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When people ask what we are, sometimes we reply that we are Messianics theologically and “want-ta-be Mennonites” in home life.
Through the years we have had a number of touches with the Mennonite community in different parts of the US. Here is what we’ve learned from them…
That the women are actually spending time in the kitchen making dinner. Sleeves rolled up, apron on, making biscuits, pie for dessert, a full dinner.
That the children are groomed impeccably...so that when all 12 of them greet you at the curb, they communicate holiness to you before you even get out of your car…just by the looks of them. Their shirts are tucked in and buttoned to the top; the boys’ hair is cut short, the girls’ hair is long and braided, etc.
That the women take modesty very seriously—not wanting to cause their Christian brother (whom they will live with for all eternity) to stumble mentally, even moderately.
That in whatever little free time they have they seek to nourish themselves in the Lord, rather than turning to entertainment coming from the media. They will often be seen and heard singing hymns in the evening on their front porches.
That they love singing hymns in harmony, and train their children in how to read music, all four parts, vocally, from an early age.
That they see to it that they steadily redeem extra time by working productively with their hands.
That they focus upon loving humans rather than squandering inordinate affection upon animals. Seeking yet another neighbor to walk with, talk to, feed, an extra child to take in…a continual focus on eternal souls.
That they universally extend hospitality. They are taught it and reminded about it in some measure almost weekly from the pulpit. Everyone, including all visitors, is taken into some home after church for the noon meal. Not one is left to go home alone.
They exemplify humility. They don’t fight for pre-eminence or to be in authority, or to be noticed. They regard the servant’s part as the higher part.
The men share the leadership and teaching ministry in their church—a Biblical plurality of eldership.
They are extremely capable domestically. The men can fix anything. The women have advanced sewing skills, and food preservation skills for hard times or winters coming up. And they train their children to do the same from an early age. Their children routinely are incredibly well disciplined, and work hard in and around the home.
They treasure children and believe in a full quiver. They make their children sit with them in church, and see to it that they exhibit quietness and reverence. The back rows are reserved for this child training. There is a regular parade in and out of church during the service from the back rows of parents quietly taking their children out, administering justice to them and then re-entering. They nurture their children’s hearts during the week and show continual interest and attention to them, and the parents always introduce every child as if they were showing you the full extent of their wealth.
They are financially frugal for their own part, and they give generously.
Visiting Mennonite churches from time to time and eating with their families has done us nothing but good. We’ve been influenced in countless ways, through the years, by just observing them. We differ from them in significant ways, theologically (our statement of beliefs is online), but we think there is much to emulate in the personal day-to-day behavior of traditional Mennonite families.