NEO Team Update

NEO Team Update

Happy New Year! I trust you are off to a great start in 2024.

Twelve NEO Churches are beginning the year focusing on seven markers of spiritual maturity for those following Jesus: Bible Engagement, Passionate Prayer, Wholehearted Worship, Humble Service, Joyful Generosity, Consistent Community, Organic Outreach. It is important to remember that these are a recipe, not a menu. We cannot pick and choose among them. (I heard that one of our churches passed out chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the service last Sunday to emphasize the importance of all ingredients being included 😊).

The focus this week is Bible Engagement: learning to know, love, and follow the teaching of Scripture. All three actions are important, aren’t they? John Wesley was a prolific reader of books, yet he described himself as a man of one book. Only one book was his authority for faith and life. I am praying that NEO Nazarenes will move in 2024 from snacking on God’s word to feasting on it! Let’s read it, meditate on it, study it and memorize it.

Here are a few other things that excite me as we begin 2024:

  • We had nine students last Monday in our History and Polity Class. I was the only one in the room raised in the Nazarene Church! It is a fun group! Pray for God to raise up a new generation of leaders to carry on the mission of Making Christlike Disciples in the Nations.


  • Jeremy Poplin was installed as pastor at Coweta The Way Church of the Nazarene on Sunday, January 7. Pray for Jeremy and Laura as they embark on their first lead pastor position and lead this church in Following Jesus Together!

  • Over 235 are signed up for the NYI Retreat this weekend. Pray for the Spirit of God to be “hot” during this cold weather weekend. We so want our students to hear the call of God for each of them to belong to him and be impact players for His Kingdom!

  • The District Ladies Day in Pawhuska on January 27 has been sold out for a month or two!
  • Three more NEO pastors attended True North Retreat focusing on financial health for pastors and churches. These pastors will be participating in a forty hour Compass Journey in 2024 that has potential to bless them with $10,000 in grants for debt payment, student loan payment or retirement.

Helpful Information for Giving as We Start a New Year

From Heather Fairbanks, Associate VP for Advancement at Southern Nazarene University:

Changes to Giving through your IRA

If you are age 70½ or older and own an IRA, consider how you might use a qualified charitable distribution to strategically plan your giving in 2024. If you are 73 years or older, you can make a qualified charitable distribution, also called a charitable rollover, to a charity like SNU, and it will count toward your required minimum distribution without that amount counting in your taxable income.

For more information on how to make an IRA rollover gift, please email or visit our website.

Do You Even Need a Will?

If you are an adult, the answer is yes. When something tragic or unexpected occurs, having important legal documents like a will and powers of attorney in place makes coping with disaster a little less onerous. The last thing anyone wants is to make an unexpected passing even harder on their loved ones, who are already burdened beyond belief.

A 2023 survey found that only 46% of people over age 55 have a will. That means more than half of the people in that age range do not! The good news is that you can take care of this important priority right now, free of charge, in less than 20 minutes through our partnership with GiftWise.

GiftWise’s attorney-designed documents are state-specific, legally binding and completely free to you. They also include two other important documents free – a health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney form. Whether you’re making a will for the first time, or need to update the one you made years ago, there’s no reason for you not to create your will today. Just visit

Beneficiary Designation

Start the year off right by taking a moment to tackle some of the to-do’s that are sometimes left undone. Now is a great time to review and update the beneficiary designations for your retirement and bank accounts. As you think about your estate plans, you can leave a legacy to benefit your family, friends, church and other causes you care about. If you have any of the following, then you have a great opportunity to create a lasting impact:

  • IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) retirement accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Checking, savings or CD accounts
  • Life insurance policies

Visit the beneficiary designation page on our website for more information.

Our own Rev. Stephen Lester, Vice President for the Nazarene Foundation, also would be happy to help our pastors and churches with wills and helping our members maximize their financial stewardship both while living and after death.

Praying for you to flourish in every way in 2024!