What it Really Means to Be Amish

by: Joy Schrock – President-Berlin Natural Bakery


In a world of technological advances, fast paced hectic lives, economic uncertainty and heated political issues…live a group of people that are not affected and in many cases are not even aware of the chaos that surrounds them.

These people live in a community that puts forth great effort not to “conform to the world”.  Throughout most of our lives, the thought of living this way is inconceivable to us.  However today, many of us find ourselves reevaluating our lives and embracing some of the fundamental values and life styles of the Amish.

The Amish live plain and simple lives.  They do not worry about things like the stock market, nationalized health care, welfare, medicare, social security or retirement.  They basically operate their own government, church and community…and it works, actually it works quite well.  Perhaps there are a few lessons all of us can learn from the Amish.  Let’s take a look at who they are.

What Makes a Person Amish?

Many people view Amish as a religion and as a race…but technically, it is a religion.  A religion filled with so many traditions that it separates them from the rest of society making them appear to be an actual race.

There are different sects of  Amish from Old Order Amish to New Order Amish. The biggest differences in these sects are liberties.

For example: a New Order Amish home may have a refrigerator that runs on a generator or solar power, while an Old Order Amish home may not even have indoor plumbing.

The core of the Amish religion is Christianity.  It is in the interpretation of scriptures or I should say lack of interpretation that separates them.  They view scriptures literally at their word.

For example: the scripture Romans 12:2…”Be not conformed to this world”…to them that means a total separation from government, people of non Amish belief and also means to not be dependent upon things created by the rest of the world for their survival.

This includes electricity, cars, telephones and modern conveniences.

To other Christians, that scripture means not to get caught up in things like money, possessions or basically things that create corruption in people.

Amish Living

How Do The Amish Live?

The Amish believe Jesus is the Son of God and celebrate religious holidays such as Easter, Ascension Day and what they call Olde Christmas in January.

The Amish are primarily of German and Swiss descent.  They speak what is referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch which is the Schwebish dialect of German.

They are a very peaceful people, they do not believe in war, abortion or divorce.  They are “viewed” as living perfect lives without sin.  They are not perfect and would never claim to be perfect.  They struggle with desires and temptations just as we all do. It is the way that those sins are dealt with that makes them different.

When someone goes astray, the entire community grieves and works together to bring about correction.  Unresolved problems or bad behavior will eventually lead to a visit from the Bishop and the Elders of the church.

The Amish do not have health insurance.  Instead each family pays money into the church very similar to tithing.  A portion of this money is set aside for what they refer to as “Amish Aid”.  A fund that is dedicated to health care costs incurred due to an illness of a member of the church.

The Amish believe strongly in alternative treatment and natural remedies.  You would be amazed at how many ailments “vinegar” seems to cure.

What Do The Amish Do For Work?

The Amish are known to be exceptionally hard workers and for their superior woodworking skills.  Their hearts however are still that of “farmers”.

Unfortunately, today many of them are forced to take jobs outside of farming for survival.

If a small farmer struggles to survive today, can you imagine the struggles that the Amish farmer faces?  They are forbidden to use any modern conveniences and this includes the use of tractors.  Today many of them make their living  as craftsmen in the furniture “woodworking” industry.

The Amish live primarily on farms or build houses on the land that has been in their family for generations.  Upon retirement parents move into a smaller house called “the dawdy haus” which translates to grandfather’s house.   This house is located on the same property as the family home.  A family member then takes over possession of the family home, provides care for their parents and takes over the responsibilities of the farm.

There are times that there are 3 or 4 generations of a family living in separate houses on the same property.  The only time that the Amish are placed in a nursing home is when they have an illness that the family is not qualified to care for.

The Amish are diversified farmers and good stewards of their land.  They grow crops and plant gardens.   They have horses,  milk cows, chickens, pigs, goats and beef cattle.  Every member of the family contributes in some way to the daily chores associated with farming.  Today they mostly farm for the needs of their own families.

amish day to day

How Do The Amish Live Day-To-Day?

The Amish are generational thinkers.  When they make decisions, they take future generations into consideration.  They are more than willing to pay the price and make sacrifices today for the benefit of their children and their children’s children.

The Amish are very strongly committed to their families as well as their community.  When a tragedy occurs, such as a death, illness, fire or an act of God, the entire Amish community is there to lend a helping hand to the family in need.  The community will provide meals, round the clock care, help with farming, money and basically anything a family may need in a time of crisis.

So What Does it Really Mean to be Amish?

Well, it appears that it means living a life of service to your family, your farm, your community and to your church.  In return for this life of service you are rewarded peace of mind throughout your life.

That is definitely something we all could use a bit more of these days.

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22 Responses to “What it Really Means to Be Amish”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  2. Arvin Lewis says:

    The key here is make sacrifices for future generations. This is taught to the Amish kids and is why we as Americans are having such a difficult time today. We do not teach kids how to work for tomorrow. We give them everything now and that is how they come to expect every thing now. We wonder why they go and get a gun and shoot people when they do not get their way. They are told how they are so special and great when they haver done or accomplished anything. They are told to learn it themselves instead of from someone who knows how. Then we wonder why they are such dismal falures on the job site. Re inventing the wheel does not pay. Learn about the wheel from some one who already knows and then improve it.

