Many people have asked what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian. In coming to understand this way of life, I have been grateful for the wisdom and life example of Sally Schreiner Youngquist. Sally leads LWCC’s Fellowship of Rogers Park cell group, which is also a part of Reba Place Fellowship. She currently serves as community leader of RPF and was a founding pastor of LWCC from 1995-2009.
Here is her description of being Anabaptist.
I became an Anabaptist through belonging and behaving before adopting all the beliefs and historical legacy of Reba Place Fellowship. My brother, now a Presbyterian pastor, gave me the feedback, “The Anabaptists don’t have a systematic theology like Calvin’s Institutes.” I retorted, “Well, the difference lies in Mennonites putting their energy into practicing what they believe so they demonstrate something different to the world.”
RPF founder John W. Miller named Mars, Mammon and Me as the prevailing idols in our society. I can see how media, government and the economic engines of mass consumerism breed conformity, captivity and fear within our culture of individualism and so-called free choice. It takes a group effort to resist these powers. I have thrown in my lot with one such experiment for 40 years, learning practices of communal resistance.
Worship repeatedly calls us to declare our allegiance to Jesus before family, country, and way of life. Group discernment lends wisdom and accountability to major decision-making. Pooling our income and living on Voluntary Service-type allowances provide us with what we need while challenging our greed. Locating ourselves in urban areas where violence flares calls us to prayer and peace-building efforts with neighbors. Intentional proximity, table fellowship, evangelistic welcome and mutual aid are shared among people of diverse incomes and backgrounds in our surrounding congregations—Living Water Community Church and Reba Place Church. Through such communal practices we live into Jesus’ new way of life.
Our mistakes are legion and our learning process slow, especially as we wrestle with the entrenched power of racism within and around us. “Seeking first the Kingdom” requires faithfulness over the long haul, with many bouts of failure. Yet we are encouraged to see Jesus raising up a new crop of Anabaptist-leaning intentional communities these days as demonstration plots of the now/not yet Kingdom.
(Originally written for Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary Alumni Newsletter, Fall, 2011 in answer to the question, “What does it mean to be Anabaptist today—in 300 words or less?)