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Mennonite Church (MC)
The urgent task of the church
is to witness that Jesus Christ is the only Lord and Savior of
the world, that the one who raised him from the dead is the only
true and living God, and that the Spirit who filled him dwells
in the community of believers and is the firstfruit of the new
The vision for this witness needs to be revived. Too often this
witness has been merely assumed by the church rather than actively
Mennonite Church leaders in congregations, conferences, and churchwide
agencies need to recover the vision and focus on the witness
which brings people to faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.
This vision has important implications for church wide agencies,
congregational life, and the personal lifestyle and discipleship
of all of the people of God.
1. The Present Situation
a. The church's vision for witness has been influenced by the
technological, social, economic, political, religious, and environmental
changes of the past fifty years. Some tend to see salvation as
relating only to the here and now, while others interpret salvation
as being confined to the next life. These extreme viewpoints
have caused misunderstanding, distrust, and at times doubts about
the relevance of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for this
b. The vision for witness is further affected by some questionable
evangelistic techniques. Methods have sometimes been used which
have distorted the biblical message, causing negative reactions
and a decline in evangelistic zeal.
c. Patterns of decision-making have changed for many. For some,
accepting Christ has become a group decision. They participate
in a baptismal class without making a personal decision. For
others, important decisions like choice of vocation and post-high
school education are often made by the individual alone. They
do not seek the help of Christian counsel from the congregation.
This has led to faith with an individualistic emphasis and attitude.
d. For many this switch to individualism produced a vacuum between
profession and practice. Many individualistic, nationalistic,
and nonbiblical forms of church are attempting to meet the needs
of a generation of Christians who have come to think of church
as an audience rather than a community of believers and a disciple
way of life.
2. The Message
a. The message of the witness is Jesus Christ, crucified and
risen. The task is to proclaim and follow the Jesus who died
on the cross for the sins of the whole world, whom God raised
thus conquering death in all its forms, and who now lives through
the Spirit in power among his people.
b. Christ calls and leads his church to be a living witness of
his way in the kingdom of God. Committed, caring communities
of faith are the bases from which the true Christ is proclaimed
in word and deed. Living examples of love and care by disciplined
believers give meaning and authenticity to the spoken word and
credibility to his unique call and claims. These fellowships
invite and nurture new believers.
c. Salvation comes through God's action in the person of Jesus
Christ. The church bases its witness on the testimony that "salvation
is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven
given to men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NIV).
d. Peacemaking is an integral part of the good news about Jesus
to a world which faces the prospect of devastation by human miscalculation.
Jesus came to bring wholeness a right relationship with God and
with one another. Such reconciliation is salvation to all who
are enmeshed in sin, polarization, and conflict.
3. The Challenge Before the Church
a. Christians need to remember that apart from faith they too
"were separate from Christ" and therefore belonged
to those who are "without hope and without God in the world"
(Eph. 2: 12, NIV).
b. The church must encourage biblical preaching centered on the
Christ of the Bible, God incarnate, Lord of the church, rejected
leader of a remnant people in a secular age. The task is to call
for discipleship as a way of life; this runs counter to the ways
of a dying world.
c. God is at work in many places and in a variety of ways. For
the disciple each ministry is to be done in the name of the Master,
d. In the church, the body of Christ, members participate in
a corporate witness to his lordship and the calling of people
to faith in him.
e. Each congregation should arrange its structures so that those
who are brought to faith are fully included in the life of the
congregation. Each should be an inviting and nurturing community
for those seeking meaningful, caring relationships and wishing
to join in the "God movement."
f. Witness should be a top priority for each church wide agency
and conference, and in each congregation. Training should be
given for using the wide variety of the gifts of all members.
g. Each congregation should be encouraged to support, financially
and in other ways, missioners at home and worldwide for the work
of evangelism (calling people to faith), nurture in the faith
(teaching and leadership training), service (giving the cup of
cold water, healing and development), and prophetic witness (testifying
to Christ's lordship over the powers in word and in deed).
h. Congregations need to promote a style of life which reflects
faithful stewardship of the great resources which God has entrusted
to his people. In using them first priority must be given to
4. The Call
The call is to follow the example of Jesus in leading people
to salvation and discipleship. The message of his kingdom is
dynamic, exciting, and always new. It is to be shared locally
and worldwide in all ways which embody Christ's spirit.
Let us follow Christ with the conviction that he will be victorious.
For Jesus Christ is already our Lord and his kingdom has begun.
We look forward with Him to that great culmination when all shall
acknowledge his lordship.
The call to the church is a mighty spiritual ministry. Let us
therefore experience in Christ the deep lessons of prayer, silence,
meditation, confession, simplicity, self-sacrifice, and celebration.
Let us be keenly aware that if anything good is accomplished
through us it will be through the power and guidance of his indwelling
Approved by Seventh Mennonite Church General Assembly
August 6,1983, August 1-7, 1983, Lehigh University, Bethleham,
Pennsylvania, Proceedings, pp.30-31.
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