New order Amish are a group of the Amish community that split from the old order church in the 1960s. They are believed to be more progressive than the old order Amish.
In this article, we will discuss the differences and similarities between new order and old order Amish in detail, but first, let us look at reasons for the split from the old order church.
Reasons for the split from the old order church
There are two main reasons why the new order Amish split from the old order church; the need to protect the youth from practices they considered unholy, and their hunger for God’s word.
Protecting the youth from unholy practices
Old order Amish practice rumspringa. When young people turn 16, they are allowed to experience the ‘outside world’ before committing to becoming church members. During rumspringa, the youth engage in several activities that the Amish would otherwise consider immoral, unholy, or unacceptable.
New order Amish did not support the concept of rumspringa. They emphasized the importance of all youths to live holy lives throughout. Therefore, they were reluctant to let their children participate in rumspringa. This is one of the main reasons for the split from the old order church.
Hunger for God’s word
Old order Amish are not particularly keen on reading the Bible to understand it.
Bible readings and teachings are reserved for bishops and ministers, and church members are not particularly encouraged to read the Bible. They believe you are likely to misinterpret the Bible if you read it on your own.
A group of the Amish became curious and started reading the Bible themselves. Some started forming groups to read the Bible and try to understand it.
Naturally, they started questioning some teachings and practices in the old order church. The old order church tried to ban the Bible study groups, which eventually led to the split.
New Order Amish vs old order Amish
There are several differences between new order Amish and old order Amish. Here are a few.
Modern technology/ conveniences
New order Amish are not as strict as old order Amish on the use of technology. Most new order members use cell phones but there are certain limits to internet use. The members are not allowed to own radios and television sets. They are however somewhat lenient on the use of cameras.
New order Amish use tractors in their farms and most have telephones in their homes. Additionally, they allow air travel and some of their members have electricity in their homes.
Old order Amish are stricter on modern technology and conveniences. They reject things like electricity, telephones, cameras, cars, air travel, and the Internet.
They use horse-drawn buggies for transportation and use gas lamps, candles, and oil lamps for lighting. However, they sometimes allow the use of telephones and electricity strictly for business purposes.
Old order Amish believe that modern technology will lead to individualism, and materialism, and erode their community values. They place a lot of importance on manual labor and self-sufficiency.
There are slight differences when it comes to the physical appearance of new order and old order Amish. New order women tend to wear brighter colors as opposed to the plain colors worn by old order women.
They are also not allowed to cut their hair, unlike old order women who believe cutting hair is a vain practice. Additionally, they make their head coverings with different types of fabric.
New order men also prefer trimmed beards and neatly cut hair. Old order men grow their hair after they get married. Another difference is that old order men wear wide-brimmed hats made of straw and felt while new order men prefer slim brimmed hats.
The primary language for old order Amish is the German dialect, Pennsylvania Dutch, also called Pennsylvania German.
New Order Amish still use Pennsylvania German, but they use often use English too, especially when interacting with non-Amish people. A few of their church summons are also conducted in English.
Views on alcohol and tobacco use
Old order Amish do not expressly forbid alcohol and tobacco use, but it is not encouraged either. It is unlikely to find old order Amish openly drinking alcohol, but they do in their homes on special occasions.
On the other hand, new order Amish are not liberal when it comes to alcohol and tobacco use. They expressly forbid members from drinking alcohol and using tobacco.
Old order Amish practice Rumspringa, where they allow young people who have turned 16 to experience life outside the Amish culture.
During rumspringa, they are not bound by Amish rules. Most of them go out to experience things like drinking alcohol, dating, and driving cars among other things. After this period, they are expected to decide whether they want to be official members of the Amish church.
New order Amish do not practice Rumspringa. In fact, they condemn it. New order parents are strict with their children and encourage them to live a clean life. Most new order youths get saved and join the church in their teens.
They don’t drink alcohol, smoke, or do drugs. They also don’t practice bed courtship, so youths who date are not allowed to engage in physical intimacy. Their dates are mostly group dates organized by a youth leader where they interact with other young couples.
Concept of shunning
Old order Amish practice shunning to supposedly instill discipline among church members. Any member that does not abide by the rules is avoided by other members, including their friends and family.
The shunned member is not allowed to participate in community events, attend church services or talk to any member of the Amish church. Old order Amish believe shunning is necessary to discourage and prevent sinful behavior.
New order Amish do not practice shunning. They are more accommodating towards people who make mistakes or leave the church.
Mission based work
New order Amish are actively involved in trying to convert as many people as they can to Christianity. They sometimes conduct gospel services where they invite non-Amish people. Some new order members also participate in missionary work while others participate in prison ministry.
Bible study and Sunday school
There is a difference between new and old order Amish when it comes to Bible study and Sunday school. Generally, the Amish have a church service every two weeks. This means they have Sundays when they don’t have to attend church services.
While old order Amish use these ‘off’ Sundays to visit relatives or do Bible readings at home, most new order Amish have Sunday school for adults and children. Sunday school is very similar to normal church services.
The believers congregate at the selected church member’s home on the day and start by singing a few hymns. Members then take turns reading various passages from the Bible. After the readings, ministers lead the congregation in a discussion of the Bible readings.
After the Bible study, the members have a fellowship meal, similar to the one they have after church services.
Old order Amish do not place too much importance on Bible study. Bible reading is mostly reserved for bishops and ministers. Therefore, the old order Amish see no need of setting aside time for Bible study in form of Sunday school.
View on outsiders.
Unlike old order Amish, new order Amish are more open to outsiders. New order Amish conduct most of their church services in English, or at least deliver part of the sermon in English.
A few new order churches in North Carolina attract several Amish seekers. Often, part their congregation has a number of outsiders looking to learn more about the Amish culture.
Similarities between new order and older Amish
New and old order Amish may have several differences, but they still have similarities. Below are some similarities between the two groups.
New order and old order Amish believe in simplicity and humility. They both aim to live a simple life free of distractions by modern technology.
Respect for elders
Both Amish groups place great importance on respect for their elders. They address elders formally and avoid eye contact while at it.
Home worship services
Both new and older Amish conduct worship services in their homes. A minister, usually chosen by the community, presides over the worship services. Those in attendance also eat a fellowship meal afterward.
Horse and buggy travel
To date, both new and old order Amish use horse and buggy for travel. This goes a long way to show their commitment to live a simple life. However, new order Amish allow air travel.
New order and order dress plainly. It is unlikely that you will see any of them dressed in fancy, modern clothes.
The women wear long dresses and bonnets while the men wear hats and suspenders. Both groups prefer grey, black, and blue pieces of clothing.
New order and old order Amish have several differences and a few similarities. In recent years, they have begun seeing eye to eye on some issues they previously strongly disagreed on.
I hope this article was helpful in answering your question on the differences between the two Amish groups.