship attendance.
More than half of the ethnic churches (56%, 64) are Hispanic.
By far, the majority of ethnic churches are in northern California.
There are 174 assigned senior pastors on this megaregion. Six pastors have dual assignments so there really are only 168 individual pastors.
Almost one-third have been in their assignments for less than five years,
and another 30% over twelve years.
Median tenure for all assigned senior pastors is only seven years, assigned since 2011.
Half of the female assigned senior pastors have been in their assignments since 2014.
There are 41 churches without an assigned senior pastor at the time of this demographic snapshot. That's 19%, almost one-fifth, of the total active churches (217).
Median worship attendance for churches with an assigned pastor is 58.
Yet, in this megaregion, there is one senior assigned pastor for every 128 people in Sunday worship in a Nazarene church: 168 individual assigned senior pastors and 21,567 in average worship attendance.
Concern needs to be raised over the number of vacancies (one out of five churches without a senior pastor) and the short median tenure of seven years. I wonder if there is any thought among district superintendents and pastors about a succession plan: who will follow them and when. I think the ideal of always being in one place, or even job security, challenges the notion that someone will need to follow. These numbers are concerning even before beginning to think about the number of pastors that will be needed to keep up with population growth.
Ideally, there should be one pastor/church for every 10,000 people to maintain a recognizable presence in a population. Assuming that the current number of 174 pastors can be maintained (still, one-fifth short of filling all open pulpits), the following ratios can be applied.
According census numbers for this megaregion:
In 2010, there is one Nazarene pastor for 83,3333 people.
In 2025, there will be one Nazarene pastor for 98,809 people.
In 2050, there will be one Nazarene pastor for 125,595 people.
Can Nazarenes realistically keep up with the population of this megaregion?
The Northern California Region comprises the San Francisco as an anchor reaching into the Napa Valley then eastward through Sacramento to Reno. Interstate 5 transverses this population group from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south through the Great Valley between the Coastal Ranges and the Sierra Neveda Mountains. NOTE: The churches included in this study stay as close as possible to the shaded around below.
A megaregion is a concentrated population of more than 5 million people gathered around common resources for economic trade, financial interests, education, and transportation. There is also a somewhat consistent shared meaning of symbols and values common within the population as a subculture. Think of the megaregion as a very large "city" with the cities, represented by circles in the image below, as its "neighborhoods."
There are four districts (see image) including the Western Latin American district. It is notable that two churches in Fresno are 2.6 miles apart but on separate districts (Western Latin American--Puerta al Cielo and Central California--Fresno First).
There have been 453 churches started or organized in the geographic area of this megaregion.
217 remain active in ministry.
The most churches organized in this area occurred in two years: 1949 and 2014, each with nine churches. Only two are active from 1949, and all are still active from 2014.
Hall of all churches occurred in the 1940s, 1950s, 2000s, and 2010s.
Notably, a little more than one-fifth of the churches started or organized in the 1940s and 1950s are still active.
Sixty-three percent of the churches started or organized in the 2000s and 2010s are still active.
Seventy percent (69.5%) of all active churches were started or organized since 1990.
Even still, there are nine congregations in active ministry that have been in place for over 100 years.
236 churches have been shutted with the most happening in 1995 with eighteen closings. The only years with more than ten followed in 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2007. These are also years within the expansive multiplication of churches. Just a note that closing churches in a megaregion does not always mean decline but could connote a shifting within the population
The trend of churches closing with two years, seven years and twelve years remains consistent.
22% (52) of all churches closed within two years
56% (131) of all churches closed within seven years
69% (161) of all churches closed within twelve years.
About one-fourth of all churches that were closed occurred after two decades of active ministry.
The spikes in closings in the 1950s and 1990s are less concerning than the trough throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The data suggests a possibility during the 1960s and 1970s that there was more of a concern about counting members and attendees and the development of building programs than evaluating ministry and missional impact. The reaping of the 1990s suggests this lack of evaluation will eventually happen.
Only three of the churches on this megaregion run over 1,000 on a given Sunday.
These three churches account for one out of five worship attendees. Two are in Lakeland and one is in Miami.
There two other churches that run over 500, one in Bradenton on the west coast, and the other in Miami.
Two of the top five in worship attendance are designated as ethnic churches.
Churches of this size could fill the role of being a missional center, capable of raising up new leaders, preparing them, and sending resources to fund the mission beyond their local context. This is a heavy responsibility for only three congregations.
About half of the churches reporting attendance are running over 75 in worship attendance. (96 of 214).
One-third of the churches are less than 45 in worship attendance.
The geographic center of the Florida megaregion is Port St. Lucie on the east coast. This measurement was taken by determining the distance halfway from Lake City to Key West.
More than half of the churches in the Florida megaregion are designated as ethnic.
Or, 125 of 239 active churches.
Membership in these churches represents 47% of the total Nazarene membership in this megaregion (17,371 of 37,240 members).
The earliest organized ethnic church is Miami First which is designated as a Black church, using statistical terminology in how Nazarenes gather data. This designation distinguishes Black from Haitian and Multicultural. There are ten Black churches, 40 Haitian, and 10 Multicultural churches on the megaregion. These designations do not account for individual members within a congregation but the congregational membership as a whole designated in the annual church report given by the senior assigned pastor.
Ethnic churches are pretty evenly divided between Florida district (mostly in the northern half of the state) and the Southern Florida district (64 to 61).
About four out of ten ethnic churches run over 75 in worship attendance.
Miami Bethany Church of the Nazarene, designated as Hispanic, has an average worship attendance of 1,053. Forty-three percent (43%) of ethnic churches on this megaregion are Hispanic (54 congregations).