Growing up as a nerd isn’t easy. And my interests are broad, so the shelves in my nerdery are numerous! When I was a kid, you could’ve found me at any given time nerding out over:
- Superhero comic books
- Newspaper comic strips
- Baseball cards
- Star Wars
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Mystery novels
- Whatever band I was into at the time
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Chicago Bulls (it was the ’90s)
That list is far from exhaustive. So it wasn’t a big surprise when I got to college and started nerding out over theology. I became a total geek for John Wesley and started lapping up anything N. T. Wright, Walter Brueggemann, or Eugene Peterson had to teach me. I enjoyed theological discussions with my peers, professors, and mentors, and sought out these kinds of conversations whenever possible.
As with most of my nerdy interests over the years, I didn’t discard one thing when I discovered the next. I still love comic books (and the numerous movies they’ve inspired). I still love the ’90s Bulls, Star Wars, and the (now world-champion) Kansas City Chiefs.
And I still nerd out about theology. That’s why, when The Foundry Publishing asked me to work with a team to write a catechism for kids, I was thrilled! That’s right up my alley! And I knew other nerds who would enjoy the project as well. Then they also asked me to do the second part of the project: a church membership curriculum for kids. Church membership? I didn’t think even I was nerdy enough to get excited about that.
But I sat down to discuss the project with the team, starting with what each of us do in our own churches for the purposes of membership. Before too long, we were right back into the theology conversations we all enjoy so much, talking about the role of the church, the beauty of the church, the flaws of the church; talking liturgy, ecclesiology, and core values. It all clicked for me when we came up with this awesome activity where kids get to follow a maze that leads them “from Nazareth to Nazarene.” It takes them past major milestones in Jesus’s ministry and leads them all the way to the official formation of our denomination in 1908. From that point on, this nerd was all in!
Once someone loves the church, membership naturally follows.
When we got to writing, we discovered that our core emphasis wasn’t so much about the goal of becoming a member of a local church as it was about helping children fall in love with the story of the global church and finding our place in it. Once someone loves the church, membership naturally follows.
Some of the big questions the Our Church membership book attempts to answer include:
What is the Church of the Nazarene, anyway?
What do we believe?
What (or who) is the broader, global, holy, catholic church?
What does the gathered church actually do?
Getting kids excited to be part of the church’s story makes me really happy. It ended up being a project I very much wanted to write. It turns out I’m also nerdy about church membership. Our Church can go hand in hand with the Our Faith catechism, or it can stand on its own as a four-week membership curriculum. Either way, I’m proud of the work that went into it.