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What We Can Learn From the Plain People

Let me reiterate my intention with this entire Holding Up Our Sign series:

We have had trouble finding a place where we feel comfortable. In many churches, there is a terrific theological alignment, but a disagreement over social and lifestyle issues. In other churches, we fit right in to the social norms, but there are doctrinal differences that we just can’t ignore.

I am attempting to present the ideas from a wide variety of denominations that we have encountered, which we found particularly valuable – or particularly troublesome. This will include any number of churches that we know we would never attend, and it not my intention to recommend them to you wholesale.

We’re piecing together the quilt of our Home Church belief system. You get a ringside seat for the process!

Meaning no disrespect to their differences, I am writing this post about traits that we have observed, and believe to be “the norm,” among a variety of Anabaptist churches, including the Amish, and the more traditional branches of the Mennonites, as well as others.

For some reason this does not seem to include the German Baptist Church, which would otherwise seem to be part and parcel of the same grouping.

To be sure, we do have some strong differences of opinion with these groups, which I will post about separately. Right now I want to tell you about some of the wonderful things that draw us to this community of believers.


As anyone who has seen me can easily guess, modesty is something important to me. Since I also wear a head covering, nothing in the manner of dress would prevent me from enjoying these churches.

Their rules are certainly more rigid than I believe is necessary, but certainly all of the women there are modest, and further they are easily identifiable as part of the community, and a witness to the wider world.

I think the rigidity is probably an acceptable trade-off, given the way the world – and the church! – is currently dressing.

Simple Living / Frugality

This doesn’t need a lot of explanation, right? At the extreme end they have no electricity, or cars… You know what I’m talking about?

While most of us using a computer probably agree that we don’t want that “simple” a life, it’s certainly instructive to see that there are people in the modern world living rich, full lives in that manner.

As we walk down this path towards being more self-sufficient, and taking little steps off the grid, I am thankful that there are such communities of people who have kept alive the skills we need to accomplish our goals, and have supported the ongoing manufacture of the “old-fashioned” tools to help.


Any other church’s definition of “community” is going to come up short when compared to theirs. Except – A HA! – the description of the New Testament church in Acts.

Obviously each community is slightly different in their particulars, but they are very communal. And this isn’t just about taking someone a casserole when they have a new baby.

They do not believe in insurance, but rather they take care of each other. In some churches we visited, essentially one would “tithe” all their money remaining after paying the bills; then the church would step up when you had a large medical bill, or needed a new truck.

Now that, my friends, is “bearing one another’s burdens.”


2 Responses to “What We Can Learn From the Plain People”

  • Kelley says:

    I think the Amish and Mennonites have a beautiful, modest, simple way of dress. I have attended various churches throughout my life, and some of the way the teen and adult females dress is appalling. I’m not judging, because I think most every sensible person can agree what the difference is between a long shirt and a dress.

    Mom has raised my sister and I to be modest, but my sister likes jeans over skirts, so Mom gave her some rules about the jeans so they would be modest. I began wearing skirts and dresses in Feb 2011, and head coverings in Mar 2011. It has not been easy and I’m trying to finish up my dance year. ( I want to quit after it ends in May or June because I don’t feel comfortable with our costumes. Ex. Booty shorts, short short skirts, etc )

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