Should Wesleyans Merge?

Wesleyans have recently been involved in low-level flirting with some other denominations. [MORE}


Chad McCallum said...

wow prof nothing like throwing a grenade into the middle of the room...i will look forward to the comments on this one!

Robin said...

As a Wesleyan living in the heart of Nazarenedom in Nashville, I must say, the Nazarenes seem to have a twinkle in their eye for the Wesleyans. I think in the past few years, the Wesleyans have caught their eye for their ability to grow churches, and their impressive educational institution's growth. But talk of a merger? I haven't found many who have ever even thought of it, unlike the Wesleyans, who like to talk about it a lot!

The Free Methodists talk about it too, or did when I worked at one of their churches 10 years ago . . .

In my humble opinion, a merger with either is very unlikely to ever happen (though it would make my family's life MUCH easier) because the people who are responsible for making the decision would be the most likely to lose their jobs in the process.

KC Kansas said...


(i.e. Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Nazarene Head Off)

Anonymous said...

Why don't you try marrying the God of heaven, it might do wonders for you!

I have to wonder, if you can't get a husband, you'll take a kid. You did say you were catholic, right?

Anonymous said...

I kinda like the anonhmous' suggestion...it seems that when people are caught up in becoming big...that is growing their denomination, instead of keeping focus on what is important, there doesn't seem to be an end of all the problems...Is it because there is "lust" in the eyes or heart?

Larry said...

Umm ... remind me again .. why is it that we want to merge with somebody?

The AJ Thomas said...

Merge? I'm up here trying to arrange a split of sorts - bring on the canadian general conferance of the wesleyan church. maybe then we could put some time and energy behind moving into the quarter of our continent that the boys in Indy don't seem to know about and I can quit seeing my USF go to finding schools my kids won't go to and departments that put on rallies we can't get to and produce cirriculum that is unfit to use and figure a good way of contibuting to the local church is by asking them to take up special offerings. Shut it all down except GP (which uses no USF anyway) WPH (which uses no USF anyway) and E&CG who have actually made a meaningful contribution to the ministry I lead. I like E&CG, E&CG is good. Yea E&CG.

Dave Warren said...

Dr. Drury,
As always an interesting discussion. As a Nazarene pastor I wonder why we all couldn't work together. (I know I'm being idealistic with that statement and coming from being a part of the largest of the organizations). But, in the interest of good stewardship; with missions, publishing houses, and schools it seems wise. Although I'm not sure what we'd do with a school in Ohio, a couple in Indiana and at least one in Illnois. I'm not so interested in who controls. Each denomination has strenghts & weaknesses. I do like the Wesleyan system of budgeting but wonder if the Nazarene mission system could survive. I'm not sure who takes care of their pastors better. District's are another interesting thing to look at; merging them would be fun. As always willingness to give up power, position and prestige will keep it from happening. I'm not sure it should happen, merging two local churches doesn't always create a stronger church. However if half of what I read about the younger generations is true we might start thinking about it because they'll not support general church systems just for the general churches sake. I wonder about how we can stream line management structure within my own denomination let alone trying to put several together. Well a lot more could be discussed here but I'll leave it for others.

Ryan Schmitz said...

Great Column!

I am still doing recon work on the Nazarenes; but their not ready for us yet.

I personally married a Church of God (Winebrenner - Findlay, OH) girl who had never heard of a Wesleyan before IWU. We seem to be a good fit; I'll have her keep you updated.

Left Coast Drury said...

It looks like the there is some courting going on.
Denominations Meet to Decide if they Will Go Steady

I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some kissing going on.

As for the larger topic, I agree with you that the Wesleyans should merge. I disagree that it won't happen because of an unwillingness to give up power and position. To the contrary, for an ambitious leader, a merger can lead to enhanced power and prestige.

Considering how popular corporate management techniques are, TWC should look at North Carolina National Bank as a merger model.

NCNB's merger success relied on three ingredients:

1) A determined leader looking for merger opportunities. (Hugh McColl)
2) A relaxed regulatory environment conducive to merging.(North Carolina banking regulation).
3) Aggressive cost cutting once merged.

In 1987 it was NCNB Inc. with about $20 billion in assets. In 2007 it is Bank of America N.A., the 2nd largest financial institution in the U.S., 4th in the world with about $1.5 trillion in assets.

