Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Q&A - Can I Visit a Mennonite Church?

One of the most frequent emails I receive are about visiting a Mennonite church. Maybe there are a few more of you who have wondered but didn't have the courage to ask.

Can I visit a Mennonite church?

Yes. All Mennonite churches, as far as I know, welcome visitors. When Ed and I have been traveling, we have visited several new-to-us Mennonite churches and have always been warmly welcomed.

What should I wear when I visit a Mennonite church?

Mennonites churches are meant to be places to worship God and it is expected for the audience to be dressed respectfully. But it is not expected that a visitor wear a head covering or any other special kind of clothing.

Where is the closest Mennonite church to me?

This is one of the most common questions I am asked. And in the past I have struggled to find a church in a particular region. But recently I found a handy church finder. This map shows conservative Mennonite churches around the world. You can zoom up the map to look at a particular area and click on a church button to find more information about that church. I'm so glad I found this convenient resource for the next time we are traveling and maybe this church finder can be a blessing to you.

What can I expect when I visit a Mennonite church?

Mennonite churches vary in their routines and traditions. Many of the more conservative Mennonite churches practice separate seating for the men and women - the men sitting on one side of the church and the women on the other. The music is usually acapella congregational singing, with no instrumental accompaniment and no choir or worship team. Prayer is often done while kneeling.

Typically after the service, the congregation lingers for a time of talking and fellowship. Please feel free to converse and ask questions. You may find that we are as curious about you as you are of us. We would love to hear about your spiritual journey.

You will soon find that we are not perfect. We attempt to follow the Lord in literal obedience to His Word, but at times we fail. Maybe we can together encourage each other in our walk with God.

21 comments :

  1. Very well written Gina - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have considered visiting a Mennonite church, in large part because it seems to me that many of todays churches have gone astray. I have looked at a lot of Mennonite activity online, and I found that just as you have said, Gina, some are more much more conservative than others, and some some have little distinction from other more mainstream churches. As you have pointed out, each individual church has it's own personality, even if each church holds to the same basic principals and traditions of the denomination.
    I still miss my ladies Bible study from years ago. We were from different churches and denominations. We were different ages. Some had much more Bible learning than others. It was the most lively, sisterly, fun, profound Bible study ever! We had differences of opinion and the discussions were just awesome. We have all remained friends til this day.
    I have always preferred a setting where the focus is Christ, and not a particular preacher.
    I loved "Cowboy Church' in Montana. Usually outdoors, a preacher would open with a prayer, and just a few words, then the meeting was open to anyone who had a Scripture to share and comment, a song, a testimony etc. I found these meetings to be the most powerful and wonderful times of sharing.
    Thank you Gina, for sharing about visiting Mennonite churches, and the Church Finder!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Gina for this great post. We have visited a Mennonite church in the past and I love it. I really am desperate for fellowship but the Mennonite church we have visited is too far away. Currently we it is not possible to visit them due to my elderly father in law's health.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello All!

    Just had to post a reply to this entry! I did in fact take the plunge and visit a Conservative Mennonite church 14 years ago - and never left. Knew no one there - just totally curious, as we were in a very liberal setting where the pastor preached in shorts and sandals, people drank coffee and ate during the sermon, and people wore pretty suggestive clothing to church. It was all the setting we knew, and saw Mennonites pictures in some homeschool curriculum we were using - so we asked around and found a church. It has been a roller coaster ride for sure, but I hope you, too, will take that first step and visit one or more - you will meet some of THE nicest people full of hospitality and often a simple, refreshing, uncluttered view of Christ. Be sure to ask questions as to what/why they do what they do - it is good for them - AND us!! Wish there were a forum for women wondering about Mennonites online to feel free to ask their questions! God bless you all as you seek to serve Him - In Christ, Jonna Statt in NY jonnafromny@cleaninter.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jonna for your testimony. I know that you have blessed those you have had contact with to.
      Gina

      Delete
  5. I checked the map and wanted to let anyone (who might be around my area) know that there is a large Mennonite community not on the map in Gentry, AR. They even have their own school :) It is too far of a drive for us (and we have a church already) but in case anyone is close to there. P.S. Some of them run a restaurant called "The Wooden Spoon" in Gentry as well. It is just about the best food you have ever had and all from scratch!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Gina

    Would you know of any Mennonite churches that accept homeschooling (of the more Conservative Mennonite groups)? Of course, we would be using a R&S or CLE curriculum. Thank you and God Bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many Mennonite churches that allow homeschooling - and some that don't. Just ask the church that you are considering attending what they think about homeschooling.
      Gina

      Delete
  7. Hi Gina, do Mennonite churches similar to the ones you and your attend allow smart phones for children? My son and daughter both have iPhones, and we’re wondering if this is something a church like yours would be comfortable with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no rule against smart phones, just a caution to use them wisely and have safeguards for yourself and your children.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. What sorts of safeguards would you recommend?

