Nazarene. It's a strange, uncommon word.
Jesus was referred to as "the Nazarene" because he came from Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). It's similar to calling someone from Texas a Texan. So - really the Church of the Nazarene is the same as saying "Church of Jesus who came from Nazareth".
Then, why not just call yourself "Church of Jesus", instead of Church of the Nazarene?
Great question. The term "Nazarene" is used to describe Jesus for a very specific reason in Scripture. Nazareth was a region of the world from where nothing great was thought to come. It was a little backwater area full of the working class poor and the uneducated people. To be from Nazareth was not something of which to be particularly proud.
It is significant that Jesus came from Nazareth. God sent Jesus to earth - not to the palace - but rather to the unimpressive area of town. In doing so, Jesus identifies with the poor, the down-trodden, the weak, and the common. This was to show that Jesus is for everyone - not just those in society who have their act together. Jesus is for everyone - including you and me.
By identifying with Jesus the Nazarene, we remind ourselves of God's design for the church - a place for the common person.
The Church of the Nazarene has three primary identifying characteristics:
We are first and foremost a church that celebrates the goodness of knowing and following Jesus. He is our example and encouragement.
We realize that we have a responsibility to make the world a better place for all people. Christians are to be God's example to the rest of the world and should seek to serve everyone.
Though we are not perfect and we continue to make mistakes, we are a people who desire to continue to live more like Jesus everyday. With God's help, we seek to live lives that show how good he truly is.