17 Questions For Anabaptist Seekers

What should people who want to join the Amish or Mennonites or other Plain Anabaptist church believe? What about their behavior? What kind of commitments should they be ready to make?

Photo by Bill Coleman

Nicci Price – who herself is a convert to an Old German Baptist Brethren church – writes in Mennonite World Review about getting regular requests from”seekers” wishing to become Amish or Mennonite.

Over the past 10+ years I have seen a lot of the same thing both in my email inbox and in the comments sections of certain posts here.

In fact our most commented post here with over 800 comments is about becoming Amish.

I can say that people don’t always have a clear idea of what joining an Amish church really means.

As Nicci writes:

A “plain” church or fellowship can be of no use if you aren’t fully informed about the culture that goes with it. There is more than putting on a long dress and white head covering — it’s about a daily walk with the Lord as well as an understanding of the people you walk along side.

The new wears off, and it does become hard eventually. You’ll want a solid foundation with Jesus Christ.

She shares a list of 17 questions for people considering a Plain Anabaptist faith commitment:

  1. Do you use foul language?
  2. What type of books and movies do you watch?
  3. What is your relationship with your family like?
  4. Have you attended a plain fellowship? For how long?
  5. Have you been 100 percent open and honest with them about your walk with Christ?
  6. Do you have unconfessed sins?
  7. Are you nonresistant? Do you know what that means?
  8. Do you have a mentor?
  9. Are you ready to die?
  10. What does following Jesus look like to you?
  11. Have you developed relationships inside of the community that you are trying to fellowship with?
  12. Do you know what it means if I say there are two kingdoms and I am a citizen of one of them?
  13. Have you read a lot of Amish romance books and just like this lifestyle?
  14. Do you currently dress modestly to the best of your ability?
  15. What is your view on divorce and remarriage?
  16. What about same-sex romantic partnerships?
  17. Do you hate anyone?

I like Nicci’s list because they are direct questions, and don’t candy-coat what it means to be Amish or a Plain Mennonite.

You are accepting a certain package of beliefs and values, a lot of which aren’t “trendy” or popular in today’s culture.

But, if you’d like to successfully become Amish, you need to be on board with these ideas, and have Christ in your heart.

Otherwise you are eventually going to find internal or external conflict – no matter which community you join – or how perfect it seems from the outside.

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    1. Becoming Amish Or Mennonite

      I think those questions are a good starting point for anyone to ponder not just those looking to become Amish or Mennonite.
      The Amish group that attacked and shaved off beards and hair
      of fellow Amish, didn’t seem to be following anything but hate . Maybe they should have read through that list as well.

    2. 17 Questions

      That is a good list of questions. Erik, would it be acceptable to share the list on the MennoNet Forum? We get many seekers on the forum. It seems that a high percentage of seekers that join Amish or other plain churches leave again, which results in hurts for those leaving as well as for those who had interacted with them.

      1. Osiah I think that’s fine, I would just also share the link to Nicci Price’s article where these originally came from, and mention they came from her. I would think that having these questions out there for those interested in joining Plain Anabaptist faiths would only be helpful, for just the reason you describe.


        1. 17 Questions

          Thanks, Erik. I shared a link to Nicci’s post as well as to this site.

      2. Nicci

        Yes, feel free to use it. I’m not sure how it ended up on this blog but I’m completely open to people using the list.

        1. Nicci, thanks for your thought-provoking article and questions. I linked back to your article in the post above. I thought it really fit some of the topics and discussions we’ve had on this blog regarding joining the Amish, etc.

    3. Jim

      A solid list IMHO

      This list is a good one for MOST so called Christians in todays world. Myself, the Anabaptist belief system is the one that I try to follow in my daily life, tho I do not have community where I live. I also have no “fantasy” about running away from the worldly lifestyle and joining the Amish, or Hutterites, or any of the what I consider full on faiths where a total life style change is more than a suggestion.

      I love this site & the emails for just this reason, and a huge Thank You for all the hard work that goes into it!

      1. Thanks Jim, very kind of you. It’s interesting what you say – I have always thought it would be more challenging to live Anabaptist beliefs without a community, though clearly not impossible. I wish you well in that journey.

    4. Barb Zimmerman

      Good Starting Point

      I would add a few more: Can you sit quietly and attentively through several hours of sermons without a cellphone to play with? Can you accept male-dominated leadership, not only of the church, but of your everyday life? These are hard for Anabaptists to accept and won’t be any easier for those not raised to believe this.

      It’s a great list. Brings back many memories.

      1. Nice additions Barb, here’s another from a reader on Facebook:

        Hermano Carlos Another question: do you understand what nonconformity to the world in outward appearance means, and why?


