Faith formation, worship and witness at MennoCon19

Clayton Gladish has served as one of the pastors of Hesston Mennonite Church for over five years. His passions include faith formation, biblical studies, and creating compassionate communities. He rarely turns down a good burger or the chance to play games with friends. He sometimes strives for perfection, but would rather have opportunities to learn and laugh with others along the way. Clayton is a member of the worship planning team for MennoCon19.

Convention has a special place in the memory of many in my church. Our congregation has a history of sending youth and adults to participate in the biennial gatherings. And though I only have a short history with MC USA, I am catching on to the convention excitement. We look forward to sending delegates, youth and sponsors to MennoCon19 in Kansas City next summer.

As part of the worship planning committee, I have enjoyed the opportunity to give input on the formational experiences that will take place during worship. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be energized by intergenerational experiences of worship. We spend far too much time in churches separating ourselves, so it makes sense to me that we would come together intentionally for worshiping our God together.

The experience of worshiping with one another has often been a highlight for the groups from Hesston Mennonite. Though we live in an area rich in Mennonite churches there’s something significant, especially for the youth, about coming together with other Mennonites from around the nation. “I feel like we’re not alone,” said one youth, “like we are bigger than just Kansas.”

I love that the experience at convention broadens our experience of the Mennonite-Christian faith. We might do things a little differently and believe some different things, but there is plenty that unites us.

The youth in my church are really much more excited to find things we have in common and celebrate those than to find things that divide us.

I find myself humbled by my experience with youth and young adults. They are interested in growing in their faith and trying new (though often ancient) faith formation practices. I’m excited that some of these will also be part of our communal worship experiences.

Worship is more than just singing, it’s every moment in the service that points us to God and allows us to express our allegiance to our God over all else, including our own preferences. I hope and pray that as we gather, we can leave our preferences at the door and come together for the purpose of worshiping God as a gathered community of Jesus’ followers from around the United States.

Part of our witness, as adult followers of Jesus, is to the young people among us. As many turn away from faith, they cite the fact that they cannot find the Jesus they encounter in the Bible in the church. I pray that this is not the case in our Mennonite churches and that, through our convention gatherings, youth and young people would be encouraged in our faith through seeing Jesus in those around them.