What is the Ordnung in the Amish Community?

What is the Ordnung in the Amish Community?

The Ordnung is a set of unwritten rules and guidelines that govern the daily lives, behaviors, and community practices of the Amish. Derived from the German word meaning "order" or "discipline," the Ordnung is integral to maintaining the distinctive way of life that characterizes Amish communities. Here’s a closer look at what the Ordnung entails and its significance within the Amish community.

Origins and Purpose

The Ordnung has its roots in the early Anabaptist movement of the 16th century, which sought to create a community of believers who lived out their faith in everyday life. For the Amish, the Ordnung is a manifestation of their commitment to humility, simplicity, and community cohesion. It is not a static document but rather a set of practices and principles passed down through generations, often varying slightly between different Amish communities.

Key Components of the Ordnung

  1. Dress Code: The Ordnung prescribes a plain and modest style of dress, symbolizing humility and separation from the world. Men typically wear dark trousers, suspenders, and broad-brimmed hats, while women wear long dresses, aprons, and bonnets.

  2. Technology and Modern Conveniences: A well-known aspect of the Ordnung is its guidelines on technology use. The Amish generally avoid using electricity from public utility lines, automobiles, and other modern conveniences to preserve community cohesion and simplicity.

  3. Community and Family Life: The Ordnung emphasizes strong family and community ties. It encourages values such as mutual aid, non-resistance, and a strong work ethic. Community members are expected to support each other, especially in times of need.

  4. Religious Practices: Regular worship services, held in homes rather than 'church' buildings, are a cornerstone of Amish life. The Ordnung governs the conduct of these services, including the use of High German for hymns and sermons.

  5. Education:Amish children typically attend one-room schoolhouses up to the eighth grade. The curriculum focuses on basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and practical skills necessary for community life, aligning with the principles of the Ordnung.

Enforcement and Flexibility

While the Ordnung is strictly adhered to, it is not enforced through written laws but through community consensus and the authority of church leaders. Each Amish district may have its own version of the Ordnung, reflecting local customs and decisions made by church elders. When members violate the Ordnung, they are subject to community discipline, which can range from private admonitions to the more severe Meidung (shunning).

The Role of Rumspringa

Rumspringa, meaning "running around," is a period during adolescence when Amish youth are given some freedom to explore the outside world before deciding to commit to the Amish way of life permanently. This period allows them to understand the implications of the Ordnung and make an informed choice about their faith and community.


The Ordnung is more than a set of rules; it is a way of life that embodies the Amish commitment to faith, simplicity, and community. By adhering to these guidelines, the Amish maintain a distinct identity and a cohesive community that stands apart from mainstream society. Understanding the Ordnung provides valuable insights into the values and practices that shape the everyday lives of the Amish.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.