Hospitality, discipleship and community also emphasized
PASADENA, Calif. (Mennonite Mission Network) — The church is a pilgrim community in constant movement, said presenters at the annual meeting of the Association of Anabaptist Missiologists. That means the church must embrace geographical movement as outward mission.
Matthew Krabill and David Stutzman, current graduate students in intercultural studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, organized the event, held at Fuller October 17-18
Juan Martinez, assistant dean for the Hispanic church studies department and associate professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller, challenged the participants to think of mission more holistically. Martinez said many people regret that when their youth leave home for college, they seldom return to their home communities. The migration of today’s students is similar to the larger reality of movement of people in general.
In the early Christian church, Martinez said, it was probably the slaves and working-class poor who took the gospel with them as they moved or were taken to new places. In the 21st century, people of all socio-economic levels are crossing cultural, social, ethnic and linguistic boundaries with the gospel, some with passports and some without. This constant movement, especially from rural to urban settings, challenges us to not be traditional mission workers but visionary, polycentric people—in the midst of several cultures, flexible and mobile.
Martinez said the church must be a sending body, commissioning those who leave as missionaries and encouraging them to find believers in their new communities.
“Being church means constant change,” Martinez said, which includes sending some and welcoming others to join the family at the table. Rather than lamenting that our young adults are not returning home, Martinez challenged the church to bless them as they go and encourage them to be faithful wherever God calls them.
Other presenters offered their own stories of encountering Anabaptism where they were.
Sue Park Hur, said she and her husband, Hyun, came to Anabaptism after reading John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus. H. S. Bender’s The Anabaptist Vision is the foundation for their worship and community life. Hur said discipleship, community, and the ethics of love and non-resistance provide a foundational theology for today’s Anabaptists, while the More With Less Cookbook and other newer Mennonite cookbooks provide simple recipes for their house church’s weekly meals together. Hur said what she says and what she eats communicate a missiological message of faith to those seeking to understand the gospel.
Erin Dufault-Hunter, another Fuller professor, was raised Catholic, but became Anabaptist while studying the gospels through her involvement with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
“I need my cultural Mennonite heritage; (I need) to draw on a tradition of people who have suffered,” Dufault-Hunter said. “It’s the ordinary stuff that draws me to the Mennonite tradition, and it’s the ordinary stuff that is the hardest part to do.”
In one session, graduate students sat with more experienced Mennonite missiologists to explore how to receive experience and guidance within the missiological community. Organizers and participants will continue to examine how to provide mentoring for younger people in the field.
More than 40 people attended the conference, including about 10 Anabaptist-related students enrolled at Fuller. James Krabill, Mission Network's senior executive for Global Ministries, is the convener of the association. Grants from Mission Network, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Eastern Mennonite Seminary helped fund this year's event.
More than 200 people are members of the association.