What possibilities await conservative Anabaptism? What challenges should be anticipated? This booklet explores five dimensions of the conservative Anabaptism community, calling attention to challenges and opportunities within each dimension.


I have been involved in church planting, pastoring and leadership training since 1978, first in Managua, Nicaragua, later in New York City. During that time we have lived outside established Anabaptist communities. Since 2000 I have given leadership to DestiNations International, the mission agency of the Biblical Mennonite Alliance and since 2008 have worked full time in that capacity.

My hope and prayer is that conservative Anabaptist churches will experience a re-awakening of vision for personal witnessing, faithful disciple-making, creative church planting and courageous sending/ supporting/going as missionaries with a priority on unreached people groups of the world.

The question with which I wrestle is how to motivate and equip our churches for this vision when a set of hands-on skills are required that usually are not passed on by hearing and reading about them?

  • How can we help our people discover that cross-cultural missions is right next door, “over here” and not just “over there somewhere”?
  • How can we creatively identify and thoroughly equip those among us who are called of God to enter cross-cultural missions?
  • How can we help our people process issues of applying Biblical principles without burdening the churches with mere traditions nor carelessly neglecting to teach all of Christ’s commands?

Allen Roth


“The Mennonite Church at the beginning was pre-eminently a missionary church. This was one of the reasons for its rapid spread. In that period there were no special mission organizations, yet the church was engaged in aggressive evangelistic work. In the earliest years of its history its congregations, like the primitive Christian congregations, consisted of men and women who were noted for their zeal for propagating the gospel”1 . In 1527, two years after the beginning of the Anabaptist movement, over sixty Anabaptist leaders gathered at a meeting in which it was decided to send out missionaries two by two all over Europe to spread the Gospel. Within two years nearly all had been martyred; thus the name of the meeting was changed from the “Missionary Synod” to the “Martyrs’ Synod”. According to Anabaptism and Mission2 , authorities at times would go into Anabaptist homes and literally chain the women in their own homes so they could not go out to share their message!

Why were first generation Anabaptists so fervent in missions? What drove them to risk their lives to share the Gospel in fresh, bold ways throughout Europe and beyond? What opportunities await us as their spiritual descendants? What challenges face us as we seek to walk creatively and courageously through the doors of opportunity open before us today?

Major Biblical Passages and Principles

Two favorite Bible passages of early Anabaptists

Early Anabaptists were forbidden by law to spread their message outside State-recognized churches. Why did they defy the law? A favorite Bible passage they quoted as justification for their civil disobedience was Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Coupled with that conviction was the understanding that whenever man’s authority contradicted God’s authority, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

A second passage, found in the records of court trials of early Anabaptists, reveals that by far the Bible passage most oft repeated by those courageous believers was Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus’ Great Commission to go make disciples of all people groups and teach them to obey every command of the resurrected Christ. These two convictions propelled early Anabaptists, at great cost to life and property, to share their message far and wide: Jesus is the living Lord; the whole earth is His; He commands His disciples to make others His obedient followers; we must go do it. Do we share those same convictions today?

Other Key Passages

A compelling vision for missions is not limited just to these two passages, however. The whole Bible is a missionary book from beginning to end. I will mention just a few key Scriptures by way of illustration.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Our praying, preaching, pursuing holiness and calling people to repentance are linked to the return of Christ and to hastening the arrival of the “coming of the day of God” (Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:19-21; II Peter 3:11-12).

Also, God’s Word informs us that He is sovereignly at work in the migration of the world’s peoples for one purpose: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him” (Acts 17:26-27). God directs the immigrants to our cities and towns so we will befriend and win them to the Master.

Furthermore, in Matthew 24:14 Christ predicted that the Gospel must be announced to every people group and then the end will come. In this prophecy Jesus clearly linked our preaching of the Gospel among unreached people groups to the end of all things.

