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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 9. The Church of Jesus Christ
We believe that the
church is the assembly of those who have accepted God's offer of
salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The church is the new
community of disciples sent into the world to proclaim the reign of God
and to provide a foretaste of the church's glorious hope. The church is
the new society established and sustained by the Holy Spirit. The
church, the body of Christ, is called to become ever more like Jesus
Christ, its head, in its worship, ministry, witness, mutual love and
care, and the ordering of its common life. 
We acknowledge the church as the society of believers from many
nations, anointed for witness by the Holy Spirit.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit,
divisions between nations, races, classes, and genders are being healed
as persons from every human grouping are reconciled and united in the
church.  In times of suffering as well
as tranquillity, the church depends on the Spirit's presence and power,
rather than on the power or benevolence of government, for its
preservation and mission.
The church is the
assembly of those who voluntarily commit themselves to follow Christ in
life and to be accountable to one another and to God, while recognizing
that the church is imperfect and thus in constant need of repentance.
The church's identity as God's people of faith is sustained and renewed
as members gather regularly for worship. Here the church celebrates
God's boundless grace, reaffirms its loyalty to God above all else, and
seeks to discern God's will.
The church is the
household, or family, of God. 
Commitment to one another is shown in loving one another as God loves,
in sharing material and spiritual resources, in exercising mutual care
and discipline, and in showing hospitality to all.  The church welcomes all people who join
themselves to Christ to become part of the family of God. 
We believe that the
church as the body of Christ is the visible manifestation of Jesus
Christ. The church is called to live and minister as Christ lived and
ministered in the world. As many members belong to one body, so all
believers have been baptized in one Spirit into the one body of Christ.
There are varieties of gifts and ministries in the church, all given
for the common good. Believers are to love each other and to grow
toward the likeness of Christ, who is the head of the church.
The church exists as a
community of believers in the local congregation, as a community of
congregations, and as the worldwide community of faith.
(1) Eph. 4:13, 15.
(2) Acts 1:8; 2:1-11.
(3) Acts 11:1-18; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:26-28.
(4) Mark 3:33-35; Eph. 2:19.
(5) Deut. 10:19; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2.
(6) John 20:21; Matt. 28:18-20; Matt. 57.
1. New Testament references to the church as God's people (1 Pet. 2:10)
show that the early church depended on the Old Testament for much of
its self-understanding (Exod. 7:6; 2 Sam. 7:24). As in Old Testament
times, the New Testament people of God see themselves as a covenant
community, relying on God's promise of steadfast love and sustaining
mercy. They are "a chosen race, a holy nation, God's own people" (1
Pet. 2:9; see Exod. 19:6). The word church is most often a translation
of the Hebrew qahal or the Greek ekklesia, meaning "assembly." But the
church is a new kind of assembly. Its identity is not rooted in a
common biological heritage or tied to one geographical location. The
church is made up of people from many nations and ethnic backgrounds.
Thus the church is a new social and political reality, described in
this article with terms like "society," "assembly," "household of God,"
and "community of disciples."
2. Mennonite emphasis on
voluntary church membership, together with the modern focus on human
potential, may tempt us to regard the church merely as a product of
human effort. But the church is more than a human organization. The
church depends on God for its very being and life (Eph. 3:20-21). Its
foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). It relies constantly on the
3. One of the
Anabaptists' favorite images for the church was the "body of Christ."
Participation in church life is a participation in Christ. Following
Christ in life, a response of faithfulness to the baptismal covenant
and to communal loyalty, is a way of knowing Christ. Works of love and
service are an extension of Christ's ministry in and through his body,
the church. Joining in corporate worship regularly (Heb. 10:25) and
sharing in the Lord's Supper are ways of participating in the life of
Christ and encouraging each other.
4. The articles that
follow give more detail concerning the church: its mission (Article
10); its practices of baptism, the Lord's Supper, and foot washing
(Articles 11-13); discipline, ministry, and order and unity (Articles
14-16). Later articles (17-24) discuss the church in the world and the
relation between the church and the reign of God.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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