What is worship like in a Mennonite church?
In North American Mennonite churches, styles of worship vary, but the emphasis is on God as the “audience” rather than the congregation as an audience. The congregation offers their worship to God. Some Mennonite churches follow the liturgical calendar; others do not. Worship services are very similar to other evangelical services, with a worship leader and minister providing the framework for the worship. As a result of the emphasis on the importance of the community of believers, times for people to share experiences from their lives and stories for children are often incorporated into the worship service.
Four-part singing has been a long-standing tradition in the Mennonite church, and for many years this was only a cappella singing. Now many congregations use organ, piano, or other instruments as accompaniment. With congregational singing playing such an important part in worship, many Mennonite churches use a song leader to lead the singing, which is different from churches where the congregation follows the lead of an organ or piano.
Most Mennonite churches have Sunday school classes for both children and adults either before or after the morning worship.
Visitors will find most Mennonite churches to be friendly, welcoming places.
While specific worship services in Mennonite churches vary greatly, here are some common themes and components:
Worship as an alternative community
- Everyone welcome
- Each person’s gifts valued
- Titles not used
- Wide participation of the non-clergy
Christ’s kingdom extends beyond national borders
- Hymns and resources reflect the wider nature of the church, using hymns and music from around the world, in whatever style and format the congregation enjoys
People of the Bible
- Emphasis on reading and knowing the Bible
- Readings from both the Old Testament and New Testament in most services
- Space and time allowed in most services for silence and reflection (God still speaks in worship today)
Engaged with the world
- Prayers for the needs of others (both within the congregation and beyond)
- One segment of worship given to helping people think about how they carry out their worship through the week: “moments for mission,” announcements of service or advocacy opportunities, benedictions that send persons out to be God’s people in the world
Some Mennonites enjoy using a prayer book, with special prayers for morning and evening, for private or gathered worship times. A book of prayers for personal or corporate worship is Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book, available online.
You can experience a live worship service on Sunday mornings from 9:25-10:45 AM (EST) from College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana at http://www.collegemennonite.org/ (check the instructions in the left column of the home page). Archived videos of past services are also available. College Mennonite Church is one of the larger Mennonite churches with more than 1,000 members and is located on the campus of Goshen College. A number of Mennonite congregations make videos of their services available with a link through their congregational website. Examples would include the Floradale Mennonite Church in Ontario at http://www.floramc.org/. Another example would be the Gehman Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania at http://www.gehmanmennonitechurch.org/. Many others offer podcasts or mp3 audio downloads of sermons, if not the entire service.