Asher Witmer

rediscovering Jesus

When People Leave the Mennonite Church is it just me, or are things not as they appear?

“I wanted to tell you personally, before you found out from anyone else,” my friend said over the phone one day. “We’re not going to be ‘Mennonite’ anymore.”

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Paha_L/Depositphotos.com

Okay. What does that mean? I wondered.

“Our values haven’t changed, we just don’t feel it is necessary to be Mennonite.”

I listened patiently, my mind running with questions. I get you. Totally. But how is that any different than what you before?

“We just simply feel it’s time we’re true to ourselves. That we follow God and not a cultural norm. Although we fear being judged and misunderstood, this feels like the right next step.”

Are you suggesting anyone who doesn’t leave the Mennonite church only remains because it’s cultural? Do you think I am only following a tradition and not God? And now I can’t ask you any questions because you’ll think I’m judging you. What am I supposed to say?

“Yeah… I understand,” I said.

 

*This is Part 3 of a 5-Part seres called “What’s the Big Deal about Being Mennonite?” Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

While this particular conversation is fictitious, I have heard many versions of it in the last number of years. One by one, different people I know of, respect—even some close friends—are stepping away from the Mennonite “tradition” and letting go of “Mennonite baggage.” I find myself left with some gut-wrenching questions.

I have deep respect for everyone I have personally spoken with about this. I truly do understand the frustration, the tension of trying to participate with a church I don’t always feel on the same page with. What I share in this post is the most vulnerable thing for me to put online to date, because I am going to be wrestling with questions I have that people close to me may be affected by. I seek to do so as lovingly and gently as possible. I don’t claim to know the heart and motive of anyone leaving or having left the Mennonite church. But I have reservations about what I’m seeing. There’s another side that I feel needs to be told that can’t be told because it will be lumped in with the “traditional mantra” or misunderstood as “rebellious antagonist.”

Most people who have commented on this series so far (especially on the Facebook threads) have strong opinions one way or the other. Either they are totally done with the Mennonite church, or they can’t understand in the least what is being talked about in this series.

There is a wide vacuum of people who are silent. People who don’t want to cause conflict. People who, like me, have had a good experience in their Mennonite upbringing, but also see areas of weakness that need radical change.

Only, they’re at a loss for how to change it because either they’re written off as a rebel, or their questions and comments are hijacked by people with an agenda for the opposite of the Mennonite tradition.

Allow me, if for a moment, to wrestle aloud with the questions of someone who identifies with his friends who are leaving, but is concerned with whether we’re finding anything better.

 

What does it mean to not be “Mennonite” anymore? What did it mean to be Mennonite? And how does one “leave the Mennonite church” and not change their values? What are Mennonite values? And does a change in physical appearance demonstrate a change in one’s values? Does the physical appearance have anything to do with one’s values? What are values?

The reason I always get a tight knot in my stomach whenever I hear the opening conversation is because I am not Mennonite only because my parents are Mennonite. I have no qualms admitting that if my parents were something else, I would likely be that as well. I think it’s rather silly to try denying that reality. Just as it is silly to suggest that reality is faulty reason to stay whatever one has always been. It’s not a faulty reason if someone has wrestled through heart and faith questions and found what he has always believed actually does provide the most compelling answers for those questions. Just as it is not faulty if someone realizes what he has always believed does not actually answer deep questions.

We all follow what seems to answer our questions best.

We also all wrestle with different questions, because we all have different experiences.

There’s nothing wrong with questions. There’s nothing wrong with questioning one’s belief system. It doesn’t mean someone is rebellious or badmouthing.

It means someone is searching.

 

And if we’re going to cultivate people who are deeply confident in truth, then we need to be okay with and provoke people to search out truth.

And by the way, confidence in truth doesn’t mean one has answers to all the questions. Trying to answer every question can actually shake one’s confidence in truth.