    5. Debbie H

      becoming amish

      Great list for any Christian wanting to join a church.

    6. Joan Sheldon

      a few more thoughts

      All the above thoughts are very good. I would add also about giving up technology, your TV, cell phone, electricity, your car. The community that I was close to in Unity, ME was Old Order Amish. They did have solar panels to charge batteries for lights and phone sheds many feet from the house that did have answering machines. Very cold and inconvenient in winter. They use bicycles or buggies to get to town, and did hire drivers to get to doctors and big stores. I follow many of their religious beliefs but am not willing to give up my car or electricity.

      1. 17 Questions

        There are many car driving plain groups as well among the Amish, Mennonites, and Brethern. Nicci drives a car herself. The questions apply equally to all plain groups.

        1. Nicci

          Hi there,
          I’m wondering how you know I drive a car or not?

          1. 17 Questions

            I was sure I remembered reading this in one of your blog posts. Am I wrong?

            1. Nicci

              I do I just was wondering how you knew. Yes, it is possible I wrote about my car on a blog of Facebook. On a funny note, I’m five seconds from giving up my car and switching to horse and buggy with all the trouble it’s giving me lately.

              1. giving up the car

                Nicci, then you would really be in trouble. They smell, they misbehave, they need to be fed whether they run or not. Better stick to what you know!

                But then I grew up with horses and never was very fond of them. I felt sorry for my horse so I wasn’t too hard on him. But then when we got home, he would run away instead of heading for the barn. Then I would need to go chase him to bring him back in. Not funny, but the next time I drove him I felt sorry for him again.

    7. Maureen

      Questions 1 and 14

      Oh good heavens, I’d have trouble with the first question! But never in violation of the 6th.

      And ironically several of us were debating recently the commandment that “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” as under the guise of “foul language”. Others say “foul language” is just not a sin at all and should not be confused with the sixth commandment that is a basic tenant of most religions.

      Many feel foul language is a terrible habit and one used primarily in description, or out of frustration; it’s very disrespectful but not a sin. Using your God’s name in vain is blasphemy and a sin as described in scripture.

      Question #14 is easy for me personally to abide, but is surprisingly controversial and greatly debated among the Yankees in the Christian Farm community, where a capped sleeve on a housedress, a hem just under the knee, sandals in summer with no socks/stockings in public, are ways to combat the heat and are not in any way immodest. Also the choice for women not to “cover” their hair is argued not to be wrong. The English debate among themselves on this issue, and quote from scripture that is clear to some and not quite to others.

      1. 17 Questions

        I am not going to condemn your speech but your choice of words – the first three – would be a bit of an issue already for some.

        1. MagEchrain

          17 Questions


          Not a “speech” — just my contribution of experiences and thoughts on the topic.

          My three words as you state; “being a bit of an issue already for some” is just that. And I make no apology to the “some”.

          “Condemn”? What exactly would deserve condemnation?

          1. Speech

            I was only trying to say that “oh good heavens” might already be unacceptable language to some but I was not condemning you for saying that.

            1. Minced oaths & etc.

              Yes, I will add to what Osiah said – I’m not sure if this is exactly the same category, but it was pointed out to me that some phrases that I have used in my life that seemed innocent – “oh gosh” for instance – are not seen as acceptable by some Christians (this is an example of a “minced oath” – more here, but language warning at the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minced_oath)

              I think “oh gosh” or “good heavens” are considerably better than some alternatives, but I was glad to become aware of this.

    8. Alice Mary

      I know I could not answer many of those questions in a way that would open the doors to an Amish or other “Plain” lifestyle. But I do admire the “general” Amish lifestyle, especially their sense of community. There always seems to be “many hands” to help throughout life—from birth to child rearing, farming (or other job, like working in an RV factory, that brings in money to live on), sewing, teaching school, funerals, various “frolics” (canning food, quilting, etc.). How many of us in the English world can say the same (well, I do remember the nuns who taught me (late 1950’s through 1970) in Catholic school for 12 years lived somewhat similarly, in convents, in religious “community”). Amish “simplicity” is attractive. Perhaps if brought up in such a “community” atmosphere, I might be able to survive. But that’s not the common “English” lifestyle.That alone makes the Amish attractive to me., and I’m sure, to many others. But I know I could never “become” Amish!

      I could not bear giving up air conditioning during hot, humid summers! So that pretty much leaves me out, anyway!

      Very thought provoking post AND comments!

