So you want to join the Amish

One thing that sets the Amish apart from many Mennonite groups, and for that matter most other religious bodies:  they don’t recruit.

Amish typically neither condemn nor encourage attempts to join.  They may seem a bit discouraging towards the idea.  If the subject comes up, usually you hear something like ‘if you don’t grow up Amish, it’s really hard to do it.’

Occasionally, you run into an Amish person with a name that just doesn’t ‘sound’ Amish.  That’s often a clue.

It frequently happens that non-Amish who join stick it out for a little while but leave when the novelty wears off.

I’ve only met a very few that have joined, and that’s out of literally (literally literally) thousands of families met while selling books in their communities.

I regret not having a chance to get down to the nitty-gritty about it with the joiners (What’s it like?  No, what’s it really like?  What do you miss most?).

One was a teacher.  Another works in a factory.  A third, fairly fresh convert raises and sells mums.  He supposedly fell for an Amish lass while on a visit to the community.

Asking another ‘native’ Amishman in his community about the newbie, I was told, almost wink-wink jokingly, that he seems to be doing alright (so far), as if the underlying idea was ‘is he gonna make it?’

But this guy, and the other people around him were supportive as far as I could tell.  In fact, the outsiders who have joined and ‘survived’ seem to garner a bit of extra respect.

Apparently, one way it works for interested parties is that you first come to live and get put to work for a certain length of time, just to see if you can hack it on that end.

Then there are the teachings and language to pick up.  Amish adolescents readying themselves for baptism normally attend prep courses led by church ministers.

One New Order Amish couple I met had adopted five non-Amish children.  They found a Pennsylvania Dutch tutor to teach the kids the native tongue.  I suppose that would come in handy for non-Dutch adult converts as well.

Some converts are from similar-minded faiths such as this Mennonite -background fellow, which may make it easier, but others come from different branches of Christianity.

The teacher-convert was apparently originally Catholic, as was well-known Amish historian David Luthy, whom I often mention in this blog.

616444_car_keys Apparently this teacher-convert said he found living without a car to be the most difficult.  That’s not surprising.  For me, I think car and electric would be the hardest.  Clothing, hairstyle, hard physical work I’m pretty sure I could swing.

But that might be looking at it the wrong way.  One Amishman has suggested that seekers approaching the Amish solely through the lifestyle angle–the buggies-and-beards rustic appeal of it–are missing the point.

The whole idea is not to live in a strange cultural world for it’s own sake.   By itself, that gets you nowhere.  Rather it’s all about living what the Amish feel is most important:  the words and teachings of Jesus Christ.

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  1. Mary

    Hi all,
    I’ve wanted to be Amish for a really long time. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve always been longing for something and when I went to Lancaster County six years ago I felt so at peace, like I was at home. I realize that this is a big decision. I’d jst like to live in an Amish or conservative Mennonite Community for a while to see if it would work. Any advice on churh districts or fmilies who might be open to helping a seeker try to join their community? Thanks so much. God bless you all.

  2. Mary

    By the way the closest Amish settlements to me are probably on Lancaster as I live near Philadelphia.

  3. elizabeth
  4. debbie Paragreen

    Can anyone help we are coming to America in April, for a holiday and so want to spend a few days with an Amish family and experience the real life and family. Don’t know where to start, some place look quite commercialised and have shopping malls etc not what we want to experience, more family, farming, collecting eggs and feeding etc be a part of a household even if its only a few days. Also its so vast which part do we pick, where is best area to stay, driving is it possible coming from Toronto after seeing family, then going onto New York, before flying back to England, can anyone help with our plans. Thank you.

  5. Riana

    Hello ,i want to Joining the Amish…i want to writte to a comunity can i have an adress?
    thank you

  6. Lance


    You could probably find a Amish owned and run bed & breakfast in Lancaster Co that would allow you to see the Amish up close and personal for a few days. I do not know of any way to make a reservation on your computer. Maybe a travel agency, if any are left in your part of the world, could help you. Maybe some of the people closer to Lancaster could also help.


