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The Conservative Mennonite

My Soapbox

Anabaptist History
My Soapbox

Mennonite In Name Only

What's wrong with our Mennonite churches today? To be more specific, where are all the Mennonites in our Mennonite churches? To be sure, there are still many conservative Mennonite churches out there that still practice the core beliefs of our faith. But, I can't help but wonder where all the Mennonites are when I walk into a professed Mennonite church. Sometimes I'll see a woman or two still donning the headcovering, but most of the time it's one of the church matriarchs who has been there for many years.
It seems that the younger generations have forsaken the Biblical, Mennonite practices that makes one a Mennonite. Many of these churches are split from older, more conservative Mennonite churches, and they have slid, make that turned away from the things they once practiced. These so-called Mennonite churches in their effort to bring people in have decided to throw off the old ways in favor of the new. Gone are the hymns, replaced by the new praise and worship choruses. Gone is the footwashing, the holy kiss, the headcovering, and the ban. Many of these churches, while still containing those of Mennonite background, have filled with transfers from Pentecostal and Non-denominational churches. The plain style of the Mennonite church is replaced with decorations, and elaborate sound and video projection systems. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with these things. But the fact is, that these things tend to distract from the preaching of the Word.
I myself did not grow up in a Mennonite church. In fact, I grew up the son of a Baptist preacher, and have only recently converted to the Mennonite faith. But I have visited many Mennonite churches, and have found them lacking in what it truly means to be Mennonite. In converting to the Mennonite faith, I studied a great deal in what it means to be Mennonite, and found the theology and practices of the Mennonites to be something I could allow myself to be recognized with. Imagine my disappointment however, to discover that many Mennonite-in-name churches don't share in my enthusiasm however. Many of these churches want to appeal more to those outside of the Mennonite faith, and so have forsaken their background in order to gain these. But why continue to carry the Mennonite name? Is it because of the familiarity?
Why do these churches feel that it is okay to dress like the world, and behave in a manner inconsistent with the Mennonite beliefs, and yet retain the name Mennonite? Why is it okay to allow young women to dress immodestly in the church, or allow young men to play in bands that play secularized 'christian' music? How can the leaders of these churches with a straight face say that they are Mennonite? Am I the only one who feels this way, or are there others who feel as do I?
I am not the only convert to the Mennonite faith to feel this way. A dear friend who converted to the Mennonite faith before me professed that she does not understand why many of these churches behave in such a manner. She wonders in secret why she is the one of the only young women in the congregation to wear the headcovering.
It is not out of pride that I post this, but out of sadness and confusion, and perhaps, a bit of frustration. For me, matters of faith are important, and not to be taken lightly. I do believe that my brothers and sisters in these churches are striving to please God, but I do take exception at the use of the name Mennonite when the church does not follow in the distinctives that make one Mennonite. Perhaps it is only my youthful naivette and zeal that make me feel so strongly about this. But I don't think it is. I pray that the peace of God be on all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I pray also for my brothers and sisters in Mennonite churches to return to their roots from which they have wandered.

Preserving the Conservative Mennonite position