Nate Clemmer, Souderton
I know all of the written and unwritten rules of being a Mennonite. I know what to say and when to say it. I know when it is appropriate to clap in church and even when it is permissible to say “Amen” without causing the entire congregation to turn around.
I have an “acceptable Mennonite” last name. In fact I have Clemmer blood on both sides of my genetic makeup. Thanks to the financial sacrifices made by my parents I have been blessed to have been educated for seventeen years at Penn View Christian School, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, and Eastern Mennonite University. These three schools have been referred to as the “Triple Crown” of Mennonite education.
In short, I am like most of you. The rhythm of my song and the language of my story should sound strikingly familiar. However, I am finding all too often that these things are where the similarities end.
During many of the formative years of my life I placed a stronger emphasis on being a “Good Mennonite” then I did on being a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. I appreciate the tradition of the Franconia Conference and enjoy the comfort that comes from knowing I am among friends. But I am learning that comfort can be controlling. I find myself in a constant battle between playing it safe and stepping out in faith, wrestling with the tension between who I am and who I should be, how it is and how it could be.
I am discovering that for many of us church has become a place we come to reconnect with friends and be fed. It has become more about what we can get as opposed to what we can give back. Stewardship has become something that we teach as opposed to an outflow of gratitude that we feel. Outreach and evangelism has become something we leave to the experts. The kingdom of heaven has become a place we seek to go when our time on earth is done as opposed to living out our existence in a manner that strives to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. As a result, I feel that Jesus Christ is being lost in a religion bearing his name.
Please allow me to be clear in saying that if there is any blame to be assigned it should be directed at me, because I am the biggest part of the problem. I have been blessed with the opportunity and ability to influence change and make a difference, but for the majority of my life I have chosen to sit on the sidelines and play it safe. Why rock the boat when you know how to play the game and can play it well. Let me also be clear in saying that I can no longer rationalize with that still small voice and with great fear and trepidation I am attempting to step into the skin I was created to fill.
This is my story and this is my song, but I am convinced that I am not alone. My desire is to use the platform of Delaware Valley MEDA to galvanize those who share a similar passion to see the church restored to the original vehicle Jesus intended it to be. Over the course of the next year our dinner programs will spotlight individuals in the business and professional arena who are battling against the tension of the world and seeking to utilize their God-given talents for the glory of the kingdom. Our hope is that the stories of others will serve to fuel the fire to dig deeper within ourselves.
by Nate Clemmer