  7. Tammie

    i would love to join the amish, and so would my son. i think staying with a family for a while would be the smartest thing to do to see if u could do it. we talked to an amish woman in KY and she said the same thing, it is hard to become amish if u were not brought up that way, the hardest part is giving up cars, phones, tv and computers.

  8. Lance

    When I tried to go Amish, I made the decision that it was pointless to long after things the Amish did not allow. I could not have them and that was that. So it was not a difficult burden to leave them behind. It took as long as it took to drive somewhere and there was no point to getting upset that a car could go faster. I never even thought of phone, TV, radio or computer.

    I did miss running water for a shower, and, in hot weather, no fan to move the air made nights much more miserable.

    What was problematic was the language barrier and the illogical/irrational rules. You must learn the language or you will just be left out at times. English speakers do not adapt easily to Germanic languages and you really need to learn both PA Deitsch and High German to understand at all times. It is not easy and some Amish do not learn the High German well.

    Amish make changes to their rules by consensus of the church and if you were not there at the time the rule was made, it can be very hard to understand those rules. Without being born Amish and living in the system since young, you have a hard time adapting to, believing in and trusting it. It is the trust in the system or lack thereof that makes being Amish easy or hard. Our modern school systems teach critical thinking and that goes against Amish thought. They value a high level of yielding to the church in all things the church makes a stand. We have not been taught that and it is not easy to develop.


    1. Seeker


      I’ve been divorced. A) Does that prevent me from joining the Amish? B) If I can join, would I be a black sheep with no hope of ever getting married to an Amish woman?

      1. dusty


        If you want to join you must remain unmarried until your ex-wife dies. No exceptions. One bishop in Indiana said that I could attend services, but never join their group , not just because I was divorced, but because I had “signed the divorce papers” which was anathema to them. However, at a nearby Amish fellowship they did not feel that way. Honestly, if you are divorced and want to remarry, the only way you could do that would be to start your own branch of plain church that would accept remarriage; and seeing as there are so many families seeking such a place…why hasn’t anyone done that? I should think it would be quite a large flock with people wanting to go back to the old ways, rightfully so in this age of ….well, you know!!

  9. Autunm

    HI I defently want to become amish when i grow up but would like to start to talk to them. Is there any way I could write letters to an amish girl my age. sort of like a pen pal I can write the letter in both speeches if needed.

  10. Kate

    Do you live by any Amish? The best way to become penpals is to become friends with them. You can simply write a letter to an Amish house and get to know them. Pray about your decision and make sure you know about the group you want to join etc.

  11. Tammie

    is there a website that u could pull up that has the language on it. i have read a few books that have it in them, so have learned some of it.

  12. Kate

    PA dutch is not a written language. I only know of 1 blog where a man writes in dutch, though no connection to any Amish. The words written in the books are just what the author hears and writes. Its only spoken so no books or websites that I know of. Sorry 🙁

  13. Chelsea

    There is a website that has PA dutch “lessons”, and she has some links to websites in Dutch (her whole blog is in dutch and I don’t know much so I can’t say for sure!). Try googling “learn to speak PA dutch” or any combination of that…it’s how I found the website, but I didn’t save the address 🙁 Keep in mind, the dutch dialect varies from community to community…

    Kate, dutch is becoming a more “written” language as I have both a dutch dictionary and a New Testament Bible in dutch.

  14. Tammie

    thank u Chelsea and Katie, i will look that up.

  15. Eli Yoder

    If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!

  16. Tammie

    Eli r u amish or used to be./ UR NAME IS Y I AM ASKING. i know YODER is an amish name and popular with many in a community

  17. Kate

    I know there are Bibles and dictionaries out I too have the dictionary but in general it is not a written language but most often spoken. That’s what I meant by that comment, sorry.

  18. Kate

    And I didn’t save that website either 🙁 Umm try searching “Hivva die drivva” I think that’s what it was called. Does that sound familiar Chelsea?

