Session 5

The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to vulnerability and to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.

1. Reflect quietly on this conviction and then (if you can) share with one or two others your response to any of these questions:

  • How (if at all) does this differ from what you have known and believed before?
  • Who do you know who lives out this conviction and commitment?
  • How does this conviction inspire your imagination?
  • How does this conviction challenge or empower your faith?
  • How might this conviction impact the way you live?
  • 2. Read the article from Anabaptism Today that explores this conviction:

  • What questions does this article raise for you?
  • What aspects of the core conviction does it not address?
  • Are there elements of the article or the conviction with which you disagree?
  • Are there elements that you strongly affirm?
  • 3. Check whether there is any difference between the current version of this core conviction and the earlier version on which this article was based. If there is:

  • Why do you think a change was made?
  • Which version do you prefer?
  • Are there further changes you would propose?
  • 4. Which damages the church’s witness most – its association with status, with wealth or with the use of force?

    5. In what ways is the principle of ‘religious liberty’ different from a liberal secular doctrine of ‘toleration’?

    6. What does it mean to be committed to vulnerability in contemporary culture?

    7. Persecution is the experience of numerous Christians in other parts of the world, but rarely in the West. How do you interpret 2 Timothy 3:12: ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. What kind of discipleship might provoke persecution today?

    8. In what practical ways are you, or is your church ‘good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted’?

    9. What liturgical resources – songs, prayers, poetry, icons, rituals, etc. – do you know that might enable you or your church to express and celebrate this core conviction and renew this commitment?