HIGH IMPACT CHURCH VISION STATEMENT

The room was buzzing, as Nazarenes from around the globe, gathered at the 32nd General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene. The church had tried twice to change from a four year to a five year gathering cycle, and finally in 2025, at the 31st General Assembly, the resolution had passed.  The church added a fifth year.  So…now, it had been five years since the global church had come together.  But this particular morning was special.  It was very special.  The date? Was June 24th.  The year?  Was 2030.  It was the morning session of the 32ndGeneral Assembly.  This particular morning had been on the calendar of a number of people…for months, but for a small group of people, it had been burned into their hearts for 13 years.  Lynnlee and Jim and Dave and Junior and Sam and Larry and Ron and Kevin and Fred and Scott and Doug  and Kim and Steve, and their leader, Dr. Mark Bane, were all in the room.  Along with them, was a number of new faces who Dr. Bane had recruited to join the mission to spread evangelism and church planting throughout the United States and Canada.  This team was there…along with several thousand other Nazarenes.

And…so the room was buzzing…as it always is…as the Nazarenes grabbed their coffee and headed to their assigned seats on the General Assembly floor.  After the opening prayer, and the music and the calling of the 32nd General Assembly to order, all of the delegates were poised to listen as the Chair of the Board of General Superintendents rose to deliver the opening address of this global gathering.  The spiritual tide of the global church, on this particular year, was at an all-time high. No one but God really knew how it happened.  But at one point, delegates from around the world…were on their feet as countries from around the world, praised God in unison as the General Superintendent announced to the church, that the church had just broken the five million mark in global membership.

But there was a small group of people, just a little over 20, scattered throughout the Assembly Hall, who waited anxiously for that section of the report that talked about the transformation of the church in the United States and Canada.  Their eyes became really moist as the graphs of Africa, MesoAmerica, Eurasia, South America, Africa and Asia-Pacific were all shown for worship attendance, discipleship and membership.  But none of them were prepared for the emotions they felt…on this particular morning…when the attendance, discipleship and membership graph was shown for the USA/Canada Region.  The small group of a little over 20, scattered throughout the Assembly Hall on that June 24thmorning, had labored together for 13 years. Many of them had done so…much longer than that!  But from 2017 to 2030, they had all participated…in a spiritual miracle, not only of a resurgence of incredible evangelistic passion and fervor led by Dr. Bane that had spread throughout the United States and Canada, but they had personally participated in the building of all of the reproducing systems that went into the making of the level 5 multiplication movement that had taken place across the USA/Canada Region.

They all remembered…vividly…the first time they were all together on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University.  They all remembered…vividly…the very first Evangelism Ministries and New Church Task Force Meeting that had been chaired by Dr. Mark Bane.  They all remembered …vividly…the room, they remembered most the heartbeat, and the passion and Mark’s spirit as he challenged everyone to become a personal evangelist and then as he had cast the vision for 10,000 new Nazarenes churches to be planted on 78 districts throughout the United States and Canada Region. On this particular June 24th, 2030 morning, the tears trickled openly down their faces as they recalled, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the prayers, the work, and the sacrifice that had all gone into the changing of the graph.

Also in the room that morning, on June 24th, 2030, were members of the USA/Canada High-Impact Nazarene Network.  Under the leadership of Dr. Bane, their first gathering had been in the spring of 2018. They had now been on a 12 year journey. A small handful of them had gotten together in 2016 and 2017, to get acquainted and a group of 8 had done a High Impact Nazarene workshop at the 2017 General Assembly.  They had quietly launched a website at multiplynaz.church.   They had put together a High Impact Nazarene Network Leader’s Field Guide, which detailed the 4 High Impact values of Relationships, Reproduction, Resources, and Residency. The Leader’s Field Guide described the role of a network leader, how to launch, lead and reproduce a High Impact Nazarene Network cohort.  There were now 25 cohorts in operation, all of them transcending district boundaries as High-Impact Church Leaders across the Nazarene Network connected in affinity relationships with mentors who had moved beyond the 500 barrier and were now committed to raising up the next generation of elephant church leaders. 

The Field Guide also laid out what were the High Impact Network Leader expectations and how the High Impact Nazarene Network fit into the USA/Canada vision of 10,000 new churches by 2030.

Every member of the original High Impact Nazarene Network team remembered the morning when Dr. Bane, cast the vision to them of 10,000 new churches.  As a team, they had gotten together and done the math.  And they had found out, that of the 5,065 churches in the USA/Canada Region in 2017, 347 churches had averaged 250 or more in morning worship.  6.8% of Nazarene churches were what Dr. Bane termed…and called “elephant churches.”  Every one of these elephant churches was listed on the multiplynaz.church website and every year the team celebrated as the list of 347 began to grow.

After they met with Dr. Bane, the team launched their work.  As the High Impact Nazarene Network team prayed and planned, they embraced the vision of 10,000 new churches by 2030, but their personal vision was unique.  They believed God would be glorified, heaven would be happy and hell would be depopulated in a powerful way if only 2% of the new churches were designed, in advance, to join the ranks of the 347.  That’s 200 new churches that break the 250 attendance barrier.  Dr. Bane had not only cast the vision of these  “elephant churches,” he also talked regularly about the need to locate these 200 elephant church plants, one in every major U.S. urban center in the United States and Canada.

So as the High Impact Nazarene Network strategized, they realized they couldn’t just parachute these planters into cities with no systems or support processes in place. So the Network went to work.  And they created a new system, a system of nationally qualified Residency Churches, each one following a 12-18 month Residency Program to develop a High Impact Planter ready to launch and each one radically committed to cooperating and participating in a Level 5 Multiplication Movement of High Impact Churches throughout the USA/Canada Region.  The vision was that, of the 10,000 new church plants that began, 200 would break the 250 mark in attendance on their march to add momentum to what Dr. Bane called, the elephant church movement.    

So, these High Impact Nazarene Network members, they were in the room on the morning of June 24th, 2030.  They were there as the General Superintendent shared the numbers with all of the General Assembly delegates.  Network members quietly wept as it was announced that the 10,000 church planting mark in the USA/Canada Region had just been passed.  Privately, their eyes scanned the list of new elephant churches that had been added to the USA/Canada Region in the past 13 years, the updated list had just come the previous week from Research Services at the Global Ministry Center.  

Elephant churches had begun a stampede – as Dr. Bane described it, to depopulate hell and make heaven happy.  The High Impact church planting project had collectively added, with an average of 250 new conversations and baptisms per elephant church, over the 13 year period, they had added 50,000 new Nazarenes living on mission, every day…throughout the region.  They had done their part…to change the graph.