If you plan on leaving the Church of the Nazarene, do this…
When I was growing up in the 80’s & 90’s, we played our music on a boom box. Tunes were delivered on cassette tapes and sometimes those boom box buttons were sticky which meant you had to press hard if you wanted the cassette to come out. Fast forward to the 90’s when CD players came of age. I loved the convenience of popping a CD in and out of a player with greater ease. Those players also came with the ability to skip around to preferred tracks. At any time, if you wanted to insert another CD, softly depress the eject button and voila! Unlike a boom box device with sticky buttons and old clunky cassette tapes, CD players were a much smoother operation. Gently touch the eject button and the CD automatically popped out of the player. You were your own DJ and the days of not-so-soft eject were over.
A minister exiting the denomination should hit the eject button softly. Lengthy social media posts, blog articles, podcast rants, etc., aren’t really that helpful. A minister may feel he or she is obligated to address the departure due to the public nature of ministry and people may legitimately want to understand the rationale for leaving. I get that, but I still think all parties are best served with a softer ejection. A soft touch can achieve the same result. The music will quit playing, the CD will pop out, and you can go your merry way listening to a new soundtrack.
I recognize a minister may have wounds and feel the need for closure. It is tempting to go on social media to criticize the institution and its leaders for certain injustices that may have transpired, but what if you didn’t? What if you held those issues among close friends and confidants? What if you pursued healing in a private setting with a counselor or a therapist? What if you waited for time and perspective to take hold? How much more effective might those words be?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t prophetically speak to the great issues of our day and not attempt to correct institutional injustices. No one should remain completely silent if they feel they have been genuinely wronged. But let’s face it, a lot of criticisms leveled against the church of the Nazarene are valid against any organization. And because we are human, we get frustrated when things don’t go our way, especially, when those frustrations are met with perceived silence. A lot of people are clamoring to be heard these days and some restraint might be in order for the sake of everyone involved.
From 2007-2011, I was on a voluntary hiatus from the Church of the Nazarene to complete my D.Min. program. Due to some personal disappointments and location disadvantages, I volunteered my services to another denomination. It was a wonderful healing experience and an eye-opener! Over time, I realized how much I missed the church of the Nazarene. All denominations have internal problems, inefficiencies, maligned priorities, theological debates, etc. After graduation, I moved my family to Arizona where we became members of the local Nazarene church in our community. It was tempting to leave for good, I’m glad I didn’t. I have called the Church of the Nazarene home for much of my adult life. I’m not going anywhere.
Not everyone will have my experience and circle back to the church of the Nazarene, some will transition to other places of services and have valid reasons for doing so. I wish them well. And there will be some who leave disillusioned and hurt which saddens me. Regardless of how your departure comes about, I urge you to eject softly.