NEO Team Update 1-4-18
A Challenge for the New Year
I just finished reading Tod Bolsinger’s excellent book, Canoeing the Mountains, Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory (thanks for the great birthday gift, Marla). I expect I will be sharing several insights from this book for several months. Let me share today two paragraphs from the last chapter that seem so appropriate for NEO church leaders (the primary readers of this newsletter) as we begin 2018:
Leadership into uncharted territory requires and results in transformation of the whole organization, starting with the leaders. If we want the organization and communities we serve to thrive, focus on what God needs to do in you, change in you, makeover in you so he can use you in his mission. Focus on how you need to grow in technical competence, relational congruence and adaptive capacity, and especially focus on what you need to leave behind, let go and even let die so your church can become more and more effective at fulfilling its part in God’s mission. Don’t focus on whether your church is dying; keep your focus on being transformed into the leader God can use to transform his people for his mission.
Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember: God is taking us into uncharted territory to transform us. The great discovery in following Christ into his mission is that we find ourselves. And the beautiful paradox is that the more committed we are to our own transformation, the better leader we will be.
A Prayer for the New Year
My friend, Jeffrey Johnson, sent out this video link earlier this week. It had been awhile since I had heard the song and it struck a chord in my heart. I listened to it several times and cried as I prayed the song over NEO in 2018.
“Lord, dispel the darkness of our lives with your light. Shine on us with grace, love and power so that we are transformed and reflect your great light in the midst of the darkness around us!”
USA/Canada Annual Report from Regional Director, Dr. Bob Broadbooks
In the past year, God has helped our region make progress in several areas. While we continue to struggle to see increased membership and worship attendance figures, we rejoice that for the sixth year in a row, our region has started over 100 new churches. In fact, our net gain in active churches this year was around 60. In the past 50 years, there was only one year with a higher net gain in active churches (1988—gain of 91). As we continue to start new churches, I continue to believe that our attendance figures will rebound.
Dale Jones from our Research Department shared the following quote: “Like hundreds of other religious groups, the Church of the Nazarene participates in the U.S. Religion Census. Between 2000 and 2010, the majority of groups lost ground: fewer congregations, fewer adherents, even fewer counties where they were located. This was true of our denomination as well. As of 2016, this trend was reversed for Nazarenes. We have more churches, more people associated with them, and are in more counties than we were in 2010. We don’t know how other groups are doing (the Religion Census won’t be taken until 2020), but we are pleased that our trends are again positive.”
Bob Dylan said, “Everybody has their own idea of what’s a poet . . . I like to think of myself as the one who carries the light bulb.” Please continue to carry the light bulb. I pray that your life will glow rather than glare. I pray that through your light bulb, the beautiful light of the newborn King will shine with even greater brilliance in 2018.
Thanks for your Giving to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries
With the many global disasters in 2017, contributions to the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) made it possible for local churches in Texas, Florida, Mexico and Puerto Rico to respond immediately to unanticipated devastation. When catastrophe struck, churches mobilized. Thanks to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries’ Greater Compassion Fund, they were able to respond immediately. They didn’t have to wait for us to raise support because it was already there. More than 140,000 people received critical help through Nazarene response efforts in countries around the world. All of this was possible because Nazarenes like you gave!