Developing confidence in truth means figuring out which questions are most essential, and then seeing who has an answer for them (and which answer is most compelling).

We could debate over the definition of compelling, but I’m using it as a word to describe an answer that makes sense within the worldview it prescribes to, and that the worldview it prescribes to jives most cohesively with what I experience. Naturally, then, what is compelling will vary from person to person. The goal isn’t that one answers solve everyone’s questions, but that we each are allowed to seek out compelling answers and share them with each other so as to help each other grow.

And if we’re going to pursue truth at all, and if we’re going to dabble in “religion,” we must consider the reality of a Creator. I believe the Christian worldview (that there is one God represented in three persons who made everything and inspired men to write His design, His story into books which is now compiled into one book known as the Bible) provides the most compelling answers for our origin. I realize there are many nuances within what I just described as a “Christian worldview,” and that’s fine. This post is not about the Christian worldview, much less origins. I am simply laying the base from which I understand truth.

A base I am sure most of my readers have as their starting point for truth.

 

And if that is true, then shouldn’t any of our decisions, whether to leave one denomination for another or to stay, be founded upon becoming more faithful to God and His Word?

Where do we get the idea that following Christ is about being “true to ourselves”? I realize authenticity is a buzz idea for our generation, an idea I believe is quite biblical. God does not want sacrifice if it is not coming from a heart who truly longs to do as He wishes (Ps. 51:16-17).

But true authenticity, true peace with oneself, and with God, comes from confessing with my mouth and believing in my heart that what Jesus did on the cross actually fully reconciled me with God, so that I am now free from myself to live for Him (Ro. 5:1, 6:17-18 Gal. 5:13-16).

If being “true to myself” means living a life that is not true to God’s Word, then I am not any more in the right.

 

And what about values? What values are we talking about when we say, “our values haven’t changed”? Because there are a lot of changes that happen when someone leaves the Mennonite church. Many physical, visible changes in dress or activities of one’s lifestyle. Isn’t it true that we behave according to our values? So, either we were faking values all along, or our values actually have changed. And if they have changed, are they now more aligned with God’s Word?

If they haven’t changed, who’s to say we’re still not faking? How do we know we’re not just trading in one ideology for another?

Let me be clear, I am not asking these questions in condemnation of anyone. I don’t claim to know the motive or heart of people, even if they have made choices I don’t agree with.

I’m simply writing down the questions that run through my heart and mind as I watch many people leave.

 

I believe most people who become disgruntled with the Mennonite church are so, originally, because of the churches bad theology or an inability to live out the truly radical life Christ calls us to. In other words, their being disgruntled is “well justified.”

But I wonder, sometimes, if somewhere along the line it doesn’t move from wanting to be more biblical to wanting to no longer be Mennonite. I wonder this because there are actually large swaths of evangelicals that are beginning to adopt more Anabaptist theology. People who are coming from evangelical backgrounds and are open to God’s Word seem more open to Anabaptist interpretations of Scripture then some of those who are leaving their Anabaptist church.

To be sure, I am not suggesting that if one is truly open to God and the best interpretation of Scripture he will end up Anabaptist. Rather, I’m asking if when we leave the Anabaptist church, we’re not actually more concerned about getting away from Anabaptists then we are with becoming more faithful to God and His Word.

Hear me out a little further, I don’t know that we should be concerned with someone who wants to get away from the Anabaptist church. I’m not sure that’s wrong.

 

Whenever anyone wants out from something so badly they want nothing to do with it again, it signals deep pain or confusion. Maybe even abuse. They need the space to take a journey. And they need to be allowed to end up someplace that isn’t necessarily where we are. As they find healing from whatever pain or clarity for whatever confusion is back there, they will better be able to embrace whatever truth may have been there as well.

Some of you who are most desperate to defend the Mennonite (or Anabaptist) church will likely get distracted by some of my illustrations that aren’t true of your experience. But please don’t miss the greater message. The fact that it’s not true of your experience doesn’t mean we can ignore those for whose experience it is true.

