Why I Didn’t Leave the Church of the Nazarene

21 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Leave the Church of the Nazarene”

  1. Beautifully written. I have personally benefited from your staying the course. Thank you for investing in me, praying the prayer of consecration over me and working to change the process. You’re a dynamic leader and you’ve impacted my life for the positive and I am eternally grateful.

  2. Beautifully written. I have personally benefited from your staying the course. Thank you for investing in me, praying the prayer of consecration over me and working to change a chaotic process. You’re a dynamic leader and I have been positively impacted by you and I am eternally grateful.

  3. Why I stayed at Covenant Life Church and became a Nazarene. because the pastor took the time to take my to breakfast and showed the kind of LOVE that I never saw in other Churches. Now I am involved in a coarse of study and am looking forward to becoming an ordained elder in the COTN. Thanks Bryan. Love You Man.

  4. Thank you for reporting on what it looks like to remain faithfully present. I have/am struggling through some similar issues. Grace and Peace

  5. Brian,
    I identify with both situations. I left a church in Kentucky 2 years ago to avoid a divisive and polarizing issue with a group (small as it was) that held the power in the church. Having pastored there 9+ years I thought that we had overcome what had been the pattern of the church for so many years but I was mistaken.

    I ended in resigning and moving to Oklahoma confident that it would not take too long to land somewhere. Two years later I remain without a church despite multiple resumes being sent to over a dozen DS’s.

    Though I serve on staff part time, after 30 years of pastoring churches as a senior pastor I feel out of place and without a place.

    Now in my late 50’s I feel there is no place for a pastor who has maintained a solid track record, doing everything the church has asked and expected. I’ve not been in any trouble and have led churches from 85 to 215 which have always been left in better shape than when I came.

    I say all that to make a case that following the system’s expectations often fails the people who have been committed to support it.

    I’m not bitter but disappointed. I feel like I’ve healed from a unfortunate breakup at my last assignment. With 7-8 years to retirement I would simply like a chance to invest in a place that I might share my missional passion.

    I appreciate the spirit of your article. Blessings!

  6. Brian, I appreciated reading your story as I did Rick’s. I’ve often thought that the pastors who have never considered leaving the denomination must be directly related to a G.S. All the folks I’ve known who weren’t have sat with their face in their hands on at least one occasion. Knowing Rick better than I do you, I wanted to point out one difference in your experience which you identify, but which you don’t connect to the “end of the story.” You had “roots,” Rick didn’t. As I’ve reread his story it turns out that it was this factor, not his unfortunate experience with the Credentials Board, which “opened the door” for his exit from the CotN.

    There’s another story here. It’s a story about how the CotN loves to “grow her own,” and can be a tough place to break in if you’re new to the crew. In a previous assignment I pastored a group of state university students, two of whom felt a very strong call to World Missions. I made some calls and contacts to get them started, they wrote numerous letters, and never got a single reply from anyone “higher up” than their local pastor. (BTW, they’ve all pursued careers with other mission agencies.)

    I absolutely agree that there’s value in “sticking with it.” It turns out that, sometimes, there’s just no “it” to stick with.

  7. Thank you Brian for your words of encouragement because they could not come at a better time than this. I am a young pastor on the path towards ordination and feeling discouragement at my current church. It is coming mainly from the senior pastor who may be feeling threatened by my excitement for new ideas to help move the church forward and my eagerness to see change happen quicker than maybe they would like. I have been presented the opportunity to become a senior pastor at a church that is another denomination, but I have been in the Church of the Nazarene all my life and my namesake started a Nazarene church many decades ago, so I cannot give up on this church. The holiness message is too important to me to just move onto another church that will take me even if they are not Nazarene. Again thank you for your post and the encouragement that this is just a season of life. Blessings to you!

  8. I really want to just be sarcastic about your post. I will just say this. There is tons wrong with the CotN. What gets me is I have grown up in the denomination I have two degrees from Nazarene universities I’m ordained I have been a minister for 16 years now and I paid the 75 dollar fee to have DSs see my name on their horribly done site. I have received no calls. Not one. I have to pester a DS just to get an answer from them.
    Flip side
    My wife’s family is southern baptist. The pastors in that church have gone out of there way to find me jobs. Even the UMC is trying to find me a spot, but the denomination I know very well and could help doesn’t want anything todo with me. We’ve allowed the big business mentality to leak into the system of sending and “highering” pastors. It’s horrible unbiblical.
    I would like just once for a Nazarene to try to find me a position. Stop playing politics, that’s not holiness. #wehaveforgottenourway #theppldontknowhowtopickaleader #stoptheenterainment