Not only must every people group hear the Gospel, but Jesus also intends every person to hear the Gospel. He clearly states that only those who believe His Gospel may be saved. There is absolutely no other way (Mark. 16:15-16).

“… we discover that suffering opens the way for increased fullness of the Holy Spirit who Himself is the Spirit of mission and who empowers God’s people to spread the Gospel.”

Agreeing with Jesus’ vision and mandate is necessary, but agreement is not enough. In an indifferent and often hostile world, we need power to invite people to surrender to Him. Sharing His good news frequently arouses opposition. However, we discover that suffering opens the way for increased fullness of the Holy Spirit who Himself is the Spirit of mission and who empowers God’s people to spread the Gospel (I Peter 4:12-14; Acts 1:8). I am absolutely convinced that the rapid spread of early Anabaptism was due to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit given in response to the intense suffering they joyfully endured in their wholehearted obedience to Christ. 

A final key passage is found in the last book of the Bible. Apostle John’s inspired vision of the future included seeing redeemed ones from every tribe, tongue, people and nation worshiping God (Revelation 5:9-10; 7:9-10). This is God’s great drama. And we have been given the privilege to share in this drama. This will be the dramatic and glorious culmination of all things!

Key Concepts of Anabaptism

Far too many modern Anabaptists, I fear, have no clear understanding of what the Anabaptist vision is all about. We do not know who we are, whence we have come, nor where we are going. A typical understanding may be little more than that we are evangelicals with a covering for the ladies and a refusal to go to war. This truncated understanding of Anabaptism weakens our witness and confuses our ability to relate properly with other groups of God’s people. A recovery, of clarity in our vision as Anabaptists is absolutely vital for our missionary vision

Harold Bender’s little book, The Anabaptist Vision, is a good place to start. He lays out three foundational components of the vision:

  • The essence of Christianity as discipleship. This understanding results in the transformation of life patterned after the teachings and example of Christ.
  • The church as a brotherhood. This conviction results in voluntary membership based upon conversion and believer’s baptism, as well as a commitment to discipleship and holy living. This commitment includes separation from the world, nonconformity and the practice of loving brotherhood.
  • The ethic of love and non-resistance (suffering love). The result of suffering love is complete abandonment of war, strife, violence and taking of human life.

In addition to Bender’s perspective I add two other key concepts, without which I believe the first three would not be possible. 

  • Biblicism. Anabaptism was a “back-to-the-Bible” movement if it was anything. Early Anabaptists insisted that “he knows Christ truly who follows Him daily in life” (Hans Denck). Their insistence on obedience often resulted in accusations of legalism and righteousness by works. The Anabaptists vigorously rejected these accusations.
  • A compelling vision for the Great Commission. As mentioned earlier in this paper, the Great Commission given in Matthew 28:19-20 was the passage most often recorded in court records of the trials of early Anabaptists. The frequency with which this passage was quoted indicates that a compelling missionary vision was a conscious, core value of the movement.

If we, as conservative Anabaptists of the 21st century, intend not only to survive, but to thrive and grow as a movement, we must work resolutely to recover and strengthen these convictions in our congregations.

Challenges the Anabaptist Community Faces in Missions

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”3 . This quote seems very appropriate as we turn now to consider the challenges facing our conservative Anabaptist communities. What are some of those challenges?

The first challenge to consider is revising the mindset of our people from “missions is over there” to “missions begins right here.” While past generations grew up reading biographies of great missionaries in countries “over there,” the majority population of North America has experienced a major cultural shift. North Americans are now from everywhere. Perhaps this seismic change has not yet fully impacted us since a majority of conservative Anabaptists live in rural areas and small towns of America and Canada where the ethnic diversity is still rather minimal. The ethnic composition of the U.S. and Canada is changing radically, but our mission mindset has not kept pace with this new reality. Our blindness to and neglect of this vast mission opportunity is largely due to our aversion, as a whole, to living in cities. We have forgotten that both the New Testament and Anabaptist churches were birthed in cities!