If we truly do care about walking in faithfulness to God and His Word, if we truly aren’t simply holding on to some cultural lifestyle, then we must get to the heart of these issues. We must gently seek to understand people’s stories if we hope to maintain any kind of influence in their life. Sticking our heads in the sand because “It’s not our experience” isn’t going to help anyone.

Unless what we’re wanting to help them with is leave the Mennonite church.

 

At the same time, I am left in a quandary with what is really going on when someone leaves? Take the veiling, for instance. If someone chooses to no longer wear a head veiling, what does she do with 1 Corinthians 11? If her goal really is being as most faithful to God and His Word as possible, how can she explain away something that is in God’s Word?

Now, I realize there are many dynamics that go into the best interpretation of Scripture. We need to understand cultural and historical contexts in which each book was written. But unless the text indicates a direct cultural distinction to what is being taught, to write it off as cultural is to essentially say “I’m not going to go where the text leads.”

I’m all for letting go of the head veiling if the text in 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t actually saying women should cover their heads. But no matter what angle I seek to understand that passage, the most obvious conclusion I can find is that Paul is saying women should in fact cover their heads. I have yet to hear a compelling explanation saying that isn’t what Paul is suggesting.

Furthermore, it’s only been in the last hundred years women of any denomination have quit covering their heads. But that’s another post for another time. My point is, if “no longer being Mennonite” means you no longer cover your head, are you leaving because you’re wanting to become more faithful to God’s Word?

But I’m also beginning to wonder if this isn’t actually secondary. While many of us want to be faithful to God’s Word, I think at a deeper level we’re not even sure if we know God.

 

I think most of us leave because we’re wanting to discover God. And in far too many Anabaptist churches there is no place to discover God, unless He clearly fits into our Anabaptist tradition.

But then I guess I wish we were more honest about that. I wish we didn’t try spiritualizing why we’re leaving and, instead, simply say, “I’m not sure I know God.” I wish we were more open to people walking alongside us who are still Mennonite. In my experience, those who leave do more pushing people away than the one’s they are leaving. I realize this is just my experience, but it is something I have noticed.

People who leave in search for life, even some of those who claim they have found life, don’t necessarily demonstrate to me greater life. They can sometimes actually be some of the most exclusive, graceless, narrow-minded people around. Have they truly found something better?

Why such formal announcements when people leave? Why is this something we have to sit down and talk about? You expect me to be upset? What if I’m not upset? What if I want to walk with you?

In fact, what if I have never considered myself “Mennonite” but “a disciple of Christ” even though I still believe things pretty much only Mennonites believe? And if nothing major is going to change, why do you have to tell me about this decision. Something must be about ready to change.

And again, because you’re announcing a change, I am going to have several questions. Only, you’re going to take my questions as if I’m being judgmental or don’t understand or am only brainwashed by culture. You don’t even give me a chance. Do you even want someone like me to have a chance at a word with you? Or are you simply wanting to be able to do what you want with your life and have nobody question it?

These are the questions I have when people leave the Mennonite church.

 

I love my friends dearly. I realize some of the things I’ve written may sting, and I don’t intend to push anyone away or condemn what anyone has done or said. Some of my questions probably expose that I don’t understand the whole story.

But I’d like to understand. I’d like to walk with people who struggle with church. I care about God’s people, especially those confused and disillusioned.

I hope that by sharing my questions and thought processes on paper we can all grow closer to God together.

Because we desperately need Him.

Again, feel free to share any thoughts you have in the comments below.

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About Asher Witmer

I am a son of God, husband, father, and difference maker. I love helping people sort through hard questions they face and rediscover Jesus. I have written three eBooks dealing with church frustrations, and send out daily posts addressing faith, church and relationships.

  • Brian Hunt

    Asher and Merle,
    Thank you both for your insightful comments. I am a Catholic who is currently struggling with the choice to leave the Church to join a conservative Mennonite church in my area (Ohio). I am drawn to the Mennonite church for many of the foundational commitments Merle outlined. My struggle is further complicated by the fact my wife isn’t interested in EITHER church, yet she has expressed concerns about the “beliefs” of the Mennonites. I am going to continue to attend services at both churches but I am finding it difficult to articulate my reasons to make a change. I do feel a strong responsibility to deepen my understanding of Jesus and the Christian way of life, something both churches offer. So, I will put my faith in God and the Holy Spirit to guide my journey! Please know the comments each of you made have opened my mind to more questions than answers!

  • Lyndon Bechtel

    Have enjoyed your articles.
    Why I left the Mennonite Church part 1. Parts two and three are also there.

    http://www.manifestedbythelight.com/manifested—a-blog/why-i-left-the-mennonite-church-part-1

  • Thanks for sharing, Merle. I like how you bring the focus back onto what we are personally responsible for. I know I’ve heard you speak on it before, but I’m curious again.. what are some of the most important reasons you stay a member of the Mennonite church? Do you care to share, here?

    • Merle Burkholder

      Sure. Here four foundational commitments of conservative Anabaptism that I value and are the reasons why I choose to remain in the conservative Mennonite Church.
      1. Biblicism. A simple and literal interpretation of Scripture. When we understand what the Bible says we make an effort to live that out and apply it in our lives. Do we always do this perfectly? No. Still the commitment to make the attempt is worthwhile.
      2. Discipleship. This is the essence of Christianity. The strait gate doesn’t open onto the broad road. It matters how we live. It also becomes part of the way we function as a group. We disciple one another as we follow Christ. The brotherhood relationships really do matter. In our age of individualism there is a tendency to say that the only relationship that matters is the vertical relationship. The relationship between us and God. But Jesus established the church so that we could heal together. So that we could care for one another. So we could help each along in our journey toward Christlikeness.
      3. A disciplined believer’s church. The church is a voluntary organization made up of people who are committed to following Christ and living out their faith in a broken world. Some of what I said in the previous point applies here. If I get off on some false idea or stray away from my passion for Christ, I want to be part of a church that will challenge me and call me back to what is right. I want to be part of a church that not only calls sinners to repentance but that builds up the believers and is willing to challenge the sinner when needed. We should be looking at the works of the flesh in Galatians 5 and challenging those who demonstrate the works of the flesh in their lives. The call of Christ is an upward call and we need each other to be all that we can be. Love is warm and gracious and kind, and love is also at times corrective when needed.
      4. Peace and non-violence in human relationships. This is a very crucial one for me. I just could not participate in the devastation of warfare and taking of human life. I can’t condone it, and I can’t be part of it. The just war theory is flawed, in my opinion. The Kingdom of God is such a big idea compared to nationalism. We transcend the ethnic, religious, and political conflicts of our time that resort to violence. They will never be solved through the use of violence. Violence can push resistance under the surface because it has the biggest gun, but it can’t bring true peace. We have a calling to be agents of true peace or Shalom in all its meanings. There are things that I am willing to die for, but there is nothing that I am willing to kill for. ~merle

      • Thanks for sharing this, Merle. I appreciate it!