      Alice Mary

      1. Maureen

        Anabaptist Seekers

        Alice Mary,

        Your post has me relating! Went to Catholic school straight through college! Dominican Nuns, Christian and Jesuit Brothers! The virtue of “cleanliness” was stressed in our elementary school, and there were stiff punishments if one didn’t come to school perfectly attired and immaculate. To this day, this virtue has me ironed and starched in my rather uniform style, modest attired

        The Anabatist lifestyle does indeed practice their religious tenants profoundly. And as you say, the “Amish ‘simplicity’ is attractive” to us English. Yet, the Anabaptists are up againist many complicated issues within their families, their Anabaptist communities, and the Yankees, as well as the struggle to make a living and beyond. So for me as a Yankee, and in working closely with the Anabaptists, the preconceived notion of “simplicity” faded fast.

        For me the air condition is such a luxury; harder to deal with is the outhouse vs. the bathroom!

    9. Terry from Wisc


      Guten tag Erik, What about learning the languages? PA Dutch and German might put a person into a frenzi! Our friends who are ex Amish didn’t understand the German spoken in church until age 12! Listening to gobly gook as they put it, for 3 hours would certainly be a challenge!

      Safe in Christ,

      1. The German use is not the same in all churches or communities. In our community the preaching is in the same PA Dutch we talk all the time.

      2. Good question, language is one of the hurdles…conventional wisdom says that the younger a person is the easier it is to pick up a new language. On the other hand some just have a knack for languages while others have knacks for other things 🙂

        Yoder in Ohio could comment better on this but I believe recited prayer and Bible readings are what tend to be most consistently in High German across churches. I have been to Amish church probably a dozen+ times in several communities and preaching has always been in PA Dutch, except for the occasions when a preacher slid in a bit of English (probably due to my presence).

        1. I’d say you’re right Erik. In most Amish services I have been to the preaching is in PA Dutch as they call it while the recited prayers & scripture readings are in High German, though I often hear the man reading scriptures lay it out in PA Dutch, too. And you are probably right about English being put in for your benefit. At the same time we do hear more and more English in sermons because some things do not translate easily or have been memorized or learned in English.

    10. AJ

      It’s easy to join some “plain Anabaptist” denominations if you include Mennonite denominations, German Baptists, and Beachy groups. I had the chance to join one such group, but was never truly interested. There are different kinds of Anabaptists groups. Even among the German Baptists there are Old Order horse and buggy types… which you could join. Among the Amish you will not really find such a group to join. The same can be said for many Old Order Mennonite groups. That is not to say you can’t join the Amish, but that they won’t seek you out or change their ways for you to conform to their group.
      It rarely happens that an Amish person welcomes you to their church service (especially more than once) and they offer to baptism intot their church and acceptance into their community. The few stories you read about are anomalies. The majority of non-Amish who join the Amish church tend to convert after finding someone within the community to marry. Your best bet of joining the Amish would be to find someone to marry who is Amish, but of course that person would also have to be interested in you first (obviously). You would then have to adopt to their way or life and culture.

      If you are looking for a modest “plain Anabaptist” lifestyle without going full blown Amish, there are churches. There are other branches of plain Anabaptist… of course they won’t have the same kind of things traditional and normal to the Amish and other old orders, especially the community aspect will be different.

    11. Probably the fact of a chance that one (or more) of your own children, who was so close to your side for years, could choose to leave the Amish and their family. That would be more than I could bear. There would never be anymore close communication with them. I have a very close Amish widow friend that raised her children by herself. Her youngest son decided to leave the Amish about 6 years ago, at age 17. To this day, his bedroom remains identical to the day he left. I know deep down in her heart (of gold), it’s been devastating for her and the family. She has only seen him once, and that was at a funeral.

      1. I’m glad it’s not like that every where or in every church! One of our children is not Amish but lives at home with us.

    12. Nicholas

      Surprised to see my friend on Amish America!

      I was surprised to see my good friend and former teaching colleague being featured on Amish America! This list is something that was discussed a good bit when we taught together with number 13 being suggested as a probable cause for many seekers. Both of use have been contacted by seekers (Nicci more so) and I distinctly remember one person having no knowledge of the Two-Kingdom Doctrine that lies at the heart of Anabaptism. Much of how the plain Anabaptists live is becoming popular or trendy today, such as simple living, gardening, and in the case of horse-and-buggy groups, living off-grid (usually). But as has been pointed out before, for example in the post on the Maine Amish community, the plain Anabaptist views on things like same-sex marriage are not popular right now.

      Another bit of the discussions that didn’t make the list is the unique situation that seekers find themselves in when dealing with family and friends who may not be all that familiar with the new restrictions on lifestyle and entertainment that have been willingly chosen and how to deal with them.

      1. Neat to hear that Nicholas, I like when people bump into people they know here 🙂

        Nice additional points. It’s true certain of the “lifestyle” aspects of Amish and other plain Anabaptist life which you point out are more popular today…I wonder if this has led to an increase in seekers searching for a community driven by attraction to these more superficial aspects. Not sure how one would tell such a thing as there haven’t been too many studies on seekers to the Amish/plain Anabaptists.

