General Superintendent David A. Busic delivered the Board of General Superintendents’ Quadrennial Address 26 June at the Church of the Nazarene’s 29th General Assembly.
Titled “Jesus is Lord,” the report revealed statistical summaries for the general church and its six world regions. Busic celebrated the church’s growth in membership, churches, and diversity in the last four years.
Looking ahead to the next quadrennium, Busic asked “Can we become a movement again?”
We are living in unprecedented times. There are seismic cultural shifts affecting every continent on earth. In just two decades we have seen the shift from industrial to information – from Gutenberg to Google; from rural to urban; from modern thinking to post-modern thinking. It is a hinge of history that our grandparents and those before them could never have imagined. We will not return to what once was.
Whether we are comfortable with it or not, we find ourselves in a pivotal time for Christianity. We are in mostly uncharted waters. We appreciate the legacy of John Wesley, but Wesley alone will not do. We are grateful for the vision of Phineas Bresee, but Bresee alone will not do. We have to go back to the first Nazarene. We have to go back to Jesus. He is our calibration point. We correspond to Him. We realign to Him. We must re-Jesus the church. Too much is at stake for anything less.
The seed of the future is in the womb of the present (Alan Hirsch). Not every seed will become a forest, but it can be. Not every spark will become a forest fire, but it can be. The potential is in the seed and the spark. And so it is for the Church of the Nazarene. The seeds of our future are in the womb of the present. The spark of a raging fire is in the soul of the church.
The year was 1944. World War II was raging. In one of the most precarious and uncertain times of the twentieth century, General Superintendent J. B. Chapman spoke these words to the General Assembly: “As a people, we love fire and cannot be content with smoke … Our church is a mechanism that can stand only while it moves forward. To stop is to fall… More self-preservation will mean stagnation for us. Our hope is in aggression. Our church is a force for which the whole world is a field.”
This kind of movement thinking will require a radical discipleship at every level of the church. It will require us to make mission our organizing principle. It will require us to change whatever keeps us from being fully surrendered to the will and purposes of God. It will require us to believe that Jesus really is Lord and to have the strength and courage to act on it.
Nazarene Essentials are helpful but not enough. Thankfully we have THE Nazarene essential – Jesus is Lord! And we are not afraid. We are radical optimists of the grace of God and “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12 NIV).
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13, NIV).