At MennoMedia, we are in the midst of an update and relaunch of Third Way. This website is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, helping the general public understand what following Jesus as Mennonite or Anabaptist Christians is all about.
A couple weeks ago we identified the new tagline chosen for the updated website, “Simply following Jesus.” While we looked at and tested and played with a number of phrases, this one seemed to say it all in a way appropriate for the website.
New tagline and logo look for Third Way website.
The new site will focus on six key values, in addition to a general section on Mennonites:
There’s still a lot of work to do, but I wanted to use this blog to solicit your help and ideas for one new section focusing on community or the communal aspect of our faith, even though Mennonites are not generally living in the same houses or a commune or closed-type community like, for instance, a Hutterite colony.
It’s “community” in a broad sense like spiritual connectedness, but it also includes flesh and blood connectedness—the ties we experience as we get to know, love, work, and fellowship with others trying to follow Jesus in all aspects of our lives. The early disciples certainly formed a community; the early Christians lived together and had “all things” in common, including the purse; and the Reformation-era Anabaptists were a further-flung community over several countries at the time, bound together by common beliefs and suffering.
Over the years of hosting Third Way, we found persons deeply longing for and needing the kind of community they hear exists among some Mennonite and Anabaptist faith communities. One frequent complaint and question at Third Way has been: “There is no Mennonite church anywhere near me, so how can I find that kind of community?” The underlying question with that is “Can’t you please help start more churches in outlying areas?” We have frequently referred such pleas to regional Mennonite conference bodies for their awareness, prayer, and possible action—church plants or exploration. But people are longing for cross-generational community.
I have heard people say “I wish my church was like that” when it comes to offering support, especially in times of serious illness, grieving, and even tough decision making. I have heard people speak of visiting their own loved one in a hospital and observing others who had no one visiting, or they accompanied a family member for cancer treatments, and saw that others had no one accompanying them. It’s the barn-raising spirit in urban or suburban form.
Just today over at Practicing Parents blog, Lee Hull Moses writes about helping to raise other people’s kids: “We’re all in this together. That’s why we take meals to new parents and offer to babysit. It’s why we share hand-me-downs and advice. But it’s also why we volunteer in schools and read books to kids who are not our own. It’s why we advocate for laws that protect and provide for children. It’s why we support community programs that work to keep families out of poverty.”
These are some of the things we mean by community, and lots more. Who is living and writing about this kind of stuff in blogs, articles, or even church newsletter format? Where would you point us? Who might be willing to share their experiences and insights? (You have a supper club meeting once a month or more? That’s community! How does it work, keep going? You have a small group that is your community? Who is doing a good job of expressing those kinds of connections? You have a service group or mission activity that has built relationships and connections across cultures or neighborhoods? That’s community.)
I hope to hear from you with recommendations, links, names of blogs, writers, pastors who are all about community. Go!
And thanks for your leads. That’s community.
How do you define community? What makes community work for you?
To know more about the work that MennoMedia is doing to update and relaunch the Third Way website, click here and here. And sign up here for the MennoMedia Links newsletter to be among the first to know about new products like this.
Comment here or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of us here at MennoMedia.
If you want to support the outreach word of MennoMedia through Third Way website, here’s a way to do so online. Bless you!