Church Planting: An Anabaptist Perspective

Stuart Murray Williams

Introduction

The invitation to write an article about church planting from an Anabaptist perspective arrived only three weeks before a consultation, hosted by the Anabaptist Mennonite Network, in February 2020 to consider whether we should commit to planting new Anabaptist churches in the United Kingdom. Although we have had conversations about this in the past, we felt the time was right to explore this question in greater depth with a larger group of people. In part, this was because the merger of the Mennonite Trust and the Anabaptist Network to form this new network[1] seemed an appropriate time to review our history and clarify our future priorities.

When North American Mennonite mission workers came to the UK after the Second World War, they took a policy decision not to plant Mennonite churches but to offer insights from the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition to Christians in other traditions. The London Mennonite Centre welcomed Christians from many traditions and operated ecumenically. Subsequent Mennonite mission workers reaffirmed this commitment. Despite this, the London Mennonite Fellowship emerged as a worshipping community based at the LMC. But there was no attempt to replicate this. Some years later, the church moved out of the Centre and became Wood Green Mennonite Church. After many years of struggle, the congregation closed a few years ago, although some links between former members continue.

The Anabaptist Network, formed in 1991, adopted the same policy, choosing to focus on providing resources and support for Christians from many traditions who were inspired by the Anabaptist vision. Discussions over the years about whether to change this policy have not been conclusive, with arguments for and against. But we are currently experiencing an upsurge of interest and have received a number of requests for information about ‘the nearest Anabaptist church’. How do we respond? We can direct some enquirers to nearby churches that have been influenced by Anabaptism, but most draw on various traditions and would not regard themselves as unreservedly Anabaptist.

There is one Mennonite church in Britain – a largely Portuguese-speaking congregation on the south coast, planted by Brazilian students over a decade ago. There are several small and mostly Zimbabwean Brethren in Christ congregations which draw on Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Evangelical, and pietist traditions. There are two large and one small Bruderhof communities in the south of England, which are explicitly Anabaptist.[2] But that is about all. Is this enough? For the past nearly thirty years the Anabaptist presence in Britain has been mediated mainly through the Anabaptist Network, a dispersed network of individuals, meeting occasionally in conferences or small study groups, cooperating in various organisations and initiatives. But the Anabaptist vision is a strongly community-focused tradition – is a dispersed community an adequate embodiment of this? We have invented the term ‘hyphenated Anabaptist’ as a way of describing churches that belong to other traditions but have discovered Anabaptism and have attempted to integrate Anabaptist principles and practices into their life together. But are churches that embrace some Anabaptist values and practices alongside those of other traditions sufficient?

The February 2020 consultation is an opportunity to reflect on these questions. Should we continue to concentrate on providing resources, connections and support for any individuals or churches interested in Anabaptism? Should we be more intentional about helping churches transition into more wholeheartedly Anabaptist communities? Some of those involved in the consultation are asking for this. Should we plant explicitly Anabaptist churches? Some at the consultation will be advocating this. As I am writing this before the consultation takes place, I do not know what the outcomes will be, but I am glad we are talking about this again. The practice of church planting, after all, is deeply rooted in the Anabaptist tradition.

Anabaptism: a church planting movement

One of the practices which distinguished sixteenth-century Anabaptists from the Protestant Reformers – and which infuriated the Reformers – was church planting. While the Reformers concentrated on reforming existing churches, converting Catholic parishes into Protestant parishes, in which the gospel was (according to their convictions) properly preached and the sacraments properly administered, the Anabaptists became convinced that such reform was inadequate and that it was crucial to establish new churches. These new churches would be free from state control, entered on the basis of believers’ baptism, communities in which there was a commitment to discipleship and openness to church discipline, multi-voiced congregations that were not dominated by priests or pastors, communities that shared their resources freely and renounced all forms of violence.

There were a couple of abortive early attempts to convert parish churches into Anabaptist congregations, under the leadership of Balthasar Hubmaier, first in Waldshut and then in Nicolsburg. But these did not survive for long and thereafter Anabaptists abandoned this approach. Instead, they planted hundreds of new churches in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Most were relatively small, and opposition meant that they mostly met in secret and only occasionally had freedom to meet more openly or in larger numbers. They were not uniform and correspondence between these churches reveals significantly different practices and convictions. Relationships between these churches varied from great warmth to sharp disagreement and mutual excommunication. Some were charismatic, stirred by visions, and enjoying exuberant worship. Some were more sober, devoted to Bible reading, prayer, and ethical reflection. Those who fled to Moravia to escape persecution formed communities that shared a common purse (perhaps initially as a counsel of necessity on the journey there but then as a practice they believed was biblically mandated) and supported missionaries who travelled all over Europe planting new churches. However, there were core convictions and practices in these congregations that differentiated them from the state churches and justified the authorities’ conclusion that this was a coherent – and very troubling – movement.