  9. I was one of those pastors who decided to leave. I was a Nazarene pastor for ten years. All I was ever offered was churches that no one else wanted. Here are a few issues that propelled me out of the denomination.
    1. I pastored two very troubled churches that had tons of problems. My DS’s lied to me about both churches. They misrepresented the churches in every way possible. And after I was placed in those churches, I got no support from either superintendent, or district. And I never was considered for another church.
    2. When it was time for my kids to go to college, they were denied a matching scholarship to Mid America because their Dad’s church didn’t pay their education budget in full the previous year. I chose to go to two troubled churches, and my kids paid the price for their father’s sacrifice.
    3. The Church of the Nazarene has turned into a right-wing Republican band of followers. I wonder if the Church of the Nazarene will pull their General Assembly out of Indianapolis after the signing of the Religious Discrimination Bill that allows people to discriminate against others?
    4. Lack of ethics on the part of denominational leadership. Just look at the firing of the chaplain at Mid America for speaking out about peace. Look at the firing of the biology professor for speaking of creation and evolution as working together. And one can only look at the Nazarene Publishing House scandal. It’s surprising there are not some general superintendents in jail after the mismanagement of that whole situation.
    I’m now pastoring in another denomination where I am faithfully serving the Lord. I will never go back to the Nazarene denomination.

  10. This is an awesome story! Very encouraging. I guess anyone and everyone in ministry will face difficulties, challenges, heart aches, disappointments, etc. And this often drives people to quit, complain, or become bitter. Your story, however, reveals there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel and ultimately that pushing through brings God honor and glory and truly advances the church. In looking back over the years and thinking of what I had to go trough I am thankful that I pushed through and completed what was needed to be ordained. I have no “Nazarene roots” but have still had the privilege of meeting new people, learning the process and polity, and ultimately being assertive through it all. Christ taught us many principles that pertain to the calling and ministry two of which are simply this: faithfulness and fruitfulness. This takes hard work! May we all be faithful and fruitful wherever he has planted us! Thank you for sharing.

  11. I started to realize that it was time for me to leave the CoTN when the older generation, 75 and above started judging my wife and I for our age (we are both under 30), and questioning our leadership because of our “rock music.” A few years ago, we were hired at a nazzy church right out of school to help lead them in a *major* transitional period into a younger, “more relevant” movement to help our age group. Both my wife and myself have Nazarene parents who are full time ministers at their respective church’s so we knew the task ahead of us! Many of you being pastor’s can remember the feeling of being fresh out of college ready to conquer anything! At first, attendance was booming! People that hadn’t been coming to church were coming, our pastor was preaching the lights out, and every seat was full! It was standing room only. The district seemed to be taking a lot of the credit, but we didn’t care; we wanted to worship and help lead people to the kingdom! About a year went by and our attendance plummeted almost 50%. We found that our associate minister had started a mutiny of sorts to have my wife and I fired. For months we went Sunday to Sunday doing our jobs in the name of Jesus hoping that we wouldn’t come into church and have to head back to the car because we were fired. The district overseers were then nowhere to be found. To make a long story short: we received hourly hate email’s (not an exaggeration) from congregation members, staff, and board members, which in-turn made us leave that church. From there, we dropped our nazarene credentialing and starting touring with an AG/Pentecostal worship band. I can name about a dozen more stories like this from people that I graduated with just a few years ago…some being far worse than my story. I commend you for sticking it out with the CoTN. It was hard for me to find the guts to say goodbye.

    My fear isn’t necessarily for many local church’s, rather, my fear is for the general church. 2 things that should scare nazarene’s and their church’s:

    1. The generational gap. The numbers are staggering to see how many people in the 20 to 30-year-old range are no longer going to church. The nazarene church, especially in the midwest does not seem to be making strides in fixing this problem. Talk is cheap, therefore, no amount of meetings or general sessions will make the church save souls (we all know that). It’s the going and making disciples that gets people into church and searching for our Great God. Judah Smith, pastor of The City Church in Seattle points our that we are to be sowers not saviors. That being said, are we doing that or are we more concerned with our number and the offering from that week that we have to report to our district with?

    2. Most church’s, not only the nazarene church, have forgotten the idea of intercession. Yeah, I know, touring with AG and pentecostal people will change you…but so what?! I’m guilty of this folks: 3 songs, prayer, offering, the special song sung by a track, sermon, response, lunch time-type of service. The Spirit says, “Wait!!! You forgot about me!” My mother called the Nazarene church she grew up in the holy roller church. What happened to that?

    I understand that every denomination has problems. I also understand that I am young and some will read this as if I’m a naïve little boy because of my age. But let me just say there is a generation that is searching for a church that is allowing God to intercede on Sunday through Saturday. I had one nazarene pastor say to me: “Son, you can’t expect to have the church camp feeling every Sunday.” I said, “WHY NOT?!” My God is that powerful and I come to church expecting Him to intercede into my life! So yes, I can expect that feeling, and I do expect it…everyday!

    Again, I commend you for sticking it out at your church and I wish you ALL the best. I’ll be praying for you and your ministry!

    1. “Come out from among them and be ye separate!”

      There are two types of people when it comes to leaving a Church. Those that leave of their own accord, and those that are pushed out. There are those that wish to stick it out and rescue a wayward Church, and those that leave because it is toxic and need to be in a functioning Church.

