This weekend, I got to attend a conference called “Church and Post-Chrsitian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus.” It was a conference hosted by Missio Alliance that focused on the convergence of evangelical and anabaptist thought and how we apply that theology to the concept of mission. That’s a lot of opaque jargon for asking: “How do we follow Jesus?” and “How and why do we encourage others to follow Jesus?”
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing several blog posts about what I learned and experienced that I found particularly meaningful or thought-provoking, but first, two takeaways for me from the conference as a whole:
1. As anabaptists, we have a beautiful tradition and heritage that we don’t always understand, appreciate, or use.
This is especially true for people like me who grew up anabaptist. Many of the speakers at the conference were actually “outsiders,” people who grew up in a different faith tradition and either came to identify as Anabaptists through prayer and study, or don’t identify as anabaptists but admire and use our theology to inform the way they follow Jesus.
Jarrod McKenna talked about this at NYC. He mentioned that the world is watching us. The world is studying and learning about our tradition, using it to shape their own beliefs and practices. He also mentioned, though, that we have grown up in this thing that the world is just now trying to emulate, and we don’t even understand it ourselves.
That’s why he challenged us to take up this Dunker Punks way of life. As Dunker Punks we must continually strive to learn more about how our faith ancestors followed Jesus. This means praying the Lord’s Prayer as seriously and faithfully as they did, reading the love and teachings of Jesus as deeply and enthusiastically as they did, and living out our faith as radically as they did.
2. Far more importantly, its all about Jesus.
Here’s a tweet that says it better than I can:
Cherith Fee-Nording ended the conference calling us back to our 1st Love. Spoiler alert, it’s not anabaptism. #OnceFutureMission
— Laura Johnson (@chefdearla) September 20, 2014
This starts with we in the Church of the Brethren admitting that Alexander Mack didn’t found our faith, Jesus did.
And we Dunker Punks must realize that Jarrod McKenna isn’t the impetus of our movement, Jesus is.
Alexander Mack and Jarrod McKenna put these things into words, got them going, got us excited about them. They are amazing, intelligent, thoughtful, and helpful people that can help us understand how to follow Jesus. But we must be careful to never worship our heritage, traditions, or theology. Only Jesus.
It’s ok to be excited, maybe even proud, of our tradition. But our tradition, and this Dunker Punks movement, is only valuable so far as it leads us to more faithfully follow Jesus.
That’s what being a Dunker Punk is all about. It’s to identify with the roots of our tradition, which elevate Jesus, compel us to follow Jesus, and inspire us to view everything the we do — the way we read scripture, the way we interact with others, the way we practice our religion– through the lens of Jesus. It’s about making space in our lives by studying, praying, and gathering together. It’s about making things less about ourselves, and more about Jesus.
It’s starts be realizing that:
reading the bible,
living radical, ordinary, peculiar, simple lives…
Are all smaller pieces that fit into the larger context of following Jesus.
One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus comes at the beginning of Hebrews 12. The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus “the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Let Jesus be the author and perfecter of your faith. Not Alexander Mack or Jarrod McKenna. Not your pastor. Not your friends or family. Certainly not me. Of course, use people to enhance and grow in your understanding of how to follow Jesus.
But keep Jesus at the center and permeated through everything that you do.
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