“The potential of any movement to grow is in direct proportion to its ability to mobilize its members to share its message.”

A second challenge as conservative Anabaptists flows out of our focus on discipleship. Disproportionately fewer evangelistic gifts are being identified and encouraged. Discipleship is Biblical. But certainly it must reach far beyond our children and grandchildren. I frequently observe reluctance to verbalize the Gospel and to call for a decision. We excuse ourselves from proactive verbal witness by saying, “I will let my life be a witness.” This is true, but only part of the truth, for none of us is good enough that if people will just watch us, they will be saved! We should “study to be quiet, and do [our] own business” (I Thessalonians 4:11) but without becoming “the quiet in the land” about our faith. We need to be reminded of the axiom that “the potential of any movement to grow is in direct proportion to its ability to mobilize its members to share its message”4 . In regard to boldly sharing a message, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been more Anabaptist than modern Anabaptists!

Related to the second challenge is the fact that our North American Anabaptist movement is composed primarily of a large second-generation Christian majority (descendants of Anabaptist Christians) with unique traits. A Biblical example is the contrast between Paul and Timothy. Paul: first generation, changed from night to day, bold, pro-active, apostolic. Timothy: raised from childhood with a believing mother and grandmother, shy, hesitant, tendency toward embarrassment about open identification with the faith, reserved, pastoral. Perhaps more of the members of our churches would fall in the Timothy category than in the Paul category. The Pauls among us tend to stir up the pot and make us feel uncomfortable. Added to this is the lack of training and role models for evangelism in our churches, making it difficult for our members to be mentored in proactive outreach. As a result, because most of our people are second-generation Christians, we have strong family connections and extended family networks. We have few deep relationships outside our circles, little time or motivation to befriend the lost around us and are hesitant to leave home for a vocation in missions

Anabaptism began as a counter-cultural movement. That was, and still is, a strength. Our strengths, however, are followed closely by our weaknesses. Here is our challenge: how do we fulfill the Scriptural injunction to be separate from the world but actively evangelize the world? We cannot effectively win the lost if we do not befriend them, but how do we do that without us and our children becoming like them in unbiblical lifestyle applications? This is the age-old challenge of incarnation versus confrontation: being “in the world” without becoming “of the world.” The liberal end of the Anabaptist movement gravitates toward incarnation; however, we have not seen them effectively win the world. We are critical and suspicious of where the incarnational movement has taken our Anabaptist brothers who have become like the world. Those of us on the conservative end of the spectrum gravitate toward the confrontation of culture. But if we are so separate that we do not befriend the lost, how can we win them to the Master?

Another major challenge in our church communities, I believe, is to sort out what is culture and what is Bible; what is Biblical command and what is counsel; what are the first things (non-negotiables), and what are the second things (negotiables). This becomes exceedingly challenging as we try to integrate first-generation Anabaptists, retain youth who have grown up in our churches, and honor the older people whose formative years occurred in times very different from the present. Add to that mix the individualistic mindset and lifestyle of North American culture that have deeply influenced all of us and you have a brew of sufficient strength to challenge even the sturdiest pastor in our churches.

” If we are not certain what we believe and cannot articulate with clarity why we believe what we do, how can we muster sufficient zeal and endurance to embrace the challenge of missions in a pluralistic, skeptical, multicultural world?”

While our churches struggle to sort out those issues in creative, yet faithful ways, in the complex tangle of relationships and emotions, we are confronted also with a growing tendency to minimize the importance of the local church and of commitment to responsible membership. These struggles and realities decrease the motivation within many to plant new churches and specifically, conservative Anabaptist churches. If we are not certain what we believe and cannot articulate with clarity why we believe what we do, how can we muster sufficient zeal and endurance to embrace the challenge of missions in a pluralistic, skeptical, multicultural world?

