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Church Boot Camp

June 19, 2013

What can a church do to bring a greater understanding of war and all its implications to its members? The answer is simple, but work intensive – teach. Over the years, churches have taken on the role of the cheerleader of the government or as the opponent of the government. Both of these views are warped and lack Scriptural backing. Yet, the church spends so little time teaching on the Scriptural place of the government and war.

Many churches, especially in the South, watch many of their young men and women head to basic training every summer. These young adults commit to the service freely and have the support of their home church and families. They expect good pay and college money. Yet, the church fails them by not taking the time to prepare them in the theologies of conflict. When was the last time in your church there was a class discussing the ethics of war? When was the last time someone in the church held a class talking about Just War, Pacifism, and Just Peacemaking?

We prepare our young adults to make Biblical decisions about their sexuality, intoxication, and dating. Then the church fails to prepare them effectively for their choice of career unless they want to go to ministry. The church has failed to give them the necessary Biblical information to make a sound theological decision about enlisting.

By no means am I discouraging the young men and women from enlisting. I spent fourteen plus years in the Air Force. What I am saying is it is time to train our church in the theologies surrounding war and conflict. America has been embroiled in violent conflict since 9/11, so why has the church not taken the mantle and held classes or public forums where these difficult questions can be discussed? Why do we fail to prepare our young adults to make a sound decision before they enlist?

The church must prepare its people to deal with the things they can reasonably encounter in the world. To do this, a Biblical worldview must be taught in the church. On many levels it is. Yet, for those young men and women heading off to the service, they have not been given the tools necessary to spiritually survive in the evils of war. We do not prepare our church members to deal with war from a Christian worldview. It is time for the church to attend Biblical Boot Camp!

  1. This hits home with me. A number of young men in our church (5 years ago) expressed a desire to go into law enforcement/military careers. One of the concerns expressed by the leaders at the time was their relationship with Christ as well as the impact of their job on society and biblical application in that career. Another concern was the calling to ministry that several of these men had on their lives, and how this career would hinder or affect that calling. Unfortunately, the concerns were represented in a very legalistic, non-understanding way that created a power struggle with these young men. While most didn’t follow that path, there remains a bitterness and resentment toward the leaders who really did have their best interest at heart. How could those concerns have been better represented if these young men had a foundation of teaching on the topic?

    A ‘boot camp’ or training within the church on these topics, or even the biblical principles which apply to these careers would have been helpful and is definitely needed in this generation. Like you said, we teach everything else. Including how not to be promiscuous to the girls…why wouldn’t we teach something just as vital to the young men/ladies who are interested in taking up arms? (Not that I’m equating one as being the other, just citing that both are dangerous and extreme situations. I believe there is a place for Christians to take up arms, just with the full knowledge of what they are doing and why.)

    • There is a distinction between law enforcement and military. Law enforcement would only use deadly force when someone’s life is in danger. Whereas in the military you are called on to kill as a preemptive strike, not in self defense.

      As a Body (church) develops their theology, this is a topic they need to examine. There is no possible end in sight to armed conflict and many men and women suffer from physical and mental trauma from wartime service. We need to care enough for our flock that we say something about this.

      Thank you again for the wonderful comments.

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