Here's how the Wesleyans could adopt an NCNB model:

1) Reduce the number of General Superintendents to one and elect one that sees merger as the paradigm for the 21st Century.
2) Reduce regulatory barriers to merger. Adjust the Wesleyan Discipline to focus on non-negotiable Wesleyan essentials palatable to all groups in a Wesleyan tradition and delegate issues of specific membership commitments to regional, district, or local bodies (possibly even along the lines of historic constituencies). More importantly, modify trust clause requirements allowing more local property control.
3) Aggressively cut-costs. Close duplicate churches and reallocate resources. Let market forces dictate which church in an area should close (i.e. encourage sheep stealing). Let the same kinds of market forces apply to colleges and universities. Encourage school administrations to follow a merger and acquisition model. If denominational funding is to be provided at all, have it done through competitively awarded grants.

This kind of model could be successful at consolidating evangelical churches in the Wesleyan tradition and would position the new Evangelical Wesleyan Church as the beneficiary of the next great Methodist shism when 1 million or more within the UM church decide to head for the exits.

Jeffrey V. said...

We conservative holiness folks have been sort of left out in the cold after we left our parent denominations. I have a feeling both of us would be better off if we had remained together. Of course, the intolerant among us gave us all a bad name, but sometimes I wonder if the Nazarenes and Wesleyans might be a little further up the road if we had remained with you. It is pretty obvious where we conservative holiness folks are. We can barely hold our own, much less expand, at least in the United States anyways.

Yet, when one looks at the numbers, the years of greatest growth in the Nazarene Church, at least, occurred when Conservative Holiness folks, or people like us, were at the helms of some of these denominations. For example the membership rates increased in the Nazarene church at 99% in the 30's, 89% in the 40's, 41% in the 50's, and then tapered off to the lowest point in it's history. Did the conservative holiness exit have anything to do with it? I don't know, but perhaps a great ship was thrown off balance. I am of the hopes that she is recovering and doing better than ever.

Nowadays, we conservative holiness folks are too inward focusing to be of any use to the world. On the other hand, some of us are worried that the Nazarenes and Wesleyans have become generic evangelicals, (nothing wrong with that, necessarily), who no longer hold the rigorous fervor of primitive Methodism.

If it were up to me, all the conservative holiness churches would fold back into their parent denominations. You folks would straighten us out from our petty squabbles, and we would remind you of who you used to be. I bet that we'd all be better off as new, stronger Methodists, capable of impacting a changing world.

Maybe if we all merged, we could start challenging our Baptist brothers as the leaders of biblical evangelical Christianity.

Glenn Knepp said...

I think I like the sound of pairing up with the Free Methodists in the not too distant future. MAybe the denomination that would be formed could even be called "Wesleyan Methodist". (Or would those with Pilgrim Holiness sympathies and memories object?)

In any event a "Wesleyan Free Methodist denomination" would perhaps make the long term transition to becoming United Methodist less painful. It would also cause us to deal with some of the issues of polity that would be present in both a Free Methodist/Wesleyan merge and eventually a United Methodist / Wesleyan Free Methodist merge earlier.

G.R. ''Scott'' Cundiff said...

Well, the grassroots Nazarenes (along with lone Wesleyan moderator) are talking about the dating possibilities Here

P. Drew said...

I was thinking a small denomination like the Missionary Church is somewhat appealing. She has very similar looks to ours and her passion seems to be the same...why not add more our family.

Sandra Leigh said...

As I was reading the first two paragraphs of this article, I was thinking in the back of my head, "I wonder if he is going to bring up United Methodists and call them the 'naughty girl that you pray your sons don't end up with'".
You were much more kind than that.

JustinJNierer said...

I have no clue what kind of Nazarene's you are associating with but where I am, they are more like the Prom Queen that has already had two illegitimate children, one with a guy named Bubba (no last name).

As for the Free Methodists, thats an easy answer. Their General Conference was this year and only 45 min away (Spring Arbor University...not Orlando Florida) and I had the opportunity to attend one of their rallies, and being the introvert that I am, I asked one of the "Bishops" this very question. His answer, "Probably not, neither of us would want to change our name."

So there you have it.
Now lets move on and never toy with this idea again.

The Canfield Family said...

As a student and graduate of a Free Methodist College in the 70's, I was disheartened in the direction that the denomination was taking. About the same time I was introduced to the Conservative Holiness Movement and was so impressed in what I found.

30 years ago, I wonder if the Free Methodist, Nazarene and Wesleyan leaders would have ever guessed that their drift would have taken them as far as they have gone.

Nathan said...

As a student at IWU, let me quote Malcom Ellis on church mergers: "Merging two (local congregations) church's is like putting two stray cats in a box." What do you think would happen? Local church mergers are messy, and do they really achieve much? What was the result of the merger of the Pilgrim Holiness and Wesleyan Methodist? I remember Dr. David Smith telling us the merger resulted in lower numbers after the dust settled. Instead of merging just aquire!