      I fought leaving the Church of the Nazarene for about a year. I tried to correct and recue the Church and because of that, I was marked out as one who “does not believe as we do!” Though, I was actually telling them what the Church of the Nazarene says they believed! I left in angst. I did not know if I was making the right decision until I got the response of the Church and the backhand of fellowship. Their reaction/response, their vitriol and lies about me, only validated that I should have left long before that!

      Does one stay and fight? Or does one see a futility in fighting and moving on to a healthy Church that preaches the Gospel? I admire the “Stick with its,” and the “Come outer’s,” each individual has to do what they are called to do.

  12. The CotN is still stuck in the early 1900s, from an administration standpoint to spreading the good news. Although, they have moved on from the stone tablets.

  13. Thanks for your thoughts. In regards to many of the comments being made, I have seen many of these same kinds of issues and still do, some of which make me very frustrated and angry. My experience is somewhat different though, and I would like to make a single point. My wife and I were lifelong Salvation Army, she is a fourth generation pastor’s kid (the SA calls them Officers). We met in the SA, were married there, and called into the ministry there. We are now both ordained Elders in the Church of the Nazarene. We minister specifically as bivocationals in small churches that need revitalization and have done so for about 25 years now. Specific circumstances aside, the reason we are where we are is that God called us, not OUT of the Salvation Army…although He closed some doors there…but rather He called us INTO the Church of the Nazarene. I have no problem with people who follow the call of God somewhere else than where they started, but I think there is a danger point when people leave due to circumstances but have little or no sense that God is calling them into a different scenario. The difference is subtle, but important. Again, thanks for your thoughts!

  14. I’m troubled by the tone of many responses here which follow the trajectory of the original post to judge those who leave the Church of the Nazarene as quitters or somehow less than faithful. We cannot know the motivations and inspirations of others so why don’t we just accept each others journeys, realize that Christ’s church is bigger than any one tradition and just be excited that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

  15. The irony is, I left the Church of the Nazarene 33 years ago because of false teaching and District corruption. I saw a strong shift just a few years later, culminating in a compromising with sin that would have had me leaving for a different reason.

    Spiritual death swept over the Church I was at. The preacher was the fruit and protégé of the District Superintendent. Things became so absurd that the preacher actually held up the Manual and told us that “This is sanctification!” After a sermon a few weeks later, he had an altar call, and after the 15th stanza of “Just as I am” and no one came forward, he angrily belted out “WELL… IF YOU DON’T LOVE GOD, JUST SIT THERE!”

    Of course, the entire congregation came forward… with the exception of myself and my wife being the only one’s sitting in the pew as the entire Church glared back at us and the Pastor barking one last appeal in disgust. I could not encourage the humanism and obvious human guilt manipulation! We tried to resign with dignity, offering a written note explaining why. The Pastor blocked it from being read to the Board (we still had contact with a few people on the Board).

    The Pastor spread rumors that we left because of money. The one and only person that called on us to recover us to the fold revealed the “reason” why she thought we left. A month later, the annual report was sent to the District Office. We had lost about 35 members that year, to include us. The pastor reported only 3 people leaving. What this meant was, even after a formal request to be removed from membership, our names were still on the roles. I contacted the District and exposed the fraud… and all I got back was crickets. We were visiting other Nazarene Churches to find a new home, and after a month it became an insult that I was not removed from that Church’s Membership Roles, and the District would not do anything about it, so to “solve” the issue, we travelled to a Nazarene Church outside of our District and requested removal from the Denomination altogether! It was the only way to get ourselves off that corrupt Church’s roles. Sadly, that was my departure from the Church of the Nazarene. Because of the crazy difficulty we experienced, we have refused membership in any of the Churches we have attended since 1989.

    Our neighbor sent their boy to a Nazarene University for a Ministry Degree. After graduation, he came home for a few months, and was arguing with his parents that he was taught correctly that homosexuality was not a sin. That they, and the Church were a bunch of legalists who did not believe the Bible and that they preach a false gospel.

    The Church of the Nazarene is apostate. Flee for the sake of your souls!

  16. Brian,
    I read your blog with great interest and some of the replies. May I say that I’ve been a pastor in the COTN for over 40 years and every situation is different and challenging. Some were painful and hurtful others were satisfying and rewarding. What I read from your blog is that your one of those rare DS’s who really care for their pastors and would make every effort to help his men or women succeed in ministry. It’s sad when I read about pastors who have been given no help and forgotten. The call is important to me, more so than the pastoring side of ministry. You can retire from ministry, which I did, but you can’t retire from the call. However, at the age of 75 I’m back to full-time ministry and doing what I believe God would have me do. The church is not perfect because people are not perfect, but we serve a Lord Jesus who can lead us each day to new blessings. I do understand the problem of deciding to leave or stay and for some it’s because they’ve been given no support when they really needed it. Much of the time our struggling ministers received no support from other pastors or the DS on the district they served on. And that’s really sad to me. All-in-all I’m committed to stay the course for now.

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