From a discussion about the current direction of the Mennonite church...

Who gets to define what "Anabaptism" is? The religious historian? The current church leadership? The majority of official members? I think any of these could legitimately claim the right to define what is Anabaptist or Mennonite.

I think that is one of the major shortcomings of our human institutions (and their ideologies), among which "Anabaptism" and "Mennonite" clearly stand. People created these and defined these (and can redefine these if they want to), decide who's in or out, etc. This of course leads to endless controversies and rifts, as history shows, with people creating and re-creating their plethora of institutions continually. That's a fact of human life. But it should make clear to us that the church, the body of Christ, the kingdom of God (whatever you choose to call it), a singular and unique corporate reality which God alone creates and defines, is something quite different from our institutions.

Thanks for noting this: "I think [institutions] always tempt practitioners to focus on external goods like money and influence rather than being good ministers or teachers."

My suggestion (and my practice) is to avoid wasting any energy on the fight over the nature and direction of Anabaptism and focus instead on submitting to and demonstrating the reality of the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. The integrity of that kingdom is never in question and it cannot be altered by changing trends in theology or culture. Find other Christians, in whatever congregation they might be, and worship with them. Encourage and challenge them (and be encouraged and challenged by them), not to be real Anabaptists, but to be real followers of Jesus. See and be his one Body on earth. It's not an unachievable ideal, it's as real as Jesus is. And, unlike every institutional body, it doesn't die.

Leave the wrangling over human institutions to those who rely on those for their identity and security. As Jesus said, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."