The Minuteman Strategy: How Your Church Can Still Change the World (Part 2)
What difference can your church make in the world today? A lot! Yesterday I wrote of the parallel between our situation today and that of the American colonies with their Minutemen. “Each town had maintained its own training band,” who made the difference in the American Revolution. Each church today can copy their example by maintaining its own training band, too; or better yet, churches can unite locally to build those training bands.
Undoubtedly you’re asking what kind of training churches must do. I see three main areas. None is easy. None will just “happen” without serious local leadership initiative. So be it. We live in the days we live in.
Train for Unity
The first is Christian unity, especially in local communities. Our Lord’s command and prayer for Christian unity (see John 17) has always been there, so we need not wait for trouble to bring us together. But we’d be exceedingly foolish now not to prepare for potential trouble together.
Consider this scenario. (Whether it will happen, I do not know, but I do know it’s more than mere imagination.) We’ve seen how stunningly easy it was for the powers that be to use COVID to divide and separate us. Now their lockdown/masking/vaccine is showing signs of cracking. I’ve seen signs of it eventually falling into total collapse, with costs we’ve only begun to imagine.
When powerful people get caught in massive mistakes, they can step aside and say, “We were wrong. Would you please take over for us instead?” Feel free to pause and laugh at that. Or they can double down, insisting on our need to let them take even more control. Which is more likely?
If that happens, we’re going to need people nearby we can count on, which means we must seriously strengthen local connections between local churches.
That’s just one scenario. It’s not certain, but it’s not farfetched, either. And building unity is a good biblical idea anyway. For the past year I’ve been working with people in churches all over the Cincinnati-Dayton area, uniting for training. It’s not a terribly difficult model to follow.
Train for Spiritual Disciplines
The second thing we’d better train for is spiritual disciplines, first because the battle is spiritual, and we must meet the enemy on our field of strength, which is in prayer, repentance, grace, and consistent godly living. I strongly recommend Shane Idleman’s excellent emphases here.
We may need to train for hardship as well. This is war, after all. Armies train for it. Watch The Selection and see. I do not know what may be coming, but I do know we’d better be ready for hard times. The best way I know to prepare in our context is by practicing disciplines such as fasting and prayer.
Train for the Actual Battle
Finally, we need to train up for the whole battle, which is overwhelmingly a battle of ideas. Look at everything we’re being hit with: same-sex marriage, transgenderism, socialist economic theory, religious pluralism and “tolerance.” In nearly every case, with the possible exception of actual war, it’s about which opinion wins the day. We lost that cultural ground because we lost those battles of persuasion.
The saddest thing about it is that we have the better case to make, and the better stories to tell along with them. We just didn’t deploy them properly.
Don’t think it’s only about national policy and issues. It’s local. It’s about whether your local schools will teach “gender fluidity.” It’s about how someone responds when their company expects him to sign on to ally with homosexuals. It’s about how students will face the pressure to say what the prof wants them to say about gender or critical theory.
The Minutemen trained with rifles for a shooting war. I pray to God it never comes to that for us here. So far it’s almost exclusively a war of ideas, of rhetoric, of persuasion. We can train up for that — and we’d better. It’s good strategy. It may be the only one we’ve got. And you can’t go wrong with it anyway: Like the other two key strategies I’m calling for here, it’s biblical, too.
Not every church member belongs in a training band, any more than everyone in every town was a Minuteman. Still — every town had that training band, serving as defense and protection for the whole town. Small groups of trained persons can do that in churches, too, helping guide the rest of the church through whatever may come.
Count on it: We will need people like that in our churches. I believe we already do, but it’s bound to become even more apparent to everyone in days to come.
Help for Your Local ‘Training Band’ at The Stream
You’re not on your own in this. Christian unity is at the heart of our purpose here at The Stream. We trust we’re setting an example here, if nothing else.
We’re also here to help pastors train and equip churches for the actual battles, through our growing Pastors’ Corner resource center. We’re designing it to be both informative and intensely practical, to ease pastors’ and teachers’ training jobs. Besides that, my favorite source of practical, church-friendly training materials is at STR U. Check out what they have to offer!
Because we care. We want Christians to be equipped for this war. We want to see opposing forces converted to truth, or if not that, to be pushed back so they’ll quit harming people. And we believe the local church, in the local community, is key to this.
So let’s get trained up for this battle together. Together, but still locally, because the local church is definitely the place for it today.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.