      Delete
    3. I'm not current on what kind of tools are available but I would recommend some kind of accountability app such as EverAccountable that would show you what sites your child is visiting and how much time spent there.
      Gina

      Delete
  8. Hi Gina, I’m 17 years old and I’m currently attending a Mennonite church (relatively liberal, they allow computer and internet), and it’s mostly gone well but I was slightly uncomfortable today. I went to an event at one of the church member’s houses (at outdoor cookout) and while I was sitting by myself an older woman approached me, chatted with me for a few moments, and then said “you know, we generally expect young men in our church to wear button-up shirts”.
    I was wearing a tee shirt (logo of my school) and jeans and there was nothing inappropriate about it, and I informed her that I wasn’t a member of the church, and she sort of shrugged and said “just keep that in mind for the future”.
    I’m not that good at picking up on social queues; was she trying to say that I am being considered for church membership? Or simply that she wanted me to start dressing more similar to others my age in the church?
    Hoping you can give me some insight on this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for asking. I want to be respectful, since I don't know the lady who spoke to you, but doesn't ever church of every denomination have an older woman who likes to make sure everyone knows what to do? I wouldn't let her comments bother you. I'm sure she meant well and thought she was helping you out, but I wouldn't take her comments too seriously. Or maybe you can take this comment that she is accepting you and she can speak freely. Older people in the church are often afraid that the young people are not going to continue the traditions that they hold dear so just try to respect her concern without stressing over it.

      Blessings in your journey to do God's will,
      Gina

      Delete
    2. So, I'm confused. Is she saying that she wants me to know that if I join the church, then I'll be expected not to wear tee shirts? Or just that I should be mindful that others in the church my age follow different standards than I do?

      And when you say "respect her concern", sorry, what do you mean by that?
      Thanks so much for your help.

      Delete
    3. I don't know what is expected at the church you are attending. Why not ask the other young men or one of the church leaders? Then you'll know whether this is what one lady wants or what the church as a whole had chosen to do.
      Does that make sense?
      Gina

      Delete
    4. Hi Gina, the guys in my church wear button-up shirts as part of their dress. It’s what the church has decided. But, like I said I’m not a member, so I’m unsure why the lady said that.

      Basically, guys who are church members wear button-up shirts, not tee shirts. She knows I’m not a member, but came up to me and told me that “we generally expect young men in our church to wear button-up shirts”. When I reminded her that I wasn’t a member, she said she knows that but that I should “keep this in mind for the future”.

      Like I said, I’m not sure if this is some indirect, cryptic way of telling me that I’m being considered for membership, or telling me that I should start dressing more like the church members, or something else. That’s why I’m asking. Hope this helps.
      Rainer

      Delete
    5. Well, I'm not a mind reader so I have no idea what she meant by that comment. I wouldn't worry about it. If you really have a concern, ask someone else at your church what they think she meant. Otherwise, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. She might not have meant anything by it.
      Gina

      Delete
    6. Hi Rainer & Gina,
      Rainer, I myself came into a Mennonite church when I was teenager. If you will accept my advice, I don’t know how long you’ve attended your church, but generally after some time of continuous attendance the church leadership will begin to think of you less as a member and more as a member of the church body (albeit one who hasn’t become a member yet). Since you are young, and have likely been attending this church for some time, they may see you as someone who may wish to be a member of the church in the future. Visitors to a Mennonite church are of course not required to dress like them, but if you have been attending there for several months (as it seems you have) and have been accepted enough by the members to where you are invited to attend their events, they may believe that if you are “serious” about being a member, then you will start to dress like them and express more interest in their beliefs.
      Like Gina said, we can’t read minds. However, that woman’s comment may be an indication that the members feel comfortable with you (which is great!), but that, out of respect, you should respect the standards of their body should you wish to continue to attend. If you were working in an office, for example, and your boss stopped by your desk and said “looking a bit casual today, huh Rainer?”, you would probably take that as an indication that you are underdressed. Same thing here.
      In the future, when you are around the members of that church, whether it is an outdoor cookout like here or somewhere else, I would dress a little more conservatively (no tee shirts). If you’d like my advice, you can stick with the jeans, but find a nice button-up shirt (flannel or otherwise) and wear it tucked in with a nice belt. I think they will appreciate your effort and your respect of their beliefs.
      I hope this helps. Gina might be able to give you more specific advice since your churches are more liberal than mine.

      George

      Delete
  9. I have been wanting to visit a Mennonite community. I was invited to go to church by a Mennonite lady who comes into the retail store where I work. I want to go but want to dress appropriately... I also would like to see if I can visit their community. Any tips on how to go about asking? Or is it off limits?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you accept her invitation. She wouldn't have invited you if their church doesn't welcome visitors. Don't worry too much about what you wear. They won't expect you to dress like them, just choose something decently modest. Most Mennonites enjoy having guests into their home. Start by visiting their church and see what doors open (literally!)
      Gina

      Delete

I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails