They are expected to participate in community activities, to attend regular church services and to have lots of children. All their activities are governed by the ‘law’ of their congregation and failure to do so can lead to exclusion from their family and community forever. Membership is taken seriously. Those who join the church, and then later leave, may be shunned by their former congregation and their families. Those who choose to not join can continue to relate freely with their friends and family. Church growth occurs through having large families and by retaining those children as part of the community.
Amish Faith and Beliefs
Conversion to the Amish faith is rare but does occasionally occur as in the case of historian David Luthy. Having children, raising them, and socialization with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family. The main purposes of “family” can be illustrated within the Amish culture in a variety of ways. Loyalties to parents, grandparents, and other relatives may change over time but they will never cease. A church district is measured by the number of families (households), rather than by the number of baptized persons.
Amish children often follow in their faith’s long-standing tradition of being taught at an early age to work jobs in the home on the family’s land or that of the community. When a barn needs to be constructed, Amish communities engage in what is called a barn-raising event.
As time has passed, the Amish have felt pressures from the modern world. A modern society places little emphasis on the emotional and spiritual bonds found in an Amish household that bind them together as a people.
Because the building of a barn required more labor than a single family could muster, an entire community of people was typically called in to complete the task. The work was done largely by volunteers and would be completed in a matter of a few days, typically in June and July, which was the time between harvest and planting periods. The family that needed the barn would provide the materials, such as timber for construction. While the construction of a barn was a community effort, the resulting structure was owned by a single family.
In turn, that same family would participate in barn-raising events for other families. Men carried out the construction work while women brought food and children were brought to observe and learn so that they could participate in the future. Barn raising is an ongoing tradition among modern Amish communities. The Amish community lives a way of life that is unthinkable to most modern citizens. They do not have technology in their homes, they work on the land or in the home and they rarely leave their home communities.