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.