When death is a guide to new life!
Author: Martin Podobri
It was on October 10th 2010, when the leadership team of the Mennonite Church in Salzburg came together to dissolve the church. It was the lowest point in the 50-year history of the Mennonite conference in Austria.
The big question within the board of the Mennonite conference was: Does it make sense to keep the conference alive?
In January 2011 the five oldest Mennonite Churches met in a conclave. There they saw, that all churches are struggling with the same problems: there are conflicts in the church, it is difficult to find workers, it is difficult to appoint elders.
And so the question came up: how could a conference help to solve these problems? It was the beginning of a process, called ‘MFÖ new’ (=Mennonite Conference in Austria).
With the result of this conclave the board of the MFÖ started a process and they found 5 points where the conference should help the churches:
To create identity
‘Who are the Mennonites, what do they believe and where do they come from?’
The conference should help the churches to find their own identity and also the identity of the conference.
To support the offspring of the leadership
The oldest are often not able to support a second generation of the leadership. The conference should help to keep the next generation of leadership in their focus as well
To realize biblical leadership
If there are troubles in the leadership team or they are involved in the wrong things, who is there, to help them? In the New Testament the Apostles helped the churches to realize biblical leadership. Today the conference should help the leadership teams of the churches to realize biblical leadership.
To help the church to grow
The conference has many links to missionary organizations and to other conferences in other countries, so that they can bring in good ideas.
To plant new churches
For one church the mission to plant a new church is too big. But if all 5 Mennonite Churches help together, it is possible to realize it. So the conference should help here as well.
It is sad, that we have to close the church in Salzburg. But we have seen, that the death of the church in Salzburg has brought new life in the conference.