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A Tale of Three Churches – Today

by on September 24, 2014

Decisions have far-reaching implications. Patterns, once adopted, can become fixed approaches to all new experiences. Seemingly small decisions start trends. Those trends are accented by time and will take a group on a divergent course. The next generations inherit the new course and accept and defend it as the norm. It is incredibly critical that the smallest decisions be made with the utmost care.

Observations in 2014:

Brethren in Christ seem to be solidly situated in Evangelicalism. Some of them are beginning to search for their Anabaptist roots.

Brethren are in a mode of attempting to hold everything and everyone together. Loyalty is still the most common denominator. Loyalty among the ranks is strong but real community sense is weak. Beliefs and practices vary widely but loyalty to the Brethren system continues in spite of all the variations. Their numerical decline continues.

Mennonite groups span a wide range of practices. Some are quite liberal and some are very strict. The conservative groups continue to grow. The more liberal groups struggle to maintain their numbers. Community sense among conservatives is strong. They have para-church organizations that blend the energies of many groups.

Some conservative groups are struggling with their strict discipline. The people do not always see the connection between the strictness of the rules and genuine separation from the world. Leaders attempt to correct the struggles with more strictness. That tends to widen the gap between the leaders and the people. Some groups are moderating their stance and are regaining a balance of truth and love.

Power struggles – Brethren have power struggles also but the Mennonite Church is commonly bereft by power struggles. Some of the conferences were necessary and some were not. Personality differences have birthed some of the divisions. These situations are distancing the youth. They observe the behaviors and do not want part of them.

The strictest Mennonite groups are culture-based. They have strong culture. Their culture is based on Scripture but culture typically trumps Scripture. Values like: integrity, industry, frugality, and diligence are based on Scripture but they are not the gospel. In many groups those values are thought of as the “gospel.”

Recent History
In the 1950s and 1960s the Mennonite Church experienced a revival. Major changes were happening in the surrounding society. Those changes mandated major adjustments in the Church. Conservative groups left the long-standing, liberal-leaning conferences. This allowed and provided for the convictions of the more conservative people to be expressed in an environment conducive to a conservative lifestyle.

This pattern is what has kept the Mennonite Church as a conservative body. People have options across a spectrum of conservative expression. Schools and literature are provided along with many mission opportunities.



These three groups: BIC, COB, and MC faced the same challenges but responded differently and with widely differing outcomes. Those different responses shaped their future and are still shaping their future. Generations are impacted and formed into the new norms. Once established, the norms and their mindsets become the guiding forces.

Once again – Decisions set directions.
It is so important to consider the potential results of decisions.
It is important to make the Bible the deciding factor in decisions.
It is important to evaluate the state of the fellowship of which you are a part.
It is important to remember that revival is possible.
It is important that men of courage and conviction lead the Church.
It is important to avoid the politics inherent in any kind of leadership.
It is important to avoid the power struggles that have caused unnecessary divisions.
It is important to retain the youth by instruction and example.

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