I’ve been looking for principles and policies and ideas for forming a “church” for bugged-out preppers and refugees. It would be for people who find themselves in close proximity in a wilderness area and who band together to share skills and manpower. Projecting a theoretical refugee collection of 100 people, not all of them preppers, here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
Most Able to Lead– Preppers
Realize that there will be a high degree of overlap in community-building and congregation-building activities. The people who will be most able to lead will be preppers of some flavor. We need to be thinking about this in advance. A community based on Christian principles is our model.
Who Are These People of the Congregation?
Recognize that the congregation will consist of people who have been recently and deeply traumatized. Most likely, they are needy in every possible way. We will not be able to meet all of their needs. We cannot fix everything that is wrong. However, we can point them to God, and this will be real, valuable assistance. We need a plan, in advance.
The persons most likely to be disruptive to community and congregation development will be the unprepared “nanny-staters” who fled for some reason. Somehow, we will have to identify and separate the agitators from the sincere seekers. Do we enforce exile? (How will we keep them from reporting us to the authorities or local gangs?)
Church Discipline and Organization
Some, minimal form of church discipline and organization will be essential. Needy, frightened, angry persons could even be unintentionally disruptive. We need to get them the resources they need, if possible.
Statement of Principles
Some written statement of principles, values, and rules would help everyone get off to a good start when encountering our community. We can easily modify parts of it later, as necessary.
Something in Writing
We need something in writing, maybe printed out in advance, because we’re obviously not going to have printers in the wilderness. People could read through the document, and that would help them decide to join us, stay with us temporarily, or continue on.
Doctrines of First-Century Christianity
Doctrines will need to be focused to the absolute core nugget of orthodox, first-century Christianity. Everyone will need to be encouraged to extend grace to those who disagree on peripheral issues. Remember the importance of unity, liberty, and love. Now is not the time to have a dozen, separate, denominational groups. Of course, that could develop eventually, and maybe everyone can be reminded of that.
There will be advantages if we can keep all Christian denominational groups together initially. We might be able to delegate time during or after each gathering for denominational distinctives. However, keeping everyone happy all the time is unlikely, and we need to accept that up front.
Initial organization, during the first week, will need to be more structured and central than the structure in a few weeks or months. The greater the chaos, the more the needed structure. Some system of oversight will need to be instituted to ensure there is an eventual transition. We don’t want to set ourselves up to inadvertently create a dictatorship in the community or the congregation.
The need for structure might argue in favor of a more liturgical initial flavor. Persons whose lives now lack any structure may find the predictability of liturgy comforting.
A Constitutional Democracy
I’m not a fan of “pure” democracy. But we could do a “Constitutional” democracy. With this, we probably would not give newcomers a vote but only people who have been there for a few weeks and know how things work and what the issues are.
There’s a chance that “charismatic” (in the psychological sense) strong cult leaders could take over the community and congregation and turn them against the Christian preppers. It’s a nightmare that might be difficult to stop.
Prevention Better Than Correction
Separation or decisive defensive action might be necessary. We didn’t escape one tyranny only to accept another. Religious-sounding socio- and psycho-paths are still tyrants. Prevention is better than correction.
Internal Security Awareness
From first contact with other refugees we will have to be extremely aware of the likelihood that some are traitors and spies. If they are presently a threat, we need to recognize that it is possible they will or could become such and betray the group to hostiles for their own purposes. Some internal security awareness will be essential and will require several of the most outgoing-but-aware persons to be the eyes and ears of the leadership core.
Meet Practical Needs
Some part of each church meeting might be dedicated to identifying pressing practical and emotional needs and referring people to those who can help. There will be a large need for emotional support and counseling of some sort. Fortunately, time is something we may have in abundance. Don’t just let people melt down or stew in silence.
Multiply the Resources
As we assemble, we can be a resource for each other. We can multiply the resources by sharing and pooling them, including our Bibles, our voices, and possibly more.
Scripture- Copy and Memorize
Congregants may not have their own copies of the Bible. They might benefit from an opportunity to hand copy relevant or favorite scripture portions, maybe as the “Verse For The Day” (or week). Helping refugees memorize scripture would multiply group access to God’s Word and give them additional positive tasks. That would also help them to refocus their minds from previous thought patterns (constant Facebook updates, TV viewing, et cetera).
Little or no Christian literature will be available for distribution. Songbooks or overhead computer projectors will not likely be available or functioning to assist in worship.
Only a few, simple, portable musical instruments might be accessible. It’s possible that there will be no instruments at all, and many of the “cool” and “fun” contemporary songs we’re singing in our churches today cannot be sung without an accompanying band.
Before the SHTF, find those songs that can be sung a’ capella or with a novice on a guitar or harmonica. You’ll find many of those songs in a hymnal.
No shelter or structure will be available for meetings, once the group grows beyond a half-dozen people. Meetings will either need to be scheduled around the weather, or people will need to be able to protect themselves individually from the weather during meetings. Building a sanctuary or auditorium will be counterproductive to the need to be mobile and inconspicuous!
Ordinarily homes would be ideal, but most wilderness “homes” will barely shelter their owners much less visitors. We might be able to make home visits by bringing along a small tarp and tossing it over their tent or lean-to to create an extension in bad weather.
Measures taken to make participants more comfortable (such as improvised bench seats or protection from the weather) could have dual uses to facilitate group meetings for other purposes, including community decision-making, announcements, entertainment, et cetera.
A high level of security will need to be continually maintained during all gatherings.
Security will need to involve a large percentage of persons who might otherwise participate in the meetings. To accommodate these persons we could use a team rotation. Team A worships while Team B keeps watch, et cetera.
Evacuation or Response Plan
An evacuation or response plan for hostiles approaching during meetings will need to be explained and rehearsed. We might have to do this at every single gathering, considering that people may be coming and going frequently over the weeks and months. Hostiles will probably consider meeting times as prime opportunities for attack.
Attendees should be encouraged to participate while armed. Community efforts to educate about safe carry and firearm courtesy should extend into the gatherings for worship and teaching.
Ideas and Comments?
Do you have some good ideas? Be sure to post them in the Comments section!!
Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both!