  19. Eli Yoder

    Well, it’s quite risky hiding an exercise bike powered laptop in the barn.

  20. Tammie

    so is that a yes??? how old r u and where do u live Eli?i would love to talk to u more,,

  21. Kate

    He was being sarcastic I think…

  22. Tammie
  23. Chelsea

    Sounds familiar yes… okay found it 🙂 Erik actually had a link to it in one of his posts from two years ago! It’s the lessons are about half way down on the left hand side. The whole blog is in PA dutch so I don’t know much else of what is on there… Not too good with my dutch yet :/

  24. Kate

    Ya that’s it! Those were pretty handy lessons. Thanks!

  25. Tammie

    Thanks again Chelsea i will search that link..

  26. Autunm

    Chelsea, Thank you ( danki in PA Dutch) for letting me know about that website! I will try it as soon as I get all of my algebra weekend homework oh! and English homework too =)

    And Kate, I sadly live nowhere near an amish community. So who knows when I can write but that will be fine cause It will give me more time to learn PA Dutch!!! =)

  27. Sandi B.

    Chelsea, I’m new to this blog and saw your link about PA Dutch. Thanks for the link.

  28. Heather

    I enjoy this site

    I posted ahile ago on becoming Amish – I’m 45 and grew up in
    north. Calif and we had chickens, horses, geese, sheep and
    a huge garden – we also sold tomatos from a stand we had in
    our front yard. It was a wonderfull life. We live in a small
    town in north. Az now and are only planning on staying for
    another 1 – 2 yrs. Im not a big fan of Az. (BET YOU DID’NT
    I think alot of them are snow birds. Also someone on this
    post was talking about holmes county – and what a great town
    it is. Is that were the store Leymans is. I love that their
    catalog – mostly Amish stuff and non – and non electical stuff.
    Any tips or suggestion’s PLEASE email me!

  29. jeff henninger

    So you want to join the Amish

    i am interested in joining an Amish community and i was wondering if there is any close to Southeast Nebraska or in kansas ?

  30. Deborah

    the Amish don't speak DUTCH

    hi, I speak DUTCH (nederlands, the language of the Netherlands) and it is NOT the language spoken by the Pennsylvania “Dutch” (which is an English corruption of the German word for “German,” i.e. Deutsch).

    please don’t refer to the language of the Amish as Dutch, that’s ridiculous!

  31. Merrie Rancourt

    Hi Deborah,

    It has been referred to as Pennslyvania Dutch since the Amish first settled here. You’re right that it isn’t Dutch, but neither is it Deutsch, although originally it may have been.

    Most English call it Pennsylvania Dutch and it’s not silly. It’s a misnomer that has become part of the English vocabulary. It’s like Kleenix for facial tissue and soccer for the game of futball. We know what we mean. 🙂

  32. Kate

    I speak English but I’m not English 🙂 I’m American. It’s somewhat the same thing. Merrie is 100% right. It would be incorrect to refer to it as anything except what it is…Pennsylvania Dutch or PA German. The Amish call it both and they’re used interchangably (sp?). That was a great analogy, Merrie 🙂

  33. Slightly-handled-Order-man

    A matter of “What did you say?”

    Closer to home, its like pronunciation, is it A-mish, is it Aw-mish, is it O-mish. It depends on who you ask, or whose saying the word. I’ve always said “Aw-mish” myself, because that’s what I’ve heard.

  34. Lance

    Necessary reading for the Amish convert wannabe:

    “1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life”

    “In Meiner Jugend”

    Both of these books come from Pathway Publishers, the Amish owned book publishing company in Ontario. You can order them online from The first book is a Q & A book of Amish doctrinal positions. It does NOT, however, include a detailed look at the Ordnung, as each church district has a different Ordnung. The second is a collection of Amish writings including the Dortrecht Confession of Faith, The Apostles Creed, Rules of a Godly Life, prayers from the Christenpflicht (prayer book), Selected hymns from the Ausbund, Baptismal vows, and marriage vows.
    This book has both the German and the English translations side by side.

