We are not interested in Anabaptism as an end in itself, but as a lens through which to rediscover Jesus and his call to discipleship. Nor do we regard Anabaptism as a flawless tradition, or as complete in itself, but as a significant movement within European (and now global) church history, whose voice has been silent for too long. We believe the Anabaptist tradition offers crucial insights for churches now operating from the margins and facing the challenges and opportunities of witness in a post-Christendom culture. We believe it calls Christians back to the forgotten centrality of Jesus, and on to a more radical missionary engagement with contemporary society.
Participants in conferences and study groups, subscribers to Anabaptism Today and others involved in Network activities are drawn to Anabaptism for various reasons. Some are interested mainly in one aspect of the tradition (discipleship, community, peace, etc.). Others are intrigued by sixteenth-century Anabaptist history and want to know more about this movement. Many are searching for ways to renew their own churches and traditions. Some have “come home” to Anabaptism and now identify themselves primarily with this tradition.
Consequently, we have developed some core convictions but no “statement of faith” or set organisational procedures. The Anabaptist tradition has generally been wary of creeds and has encouraged ongoing dialogue rather than fixed positions. The Network has developed over the past decade through conversations over meals, discussions among friends old and new, sharing ideas and experiences. It operates not as a “bounded set” (where concern to define insiders and outsiders requires careful definition and maintenance of boundaries), but as a “centred set” (a more dynamic model, where relationships rather than rules define belonging, and where the focus is on living by and communicating core convictions).
Despite the informal nature of the Network, we recognise that every movement in which people care passionately about things encounters conflict. We choose to name this so that we are not taken by surprise when tensions develop. Convinced that peace is at the heart of the gospel, we are committed to dealing with the conflicts that inevitably will arise by seeking God’s way through them, not fearing conflict but facing it, recognising that conflict well handled can bond a group together.