By Matt Drayer
Anabaptists face a lot of pressure to conform to the world. Countless “Christians” feel it is not necessary to be separate from the world, as commanded in Scripture (Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 6:14-18; II Timothy 2:4; I Peter 2:9-10; I John 2:15-17). They believe Christians should go to war, participate in politics, enjoy worldly entertainment, live like the world, speak like the world, and dress like the world. They also think Christians of 2015 should disregard the head covering and the holy kiss. I want to encourage my Anabaptist brothers and sisters to stand strong on their Biblical convictions – and (most importantly) to stay focused on Jesus Christ!
It seems that over time, two things tend to happen to Anabaptist congregations:
- They lose their first love and start to worship their convictions and traditions.
- They lose their convictions and start to conform to the churches around them.
A lot has been said about #1. I want to talk about #2. This has been my experience. In the congregation I belong to, we are losing our Anabaptist convictions. I want to share some of the reasons that brought us to where we are. It is not my desire to belittle my church, but to sound a warning to other Anabaptist congregations. I pray this will be helpful.
Failure to teach children. Parents need to pass on solid Biblical Anabaptist teachings to their children. Sadly, most of the parents in our congregation did not do this. They were too busy with their careers, playing golf, and watching television (which used to be discouraged in our church). Now, their children have grown up and became members of the church, but they have very shallow spiritual lives with little or no understanding of Anabaptist convictions.
Public school. Public schools have been a bad influence on our church. The majority of our parents send their children to public schools. Their children want to be involved in sports, dating, prom, etc.…but they also want to be Christians. Thus, the parents start to question our church’s convictions and say, “What’s wrong with sports, dating, prom, etc.?”
Supporting non-Anabaptist children. Too often, children that were raised in our church choose not to be a part of our church. Although they claim to be Christians, these (now grown up) children live in ways that drastically go against the convictions of our church. The parents of these children usually side with them because they do not want to admit that their children are wrong. Thus, numerous members of our congregation do not support our Anabaptist convictions because their hearts are with their non-Anabaptist children.
Failure to teach converts. Obviously, we want to rescue the perishing, but we also need to “make them disciples” (Matthew 28:19). We’ve helped a few people in our community get converted and they became members of our church (praise God!). But unfortunately, nobody taught these converts what we believe and what we stand for. Therefore, they do not embrace the convictions of the church.
Marrying into the church. Another problem we have is when somebody raised in our church (but is not a member), marries somebody from the community and brings them to church. Here is what usually happens: They want to go to church somewhere, so they come to our church, everybody is happy, and then they become members. However, the person from the community does not share the convictions of our church – they simply joined our church because their spouse did – and they subtly bring in non-Anabaptist ideas.
Voting. As a church with Anabaptist roots, we have always discouraged members from being a part of the government. However, somewhere along the line, voting became acceptable (and eventually encouraged). This has blurred the line of political involvement and caused our members to get caught up in the hysteria – taking sides, bashing the “opponents,” trusting in political parties, and accepting things (like war) in their justification of voting for certain people. Thus, the Kingdom of God is mixed with the kingdom of this world, and Anabaptist convictions are disappearing.
No teaching from the pulpit. Because of everything I mentioned, there is now a wide range of thoughts and opinions in our church. Therefore, church leadership is afraid to step on toes and does not explain Anabaptist convictions (or even bring them up) from the pulpit.
Brothers and sisters, I repeat, stand strong in your convictions! Please guard against the things I mentioned – “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Corinthians 2:11). May God bless you.
Originally published in The Witness January 2015.