Writing Your Church´s History

Steven D. Cooley - Revised 1996

Nazarene - Archives Montage

Why History?

More Nazarene churches celebrate special anniversaries each year. These occasions are opportunities to reflect on our past and to project our hopes for the future.

A congregation profits by writing its history. Properly written, history allows us to re-experience past victories and achievements. Even reminders of shared difficulties can be a positive experience for a church. A good congregational history sets the story of a church in the context of something larger. It places present ministries in a historical stream of continuing ministry. A congregational history also gives voice to a church’s relationship and contributions to the community.

Congregational history is the story of people whose lives are connected to our own. These are our people. What they did, and what the Lord did through them, is important in itself. We need no other reason to remember our history.

Every church has a different way to research and write its history. This is determined by the project’s size and nature, by the available talent, and by personal dynamics within the church. One or two persons with strong organizing and writing skills should be responsible for the project. They will need to be creative in finding and interpreting information. They should be tenacious in carrying the project through to the finish. There will be dead ends and times when interest wanes. At times it may seem that there are few resources; at other times research materials may appear overwhelming. All this is part of the work.

Those charged with the project may want a small committee to help research and organize the material. The historian should also report periodically to the pastor or to a church history committee. A series of deadlines can help keep the project moving, but goals should be realistic. The calendar should not become a discouraging dictator, and a new calendar can be created if the old one is too ambitious. But keep the project moving. Don’t let it be tabled until later.