Rediscovering Anabaptism Video

Rediscovering Anabaptism Video

The Rediscovering Anabaptism video, produced in 1996, brings together interviews with members of the Anabaptist Network, who talk about central themes in Anabaptism and how these have been significant for them and their churches. Available in either PAL or NTSC format. Copies are available from the Metanoia Book Service.

The video comes with a discussion guide for groups watching it together. The main text of the guide can also be found at www.anabaptistnetwork.com/node/395

We are also pleased to be able to offer segments of the video on-line for free. Follow the links below learn more about an Anabaptist perspective on various topics. You will need to install a free copy of Macromedia Flash Player to view the videos.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: A Heart for the Poor

Stuart Murray Williams, founder member and chair of the Anabaptist Network and director of Urban Expression, notes the resources offered by Anabaptism for reflecting on issues of peace and justice.

Judith Gardner, member of Wood Green Mennonite Church, founder member of the Anabaptist Network and local councillor, explains that the Anabaptist tradition integrates evangelism and social justice and encourages us to go beyond protesting against militarism to actively promoting peace.

Brian Haymes, Baptist minister and former principal of two Baptist colleges, gives examples of a church that is committed to serving the powerless and voiceless and traces this concern to the Anabaptist tradition.

Graham Watkins, Baptist minister in West London, says that his commitment to peace transforms the way he responds to those on the margins.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Building Peace and Justice

Nelson Kraybill, former director of the London Mennonite Centre and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, reflects on a day conference with Muslim friends exploring peace and justice in Christianity and Islam.

Judith Gardner, member of Wood Green Mennonite Church, founder member of the Anabaptist Network and local councillor, talks about her involvement in setting up a conflict mediation group at the London Mennonite Centre and about involvement in politics for the sake of shalom.

Graham Watkins, Baptist minister in West London, argues for seeing shalom at the heart of the Bible and for understanding this as implying non-violent direct action rather than a passive stance.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Church after Christendom

Judith Gardner, member of Wood Green Mennonite Church, founder member of the Anabaptist Network and local councillor, notes that Christendom is waning and the church has lost power; the Anabaptist tradition offers insights from its experience of powerlessness.

Nigel Wright, Baptist minister and principal of Spurgeon’s College, London, and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, construes this loss of power as an opportunity for the church.

Alan Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, argues that in a society where Christianity is associated with being English and church membership is by birth, rather than rebirth, it is difficult to attract people to church. He explains that the Anabaptists pioneered a different understanding of church membership by choice and argues that it is advantageous for the church to be powerless and to rely on the strength of Jesus.

Adrian Chatfield, Anglican minister and tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, says that the separation experienced by persecuted Anabaptists sharpened their sense of having an identity and citizenship rooted in Jesus rather than their culture. He recognises that some churches, especially stale and non-missional churches, are declining but sees signs of hope in growing churches and people coming to faith.

Nelson Kraybill, former director of the London Mennonite Centre and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, agrees that most people in England are not Christian and suggests Anabaptism is a repressed memory for the churches, pioneering a different way of being Christian.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Church and Power

Nigel Wright, Baptist minister and principal of Spurgeon’s College, London, and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, interprets Anabaptism as seizing an opportunity to do church differently, avoiding hierarchical pitfalls and emphasising participation and service.

Adrian Chatfield, Anglican minister and tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, expresses concern at the power-mongering and exercise of control in churches and wants to recover the scandal of the cross as he trains Christian leaders. He regards Anabaptism as a model in their imitation of Christ and glad acceptance of suffering.

Wally Fahrer, former Mennonite pastor and now a counsellor, comments on the way in which, forced to meet outside holy buildings, the early Anabaptists discovered a new way of being church with an emphasis on community.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Community

Brian Haymes, Baptist minister and former principal of two Baptist colleges, expresses his appreciation of ethical reflection done in the Anabaptist tradition and notes that contemporary culture has proximity without community.

Phil Wood, member of the Anabaptist Network, reflects on a culture of affluence and apathy, and talks about his work offering accommodation in homes to homeless people as an expression of hospitality, and about his involvement in an Anabaptist community in Leeds.

Alan Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, describes an individualistic and competitive culture, addicted to privacy.

Philip Astwood, member of Mexborough Wesleyan Reformed Church, talks about his business and its role within his family and community.

Anne Wilkinson-Hayes, Baptist minister currently working in Australia, enthuses about churches that are small enough to work creatively with the surrounding community and willing to live out radically alternative values.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Discipleship

Adrian Chatfield, Anglican minister and tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, explores the Anabaptist understanding of faith and discipleship.

Graham Watkins, Baptist minister in West London, reflects on the iconic Anabaptist story of Dirk Willems and wonders why we find it hard to follow Jesus when faced with less costly decisions.

Noel Moules, founder member of the Anabaptist Network and Director of Workshop, examines the life of Jesus and insists that his life and teaching is crucial for discipleship.

Alan Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, suggests that openness to the Holy Spirit is essential if we are to follow Jesus in offering good news to a society accustomed to old news.