Church planting in the sixteenth century was costly. The expectation of suffering ran through the movement and was presented in the writings of their leaders as a sign that they were the true church (just as the persecuting practices of the Catholics and Protestants indicated that they were not). Those who planted and led these churches were especially vulnerable, subject to arrest, imprisonment, loss of property, torture, and execution. But the missionary zeal of the first-generation Anabaptists, and their conviction that restitution, rather than reformation, was needed if the church was to recapture authentic New Testament ecclesiology, ensured that this practice was at the heart of the movement for many years.

In common with many other renewal movements, the passion of the first generation gradually gave way to efforts to consolidate the movement. The missionary zeal abated (although there were exceptions) and their attention was increasingly focused on pastoral care, doctrinal and ecclesial conformity, and survival in a hostile environment. The apostolic and evangelistic leadership of the early years was succeeded by the ministry of bishops, pastors, and teachers. Flight to escape persecution, underground existence to avoid notice, and agreements with the authorities to refrain from evangelising in return for toleration all sapped the strength of the movement and precluded further church planting in the regions in which Anabaptism first emerged.

As Anabaptist communities moved further east when their places of refuge became unsafe, and eventually to North America to find somewhere to practise their faith without fear of persecution, churches were planted to serve these communities. Few of these, however, were missional in intent or effective in reaching out to others. Only in more recent decades has the practice of church planting become more intentional and more missional, initially elsewhere in the world, and then in North America and Europe as it became clear that church planting and evangelism was necessary in these regions as the realities of post-Christendom became apparent. Anabaptist mission agencies have not always engaged in church planting, choosing to focus on other aspects of mission and wary of cultural imposition. As noted above, this was the stance of Mennonite mission workers in Britain. But enough church planting has taken place to ensure that the Anabaptist community is now global with strength in areas with little or no historic Anabaptist presence.  

Church planting today

Nearly five centuries on from the birth of the Anabaptist movement, church planting is much less costly than it was in the sixteenth century, although this practice is still controversial and still infuriates some denominational leaders, who regard it as an unhelpful dilution of limited resources, a hindrance to ecumenical relationships, or an opportunity for empire building and sectarianism. Do we really need more churches in societies where the parish system is still operative and there are churches within reach of everyone? But these are now minority voices in a context where most denominations have endorsed church planting as a significant aspect of mission in a post-Christendom society. The parish system is under enormous strain and in practice there are many communities without easy access to any church, even if there is any desire to attend such churches.

Recognising that more churches and different kinds of churches are needed in contemporary culture, across western societies numerous church planting strategies are being implemented at national, regional and local levels. Training courses have been developed; coaching and mentoring processes have been established; significant funding has been provided; there is an expanding literature; the distinctive ministry of pioneers, evangelists, and church planters has been validated alongside that of pastors and teachers; and church planting is recognised as a component in the missional vocation of the church in western societies.[3] All over western culture new churches are being planted. Not all thrive or even survive – church planting is risky – and not enough are yet being planted to offset church closures in most places, but the practice of church planting is now well established and widely endorsed.

These developments are indications that the Christendom era is gradually giving way to post-Christendom. The Christendom era was dominated by pastors and teachers, with no apparent need for evangelists or church planters. It was assumed that there were enough churches and that the parish system ensured access for all. The relationship between gospel and culture had been negotiated centuries before and ecclesial practices were subject to only minor variations. No wonder the temerity of the early Anabaptists, who rejected the Christendom synthesis as flawed and deeply damaging to the integrity of the Christian faith, questioned the relationship between gospel and culture, and planted new churches that ignored parish boundaries, was so unwelcome to the upholders of the sacral society that was Christendom. And no wonder that church planting is now firmly back on the agenda. Church planting comes into its own when questions of gospel and culture are back on the table, in times of cultural transition, and when the church rediscovers its missional vocation.