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  4. Bryan says:

    . They are not “forbidden” from use of some modern conveniences to do their farm work. It is very dependent upon the community they live in. Not all Amish groups are the same or run in the same manner. In some cases Amish farmers have been allowed by their community leaders to have such modern conveniences such as tractors and electricity when it’s deemed as a necessity. It’s not normal, but it does occur.

  5. [...] Read the original here: What it Really Means to Be Amish | Berlin Natural Bakery [...]

  6. Ash says:

    I would find it sad and boring to have to live a life like that. So many restrictions. Let me be the 1st to say that our quality of life is much better then theirs. Owh and if you say that they are *stress free* cause they dont have to look at the stock markets and what not lets see who dies first. A city dweller with good healthcare available or an amish man with vinegar as a cure for h1n1.

  7. Gargantuan says:

    if it weren’t for the christianity and aversion to technology, I’d quite like to be Amish.

  8. Even tho I grew up in the Amish community for a small part of my life, this explanation was very interesting and I learned things I never knew before such as the term “Schwebish”. I love it!!! The verse “love not the world…..” ; wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that while growing up!!!!

  9. Michael S says:

    While this story is mostly true, there are some statements that aren’t born of living around Amish people. For example, where I live in Western PA, it is quite frequent to find Amish people using technology owned by others. I’ve heard of Amish men using fork lifts at their jobs, and I’ve personally witnessed very frequent van rides full of Amish. There are people that make their living driving Amish people around all day. I’ve also witness an Amish man on a tractor.

    While growing up and visiting family that lived within walking distance of an Amish farm, my cousins and I would visit the farm only to be welcomed by smaller children than we were pretending to moon us and flip us the middle finger. They wouldn’t actually go through with it, but it was clear they knew what they were doing when they’d bend over with their butts stuck out, pretending to pull their pants down. I’ve heard stories from women I trust that were either completely ignored by Amish men or were treated poorly if they were spoken to.

    Somewhat recently, there have been local stories printed about internal Amish arguments about the need for Amish business owners to adopt technologies like computers that will help them keep up with competition.

    This isn’t to discredit the facts of this story, just to add balance.

  10. When the Amish turn 16 all the youths meet up and throw huge parties with drugs and sex. It is pretty intense. These parties are a path of youth for many and are allowed by the elders.

  11. Tom Buckner says:

    Good article, but I slightly disagree on one point (disclaimer: this is what I’ve read, not personal knowledge).
    You say the Amish approach to farming is very difficult, and that may be true in one sense. However, the non-mechanized farming approach means not mortgaging the farm to pay for very expensive combines and tractors; Amish do not need to buy gasoline or diesel to run the equipment; they are also less dependent on petrochemical fertilizers. By using livestock to pull the plow, you get your fuel by growing it on the land; you can breed more livestock, and the livestock create fertilizer. Amish farmers have lost a lot fewer farms than non-Amish farmers over the past several decades because their model is reasonably self-sustaining and doesn’t put them at the mercy of bankers.

  12. Wendy Aston says:

    Very well written thanks for sharing!


  13. zokla says:

    That’s a very relaxing article. Perhaps a little bit biased towards the complete benevolence of amish, but nevertheless. Simplicitity of mind and appreciating a “small set” of real values is what we all could use more “these days.”

  14. Mark says:

    I was extremely privileged to take a college course in Amish studies taught by John Hostetler, one of the foremost scholars on Amish society, and the facts in this article, to my recollection, are all correct.

    I’d add one important point to the mix here: a guiding principle for the Amish is humility, and above all, to avoid the sin of pride. This means an Amish person is to defer to others in everything, doesn’t dare to question elders or Scripture, and would never do anything to express individuality or to stand out from the group. This is witnessed in Amish music– there are no instruments, and no harmonies are sung. The faithful sing in unison, because to deviate is to call attention to oneself, a form of pride.

    It seems restrictive, even oppressive, to our modern sensibilities. But there’s something in the purity and simplicity of the lives lived in these communities that continues to attract the outside world even now.

  15. ME says:

    You forgot to mention the puppy mills

  16. [...] What it Really Means to Be Amish | Berlin Natural Bakery [...]

  17. I would find it sad and boring to have to live a life like that. So many restrictions. Let me be the 1st to say that our quality of life is much better then theirs. Owh and if you say that they are *stress free* cause they dont have to look at the stock markets and what not lets see who dies first. A city dweller with good healthcare available or an amish man with vinegar as a cure for h1n1.

  18. Mark says:

    According to:


    Life expectancy is not an issue. :-)

  19. Roygbiv says:

    Whats not mentioned in this blog is the very high incidence of sexual and physical abuse especially of young girls and women. Also missing is the high incidence of drug abuse among teen and young adults, in the Amish community.

  20. I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I really have enjoyed your well-written articles. I have bookmarked this site and will definitely be checking back for new posts.

  21. This is a very good article. Thanks for sharing with us.
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  22. amazing article. the best part in the article was the cute picture of the horse given above. that pic is very sweet. Also, there is missing high incidence of drug abuse among teen and young adults, in the Amish community.

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