Church of the Brethren
Virlina District
3402 Plantation Road, NE
Roanoke, Virginia  24012
(800) 847-5462
(540) 362-1816
Virlina District

Church of the Brethren
Continuing the Work of Jesus.  Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.  Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.    

--John 21:1-6

Another Way OLiving

By: Noel S. Naff, Virlina District Board Chair and Pastor of the Mount Hermon Congregation


Brethren are known for Another Way of Living.  It’s a Church of the Brethren belief, inspired by John 21: When Jesus showed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius as they fished all day and night, he said:  Cast your nets on the other side or another way in order to catch fish.

When it seems like you cannot catch any fish, when it seems like church is lukewarm, when the grind of ministry seems pointless, when it seems like you are just waiting around, fish another way in the name of Jesus.    

We may not know it yet, but the world is waiting for another Anabaptist movement.  They have heard and seen the popular Christian movement along the years: the stern method of hellfire, the seeker sensitive, as well as the attractional and entertaining methods.  And there is much to commend these methods, but still something is missing and “church” remains one dimensional.  I believe the Brethren have the missing pieces.  Yet, most of the time it’s only on paper instead of us living it out. Therefore, we must cast the nets another way by first looking at our own salvation and bringing a fullness and relevance to it for the world to see. 

We can no longer afford to sell Jesus like a business model.  Consumerist Christianity, individualism, non-discipleship, and cheap grace will no longer do.  To be effective we need to make a fundamental shift in HOW we “do church.” Church can no longer be just about Sunday morning worship, because the bottom line is we must differentiate between being a consumer and a disciple. 

Our thoughts, perceptions and values, especially as they relate to our view of church, discipleship and salvation are a 33 RPM album in an mp3 world.  Yet, we still wonder why we have not caught any “fish.”

Brothers and Sisters, God is calling us to be set-apart.  HE is calling us to reclaim church, because reclaiming church is in our blood.  It is nothing new; that is how we began 500 years ago.  It’s not that we do not have knowledge of Christ or that we have been taught wrong.  We stand on the pillars of giants of those who came before us. Yet, just like many times in history, God’s people need an overhaul; because, well… we have become silent, comfortable and secure.  We need a reorientation of the mission of the church.   We need to reject, receive, and redeem culture so that we can turn the world upside down in Jesus’ name. 

To begin, I encourage you to pray about how GOD is moving your congregation.  Stop trying to be like most Protestants; be who GOD has called you to be!  Don’t think you are small and cannot do anything.  Jesus changed the world with 12 men.  Yet, we have to truly be another way of living.  OR you can say:  we are to AWOL ourselves from the individualist and consumerist model of modern day Christianity and truly be the relational church that is in our blood.  As Detrick Bonhoeffer said, Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”  We need to be about making disciples rather than converts who are only consumers. 

Join me in this conversation!  Let’s connect by phone, email, or Facebook.  It is time to become the communitas once again, use our resources and be the body of Christ for the kingdom of GOD.  May we begin in oneness and unity for such a time as this.