How is the Amish church different from most others? Odds are, these three aspects of Amish worship are different from how things work in your church.
1. Home Worship
The Amish do not build churches or meetinghouses. Church service is held every two weeks on a rotating basis within the church district, typically made up of 25-35 families.
The actual church service is held in either a large room in the home, basement, workshop, or barn. An oversized wagon is used to transport the church benches from home to home, which later double as benches and tables for the traditional fellowship meal. Church is not held weekly but rather every other Sunday.
2. Song Without Music
While many Christian denominations make use of organs, guitars, and other musical accompaniments, Amish church singing is strictly a capella. The Ausbund is the most commonly-used hymnal (though there are others), and is the oldest Christian hymnal in continuous use.
A Vorsinger (song leader) begins each line of song with a long drawn-out note, after which the rest of the congregation joins in. Amish sing at the beginning of the service for 20+ minutes, and for a shorter time to close the gathering.
3. Unpaid, Untrained Ministers
The men who serve in the Amish ministry are not paid for their spiritual work, nor do they receive formal training. Ministers are selected from among all baptized men, by a two-part process. First, men are nominated by the congregation (both men and women vote), and those selected are placed in the “lot”.
Then, each man picks from a selection of hymnals, one of which contains a slip of paper on which is written a verse from Scripture. The man who chooses this hymnal is then immediately ordained. All Amish males make a promise on baptism to serve in the ministry if so chosen.
Erik Wesner writes about the Amish in print and online. His first book, Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive was based on 60 interviews Erik conducted with Amish business owners, as well as his own experiences living and working in Amish communities from Pennsylvania to Iowa. He has contributed to Amish-themed articles featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other print media. He also has served as a consultant for numerous authors of Amish fiction and non-fiction and writes the Amish America blog. His upcoming book is called 50 Fascinating Amish Facts.
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, first-look excerpts and much more.