  • Twila

    You ask some really good questions here. Some of these we have asked too as some of our friends have left. I often don’t see that they have anything better in the end or that they end up being way more “on fire for God” or obedient to Christ’s commands (and I am not talking about dress here, I am talking about the other things they leave for ) .One common theme is how we don’t reach out and I agree that we are super weak often in this area, but then I look at those that have left and often nothing has really changed in their personal lives in that area and in fact, their children often embrace more and more of the culture around them in ways that don’t seem to be leading them closer to God. But of course I don’t know and maybe they are just doing things in secret that are for the Kingdom’s sake. We try not to reject our friends who have left but to give them the freedom to follow God as they feel called to.
    One thing I realized lately about myself…sometimes I don’t feel close to God but then I want to put the blame on ” the church” or my circumstances..and maybe the main trouble is actually me and a resistance to learning to know God intimately no matter where I am because I really don’t want total surrender. Sometimes it’s easy to excuse our own lack of fire on so much that is our own fault. Just some thoughts I’ve been having..as I wrestle through a lot of hard stuff lately.
    I think one of the huge things that people find offensive is our tendency as Mennonites to feel superior to others or come across as if we are just a mite higher than other Christians. I often wonder why we can’t just preach Christ and His teachings and leave off the comparison game? As we see and learn to know God more and more intimately, it should cause us to be like the publican not the Pharisee, and like Isaiah who saw that he was undone and unclean before God. We are ALL equal at the foot of the cross!
    And the other thing that sometimes causes people to leave is just loneliness…our emphasis on “holiness” or “looking good” on the outside tends to make us isolated from each other if we ARE struggling with having victory. People will leave when they feel they are not getting help working through the deepest issues in their hearts and all the emphasis tends to be on how you wear your veil or whatever. We long for others to encourage and lift up our weak hands instead of knocking us down when our inner struggles show up on the outside but the core issues are not even addressed or cared for in ways that growth occurs.
    I really liked what you said about all of us going through different experiences in our church lives. That is so true and it behooves us to try to understand that. A person who was part of a church who rapidly threw away Biblical principles in the past (and had to decide to pull out because things were going too “liberal” ) will view church life through different lenses than those of us do who went through very painful church experiences and were rejected/excommunicated, etc. for minor outer details. So often we can only see our own perspectives and aren’t able to hear others coming from a different set of experience and circumstances. That is why we need to give each other grace, because until we hear someone’s story and can see what motivates their reactions and thinking, it is so easy to just dismiss their perspective as invalid or not as correct as mine. It is easier to judge someone and feel superior to them than it is to truly walk with them as they wrestle through questions…or to really LISTEN to why they believe the way they do.

    • Pauline Doyle

      wow, as somebody who has come from the “outside” (I attend but have not joined a Mennonite church), you’ve hit the nail on the head with so many of your points here – I can relate!!

  • Nathaniel

    There’s a simple answer for why people say there values haven’t changed, but the person themselves appears to change when they leave. They didn’t hold those values of dress or the prayer veiling or whatever. It doesn’t exactly mean they were faking values, they were just following the rules of their church and trying not to cause problems, even though they didn’t believe in the values behind those things long before they left and maybe never did. Then when they leave, they’re actually living out their values. So, of course, it feels like an expression of authenticity because they can actually live out their values instead of being constrained by rules they didn’t believe in.

    Why do they tell people their values haven’t changed? I’d guess it’s because they’re afraid of losing the relationship, and/or they’re afraid of a strong backlash of judgement, and want their friends and to know they’re the same person that was loved or at least accepted before they left. But, given some time, they probably will be developed/grow differently in the environment of their new church, just as they did in their former which is to be expected if your church has any impact on you at all.

    • Nathaniel

      Side note: since the blog part was so vulnerable, I’ll share a bit of my story: For myself, unfortunately, the prayer veiling was one thing I really struggled with because I was so preconditioned to read that passage in a certain way. I ultimately decided that the things I valued in my new church were more important than that particular application. I had gotten the impression from my Mennonite background that the prayer veiling was this all important “make or break” issue, but I began to believe there were other things that were vastly more important. Mennonites would always resort to the argument that “no church is perfect” whenever you point out the inconsistency of a certain rule or practice–I had heard this more times than I can count. I figured that if my new church were inconsistent on only this one interpretation, I’d be fine with that, as they seemed to do so much better with actual heart and belief issues. Years later, I began to actually interpret that passage differently, so now I can see multiple legitimate interpretations.

