Imagine yourself a soldier in a foxhole. Alone. Isolated. No one watching your back, no backup if the enemy overwhelms. No clear line of retreat – a sitting duck. In the World Wars, foxholes were the latest rage. You can’t be shot while in a hole, right?
What started as a great idea often ended up a self-imposed trap. It’s easy to flank a foxhole. It’s easy to overwhelm a foxhole. Heavens, it’s easy to park a tank over the foxhole and fume the soldier to death. Foxholes have extremely limited uses – and lack the positives that trenches bring.
Think of a trench as a series of foxholes connected by hallways. You can’t be flanked – your line extends to both sides. It’s not so easy to overwhelm either – you’ve got friends beside you. If you do get overrun, you retreat down trenches – you still don’t have to jump out and run in a hail of bullets. You have community: trust and moral, support and strength. Trenches for the win.
I expect you’ve gathered my point, being so smart and all. Too many Christians try to do faith on their own, fighting in foxholes and getting picked off one at a time. You’ve seen it:
- Ones who don’t share problems with others and so they get crushed under the burden of issues God knew only a community could fix together
- Ones who don’t confess sins so fellow Believers can speak forgiveness and God’s love and healthy correction into their lives
- Ones who feel incredibly alone – I hear all the time “I was in a worship hall with 1500 people and felt completely alone”
- Ones with no deep personal connections, no family or friends, who try to thrive off the shallow nature of interactions like “meet & greet” or online community and still feel lacking without the benefits of face-to-face intimacy
Have you resisted sharing your struggles until they are forced out of you, only to find that people all around you say they’re struggling with the same thing? Why are we surprised to find out that no struggle has come to us “except what is common to man”? Because we often fail to invest in real, personal, intimate, messy community and lose all the benefits it brings.
I find this trend particularly true of men (sorry, fellas – throwing you under the tank here). We tend not to trust or be open or transparent. We don’t share emotions or failures and have rules against asking for help. I usually get to counsel guys when they hit the “crisis” stage and I wish they had opened up before their situation got so messy! But I understand that pull to try and do it all on our own. And I know how dangerous it is. So the first thing we do is plug them into community – we dig trenches between the foxholes so they know they aren’t alone.
Rogue Millennials is about community – even though our community usually occurs outside the “church business” or “prescribed religious services” on Sundays. Being anti-establishment is a protest against the institutionalized, unbiblical and unhealthy forms many churches grow into. But pro-Church is all about realizing God’s Kingdom is so much more than the 501c3 businesses with “church” on their tacky marquee signs that provide religious services for donations.
Humans NEED community. You don’t need “a church” to thrive, let alone survive. You just need “THE Church” – you need a community of Believers around you, whether that’s a house church or group of coworkers praying at work, whether that’s a handful of friends doing service projects through the year or your own family meeting to pray and read Scripture. We all need open community where we can unload fears, failures and struggles to share with others; open community where we can hear honestly and transparently what others are going through so we can be a part of carrying those burdens. So let me be clear about the hopes of this post:
If you’re a Millennial, you NEED community and we are calling you to it. You need to find or create faith community to support you through life’s worst – because it gets ugly. YOU need to take initiative to partner with other Believers who can help shoulder your burdens – and who you can help carry burdens for. Join a home group, hang out with some Christian friends, get lunch regularly with a mentor, find some kids to invest in – community comes in a million forms. A church business is just one form the Church takes.
If you’re not a Millennial, the same goes for you – no one is exempt from needing community. (“It is not good for man to be alone” ring a bell?) Especially if you’ve been burned by a church. Most of us have been too. We encourage you to look outside the walls of that building to see where God’s at work in the world, your community, your life and the lives of your friends and family – and focus there. That’s what he’s positioned you to be a part of.
If you’ve already got lots of faith community, invite others into it. Millennials constantly complain about the lack of mentoring available from churches. And I have yet to find a Millennial who turns down offers of personal mentoring. I’ve found in life that it’s usually the older generations who are not “mentor-minded,” who do not look for opportunities to pass their wisdom and experience on, to live life alongside those who will have to carry on after them.
Too many Christians are falling because they fight life’s battles alone in a foxhole when they were designed by God to live in community, fighting from trenches. If this is you, I hope we light a fire under you – go create community. If this is you because you’ve been hurt in community, I hope we encourage you to try again. If this is you because church businesses are often broken, I hope this reminds you God’s community isn’t about a building or business, a charter or bylaws.
Here’s some pro-community advice God offered in that book he gave us:
- If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. 1 John 1.7
- Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. Hebrews 10.24-25
- They all joined together in constant prayer. Acts 1.14
- How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133.1
- Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12.16
- They broke bread in their homes and ate together. Acts 2.46
“For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” – Jesus