James McClendon’s work is so important, and I feel ignorant for only having read some of it years ago summarily. I think his idea of a ‘baptist vision’ is good for Anabaptists, as it puts us in touch with our brothers and sisters in similar traditions like the Baptists (capital B!) and the Churches of Christ.
Recently, I got a great email from James Airey who wrote the baptist vision blog with his wife Lindsay. Like the defunct Perth Anabaptist Fellowship, they were trying to live out (Ana)baptist theology in a house church context. They’ve written a series of discussions for small groups or house churches to use which introduce the baptist vision and ask what it might mean in people’s lives, including this great paragraph:
The best setting to read the Bible is in a small community that interprets and performs the story together in its own specific context of kingdom work, witness and worship. These diverse communities each believe that the risen Jesus is present with them [see Matthew 1:23; 18:20; 28:18-20]. This is the vital ‘link,’ what McClendon calls ‘this is that’—the Christ we know in worship is the very same Christ that lived, died and rose in the Story that we read in Scripture. Our community today is linked with this same Jesus and the original band of disciples back then! We find ourselves in a continuing narrative of an active living Lord who guides, convicts and comforts our community as we read together and make practical decisions for our unique life [this is called ‘discernment’…more on this key component of community later].
I hope people around the world can pick up these thirteen meeting plans and use them as a template for being one such small community.