      • Thanks for sharing vulnerably, Nate. I actually appreciate your response. It feels honest, and I really respect that. In the end, we all are choosing which inconsistencies we accept. No denomination or church has a trump card on biblical interpretation and, like you say, there are several plausible accurate interpretations of that passage. But usually, in the moment, I think, we are actually responding in search of something else, and that’s why I think and honest answer (“this church is giving me something I value more and my previous church isn’t giving it”) is more admirable than a justified one, if you follow what I mean.

        • Nathaniel

          Interesting thought about an honest answer vs. a justified one. I’m trying to process what it means. I’m also trying to remember how I responded to the shockingly few people from my church who even asked me. (Literally, I remember only one other than the pastor that I had a sort of mentoring relationship with. Maybe there were more, but they didn’t contain much meaningful conversation if they did ask. I do remember that I had distilled the issues down to two points rule/law violating Col. 2 and the praxis of the Holy Spirit.) If you’re going for something doesn’t that necessarily imply it’s lacking at your original church? So what’s the difference between describing what your looking for vs describing what you’re missing? I had the unique privilege of being a part of another church for a full year before I had to leave the Mennonites. Others probably weren’t able to do that and therefore experience that another church did in fact grow their relationship with God. In hindsight, I guess I could have said something like “I found a much more compelling relationship with God at this other church?” Though that pretty much demands the follow up question “Why?” which runs into my question above. IDK, I look forward to the rest of the series as you flesh out your ideas more.

          • Yeah, I think I understand what you’re asking (although I’m not entirely sure). I guess what I was meaning by honest vs. justified is you said (at least in this thread) that you became okay with accepting a small inconsistency so you could gain something more important instead of coming up with some drawn-out reason why the way you always interpreted that passage is actually wrong. Like you say, there are several possible accurate interpretations of that passage. One of them being that women should cover their heads. So it’s a bit of a cover for someone to claim some big superior interpretation they’ve now discovered. Basically doing the very thing people they’re leaving do. Does that make sense?

            I’ll see if I can explain it more clearly in today’s post.

            • Nathaniel

              Ok, that makes sense, I was totally missing what you meant by that by honest vs. justified! I get it now, you can pretty much forget what I was saying above! 🙂

  • Z

    I did not grow up Mennonite, so I am finding this series interesting. I joined a Mennonite church and was Mennonite for roughly six years. As a member I was still very much looked on as an outsider because I did not have the cultural background, and thinking. I ended up leaving because of that. I needed fellowship that wouldn’t always be judging me because I was different in those areas.

  • Tim

    These articles have definitely hit home. Thanks for what you have shared so far. Since you asked I will give you my take on the veiling. (you did ask my opinion, correct?) First of all I think we as Mennonite have distorted the veiling by adding to it, thus making it easier to toss once outside of the anabaptist circles. I have read that passage many times with a small part of me trying to explain it away. I feel I know have a much better understanding of what was intended than ever before. #1 in the text Paul is writing to both men and women, so I don’t think we can separate the teaching at its core. The 1963 confession of faith adheres to my belief in its initial statement of the headship order and then falls away when it is mentioned later on. #2 the uncovered head and the covered head are symbolic. The symbol is not the cloth. If it was [the cloth] then the there is no need to mention men in the head ship passage because we would have no symbol. If I am correct, then both men and women have a symbol of the headship order to observe. If you look at it in this context women would need to cover when men need to uncover. That opens up a whole other can of worms. We are to pray without ceasing but men can where hats right up to the church foyer? It doesn’t line up with our current teaching and that is why I feel it is easy to throw it out because something doesn’t feel right. I am in no way trying to get rid of the teaching as I feel more firm in my belief of the headship order than ever before. Based on research brought to light by Mr. Simon Fry, the anabaptist didn’t require the veiling to be worn at all times until the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I believe if you don’t separate men and women you solve alot of problems. Also if the veil is no longer the symbol but the covered head it takes away the whole issue of size and shape! I know you didn’t ask for a discussion on the veiling but I feel this is one of several areas that are causing the exodus today. I love our culture. That is one of the main reasons I stay. What other culture can you plug into and feel welcome as a stranger all across America. People that have never met you before will open their home at a moments notice and give you food and shelter without any reservations. I agree, without Jesus being #1, our culture gets us nowhere. I also believe that many Anabaptist are following after Christ and as for today, this is where I chose to plug myself into!

