There was a very interesting article about the Amish in a recent issue of Leben, a journal that focuses on Christian history. In the editor’s preview of the cover story he wrote, “Most separatist sects die out after the first or second generation, but one group of Pietists have not only survived, but prospered. Known as the “Amish”, these folks have grown rapidly in recent years, expanding across the country and, in the course of their stated objective to do good, have done very well.”
The article itself notes, “the Old order Amish in America not only survive, but thrive. With high birth rates, and a healthy lifestyle, they have managed to grow numerically at a far higher rate than the general population and now are approaching 300,000 adherents. Not only have the high birth rates contributed to their growth, but approximately 90% of those raised in the Amish community remain Amish. Proselytizing is rare, which shows how strong the internal growth dynamics are to this community.”
A side-bar to the article is entitled “One of America’s Most Successful ‘Church Growth’ Plans.” It begins, “There are numerous books, conferences, and websites devoted to church growth. One of the underlying themes of many of these sites is the presumption that churches need to change in order to grow. We’re all for a few less of those lime JELL-O and shredded carrot salads at potlucks, but before we assume everything ought to change, consider the Amish. In 1920, there were only about 10,000 of them.”
When an announcement is made in church that someone is expecting, my typical response is, “That’s my favorite kind of church growth!” Admittedly that’s more emotional than intellectual, but apparently it’s not too far off base.
Obviously we need to reach out to those who don’t know Christ, and those who have fallen away from active participation in a body of Christ. But there really is something extra special about children being born into our family, and our being given the privilege of helping them grow into men and women who love and serve the Lord.
Now I’m not suggesting that we need to join the “full quiver” movement, but I am always looking forward to another arrow being added to our quiver. If you don’t know what I mean, read Psalm 127.
God Bless, Rick