        As you point out though the relative unpopularity of views like traditional Anabaptist beliefs on same-sex relationships would seem to push things in the opposite direction.

        Just curious, are you also a convert to a plain church?

        1. Nicholas

          Yes, Erik, I am a convert to the Old German Baptist Brethren Church-New Conference, the same as Nicci. I joined in March 2012, and she actually joined later that year. I live in Indiana and Nicci joined out in Kansas, so we didn’t meet until several years later and then taught at the same school for a year. I keep hoping that the Overholt brothers who do the Anabaptist Identity Conference will ask someone to study out the seekers more, but it hasn’t happened yet. This year they talked a lot about non-resistance and the historical instances where that generated persecution. One talk was on divorce and remarriage, another sticky subject. An older brother from my district commented that the defining marriage issue is much more likely to affect the plain churches in the near future than non-resistance. It will likely affect the conservative Mennonites and German Baptists more at first as we seem to receive more seekers into our midst. I have several ideas as to why, including less social distance from conservative Evangelicalism and the ever-difficult language barrier (as of this writing, I believe I am one of 7 German Baptists between the 2 main groups who has a working knowledge of German, and 3 of those have Amish background and 2 are from Germany.).

    13. Kimberly McKay

      a seeking 9 year old daughter...

      This is probably an unexpected question for those in this forum, as I am asking about my 9 year old daughter, who has wanted to join an Amish community since she first learned about the Amish and Old Order Mennonites in our area several years ago. I thought it might be a passing novelty of hers, but she seems more and more determined that God is calling her in this direction. We currently attend a Baptist fellowship and she is very strong in her faith. I have ordered Amish home school curriculum for her that is from Pennsylvania in order to learn about Amish culture(she is being home schooled), we are watching videos to learn Pennsylvania Dutch, and she already chooses to dress as modestly as possible. We live in the country ourselves, and I am trying my best to equip her with skills she will need if she indeed does continue on this path. She has even started saving for a farm for herself with money from chores – and has an amazing work ethic. My question is, how do I best support her in this path even though I am not Amish myself? I would like her to get to know people in the local Amish community so she can understand it better and see if this is truly what she wants. Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

      1. Hi there,
        That is a unique question, one my parents found themselves asking when I was that age. Beyond wanting to be Amish I’d strongly suggest that you support her in getting to know the Lord. Continue to teach her what modesty is and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The Amish really have a lot of variety but I’d caution you against building up Her dream of becoming Amish. You can support her by taking her to Biblically sound Mennonite,German Baptist,or Dunkard Brethren fellowships to give her a tastes of anabaptist culture and fellowship.
        For fun you can cost cutesy Amish shops or towns but I’d strongly recommend continuing to give her a strong bible based upbringing.

        1. Kimberly McKay

          Hello Nancy,
          Thank you so much for responding to my post. I wholeheartedly agree that the Lord comes first always (Jesus. Others. You.) We have fantastic resources through our church on every topic, and I am just about to a home-study unit with her looking at modestly more deeply. I have purchased the complete works of Menno Simons for myself to read, so I may understand the history of the Anabaptist movement better.
          We do study the bible together daily, as well as pray together.
          I will try and find out where the nearest plain Mennonite church is near us, and start taking her there as per your advice. Have a wonderful day!

          1. Nancy ( nicci)Price

            Where are you located? I can help you out.

            1. Kimberly McKay

              We are located in Annan, Ontario, Canada. The nearest ‘city’ is Owen Sound.

              1. Mennonites near Owen Sound

                There is a car driving group of Mennonites near Tara just south of Owen Sound. I have a brother and several sisters living between Chesley and Paisley – they are members of a horse and buggy Mennonite group with several meeting houses in that area. Feel free to contact me if you would like more specific details.

                There are also several different groups of Amish in that same area.

    14. Kimberly

      Mennonites near Owen Sound

      Hello Osiah,
      Thank you so much for responding to my post. I would very much appreciate some guidance from you regarding who to reach out to locally. I will post my email here as I am unsure of how to message through this site. My email is: knbradford72@gmail.com. If there is another way to message you that I am to use, I would appreciate direction on how to do so. I look forward to your reply.

      Sincerely, Kimberly

    15. Stephanie Berkey

      The Church of The Brethren

      Is The Church of the Brethren Anabaptist? Do they believe in infant baptism?

    16. r. praskac

      an Amish site?

      SURPRISED TO SEE THIS! How did you manage this did they shun you for having a PC? I’d love to be a Mennonite but Im far too tech oriented, and is there an age limit?
      thank you!