Reaching Beyond the Mennonite Comfort Zone
Exploring from the Inside Out
Foreword by John D. Roth
Summary: Here is a resource for Mennonites who wish to reach “beyond the Mennonite comfort zone.” The Mennonite church is undergoing historic transitions: New denominational structures, a new vision, a new focus, and a new spirit of mission-mindedness—or as Mennonites now put it, being missional. These exciting changes require rethinking of relationships with each other and with people beyond Mennonite congregations, as Mennonites seek to fulfill the great commission of linking the message of the gospel with needs of surrounding communities.
Comment: “In ten short, easy-to-read chapters, Will Schirmer holds a mirror up to Mennonite congregations. With a loving spirit, he helps us see how some of our cherished traditions and unexamined assumptions create barriers for persons who wish to become part of us. Good grist for group discussion.”
—Sue C. Steiner, Lead Minister, Waterloo (Ont.) North Mennonite Church
“Will Schirmer holds a mirror before Mennonites and the results are not too flattering. As an ‘outsider’ he probes things we too often take for granted or choose to ignore. Graciously he suggests ways we can improve our ‘image’ and become more hospitable to those who have no history with Mennonites. To those intent on being missional and are not afraid to look in the mirror, Schirmer provides helpful perspective and counsel.”
—James M. Lapp, Conference Pastor, Franconia Mennonite Conference
“This book is about bridge-building from Mennonite quietness to the turbulent world. Will Shirmer qualifies as a bridge builder, since he has experienced life in both worlds.”
—Claude Good, Franconia Mennonite Conference Mission Entrepreneur
“Some readers of this book who grew up in a Mennonite family may find this book somewhat controversial at points, but we trust that God will use it to work toward greater health and growth and openness. For MRN Ministry Resources, the purpose of this book is to start necessary discussion, to set the table for conversation that can lead to honest communication, removal of walls, new growth—in a word: health. And the reality is, healthy churches grow.”
—Phil Bergey, Executive Director, MRN Ministry Resources, in the MRN Preface
“In times past I’ve wondered: What would I do if anything were to happen to my husband Craig? Would I return to New York where I was raised? Would I still feel like I could be part of the Mennonite church? Is it really my home too? But it is very clear that the Mennonite church is my home and that my welcome is not based on my marriage to “one of your own.” Thanks to all who helped make the room for me that Will Schirmer is inviting us to keep making for others. Let’s keep making room.
—Tana Pelkey-Landes, Director of Operations, MRN Ministry Resources, in the MRN Preface
Market: Church leaders, pastors, congregational study groups; anyone interested in exploring how visitors are received in a Mennonite church, how new members are (or aren’t) assimilated, and how both long-term and recent Mennonites approach the many aspects of church life.