In recent years there has also been increasing creativity as thousands of churches have been planted with features that distinguish them from older churches in the hope of engaging with a wider range of people in a complex and changing culture. The terms ‘emerging church’, ‘new ways of being church’, and ‘fresh expressions of church’ have highlighted these developments. Although the impact and sustainability of these experimental initiatives has been mixed, they are important reminders that church planting is not about simply replicating existing forms of church but about ecclesial and missional creativity in an evolving and diverse culture. Church planting offers opportunities for fresh reflection on the relationship between the gospel and the surrounding culture (or subcultures) and ongoing ecclesial renewal for the sake of missional effectiveness. As one of the early handbooks of church planting in Britain insisted: ‘Creative church planting that discovers new ways of being the Body of Christ in a changing world will help keep the sinews of our denominations supple and more able to respond sensitively and vigorously to the as yet unforeseen challenges of tomorrow’s world…New churches, and the fresh theological insights that they generate, counter the tendency to ecclesiological ossification that turns structures into strictures.’[4]

Although church planters draw on various traditions for resources, a surprising number have found inspiration and guidance in the Anabaptist tradition, despite the contextual differences between the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries. This is especially the case in relation to the more creative and experimental forms of church planting. Few are explicitly Anabaptist or choose to use this terminology, but many welcome insights from the Anabaptist tradition once they encounter these. The case study at the end of this article indicates some of the connections between the Anabaptist vision and the priorities and practices of a contemporary church planting agency. Mainstream denominations have also welcomed some Anabaptist perspectives on these developments, as evidenced by comments in the hugely influential Anglican Mission-Shaped Church report identified as coming from an Anabaptist source and the commissioning of an explicitly Anabaptist critique of the emerging church scene by the ecumenical body, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.[5]  

Contemporary church planting is unusually ecumenical and co-operative (when compared to most previous church planting initiatives). Through congresses, citywide consultations, and local networking, attempts are made to work together. Though sectarian and competitive elements are present, these are not prominent. Discussion concentrates on the number and location of new churches needed, methods of accomplishing this goal, and practical concerns about finance, personnel, leadership, and accountability. But little is said about the kinds of churches that will be planted beyond generic phrases such as ‘living, growing, Christ-centred congregations.’

There are very positive features of this ecumenical spirit among church planters. If the goal is to see as many churches planted in as short a time as possible, co-operation is essential and detailed discussion about the kinds of churches to be planted may hinder this. And there may be other benefits. We should not underestimate the impact of the church planting movement on the development of a grass-roots ecumenicity that promises to achieve more practical progress towards the unity of the church than decades of denominational consultations. But, if church planting is not just about numbers, if it raises vital questions about the kinds of churches needed for the post-Christendom and post-modern cultures of the third millennium, if it invites creative thinking about the priorities of the church and the structures needed to facilitate these, then perhaps the lack of discussion about the kinds of churches being planted is too high a price a pay for this co-operation. The pressure to plant many churches quickly, and the concern not to risk co-operation by asking too many questions about the kinds of churches being planted, have hindered the church planting movement from generating many theological insights. Most new churches are still very similar to existing churches. There has been some creativity, but often this is limited to evangelistic methods and styles of worship, rather than engaging with deeper questions about the nature and purpose of the church. Such experimentation is rarely energised by theological debate and discovery.

Contemporary Anabaptist perspectives on church planting

Is it possible to ask questions about the kinds of churches being planted without jeopardising the unity and co-operation that has characterised recent church planting initiatives? Might those who trace their spiritual roots to the Anabaptist church planting movement of nearly five centuries ago have some contributions to make on these issues? Is there an Anabaptist way of planting churches? Are there Anabaptist values that can help us discriminate among the many church planting strategies currently on offer?

Church planting sits at the intersection of missiology and ecclesiology, and it may be that it is on ecclesial issues that the Anabaptist tradition can make some contributions to contemporary church planting. In the sixteenth century, the Anabaptists insisted that reformation was not just about theology, but included issues of ecclesiology. Today, Anabaptists might encourage church planters in all denominations to remember that church planting is not just about more churches. It is about the renewal of the church and the development of expressions of church that are biblically rooted and contextually appropriate. Careful and ongoing reflection on the cultural contexts within which new churches are being planted and deep engagement with biblical teaching takes time and may result in fewer churches being planted. But those that are planted will have more secure foundations and greater potential for sustainable witness.