    Both books cost $1 each, I suspect that the shipping will cost a lot more than the books.

    Other books of interest from Amazon or book store:

    “Amish Society” by John A Hostettler
    Old but still good
    “The Amish Way” by Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher
    “A History of the Amish” by Steven Nolt
    just what it says
    “The Amish: in their own Words” by Brad Igou
    From articles in Family Life Mag. by real Amish writers

    And for the diehard wannabe:
    “Devoted Christian’s Prayer Book”
    from Pathway, an English translation of the German prayer book used by the more traditional minded Amish.

    If you really must go Amish, learn High German and read the High German Bible. Pathway sells a Bible with both English and German in the same page.

    Good luck and may God be with you, you’ll need him.

  35. Kate

    Shipping is $2 (for both books) from Pathway as long as it’s under $10 I believe. So your total for 2 books is just $4.

  36. Squeaky Cheese

    Merrie, many from that Mennonite background (namely Old Order/Stauffer) insist that their “PA Dutch” is closer to Dutch than German. They claim that the Amish speak more German. I’m not saying it’s right, but that is what they say!

  37. Merrie Rancourt

    Hi “Squeaky Cheese”

    I know the origins are as varied as the groups. My family migrated here from the Swiss Alps region, so their dialect is derived from German. Swiss German, but German. Others came from other parts of Europe. I’m positive that some communities have derived their dialect from Dutch! 🙂

  38. Caitlin


    hi im Caitlin and im 13. and i want to know how i can become friends with Amish. I have a large amount of family inNJ and PA and i have fallen in love with the Amish. If anybody has and idea how i could have a pinpal with a girl my age please tell me!!!!!!

  39. Bill


    I have taken 2 years and I am starting on my 3rd year of German. Is PA Dutch essentially German? Or somewhat close? Thanks!

  40. Lance

    PA Dutch as spoken by the Amish should really be called PA Deitsch. The language is a low German from SW Germany and parts of German Switzerland and adjacent France. There are many pronunciation and some word order differences. New words are usually the English equivalent. Some of these new words get ‘deitschified’ while others are left ‘english’. Most Amish read High German, which they learn in school, but it is not pronounced like what you have been learning, nor is it like the Deitsch! Many Amish do not learn the High German well and since HG is the language of scripture, these people don’t understand well the Word of God in the church.

  41. @Caitlin
    Drop me an email at and I can get you in contact with some “Plain” penpals. I have lived in Holmes County and now live in Lancaster County and have been around the Plain people for the last 30 years. Mike Atnip

  42. @Caitlin again
    After thinking a little about this, I want to make something clear. You should not be contacting me or anybody else over the internet that you do not know. If you are interested in a female Amish penpal, I have some that are willing to write to you. But I will not respond to you unless your parents write to me.
    I could post the names and addresses of the Plain girls willing to write to others, but I will not do that either.
    Perhaps the better thing to do is contact Pathway Publishers and every once in a while they print penpal requests in their magazine. I cant even remember if it is Young Companion or Family Life, but I have seen it somewhere.
    I felt funny asking you to drop me an email when I posted above (I would have my wife write the post and send it but she is sort of computer illiterate 🙂 ), and since thinking about it a few hours have decided that I should repost and warn you and others to not respond to online contacts to people that you do not know. The best route would to contact PATHWAY PUBLISHERS
    Rt. 4
    Aylmer, Ontario N5H 2R3 CANADA

    Sincerely, Mike Atnip

  43. Jake


    The quality of your information can be determined by the following claim you made…

    “English speakers do not adapt easily to Germanic languages”

    English IS a Germanic language. Despite your attempt in an earlier post to insinuate that you were just too damn smart to live among the Amish, I believe that you are the one who lacks the “critical thinking skills” that you believe are being taught in American schools.

    The fact that you think American public schools are teaching “critical thinking skills” these days shows that you know as much about the American public school system as you do about the Amish.

  44. Ray

    Jake, English is a Germanic language, but it’s far removed from German in its format.

