San Jose YAR Meetup

I was really excited to meet some of the YAR authors/lurkers at the San Jose conference this week, to hear of the kind of things you are doing inside and outside the Church, and to hear the insights you had about the future of the church.

On Wed, July 4th, several YAR authors and sympathizers had dinner and discussed issues that they felt were pressing in the church. Here are my notes from the meeting.

YAR meeting began by introducing each other and asking everyone to finish this sentence “I am radical because…”. Here are the responses:

“I am radical because I believe the church has to constantly challenge the status quo and push our comfort zone rather than make a comfort zone for us”

“I am radicals because I believe the Gospel is countercultural”

“I am radical because being decent to people is a radical thing these days”

“I am radical because I believe Christianity can be queer in a countercultural way that can change the world”

“I am radical because I am a black vegan anarchist that skateboards and watches The Young & The Restless but is committed to the church”

“I am not a radical, the church is just crazy.”

“I am not a radical, I just think a lot of issues in the church are overthought and could be a lot simpler”

“I am radical because I think of the world (the church) in terms of institutions – both just and unjust”

This was followed by a discussion of my post about church and business

One YAR present disagreed and believed that the church is open to criticism and that leadership are very willing to hear things which challenge the church authority. Another YAR agreed that “getting too off track” with interpretation or understanding of the gospel will get you in trouble with your congregation. Another said that in relation to her service with MVS, criticism was open and encouraged – and it was necessary for her personhood.

There was a lengthy discussion about the danger of an agency that was meant to serve the church ends up becoming a business – the example used was Mennonite Mutual Aid and its investing in business involved with the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

This discussion dovetailed into a discussion of the institution of the church and why the church sometimes sacrifices prophetic vision in favor of tradition so that it can survive. Does the church need to survive or does it need to be prophetic? Is a shrinking church really a bad thing? If the church only wants to survive and doesn’t want to shake things up or really be “different”, then shouldn’t we just have one, big, universal church? Isn’t being Mennonite supposed to be a “niche”?

It was said that the church, because it has become a nationwide institution, has had the ability to call someone into account who they have never met. Can you call someone into account for something that they had no say about, let alone that someone they never met did have say about? It was said that there are people in the church who have tried to overpower others, holding onto something (tradition, doctrine,etc) so tightly they are choking it (the church) to death.

We then had a discussion, off the topic of the church and its goal of survival, of the schismatic line. Where is the line? At one time it was over baptism – for some YAR’s, the interests of LGBTQ folks is more important than infant baptism. If we aren’t interested in splitting over tough issues and towing the same line, why don’t we join the Catholic Church again?

Feel free to comment on some of the question that were brought up in this meeting. We did do more questioning than answering, which (I feel) was more constructive than answering.

Comments (5)

  1. Pingback: Anonymity and Internet communities » Young Anabaptist Radicals

  2. stevekimes

    I am a radical because…
    …I have given up the middle class to live, minister to and to be ministered by the homeless and the mentally ill.
    …I believe that the church– ANY given church in the U.S.– has fundamentally given up following Jesus to follow the American Dream.
    …I believe that it is possible to do all of what Jesus says through the power of the Spirit even in a 21st century post-Christendom culture.
    …I am noisy about the necessity of the marginalized being invited to participate in the church.

    I hope to participate here. Hopefully even join?

    Steve K

  3. DevanD (Post author)


    I am not an Admin, but I would love to have you join! Your voice would be a great one to hear on this blog.

  4. lukelm

    Hey Steve,
    I’d very much like to hear more of your story here, especially about your current work and the choices/paths that brought you to it. I’m in the middle of medical school now and will be making some decisions in the next couple years about what I’ll do with my medical degree. One reason I feel the need to keep connecting to my church roots (and especially to the type who hang out on this blog) is to be constantly reminded and inspired about living the kind of Christian message you describe.

  5. stevekimes

    Thanks for your support. Actually, I was invited to join by one of the Powers That Be, but I’ve been having problems. Others have not, so I think its just me. I’ll keep trying.

    Steve K

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