Emerging Church

An interview with an Emerging Church leader drawn to Anabaptism

This interview is a repost from my blog on the Mennonite of an interview with Jarrod McKenna, a leader in the Emerging Church movement in Australia and founder of Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community, an organization that runs trainings on nonviolence and ecology in Australian schools, churches and prisons. I’ve previously referenced an article Jarrod has written on Emerging Peace Church Movement & the “Open Anabaptist Impulse”. Jarrod won the Donald Groom Peace Fellowship, a national Australian peace award. The Original intention was to do an interview with him for this blog and so, though I published it on the Mennonite site first, I think YAR is its true home. Enjoy! If you have your own questions for Jarrod, feel free to leave them in a comment and perhaps he’ll come by and answer them himself.

Tim: Where did you first come across the Anabaptist story?

Jarrod McKenna: The timing of my intro to Anabaptism was nothing short of God’s grace. It was a hugely significant time in my life though I was only 13 years old. Just before school started for my first year of high school, I made the very serious decision to follow Jesus. Up to that point I had gone through school not having the easiest time because of my dyslexia and ADD. I dealt with it by being the funny kid and when that didn’t work, beating kids up. I got good at both and was popular because of it. Yet the emptiness I felt would keep me up at night, looking up at the stars from my bedroom window and saying “God, if you’re there, I need you”. While some people have dramatic conversion experiences mine didn’t happen in a flash. But slowly my eyes opened to the Holy Spirit’s gentle work in my life. Night after night as the stars ministered to me I began to be sensitive to God’s love for me, and that love meant I could change, and follow Jesus. (more…)

The Emerging Church and Anabaptists


A few weeks ago, Dave over at the Mindful Mission posted out a number of blog posts by members of the Emerging movement looking at the similarities between the Emerging church and Anabaptists. Dave attends Living Water Community Church, an energetic urban Mennonite congregation that Charletta and I have been attending since January.

Since reading Dave’s post I’ve become more and more aware of some of the connections between the emerging church movement. Two weeks ago, Encounter, a program on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National did an extensive radio interview with Jarrod McKenna, an emerging church leader and Anabaptist leaders in Australia. It’s well worth a listen. (more…)

Our hopes and dreams for church

Hello YAR internet community,

A quick plug for “BikeMovement the Documentary – A young adult perspective on church” that will premiere at San Jose 2007 Mennonite convention and be available for sale on-line in about a week. For those of you who don’t know, BikeMovement was a group of young adults who biked across the United States last summer talking about young adults and church. (BikeMovement involves more then just this, including a recent biking trip through Asia, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll focus on young adults and church in North America.)

BikeMovement has been asked to share 5-7 minutes during the delegate session on the topic, “What are hopes and dreams of young adults for the future church.” While we’ve conversed with young adults all across the country, finding an answer to that question is a rather daunting task since it sometimes feels like we are all over the board on that question.
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A Mennonite Theology of Culture

I just returned from a 3-week trip to Europe studying Anabaptist/Mennonite history, led by Goshen College professor John D. Roth. We started in the Alsace region of Eastern France, and traveled through Switzerland, Southern Germany, Northern Germany, Friesland in the Netherlands, and then finished in and near Amsterdam. We visited current Mennonite (or historically Mennonite) congregations as well as historic sites in Anabaptist and Mennonite history.

These are thoughts which arose during that trip, but were most recently inspired by Edward Christian’s post on Radical Anabaptism and Radical Biblical Exegesis, as well as Nate Myers’ comments on FolkNotion’s post Is it really a sin?, but I thought they deserved their own post. I’ve done my best to keep up with YAR, but I’m sure these things have been said earlier by others (and probably in better ways), so I apologize for that.

As I read the Schleitheim Confession, I realized — as many modern Mennonites have realized before me — that I didn’t (and don’t) like it. At all. This admission led to a basic question that probably arises from any study of the early Anabaptists: “What am I supposed to do with this? How should I respond to (bad) Anabaptist theology?” And as I say it, I realize that I’ve been taught to think of the latter question as a form of heresy. (more…)

Story includes YAR

I’ll keep this short, since no one commented publicly on my post requesting help for my story about online blogs. Thank you to the YARs who responded to me via personal e-mails. My story is posted on the Urban Connections site.

Or jump directly to the story.

Again, thanks for the conversations. One person, whom I did not quote in the story, as the comment came out of context, said she was dumbfounded that the church is still writing stories like this after more than a decade of overwhelming Web involvement across the world. She has a point, but I think such stories move portions of the church toward understanding of a medium that still feels unfamiliar to many. (I heard a radio talk show host yesterday marveling at the sheer volume of instant messages he received after signing up earlier this week.) There’s still a long way to go in learning how electronic media both shapes and can be used by the church.

Introduction, and an offer (or request)

Hi,

My name is Will Fitzgerald, and I am not very young (anyone with an AARP card is clearly past prime), so I won’t post beyond this one time. But I’m Mennonite enough, and maybe just radical enough, to have enjoyed YAR for a while.

