Thursday, September 3, 2015

We Sought and Found: Book Review

Can I join a Mennonite church, even if I didn't grow up Mennonite?

What changes would I have to make to join a Mennonite church?

Would I be welcome in a Mennonite church?
We sought and found

I've been asked these questions and many more, which is why I was excited to review We Sought and Found, a book compiled by Russ and Wendy Boyd.

Ten people share the stories of their spiritual journeys that brought them into a conservative Mennonite church. A couple of these writers I knew personally but most were unknown to me. Some were young when they first interacted with the Mennonites, maybe through Sunday School. Others spent many years searching for God and a place they could fellowship with believers before God led their path to the Mennonites. Some have been part of the Mennonite church for only a few years and others have been Mennonite for fifty years or more and are watching their great-grandchildren.

But each of these first-generation Mennonites have in common a desire to seek the Lord with all their heart and find a church where they could grow in Christ.

If you want to learn more about the Mennonites, I'd recommend We Sought and Found. It will give you a glimpse from real-life testimonies of those who have chosen to to be Mennonite.

I'd also highly recommend the book for those whose ancestors have been part of the Mennonite church for generations. You will learn to better appreciate your church and also how to welcome seekers who visit your church.

You can purchase We Sought and Found at Christian Light Publications.

(I was given a free review copy of this book but all opinions in this review are my own.)

20 comments :

  1. I am conservative and Baptist most of my life, except for the year I went to Hesston College in KS, a Mennonite School. It was interesting and a wonderful experience. While I am happy with my church I have always had a soft spot for my Mennonite friends. Their are two things I think Mennonites do better than anyone else (1) Singing - the acapella sound of four part harmony on a Sunday morning is not to be equaled. (2) Food - My Mennonite cookbooks are some of my most prized possessions! So while I will stick with my conservative Baptist church, I still go with a friend to the local Mennonite functions - specially if they involve food and singing!

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  2. Gina,
    I would love to read this book. How do you get free copies of books from CLP?

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    1. The right connections, I suppose. And their generosity.
      Gina

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  3. I forgot to mention that it is my heart's desire to attend a Mennonite church but the Lord hasn't opened that door yet.

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  4. I have attend a Mennonite Church and loved it. The music and the spirit of the people were so sweet. We are baptist but I have asked my husband to go with me to the Mennonite church. He said he doesn't feel lead to do so at this time. Something I need to pray about.

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    1. We also are Baptist and have a long drive to church... I have brought up the idea of trying a local Mennonite church much closer to home but my husband also does not feel lead to do so either. It is nice to hear other women have been in the same shoes!

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  5. If two adults become members of a Mennonite church, and they have children, are the children expected to follow the church's rules regarding dress, behavior, education, etc? I know that some churches view the parents joining as an agreement to prepare their children to be members as well, and thus those churches expect their minor children to follow the rules as well. Is this typical for Mennonite churches or is it restricted to only some of the very conservative denominations?

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    1. I can't answer for every Mennonite but I'll just share my feelings. My husband and I attempt to train our children in the Scripture and God's ways. Some of the things that the Scripture addresses, such as modesty, proper speech, kindness to others, proper attitudes toward authority, etc - we expect and train our children to do. It has nothing to do with being a Mennonite. We want our children to learn to please the Lord with our actions and attitudes and build good habits in our children that will help them in their adult life. Hopefully some day they will choose to commit their life to the Lord and be members of a church that is following the Scripture, but we will not force them to be members of our church.

      Does that make sense?
      Gina

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    2. Hi Gina, I'm a little confused, let me rephrase what I asked. I was refering more to adults converting to the church who already have children, for instance, let's say a couple has two teenagers, a boy and a girl. If the parents -- but not the children -- become members of a Mennonite church, then are the children expected to follow the church's teachings? For example, would the son and daughter be expected to start dressing in a certain way? Or could they continue to dress in "worldly" clothing? I assume the answer might partly depend on age, because if the child was 5 or 6 the newly converted parents probably would just dress the child that way as they are too young to make their own decisions on clothing.

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    3. Yes. I would say it would depend a lot upon the child's age and their willingness. There is a big difference in a five year old and a sixteen year old. Especially a sixteen year old that does not agree with their parent's church decision. I don't think any church would expect an older child who did not choose to be a member of their parent's church to dress in any particular way. At least, our church certainly would not and I assume other churches would be the same.
      Gina

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    4. Mag, In Wisconsin, a local family joined a Mennonite church. The parents were members of the church but their older, teen age children were would attend with them however they still went to public school. Their daughter 'almost' joined however meet her soon-to-be husband who attended a different church. She ended up following him and his church, both parents and her are followers of Christ. So, to answer your question the Mennonite church near us would not think against it (with older teens).