  45. Ray

    Especially modern English. As English evolved it moved further away from its Germanic roots.

    1. Merrie Rancourt

      Learning Languages and Public Education

      One thing I have discovered is that it is apptitude that allows people to learn specific language sets. I learned German easily, my Dad flunked it. My brother-in-law can easily pick up Romance languages, but I have a lot of difficulty with them. I can easily learn Germanic languages. Romance languages are my downfall.

      As for public schools teaching critical learning skills, how long has it been since you have been involved with one. As a rule they do not. They teach liberal agendas, including dropping blacks from early American history. Did you know that we have already had a black Speaker of the House and that a black, free man cut the Revolutionary War short by several years?

      Critical thinking skills are only taught these days in private and/or religious schools. Children in my Conservative Mennonite church only attend through 9th grade, but they know more about critical thinking than children in the local public schools.

  46. Ray

    I followed Seeker’s comment here, but it seems to be gone. Unfortunately, due to a healthy respect for God’s commands the Amish would not allow you to remarry.

  47. Hannah

    Hey Im 15 and I would love to be amish. I have always wonted to become amish.Does anyone know who I can talk to about joining so that they can help me. I know y’all are proubly saying shes only 15 she dont know what she wonts but i promise im 110% sure about this and i really need it so i can get closer to God and i belive that Gods telling me to do this.So please can anyone help me. Please.

  48. Merrie Rancourt

    Hi Hannah,

    I believe you.

    There is no safe way for me to have you contact me off-line. I can, however, recommend that you sign up for the Amish_and_Mennonite group on Yahoo.

    This group will help you learn about the different types of Anabaptist groups. They will also help you locate a conservative Anabaptist church near you (if there is one). Once you are on the board, I could write you off-line.

    I know of a young woman who just went to live with an Amish group this month at the age of 18. She has been working towards this goal with the Lord’s guidance since about your age I think. I don’t have an address for her yet, but hope to hear from her soon. After all, she no longer has access to e-mail. 🙂


    1. Hannah

      @Merrie Rancourt
      Hey thank you for everything.But ummmm I cant find that group ummmm ill keep looking. But if I cant find it is there a link to it that you can give me??Thanks for beliveing me 🙂

      1. Merrie Rancourt


        Hi Hannah,

        The email address is

        You will have to be approved, but that’s no big problem.

        Hope this helps!


        1. Hannah

          @Merrie Rancourt
          Hey thanks again I sent them a message and I hope that they approve me so I can get to know people a little better and maybe get to talk to someone my age or around my age anywhere from 15-18 like a amish penpal I send them a letter through the mail.

  49. Ray


    Does anyone else have trouble with comments showing up in email alerts that are not on this discussion once you click into it?

    1. Hi Ray, do you mean you are getting notifications of comments on this post, which you don’t want to get, or that you want to get notifications, and are not?

  50. Ray

    Public Education

    Merrie Rancourt, it make different in your area, but around here black history is a huge agenda in the schools. So they are not leaving them out at all. In fact, they are using the whole month of February to hone in on the black’s accomplishments even if it’s things that would normally be an insignificant part of history. I’m confused to how that is a liberal agenda since it’s been the liberals that have promoted black history in public schools. (liberals are not always bad!) I’m not trying to contradict you, ma’am. I’m just stating my personal observations.

    1. Merrie Rancourt

      Public Education

      Hi Ray,

      I don’t take what you say as a contradiction. 🙂

      I’m speaking as a person who has family from all racial and ethnic backgrounds (except maybe Oriental).

      Black History month would be unnecessary if American History were truly re-integrated to allow critical thinking on all levels. Whites, Blacks, Native Americans, Orientals, and Hispanics did not independently affect history. They affected it as part of America.

      The Wilson administration first segregated our history as a means of making whites appear superior. ALL history should be taught where it happened in the timeline, not as a separate aspect. No one race is special and no one race is a victim.

      This is one of the terrific things about Anabaptist schools. There is no political agenda because we do not participate in the political system.