Another challenge we face as conservative Anabaptists is our homogeneity as a denomination. By this I mean that in the U.S. and Canada, most of our churches are mono-cultural. Most of us are middle-class whites. Most of us trace our roots back to Swiss/ Dutch/Germanic roots. This is not bad, but we walk with a limp when we speak of the Gospel being for all people and breaking down barriers between all people. Our Gospel becomes very suspect when the prospect of racially mixed marriages arises. Our homogeneity militates against us when we try to integrate people from other cultural, social and racial backgrounds. People in the receptor cultures where our missionaries work wonder at times why all the missionaries are white if the Gospel overcomes color barriers. And they have good reason to wonder and to ask those questions that make us squirm. This is a challenge we face.

Let us add to that our ambivalence about higher education which results in a scarcity of qualified personnel to enter restricted-access countries. Most of the remaining unreached people groups live in nations that will not issue religious worker visas, so to enter, we need people with professional skills. But after students get their degrees, will they still be on our page, or will they have lost their conservative Anabaptist values and commitment in the process? And will they be saddled with debts that inhibit them from ever getting to a field of missionary service? So we find ourselves caught between a rock and a hard place. We need more workers with advanced degrees, but we suffer huge losses to our movement by the time they have gotten those degrees. Yet if our people do not get adequate training, they often cannot enter the fields of unreached people groups.

The next challenge we face illustrates that sometimes our blessings have a shadow side to them. As a movement, we are no longer poor, lower-class citizens. We have prospered. We are better educated. But I suspect that our increasing prosperity results in greater difficulty for us to climb down the ladder to serve with humility for the long haul among the poor in developing countries. In our prosperity, with many comforts and much technology to make life easier, do we have the same readiness to embrace suffering as did those first Anabaptists? Are we able to prosper and still sustain zeal for sharing the Gospel? Will we actually be willing, ready, and equipped to go to the hard places of the world, and to encourage our offspring to go there for the sake of Christ? When we do go, how can we make wise use of our many resources to help those in need without creating unhealthy dependencies? Will we be able to see those who are not materially needy as being truly spiritually needy and deserving of the Gospel as well? Do we know how to give the Gospel when a handout is not needed?

“How will we ever develop proficiency in language and deep understanding of the receptor cultures when we cycle our workers in and out of their mission communities on a short-term basis?”

Closely related to the above is getting past the short-term VS mentality to embrace missions as a vocation. During World War II an agreement was made with the U.S. government to allow for short-term, conscientious objector service in lieu of participating in the armed forces. This was a good thing for our people, worthy of imitation in all countries of the world. However, now we have begun to think that the normal thing is to do your two years of VS work (sometimes it is even shorter), and then return home to normal life. How will we ever develop proficiency in language and deep understanding of the receptor cultures when we cycle our workers in and out of their mission communities on a short-term basis? And how do we expect to get long-term results on the field with short-term commitment? We would never embrace such a model for leadership in our sending churches! And at times we even bring people with long-term commitment to missions back to their sending church to provide leadership at home! We need to raise up vision for long-term missionary service as a worthy vocation. Once we see the worth and challenge of missions as a career, we may be more willing to pay the necessary price to acquire sufficient training for effectively confronting the challenge of longterm, cross-cultural missionary work.

Anabaptism began in an atmosphere of suspicion, persecution and ridicule. The words Anabaptist and Mennonite were pejorative. Even today one frequently hears negative comments about someone becoming a Mennonite even though they may express respect for Mennonites being good people. Many times we conservative Mennonites grow up feeling inferior about our heritage and our convictions. Since many of us do not have formal higher education, we often feel intimidated by educated, wealthy, mainstream North Americans, including Christians of other denominations. On the other hand, we may develop attitudes of superiority because of our rich heritage. Both attitudes hinder us in effectively recruiting and sending out workers for fruitful ministry.