Anne Wilkinson-Hayes, Baptist minister currently working in Australia, recognises that people with busy lives face a real struggle to reorient their lives in discipleship, but insists that community lifestyle is increasingly important in a society that wants to know if the Christian faith works in practice.

Eleanor Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, reflects on people’s individualistic evaluation of corporate worship and argues that worship should shape our lives as disciples and communities. She says that this is a distinctive Anabaptist perspective on worship.

John Woffenden, member of Mexborough Wesleyan Reformed Church, talks about the place of admonishment, dealing with conflict and mutual discipleship in church life.

Philip Astwood, member of Mexborough Wesleyan Reformed Church, reflects on his experience of discipling a younger leader.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: First Anabaptist Church in England

Alan Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, tells the story of Anabaptist refugees who came to England in 1575 and were ill-treated by the English authorities, who felt threatened by their pioneering understanding of a church free from state control.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Mission

Wally Fahrer, former Mennonite pastor and now a counsellor, notes that Catholics and Protestants alike in the 16th century assumed Europe was Christian.

Stuart Murray Williams, founder member and chair of the Anabaptist Network and director of Urban Expression, explains that the Anabaptists dissented from this widely held view and said that Europe was not Christian. He talks about the evangelistic stance and priorities of the church he planted in East London and argues that post-Christendom requires a new perspective on evangelism. This will mean a ‘journey’ paradigm and a longer process of conversion.

Adrian Chatfield, Anglican minister and tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, explains that Anabaptists did not have a worked-out theology of mission but were so in love with Jesus that they could not help talking about him.

Nelson Kraybill, former director of the London Mennonite Centre and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, reflects on the churches in England finds most hopeful those churches that evangelise as well as living good lives.

Alan Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, acknowledges why many people reject Christianity as passé and argues that words must be backed up by fascinating and attractive models of community.

Anne Wilkinson-Hayes, Baptist minister currently working in Australia, insists that in a culture of many alternative spiritualities, Christian spirituality must be experienced as fruitful and must be linked with peaceful and just daily living.

Graham Watkins, Baptist minister in West London, remembers the impact of distinctive lives on his own conversion.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Reading the Bible

Stuart Murray Williams, founder member and chair of the Anabaptist Network and director of Urban Expression, talks about the ways in which the early Anabaptists read and interpreted the Bible and why they disagreed with the Reformers on interpretation. He notes their Christocentrism, the way in which they welcomed the involvement but precluded the domination of scholars, their emphasis on application and their trust in ordinary Christians as biblical interpreters. He also recognises some weaknesses in their approach.

Pippa, a member of the Anabaptist Network, concludes that the Anabaptist approaches to the Bible have considerable contemporary significance across different traditions.

Graham Watkins, Baptist minister in West London, reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of charismatic and Anabaptist approaches to Scripture.

Eleanor Kreider, former Mennonite missionary in England and founder member of the Anabaptist Network, explores Balthasar Humbaier’s ‘Pledge of Love’ and communion liturgy – a radical reworking of the Catholic Mass.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Shalom and the End of Christendom

Wally Fahrer, former Mennonite pastor and now a counsellor, noting that Christendom has come to an end and with it coercive forms of mission, says that Anabaptism sowed the seeds of a believers’ church understanding of church.

Noel Moules, founder member of the Anabaptist Network and Director of Workshop, talks about the revolutionary impact of his discovery of shalom at the heart of Scripture and argues that non-violence was central to the message of Jesus.

Rediscovering Anabaptism: Urban Church Planting


Stuart Murray Williams, founder member and chair of the Anabaptist Network and director of Urban Expression, dreams of new urban churches with Anabaptist values and explores models of creative church planting and evangelism. These ideas have begun to be worked out through the ministry of Urban Expression.

Rediscovering Anabaptism Discussion guide

Session One

View the Introduction segment of the video, and mark on a flip chart (or large paper) the key ideas as they arise. Pause the video at the end of the Introduction to look at the key ideas and ask which of these reverberate with experience in your group.

Read the following sentences to the group before carrying on with the video:

Anabaptists spoke of following Jesus both in practical and in ecstatic ways. Just as in Jesus’ life, their life should have consistency between words, prayers, and deeds. Listening to Jesus, following in his steps – that was the simplicity of their calling. But it was a costly way.

Ask the group, as they see the next segment of the video, to listen for characteristics of Christian discipleship which Anabaptists emphasized.

Play the segment on Discipleship.

List the characteristics of Christian discipleship on a flip chart. (Ideas may include imitation of Christ; uncompromising terms of obedience; love of enemy; a belief that it is attainable and possible to follow the example of Christ; a desire to be wholly open to the Spirit; genuine good news; a desire to change; an emphasis on the corporate character of the church; a commitment to be answerable to one another; a belief that lifestyle not just ideas; an understanding that Christian discipleship is not easy, but it is our calling)

Discuss: If Jesus was divine, can we possibly live like he did? Are we supposed to try to live like Jesus? What does the New Testament say about this?

