Monthly Archives: March 2007

The value of to the denomination

The value of (and the Internet in General) to the Church of the Nazarene.

I’ve been rereading J.B. Chapman’s “Bud Robinson A Brother Beloved” which was written not long after the passing of, probably the most famous Nazarene (at least before James Dobson) who has ever lived. It is an inspirational book and I highly recommend it.

Bud Robinson traveled back and forth across America preaching in Camp Meetings, conventions, revivals, and special services. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people came to Christ under his ministry. Even in his final years he remained in great demand and said, ‘Everybody wants me to take a long rest – just after I come for a meeting with them.”

I think Bud Robinson and other traveling evangelists “evened out” the Nazarenes. Everybody heard these popular evangelists. When they came to town they brought the latest news and they preached the doctrines of the Church. People who were pulling this way or that from the core doctrines of the church heard the basics all over again and were brought back to main stream. Pastors and laypeople alike came to understand core beliefs, like entire sanctification, in the same way. They even used the same terms, all schooled by the evangelists.

And the evangelists kept each other in line. In Camp Meetings there were generally 2 or 3 evangelists who took turns preaching. They listened to one another and discussed the finer points of their theology with not only each other, but with other preachers and laymen as they sat in the dining halls. This also kept the teaching of the church pretty much on the same page.

Get this: I am not about to say that their doctrine was perfect, nor am I about to make a case that we go back to having two two-week revivals a year plus a couple of weeks of camp meeting. I am simply saying that it was these well-known and beloved evangelists who defined what Nazarenes believed.

Changes in culture have made camp meetings only a shadow of what they once were. They have also diminished revival in the local church. I am not writing now to make a case for either one, but I do believe that these institutions shaped the Church of the Nazarene – and kept it in a specific shape “doctrine-wise.”

Without that core of influential evangelists visiting nearly every church in the denomination once or twice a year, I think we are in danger of flying apart. I probably don’t have to keep saying this, but, again, I am not making a case for going back to the good old days – I am simply aware that the evangelists of the Church of the Nazarene for most of its existence were a unifying force.

So, what is it that makes the Church of the Nazarene “one” these days? I think attendance at one of our fine Nazarene institutions is one of those things. However, our Universities are not coming close to touching the lives of our average church attenders that the evangelists did. Also, there are still some talented and dedicated evangelists who labor on. Still, I don’t think anyone thinks they are influencing the denomination like Bud Robinson did.

Here is my idea. I think the Internet has the greatest potential of bringing Nazarenes together. An online community like NazNet is a place where the doctrines of the church can be stated and refined for the average church attender. People who are moving to the fringe find (hopefully loving) correction. Everyone has equal footing – with the small church layperson able to have in depth (for them) discussions with pastors and educators from across the denomination.

I am not saying that NazNet exists to keep some particular doctrinal approach alive, but I do think it can help the Church be united in a doctrinal approach our culture today. I don’t think NazNet always lives up to this potential, but I do think it is the potential of NazNet to help unite the voice of the Church.

Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”

Okay, I know that I am probably the last person on earth to read Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life.” I heard Warren beautifully share the gospel on a Christmas eve TV program and that, coupled with the fact that a niece of mine came to Christ as a result of the book caused me to want to read it for myself.

I have heard the “anti-purpose driven” talk from several from within the Church and seen some of it on NazNet and elsewhere. I also know that the Nazarenes came up with their own version of it and are marketing it.

Honestly, I have been impressed with the book, especially the first half. Either I wore out a bit on it or Warren lost some of his pizazz in the second half, so I read more out of discipline than inspiration after the first 150 pages or so.

However, I found a lot of inspirational stuff in the book as a whole. Warren’s description of true worship and full commitment to God is powerful stuff.

Now, he’s a Baptist through and through and because of that his “we all sin” theology slips in every once in a while. Because of such things I know it has to be read with a certain amount of reservation. Still, this is pretty solid material that I think will help those who read it.

American society is awash with religious teaching today. I don’t think we Nazarenes do ourselves any favors in trying to direct our people away from material like this. Instead, we need to clearly and consistently make our case concerning the 1% of the material that we have issues with and then not discourage our folks from reading it. (Frankly, we might as well do it, they are reading and listening to people from across the spectrum anyway.)

So, I give “Purpose Driven Life” a solid thumbs up and recommend it to those who seek to be better disciples of Jesus.

Carving or Whittling?

Scott Polley has a good article here…
Only and Always Because of Christ: “Having a culturally relevant gospel does not mean changing the gospel to fit the region, but the changing the ways in which we get the boats out of the blocks of wood we have been given.”