The increased interfacing of our people with Christians and missions of other denominations and more exposure through technology bring with them the blessing of access to broader information, experience and resources for missions. They enable us to serve as a challenge to other Christians as well, for we do have wonderful perspectives to share with them. Accompanying challenges, however, are heightened expectations for our churches and agencies to keep up with what other groups are doing and potential weakening of our convictions as Anabaptists. One option not available to us is to prohibit this exposure. We are no longer an island to ourselves, if we ever were. 

In view of the many and varied challenges listed above, I believe it is vitally important to nurture networking with like-minded Anabaptists who are also active in missions in order to avoid competition, duplication, and waste of resources, to encourage one another, to learn from one another, and to pray for each other. The challenge facing us is to network while maintaining mutual respect and faithfulness to our respective understandings and applications of Scripture.

I offer a few additional challenges. These are not at all new to conservative Anabaptists, but as we become more proactive in missions and as cultures move ever farther away from Judeo-Christian values, we will face them with greater frequency: implementing nonresistance in countries with required military service; resolving issues of divorce and remarriage; teaching true beauty without external adornment in cultures where lack of adornment is very shameful; teaching and maintaining gender distinction in clothing; and upholding Biblical roles of manhood and womanhood.

Strengths and Resources in the Anabaptist Community for Missions

Growing up as a young person in a conservative Mennonite church with its struggles and yes, even failures at times, I often felt intimidated by the world around me and inferior to Christians of other denominations which seemed to me to have it all together. I was often frustrated by the faults and foibles of my church and its seeming impotence to make a difference in the world.

Today the prevailing mood seems to be one of downplaying the importance of the local church and of commitment to it. Our people often feel very apologetic about being Mennonite. However, God’s preferred mechanism for reaching the world and glorifying Himself is, and has always been, the local church. What strengths and resources within the conservative Anabaptist movement can enable us to capitalize on the vast mission opportunities that surround us today?

At the top of the list I place our Biblicism. If the Bible says it, we should obey it. I place this quality first because all of the others flow out of it. Without this quality, all of the others sooner or later will necessarily dry up and disappear. In our churches we agree that Christ expects our obedience to His Word. Do we obey it perfectly? We lament the fact that we do not. However, it is heartening to know that as a movement we agree that we should, and we earnestly want to obey God’s Word better. 

“… liberal theology kills missions.”

Next on the list I add our conservative theology. We still believe the fundamentals of the faith. This is critical for a movement because it is absolutely impossible, over the long haul, to raise up and to sustain a robust commitment to missions without a conservative, Christ-honoring and Bible-obeying theology. Mark my words: liberal theology kills missions.

Another strength of the Anabaptist movement is our history of suffering, of martyrs, of advocating freedom of conscience in matters of religion and of refusal to participate in all war. The stories of Anabaptist martyrs strengthen us for and in times of trouble. We can sympathize with others who are suffering. We can present the words of Christ to love our enemies without needing to apologize for participation in the Crusades or in the Holocaust. We refuse to take sides with one economic or political system over another. We are citizens of another Kingdom, one that is not of this world. Our position of nonresistance is very difficult, but is consistent with the words and example of Jesus as well as with the position of the Early Church. 

Our commitment to following the teachings of the apostles and the pattern of the New Testament church, then, results in a vision for local churches and missions. The local church becomes a key component in our communities and serves as a base for rallying missionaries and generating support for them as they travel across the globe.

Conservative Anabaptist churches have never required their leaders to have formal training, but rather have focused on servant leadership. Leaders are raised up from within the ranks and are persons who have proven themselves by their character, gifts, service, and commitment within the local body of believers. They are known and produced from within, not imported from without. This approach to selecting leaders produces a mindset and lifestyle of humble, brotherly service that is invaluable in working with national brothers and sisters in missionary settings.

As a result of teaching the all things and having stable communities, we largely have whole family units. There are exceptions, of course, but many families in our communities operate with stability. Our marriages and families are definitely not perfect, but on the whole we count on whole families. This provides a more stable support base for missionaries as extended families and churches maintain interest and involvement in workers’ ministries and support needs

The Anabaptist movement is noted for extended family networks and inter-connectedness (social glue). News about needs and workers flows through the grapevine resulting in more care, support and participation in missions. 