By way of illustration, here are a few questions that I as a British church planting strategist suggest the Anabaptist tradition might pose for contemporary church planters:

  • What understanding of the nature and purpose of the church undergirds our church planting strategy and expectations? If church planting is not an end in itself, what are these new churches for and how will that shape them? Will the focus of this new church be on the church or the kingdom of God? How will a church-centred mentality be averted?
  • What principles and practices will we build into the new church in relation to leadership, accountability, mutual support, and church discipline? It was on these issues that the early Anabaptists parted company with their contemporaries, convinced that these were as vital to healthy churches and proper preaching and administration of the sacraments. How will the new church handle conflict and develop processes for reconciliation?
  • How will the church balance the missional imperative of being culturally attuned within its context with the need also to be counter-cultural, challenging norms and expectations?
  • What practices will we introduce to build and nurture community? Will we move beyond institutional notions of ‘membership’ and insipid expressions of ‘fellowship’ to genuine friendships? What role will hospitality and the sharing of meals play in this?
  • Through whom will we expect the Holy Spirit to speak and direct the church? Many new churches are unhelpfully dependent on the church planter. Early Anabaptists rejected this kind of mono-voiced leadership and advocated the formation of communities in which it was expected that God might speak through any and all of the members.
  • With what hermeneutic will the church engage with the Scriptures? Is this an opportunity to embrace a thoroughly Christocentric approach in which the life and teachings of Jesus are prioritised and taken seriously?
  • What expression of the gospel and what forms of evangelism are appropriate if we want to encourage radical discipleship rather than need-orientated congregations? Traditional and guilt-based gospel presentations too often fail to challenge or empower those who respond to live under the lordship of Christ and take seriously the teachings of Jesus. If the death and resurrection of Jesus is disconnected from his life and teaching, discipleship can also be disconnected from conversion experiences. Anabaptists have persistently challenged this ‘cheap grace’ approach.
  • What missional and ecclesial principles will undergird our practice of baptism and the Lord’s Supper? In order not to threaten ecumenical cooperation, differences of opinion on these matters are often minimised or excluded from consideration. And it may be true that infant baptism today does not have the same significance as it had in the sixteenth century. But church planting offers opportunities to recover what Anabaptists regard as the biblical practice of baptising believers. It may also provoke fresh thinking on the sharing of bread and wine – who can oversee this, who can participate, how does this strengthen the bonds between members as well as being a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and what are the advantages of restoring this to the context of a real meal?
  • How large and how quickly can the new church grow without jeopardising its community life? Is numerical church growth always a sign of health? It is arguable that some aspects of New Testament ecclesiology are difficult, or even impossible, to practise once a church exceeds a certain number. Others respond that large churches can counter this by dividing into many smaller communities for some purposes. In situations of relatively rapid growth, this may be an issue that church planters need to consider at an early stage.
  • Are there ways of planting churches that will make an impact in areas with the greatest social needs and lowest church membership? Much church planting in recent years has been in more affluent areas, exacerbating the existing imbalance between church life in these and poorer areas. Might the Anabaptist vision, rooted in a movement that flourished mainly among the poor and powerless, inspire church planters to prioritise communities with greater social challenges, even if this means new churches will grow less quickly and be less likely to be financially sustainable?
  • In what ways will a new church be ‘good news to the poor’? How might the challenging but liberating principles of Jubilee and koinonia be applied? Simply planting churches in poorer communities will not be helpful unless those involved recognise that the gospel has consequences in the areas of economics and social justice.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a church building and of planning towards this? Many church planters begin in homes or rented spaces, sometimes lauding the advantages of not owning a building. But over time the apparent advantages of having such a building encourage movement in this direction. Early Anabaptists had no buildings of their own, apart from homes, some of which were secretly adapted for church use. But as the movement matured, they began to build and own designated church buildings. Can church planters resist this and reflect carefully on whether this is helpful for ecclesial or missional reasons?
  • How might issues of peace and justice be built into the foundation of a new church rather than being tacked on at a later stage? Those aspects of the gospel emphasised in the early days of a new church tend to be those regarded as most important in the coming years. It is possible to challenge these priorities later, of course, but this can be contentious and may not always been successful. The early Anabaptists self-identified as a people of peace who had renounced violence in all its forms. Might contemporary church planters do the same? In a conflicted and violent world, might ‘peace churches’ be really good news?

So an Anabaptist contribution to the contemporary church planting movement might be to urge deeper reflection on the nature and ethos of the churches being planted. Anabaptist church planters might be encouraged to draw more explicitly on their own roots in order to establish churches that are as radical in contemporary society as the Anabaptist churches were in the sixteenth century. Church planters from other traditions might be challenged to consider Anabaptist perspectives on church and mission as they explore new ways of being church in a changing culture.