Read the following sentences to the group before carrying on with the video:

Sixteenth-century Anabaptists learned the hard way what it meant to be a small and powerless minority at a time when the church in Europe provided the ideology which undergirded the whole of society. Anabaptists believed that Christian identity came not through being born into a given nation or culture, but through being reborn in a faith commitment to Jesus Christ. Almost five hundred years later, European Christians, as a whole, need to learn this lesson as well.

Play the segment on Living in a Post-Christian Society.

Discuss: Are these ideas from the video helpful for Christians in the UK today?

As a group, argue for and against the following propositions:

• Our society is Christian.
• Christians do not need positions of power in society in order to make an impact. We can do our best things for society from positions of vulnerability or weakness, and by a distinctively Christian lifestyle.
• Christians’ first proper identity is within the transnational church. Being ‘Welsh Christians’ or ‘English Christians’ is not relevant.
• If the urban poor resist the Gospel, something is wrong with the message being offered.

Session Two

Read the following sentences to the group before starting the video:

All the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century agreed on a return to the Bible as the primary source for faith and life. They looked at similar issues but the Anabaptists came up with some distinctive perspectives.

Play the segment on The Bible.

Ask for responses to the segment. You then might discuss one or more of the four main ideas in this section. Write on a flip chart one word or phrase for each point:

1. All Bible interpretations must square with Jesus. Jesus is the key for understanding all of Scripture.
2. The Holy Spirit works to bring Scripture alive not only for specialist scholars, but for all Christian believers. A Bible scholar should serve as a resource, not as an independent arbiter.
3. The Bible is the church’s book. It should be read corporately as a guide and inspiration for communal life.
4. The Bible helps the church to interpret life, and to find the way to obedient discipleship.

Read the following sentences to the group before carrying on with the video:

Most people in our society live ‘in proximity, not community.’ For Anabaptists in the sixteenth century, mutual support and common life were essential for survival. Today many people are searching for practical forms of community, and often feel that these will be crucial to survival in the twenty-first-century western world.

Ask people to listen for points that answer the following two questions as they see the next segment of the video:

1. What makes community difficult to achieve?
2. What are steps toward Christian expressions of community?

Play the segment on The Church as Community.

Write responses to the questions on a flipchart. These may include:

What makes community difficult to achieve? Affluence, privacy, apathy, fragmentation of life, competitiveness, and greed.
What are steps toward Christian expressions of community? Simplicity and vulnerability in lifestyle. People desiring to live, corporately, in alternative ways to our individualistic society. The depth and quality of Christian relationships which can make a unique and tangible effect on a local area.

Read the following sentences to the group before carrying on with the video:

Anabaptists in the sixteenth century deplored how a hierarchy controlled the church. They longed for a way of being church which could avoid the pitfalls of power-wielding leadership. Compelled to meet in forests, caves, and barns, their forms of worship and decision-making gave responsibility and value to all participants. They understood that the church requires full participation and is the basis for service to the world

Play the segment on What or Who is the Church?

Discuss:

1. How can our ways of worship enable full participation?
2. How can we find new forms of Christian presence, less encumbered by our buildings, structures, or habits of thought?
3. How can our churches put into practice this definition: ‘The church is a community of people committed to following Christ in everyday life’?

Session Three

Read the following sentences to the group before starting the video:

In sixteenth-century European Christendom, faith was assumed, required, or compelled. Anabaptists, in contrast, shared with simplicity and courage their vision of church as a voluntary community of Jesus’ disciples. They loved Jesus, and they couldn’t help but evangelise, even though it might cost their very lives. Because of their focus on Jesus, their mission held together the themes of peace, community, and discipleship.

Play the segment on Doing Mission

Discuss: Can we imagine a church…

…that Jesus might want to join?
…which has not ‘olds’ to share, but ‘news’ having to do with peaceful and just lifestyle?
…which practices disciplined listening and extends genuine friendship to ordinary people?
…which develops simpler forms of meeting and serving the larger community around it?
…which models its life on a journey, not a fortress?

Read the following sentences to the group before carrying on with the video:

The Anabaptist tradition puts shalom at the heart of the Christian faith. Peace was the central message in Jesus’ ministry, in the cross, and in resurrection. Jesus integrated God’s passion and provision for reconciling all of creation. Biblical shalom encompasses the Gospel.

Play the segment on Peace.

Discuss: What do you make of these statements by people on the video:

‘Shalom sums up everything that I believe as a Christian. Peace is simply the heart of the Bible.’
‘They called me mad. They said shalom is laughable. It’s sheer idealism.’
‘Shalom? It means commitment to bringing justice to people at the margins.’
‘The recurring pattern of always looking for “the next experience” needs to give way. I long to see Christian discipleship brought into the centre as a movement in the power of the Holy Spirit.’
‘Truth is in our relationship with our living Lord. We need to keep going back to Scripture. We need to keep asking, “What would Jesus be saying to us today?”’

Discuss: What practical ideas from this video do you want to integrate into your personal walk with Jesus? What ideas for how to be church can you carry into your congregation?