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    5. Hi lindz, thanks for your reply. I'm a bit confused -- what do you mean by " the Mennonite church near us would not think against it (with older teens)"?

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  6. Mag, while I don't think a Mennonite church would *force* the children to dress a certain way, especially if they are not members, I do think they would expect the parents, no matter what the age of the children, to make them aware of their church's requirements and to dress modestly during services (for instance, while a daughter might not wear a cape dress, she could not come in wearing jeans either; the standards would be higher for someone whose parents are church members, and she'd probably be expected to wear a long skirt to her ankles, a long sleeved blouse, and to have her hair braided). I also think that, if the children are in public school, the church elders would request that they be moved to a church school instead (or, if they are beyond the 10th grade, homeschool them). All this things would be to help prepare the children for membership in the church. Even though the children may ultimately choose not to join, just like any other child in a Mennonite church, the parents would still be expected to prepare the children for their future roles. Gina can probably correct this a bit since I'm not actually a member of a Mennonite church.

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    1. John, why would they need to wear ankle length dresses and long sleeves? Mid-calf is the preferred lentgh of our females and many do wear long sleeves in cool and cold weather but shorter and 3/4 length are acceptable. We do not wear jewelry, makeup or ...cape dresses.

      All 5 of my children attended public high school as did I and my 5 siblings, as did all their cousins and mine before them. Our church school only went to 8th. Both my parents taught, my father in our church school and my mother in a public grade school. Yes, she wore a prayer cover, just as I and my 3 daughters do.

      I am sure if you looked you would find many variations on Mennonite and difference of dress style does not diminish us. My oldest two who are married, are married to Mennonites "despite" the fact they went to public schools and state colleges.

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  7. Hello Gina, first of all, I'm extremely happy to have found your blog months ago when I was starting my search for information on Mennonites. During that time I learned a lot and have come to appreciate their way of life. However, I don't think I could join a Mennonite church because there are many things about it I don't understand. Don't get me wrong -- I love the culture. I met some Mennonites during a trip last year and they were very polite when I asked them questions. The teenage son answered every question with "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am" and was dressed like a young gentleman, and this is refreshing to see given our current culture. But so many of the beliefs I question. I question ending education at the 10th grade. I question the prohibition on private insurance. And the manner of dress, especially for the women, is awkward and reflective of a past society. I couldn't imagine our family not being allowed to cozy up on a Sunday night to watch a TV movie, or my daughter having to wear a dress so plain that it eliminates her attractive qualities and makes her look identical to the other girls at the cost of her individuality. And I can't imagine my son, who is gifted in mathematics, not being able to realize his potential because he isn't allowed to study beyond 8th grade (or 10th grade in some groups). There are so many tenants that I like -- I just don't know what to do.

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    1. Pamela-
      As I've said before, there are many kinds of Mennonites. Many Mennonites, for example, do not limit education to 8th or 10th grade. Our church encourages the youth to graduate from high school. I encourage you to visit a local church and get to know people personally before making a decision.

      But I'm also not trying to convince anyone to become Mennonite. Keep seeking the Lord and His Word and He will direct you to a church where you can grow and mature in Christ.

      Blessings,
      Gina

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    2. I did visit a Mennonite church. It was small (maybe about 20-25 adults) and I had a short discussion with them. They were wonderful people, but I just don't know if I could live like they do. For example, they don't allow TV. One tradition in our family is to curl up on Sunday nights with a pizza and watch a movie. Giving that up would be very hard on all of us. And I know that my daughter loves to go clothing shopping in malls, etc. I love what the Mennonites stand for; I just don't know if giving up the small things is worth it.

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    3. Pamela,
      I am not Mennonite but have battle with many of the same questions you have after looking for a more conservative church. Many of the questions we had were answered after reading many of the 'tracks' or hand outs that you can find at many local Mennonite stores, churches and even free off their internet publications - they have introduced me to new scripture that my local church never taught on!! Of course, anything that you read needs to be cross checked with our only true source of instruction - the Bible!

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    4. Pamela, I hope you can find the church you need. Maybe you need one of the less conservative churches. Also, we have movie nights too, just not on Sunday, as we chose not to use things like TV and computer on Sunday . You could always have a board game night instead.

      You can still go to malls! When we get to the "big city" we most certainly do...clothes won't be our main focus. Instead there are books, food courts, kitchen stores, shoes, undergarments, coats,
      candles and soaps. Plus you can find modest clothes if you look a bit harder.

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  8. "Seek God first, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" I agree wholeheartedly with your Biblical attitude Gina. When we seek to 'conform' to God's will for us and our children, everything else falls into place. A relationship with the Lord is personal, and no church can 'bottle' it (a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus) , although it's a wonderful thing to share fellowship with like minded followers of Christ.

    I love your advice to keep seeking the Lord and His Word, and He will direct you to a church where you can grow and mature in Christ.

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