Gabrielle gave a post suggestion the other day:
Pros and cons of being Mennonite. What do you love/hate most about it?
My first thoughts were, “this is dangerous territory,” and, “I don’t think of Mennonites in pro/con love/hate terms.” But on second thought, there are some things I really appreciate about being a conservative Mennonite, and some things that really bother me. As a person trying to be completely honest on her blog, I might as well do a post about it.
Pro: Mennonites are Christians. In a Mennonite church, the most important thing is Jesus, and the most important decision you can make is to accept Jesus into your heart and give your life to Him.
This trait it obviously present in many churches that are not Mennonite, but I am still mentioning it first because it is the most important aspect of Mennonite churches.
Con: The over-emphasis on culture.
This is kind of a sticky tricky subject and I know that not all of my readers are going to agree with me on this. However, I think the conservative Mennonite church is too focused on their own personal culture.
There are two great downfalls in this. First, it’s hard for non-Mennonites to understand and break into our culture, greatly hindering our outreach. Second, we end up with a lot of rules which have no Scriptural basis, which also hinders our outreach.
For instance, here are some questions I have been asked by non-Mennonites which I had no good answer for.
1. How come you have to wear a black head covering? Why don’t you wear a pretty pink one some time?
2. Wait, you can watch movies at home but you can’t go to a movie theater? What if you just bought a really big screen?
3. Your hair is so pretty. Couldn’t you wear it down if you still wore your head covering?
People in the church have told me that I should say, “the members of my church have all agreed on a standard,” and that people will admire my church for having standards. However, I have never met a person “in the world” who admired my church for having “standards” that had no scriptural basis. Instead they look at me with sympathy.
I feel strongly that our purpose as Christians is to share Jesus with those who don’t know him, and that our churches should be safe places for those new Christians to come and get to know Jesus better. I also feel, from personal experience, that the Mennonite culture makes this more difficult. That is why I listed it as a “con.”
Pro: The core beliefs and values.
In Reformation days, the Mennonites (then called Anabaptists) formed because they believed that people should be baptized when they are consenting adults, not when they are babies. This was about more than some sprinkled water. When babies were baptized, they became church members. The Catholics and Protestants were both trying to get as many church members as possible, and form a state church. The Mennonites, however, didn’t want a state church. They wanted a church filled only with people who had truly given their heart to Jesus, and were committed to spending their life serving Him.
Thus, Mennonites were some of the first proponents of separation of Church and State in the western world. (I’d like to say they were THE first, but I haven’t done enough research on that point to know for sure.)
Mennonites also practiced “nonresistance.” The idea of nonresistance is taken from Matthew 5:39, which says, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Like Pacifists, Mennonites would be opposed to going to war. However, they take it a step further. If someone does something evil to us, we are to do something nice back. As simple as that.
A good example of what I like about Mennonite values can be found on Millercase.org. You can read up on the case there, because I don’t feel like explaining the whole thing here. However, there was one line on the website which struck me:
We wish to clarify that this was an act of mercy without a political agenda. This is true for the simple reason that Anabaptists have always believed that we are not to participate in the affairs of the State, while we gladly submit to its rule under God. We also recognize that there are many legal battles being fought in relation to homosexuality. We have no desire to participate in these conflicts.
When I read this I thought, how great it this? So many people have an agenda these days. Even this case can be seen as a battle between ‘pro homosexual’ people and ‘anti-homosexual’ people. But in the Mennonite world, it’s not a political battle. The Mennonites simply saw someone who needed help, and helped them, because they felt it was the right thing to do.
That is, in a nutshell, what I love about the Mennonites.
Thank you Gabrille for your post suggestion! Anyone who had suggestions for future posts can leave them in the comments or email them to me at Jemilys@gmail.com