A case study: Urban Expression

In 1997 a new church planting agency was launched with a vocation to incarnate the gospel in poor urban communities in Britain. Those who founded it were concerned that most church planting was taking place in more affluent areas where there were already many churches. It currently has twenty-four teams in Britain, and a sister agency in The Netherlands has eleven teams.[6] Over the past two decades several new churches have been planted and other social enterprises and community initiatives have been developed.

Urban Expression has been widely recognised as an Anabaptist approach to church planting. This is no doubt partly because some are aware of the connections between Urban Expression and the Anabaptist Mennonite Network. Not all Urban Expression team members embrace an Anabaptist approach to faith and discipleship, although they are aware of the influence of this approach on the mission agency and open to insights from the Anabaptist tradition. But those who founded Urban Expression were inspired by the Anabaptist vision and involved in what was then the Anabaptist Network. Some trustees, steering group members, coordinators and team members draw gratefully on Anabaptist perspectives. The Crucible training course run by Urban Expression since 2004 is imbued with Anabaptist perspectives.[7] And some of the churches planted by Urban Expression teams have recognisably Anabaptist values and practices. But beyond these personal and organisational connections, there are aspects of the theology and practices of Urban Expression that reflect values and perspectives associated with the Anabaptist tradition.

Urban Expression team members come from various denominations and hold diverse views on theological, ethical and ecclesial issues, but they are united around three core values of relationship, creativity and humility. In the daily liturgy, ‘Praying Our Values’, which is used in personal prayer and when the teams gather, these core values are explored through prayers, readings and reflective exercises and are spelled out more fully. Several of these statements resonate strongly with the Anabaptist vision:

  • ‘We believe that the gospel works through relationships and that serving God consists largely in building life-giving relationships with others.’ The Anabaptist tradition is very strongly focused on relationships, hospitality and community. The early Anabaptists shared their faith mainly in their relationships with family, friends, neighbours, and work colleagues. Although there were strategic elements to the way they evangelised, much of their faith-sharing was organic and unorganised.
  • ‘We recognise that Christian faith is a journey and we are committed to helping people move forward, wherever they are at present.’ One of the terms that is found in many early Anabaptist writings is nachfolge, which can be translated as ‘following after’ Jesus. Discipleship in the Anabaptist tradition is not static but progressive. In his contribution to a series on Christian spirituality, C. Arnold Snyder’s volume on Anabaptist spirituality is entitled Following in the Footsteps of Christ.[8] Before they were called Christians the early followers of Jesus were called ‘Way’[9] and some of the Urban Expression teams prefer to be known as ‘followers of Jesus’, rather than using the term ‘Christian’ with its unhelpful cultural baggage, especially in the multi-ethnic neighbourhoods in which many are located.
  • ‘We focus on under-churched areas and neglected people, trying to find ways of communicating Jesus appropriately to those most frequently marginalised, condemned and abused by society.’ Early Anabaptism was largely a movement of the poor and the powerless, proclaiming a message that was deeply attractive to others from similar backgrounds. Some of the most influential Anabaptist leaders had been involved in the peasants’ movement that had so unsettled the authorities in the mid-1520s and brought their concerns for social justice into the Anabaptist movement. Although some descendants of that movement, especially in North America, have become wealthy and far from powerless, the Anabaptist tradition has continued to be empathetic towards the poor and the marginalised, and concerned for social justice.
  • ‘We see teamwork, networking and mutual accountability as vital, recognising that individuals and churches need each other.’ Mutual accountability has been one of the core principles of Anabaptist ecclesiology, based on the baptismal commitment to ‘fraternal admonition’ and worked out through the application of what Anabaptists called ‘the rule of Christ’ (Matthew 18:15-17). And in Anabaptist congregations the expectation that many voices would be heard and many gifts exercised resulted in a very different form of church than in the state churches.
  • ‘We recognise the importance of taking risks and the demands of mission in the inner city, and we believe that it is acceptable to fail.’ Being (re)baptised as a believer and identifying oneself as an Anabaptist in the sixteenth century was very risky and often involved suffering. Consequently, Anabaptists embraced an approach to faith that did not regard failure, very brief periods of ministry, and opposition as surprising.
  • ‘We believe in discouraging dependency and developing indigenous leadership within maturing churches that will have the capacity to sustain and reproduce themselves.’ The first generation of leaders in the sixteenth century were targeted by the authorities and many were arrested, exiled or executed very soon. The practice of the early Anabaptist communities was to recognise new leaders emerging from their own congregations, rather than relying on external resources or accreditation. As with many other renewal movements, this changed as the movement aged, but the practice continues in some (especially the more traditional) branches of the movement.
  • ‘We acknowledge our dependence on God and affirm our continual need of prayer and God’s empowering Spirit.’ Having little institutional, political or economic power, early Anabaptists emphasised strongly reliance on the grace and power of God, mediated by the Holy Spirit.
  • ‘We want to learn from others, seeking to shape what we do in light of the experiences, discoveries, successes and mistakes of fellow-workers.’ Anabaptist teachers regularly invited those who heard them to offer other insights and correct them. This was very unusual in the sixteenth century and is not something found in most traditions today.
  • ‘We realise the importance of living uncluttered lives, holding possessions lightly and recognising that all we have is to be at God’s disposal.’ Early Anabaptists were condemned by others for their attitude towards possessions, as they insisted these should be available to others in need. Some held all things in common; others were committed to mutual aid; but throughout the movement economics and spirituality were regarded as interconnected. Alongside nachfolge, the other distinctive aspect of Anabaptist discipleship was gelassenheit, an attitude of yieldedness that included the availability of one’s resources to others.