“But we urge you, brethren … that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands … that you may walk properly toward those who are outside.”

I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Hospitality is valued. We ourselves are descendants of immigrants and find ourselves to be a minority somewhat out of step with the majority culture around us. This helps us to sympathize with immigrants, and to open our homes, both to each other and to neighbors whom we befriend in our communities. In our living rooms and back yards we play, work, and talk about Biblical values, as well as study the Bible together with our guests. We may be the quiet in the land, but that is Biblical, too—as long as we find ways by word and deed to share the Gospel. “But we urge you, brethren … that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands … that you may walk properly toward those who are outside.” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Along with hospitality we value equality, simplicity, and service. We avoid titles and class distinctions, calling one another brother and sister. We aim for simplicity and loving, humble service as the way to greatness. These qualities serve us well as we travel around the world and find places and ways to serve as equals, not lording it over national brothers by virtue of being Americans. 

In a culture that is heavily influenced by Hollywood and the media, Biblical teachings on modesty, headship covering and traditional gender roles are very counter-cultural. But Anabaptism has always viewed itself as being counter-cultural. We expect that. We read in the Bible that we are strangers and pilgrims; we are in the world but not of the world. At least for these applications, and many others that the larger Christian Church would say are merely Mennonite culture, we can point to a chapter and verse as well as to solid precedent in the Early Church.

Another value that serves us well is a good work ethic. Granted, many of us carry it too far. But being taught from little up to do our chores and to learn a trade positions us to be productive citizens who can acquire resources to share with missions or to help the needy, not to mention being able to get things done when we go abroad.

Last, but definitely not least, are the many Christian schools and homeschools across our Anabaptist communities. Some denominations produce very few schools and depend on public schools to educate their young. Mennonites often have church schools and many families now homeschool, using quality materials produced by Anabaptist ministries, because we have a deep desire to pass on Biblical values to our children and youth. We grieve when our youth do not accept Biblical values, so we go to great sacrifice to provide opportunities for them to be educated in the Way. We want and need our youth to catch the vision and to carry the baton into the next generation. It is a beautiful thing to see committed youth who are interested in missions, who pray for missions, and who offer themselves for service in missions.

These are just some of the strengths and resources within our Anabaptist communities that can contribute to developing a vision for missions in the next fifty years.

Mission Opportunities Awaiting the Anabaptist Community

Unparalleled opportunities await the Anabaptist community in the 21st century. If Apostle Paul were alive today, I think he would envy us! What are some of these opportunities?

First there are the growing communities of immigrants in the U.S. and Canada. God is literally bringing the nations to our doorsteps! From Mandryk’s Operation World we learn that 800,000 international students from 180 nations come to the U.S. to study each year. In New York City over 37% of the population is first generation immigrant, without counting their children born in the U.S. Minorities are a majority in fifty U.S. cities. Ethnic minorities are a majority in 10% of the U.S. counties. Thirty-one ethnic groups have one million or more people living in our country. Thirteen percent of the U.S. population uses a language other than English in their homes. One million documented immigrants enter the U.S. every year while in Canada nearly one of five were born outside of the country. 

“I detect across our churches a genuine desire to be more than the quiet in the land, yearnings to be faithful witnesses for Christ.”

In addition to opportunities within immigrant communities, opportunities arise from a culture in steep moral, spiritual, social, and relational decline. I detect across our churches a genuine desire to be more than the quiet in the land, yearnings to be faithful witnesses for Christ. These stirrings among us need to be encouraged by providing opportunities for equipping and mentoring in real life experience.

