Summary: The Eleventh Article of Faith in the Church of the Nazarene looks at the nature and purpose of the Church.
Article of Faith #11 - The Church
Date: Sunday, August 15, 2004
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
During my experience as a student at Eastern Nazarene College, there were very few times when I was reminded that I was a non-Nazarene at a Nazarene college. You might think that I often felt like a bit of an outsider, but in reality, when I was in attendance, ENC had about a 50% split of Nazarene and non-Nazarene students. Most of the time it was easy to forget who had what denominational affiliation, since we had more in common to hold us together than we had differences to tear us apart.
However, there was one time each year when I was reminded that I was an outsider looking in. During the spring, about 1000 Nazarene high school students would descend upon our little campus for an event called “Festival of Life.” During Festival of Life, these Nazarene high school students would compete in all sorts of events, including talent events, athletic competitions, academic challenges, and arts & crafts. The idea behind Festival is that God has given every student gifts and abilities , and this event gave an opportunity to use their talents for God’s glory. During their three day visit, they would eat in the cafeteria, enjoy a class, and catch up with their older friends who used to be in their youth group back home. While people like me dreaded Festival of Life and came up with every reason to get out of town that week, some of my classmates actually looked forward to Festival of Life, so they could relive their high school days and visit with old friends.
Of course, my perspective on the event changed when I served as a youth pastor and had teenagers to bring to the event. Festival provided an opportunity for every teenager to participate, experience a Christian college campus, and fellowship with other parts of the Body of Christ from all over the Northeast. When I served as youth pastor in Brunswick, we took soccer players, ping-pong players, chess players, public speakers, and a puppet team. You can imagine the logistics of transporting 15 teenagers and chaperones to Quincy in 3 different vehicles, and then back and forth between the hotel and the various competition sites. This was before I started to carry a cell phone, and someone suggested that we try to borrow cell phones from church members for the trip. And so, as youth pastor, I got up on Sunday morning, wondering how people would react to my strange request, and put out a call for 3 cell phones to go to Quincy for the weekend. I was afraid that none would come through, but knew that one way or another God would supply a means for us to safely transport those teens back and forth.
Well, before the day was over, cell phones had been promised to me, and arrangements were made for me to pick them up that week. I was thrilled with the response, especially from one lady who had just recently begun coming to church. When I met this lady later in the week to pick up the cell phone, she said something very profound. She told me that her husband (who didn’t go to church) gave her a hard time about loaning me the cell phone. He had said to her, “If he really needs a cell phone for this trip, don’t you think the church ought to take care of getting one for him?” And she told me that she had said to him, “But I am the church, and this is how ‘the church’ is getting one for him.”
You see, even in her beginning days of attending church, she understood something so profound and significant that is sometimes so easy to forget. The church is not an organization, it is an organism. The church is not about budgets and boards and committees as much as it is about the people who make it up. When the church becomes an organization, it ceases to be an organism, which means it ceases to be alive. The Church is made up of many people, bound together in commonality under Christ, with common purpose and mission.
It is the doctrine of the church which we look at today, as we continue our study of the Nazarene Articles of Faith. You can find this article (number 11) in the inside flap of your bulletin, along with several scriptures which I encourage you to look up during the course of the week.
We believe in the Church, the community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, the covenant people of God made new in Christ, the Body of Christ called together by the Holy Spirit through the Word.
God calls the Church to express its life in the unity and fellowship of the Spirit; in worship through the preaching of the Word, observance of the sacraments, and ministry in His name; by obedience to Christ and mutual accountability.