Recently, my wife and I, our daughter (14, definitely a YA, and we’re working on her R’ness) and another person started a house church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, associated with the Mennonite Church, although we are by no means a typical ‘church plant.’ You can read a bit about our church at kmenno.org. It’s not unreasonable to think of this as an ’emerging church.’

I’ve also been writing, as a spiritual discipline, a short online commentary on the Third Way daily Sip of Scripture for about a year. Soon, though (around the end of the month) I’m going to move from writing this daily to less often–maybe once or twice a week. The site is called “a simple desire,” and I’m co-writing it currently with John Thomas, from Maine. A third person, Carole Boshart, from Washington state, will be joining us at the end of the month.
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Join the conversation! how do Conservative and Progressive Mennonites present a compelling vision of Anabaptism together?

Anabaptism is cool. There’s no denying it. In this ultra-exciting age of the emerging movement, post-modern transition, and a change of scenery in the American church, buzzwords such as “reformation”, “contemporary”, and “social justice” have crept into the church’s vocabulary. Is Anabaptism just another one of these words that sounds cool but is hard to define or flesh out in every day living?

I wondered these things since early childhood—and I was a child raised in an “Anabaptist” environment. I soon found out that Anabaptism means different things to different people—and not only that, but their view of Anabaptism often influences their view on church and Christianity.

To the “old-orders”, who proudly trace their roots to the first Anabaptist reformers, Anabaptism is a way of life, a frozen set of traditions and doctrines. They sincerely hold on to certain traditions simply “that’s how the early Anabaptists did it”. Only they don’t say it in quite that way. It usually comes across as “that’s how we’ve always done it” to people who may be disgruntled with the traditionalism and culture of the still relatively strict and conservative groups of Amish, Mennonites, Brethren and Hutterites. (more…)

The God of Coincidence

It seems to me that church folk talk a lot about God doing this or that in our lives, and rightly so I guess. “God told me this or has been telling me that”, is a common utterance, but I’ve been avoiding that terminology for some time now. I guess I am uncomfortable with this assertion at times. Please don’t get me wrong, it is not my intent to discourage anyone who uses these expressions or to imply that they are wrong to do so. Nor am I calling God’s existence or presence into question. I am only expressing my own doubt or lack of understanding in the matter. My questions are of free will, and Divine orchestration. Good stuff happens to bad people and bad stuff happens too good people and vice versa and none of us can predict it consistently. (more…)

The Union Project

For a few months, I’ve heard a smattering of chatter about something in Pittsburgh called The Union Project. It’s a neat group of young people, many of them Mennonite (and some are alumni of Goshen College), who have purchased an old church building in a once-great, now-going downhill neighbhorhood. Their work promoting geographical and spiritual community in their neighborhood is refreshing. Among their projects are a cafe, which employs students from a local high school’s culinary arts program, a stained-glass business, and office and meeting places for local organizations. These include a church called The Open Door, which seems to be part of the “emerging church” conversation.

The Union Project promotes art exhibitions as fundraisers and partners with the city of Pittsburgh in community redevelopment. They are also located one block away from MennoCorps’ Pittsburgh unit, which is called Pulse. And those of us who have participated in BikeMovement might be interested to know that a local bike shop in their neighborhood sponsors a bicycle team. And some of you may know Brad Yoder, a locally-based “singer-songmaker” who lives in their neighborhood and first came to Pittsburgh through Pulse.

Mennonite Church (global?) identity

(This was originally written as a response to Eric’s article on “Calling the church to go pee pee,” but I decided that I don’t really want to be associated with Eric, and my post brings up some new issues. So I deserve my own [first ever] post. And since it’s my first post, I apologize if this topic has already been discussed enough. I haven’t been keeping up with all the posts over the past months.)

Good thoughts, bro. Like you, I wonder about the drive to look back to the “original” Anabaptists as a model for our developing church identity. A few weeks ago, Brian McLaren came to Goshen College and hosted a meal for a select group of AMBS and GC students interested in the future of the Mennonite Church. The discussion quickly turned to the developing identity of the Mennonite Church, and the growing feeling among young people that there’s a lack of intentionality about the formation of that identity. Not surprisingly, pacifism was the first thing mentioned as the central point of Anabaptist/Mennonite identity, and Brian encouraged us to emphasize that aspect in the future. There was a clear sense that what the Mennonite Church really needs is to return to the perfect example of the 16th century Anabaptists.

Let’s not be nostalgiac about the early Anabaptists. (more…)

Living in a world of Post-s, -ists, and –isms

[I have been invited to share this with you all and look forward to joining the conversations. Please note that this is NOT in edited form, that it is merely a spewing of thoughts. I look forward to further feedback and discussions. Please note also that I’m eager to find a different phrase to encapsulate what I love about the movement of the post-Christendom church … perhaps “grassroots christianity” or “grassroots Christ-living” …]

Living in a world of Post-s, -ists, and –isms:
What the Emerging Church movement can teach Anabaptism

Mennonites in the United States are slowly realizing that we live in drastically different times and in drastically different ways than our Anabaptist leaders lived. Are we living in such a way due to evolving revelation or have we let go of our fundamental radical roots? (more…)