Second, a wealth of information is now available to our people about Unreached People Groups (UPG’s), Un-engaged Unreached People Groups (those who have not yet been targeted by any mission or church), and Under-Reached People Groups (those once “Christianized” but are now secular; for example, Quebec). Books such as Operation World and websites such as the Joshua Project (www.joshuaproject.net) are readily available to many of our people. Much work still needs to be done to educate our people about the concept of reached and unreached people groups, but progress is being made.

As conservative Anabaptists reach out around the world, we receive invitations from national churches and leaders requesting training, mentoring and partnership. Many church leaders in developing countries are disappointed with some of the values and lifestyles of North American Christians they encounter and express surprise when they discover that Christians who take New Testament commands seriously still exist in the West.

With growing awareness of mission opportunities, Anabaptists love to follow their connections around the world; friends and relatives who are working with a growing number of conservative Anabaptist agencies that are training and fielding workers among unreached people groups. We used to do Mennonite Your Way across the U.S. and Canada. Now we do it worldwide! 

Growing prosperity within Anabaptist communities increases the potential for travel, short-term mission involvement, long-term mission assignments, and international business with Kingdom purpose. Widespread use of, and demand for, the English language, relatively inexpensive, easy air travel, and the presence of U.S. influence worldwide, along with the explosion of electronic communication, opens many doors of opportunity. The Internet allows us to learn more about world needs and opportunities and at the same time it provides a way for people out there to discover Anabaptism.


In conclusion, the opportunities lying before the conservative Anabaptist movement have never been greater. The resources within the movement have never been more numerous. The tools for fulfilling the Great Commission have never been so advantageous. Yes, the challenges we face are formidable. But Christ is still seated on His throne. He is still at work fulfilling His promise to build His Church against which the gates of Hades cannot stand. The Spirit of God is still available to empower His people to move forward. The Gospel is still the power of God to save those who believe. The Word of God is still alive and powerful to convict, instruct, and transform. And what is more, we have read the last chapter and know how this titanic struggle is going to end—“a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Questions for Discussion

  1. How can we recapture the clarity of the Gospel and confidence in the Gospel so as a people we will be eager witnesses who boldly share the Gospel and call for a decision to follow Christ, both nearby and far away?
  2. How can we bring greater clarity to the process of disciple-making and of incorporating first generation believers from a variety of backgrounds into our congregations?
  3. How can we work to revive vision for and commitment to the local church as God’s primary means to reach the world, thus resulting in renewed vision for church planting?
  4. How may we proactively identify those among us who are called to missions and creatively work to equip them thoroughly for fruitful, persevering service?
  5. How can we facilitate networking among Conservative Anabaptist mission agencies that respects our differences while learning from each other and cooperating with one another?
  6. How can we provide the necessary information to Anabaptist groups so that human and financial resources will prioritize unreached and unengaged unreached people groups while continuing to nurture work established among the reached people groups?
  7. How can we help our people revise their view of missions from being “over there” to see the great missionary opportunities right next door, including the towns and cities of our continent with their growing immigrant communities?
  8. How shall we develop vision for missions as a vocation that goes beyond mere short-term involvement and that boldly grasps all sorts of creative approaches to reaching the people groups (business, students, travel, professions, full- and part-time work)?
  9. How may we use our abundant financial resources in missions in ways that enhance both evangelistic outreach and care for the poor without creating unhealthy dependencies? 
  10. How do we creatively, proactively identify and train faithful national leaders to take leadership in mission churches and to mobilize their churches to participate in the vision to reach the unreached for Christ?
  11. How do we equip our people to Biblically, creatively, courageously and faithfully evaluate the cultures we encounter so that we neither needlessly burden churches with mere traditions nor carelessly neglect to teach all of Christ’s commands?

This article is the fifth and final part of a compilation of essays titled “Where To?”

Works Cited

  1. John Horsch, Mennonites in Europe, quoted by J. C. Wenger in
    Glimpses of Mennonite History and Doctrine, 183.
  2. Wilbert Shenk, Anabaptism and Mission (Wipf and Stock
    Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2001), 80.
  3. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
  4. Source unknown.