Flowing from these and other core values, Urban Expression team members embrace seven commitments, some of which are also recognisably Anabaptist:

  • ‘We are committed to following God on the margins and in the gaps, expecting to discover God at work among powerless people and in places of weakness.’ As noted above, Anabaptism was located primarily among the poor and powerless, and there was a conviction that this location enabled them to understand Scripture much more accurately than their well-fed and more powerful contemporaries.
  • ‘We are committed to being Jesus-centred in our view of the Bible, our understanding of mission and all aspects of discipleship.’ Christocentrism in all aspects of theology, biblical interpretation, and understandings of discipleship is an Anabaptist principle that is evident from the early years and continues to attract people to the Anabaptist vision. The life and teachings of Jesus are the hermeneutical key with which to unlock the rest of the Bible.
  • ‘We are committed to a vision of justice, peace and human flourishing for the city and all its inhabitants.’ Anabaptists, who comprise one of the so-called ‘historic peace church’ traditions, are committed to working for justice through peaceful means, to a  holistic understanding of mission, and an approach to human flourishing based on the vision of shalom.
  • ‘We are committed to uncluttered church, focused on mission, rooted in local culture and equipping all to develop and use their God-given gifts.’ The early Anabaptists pioneered a much simpler form of church than their contemporaries and insisted that all members of their congregations should use their spiritual gifts. All members were expected to be involved in mission in a society they did not believe was truly Christian.
  • ‘We are committed to unconditional service, holistic ministry, bold proclamation, prioritising the poor and being a voice for the voiceless.’ Anabaptists have frequently championed the cause of the poor and the powerless and have in many contexts been engaged in unconditional ministries of service. Too often over subsequent centuries, and for various reasons, Anabaptists have failed to engage in bold proclamation, but this could certainly not be said of the early Anabaptists.
  • ‘We are committed to respecting and building relationship with other faith communities and averse to all forms of manipulation or erosion of liberty.’ Although early Anabaptists had little contact with other faiths, they rejected the call to go to war against the Turks. They were pioneers of religious liberty and non-coercion in matters of faith.

[1] See https://amnetwork.uk/

[2] See https://www.bruderhof.com/

[3] Recent literature on church planting includes Stefan Paas: Church Planting in the Secular West: Learning from the European Experience (Eerdmans, 2016); Stuart Murray: Planting Churches: A Framework for Practitioners (Paternoster, 2008); Michael Moynagh: Church for Every Context: An Introduction to Theology and Practice (SCM Press, 2012); and Christopher James: Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil (Oxford University Press, 2018).

[4] Stuart Christine & Martin Robinson: Planting Tomorrow’s Churches Today (Oxford: Monarch, 1992), p54.

[5] Mission-shaped Church (London: Church House Publishing, 2004) and Stuart Murray: Changing Mission: learning from the newer churches (London: CTBI, 2006). An early resource on church planting written from an explicitly Anabaptist perspective was David Shenk and Ervin Stutzman: Creating Communities of the Kingdom (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1988).

[6] See www.urbanexpression.org.uk and www.urbanexpression.nl/.

[7] See www.cruciblecourse.org.uk.

[8] C. Arnold Snyder: Following in the Footsteps of Christ (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2004).

[9] See Acts 9:2; 19:9; 19:23.