    • Hector Troyer

      I Like this Tim. The concept that our dishonesty about the covering makes the veiling appear to be a Mennonite cultural thing. Prescribed shapes and patterns really reenforce this cultural feeling in the minds of other Christian people. My journey of doubt has led me to the conclusion that our Mennonite stance on the head covering is way too strong in all the wrong areas (shape, pattern) and way too weak in the ones that matter (modesty, size).
      This reminds me of the joke about the man who parachuted

      • Tim

        Absolutely! In the past I have followed the website http://www.headcoveringmovement.com primarily to see how people from outside the mennonites respond when they read 1 Corinthians 11 and decide to put it into practice. It’s great to get a perspective from someone who doesn’t have a hundred years of trying to decide what size, shape, or color it needs to be. It actually quite refreshing. Anytime man decides to specify application to a Biblical principle it gets messy. We tend to react to the world around us. Decades later no one knows why the application was there we just know it’s wrong to do it any other way. I grew up in a congregation where the mustache was prohibited. Why? My Grandpa who was bishop there for years doesn’t really know the answer. Somewhere down the line our ancestors reacted to what culture was doing and decided the beard was ok but only the beard. I feel where scripture is not absolutely clear on application it gets dangerous to get to specific. It’s probably ok for the first generation but the reasons behind it are mostly lost on the generations that follow. This reminds me of the story of a young lady who got married. She grew up watching her mother in the kitchen and of course, learned from her. She would often make a roast and would cut the end of the roast off before putting it in the pan. One day after watching his wife cut the end of the roast off, her husband asked her why she does that. She didn’t know why but replied it was the way her mother had always done it. This raised her curiosity so she asked her mother why she cooked the roast this way. Her mother had also learned this from the young brides Grandma. The question was then asked of the grandmother who replied, “my pan was too small for the roast so I had to cut it off so it would fit!” It’s a great reminder to pass on the why and not “because that’s how we have always done it”.

  • Twyla Diefenbacher

    Asher, these posts have captured the very depths of my heart… I too wrestle with these questions. It is so good to know you do too and hear you express them. Yes I’ve been Mennonite my whole life and yet at this point I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other church. I’ve found and continue to find more of Jesus and more of the Holy Spirit within my anabaptist church. I also feel like I tend to see things from the “middle ground” I’m deeply saddened when I see people leave anabaptism, and yet I hear their stories and understand why they do. I guess I just wish everyone could have as good an experience as I have had with mennonites. And yet there are things I would change if I could and I long to see more of Christ in my church.
    I deeply appreciate the balance with which you approach this subject and ask these questions. So often things I hear are either from one “side” or the other and I feel caught in the middle; agreeing with both but not being able to embrace either one. So thank you for questioning both those who leave and those who stay… thank you for letting Jesus speak through you… thank you for blazing trails and facing the hard things. Keep speaking life.

  • Morti K Miller

    Hello, Mr. Witmer. You asked some questions. “What does it mean to not be “Mennonite” anymore? What did it mean to be Mennonite?” I’d like to ask you how you describe the Mennonite church. Is an anabaptist church the same as a Mennonite church? Are all Mennonite churches anabaptist churches?
    What makes a church Mennonite, or Baptist, or Lutheran, or Catholic, or you name it? When I was a member of a Mennonite church, that meant I had to obey the rules that were made by Mennonites. That is what made me a Mennonite. I’d like to know what it means to you to be Mennonite, if you don’t mind sharing that.