Is The Christian Church Building Resilience? Church Resilience Experiment Part 1
Last week, while CM and I were driving past a church with an expansive lawn, I started to think about the potential impact a place like this would have if the congregation all pitched in and grew some of their own food. How many single mothers, little children, or isolated men could benefit from such a project? After brainstorming on how to go about contacting churches, we decided to email a letter out to as many churches as possible in central and southern Appalachia (Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia).
The first part of the letter will be posted below, and the second will be in Part 2 where I design two church grounds and discuss what to go and where to source the materials. I want to find out if any other Christians in Appalachia are concerned about the problems and predicaments we are currently facing with resource scarcity, inflation, government corruption, and so on. Things are only getting worse, and I want to see how prepared Christians are for the developing crises. So far, CM and I have emailed both letters to over 400+churches. I believe this will be a fun experiment to conduct and share our findings over the coming weeks.
Note: If, by chance, you attend church and would like us to send these letters to yours, feel free to reach out to us, and we will send them. For those living outside of Appalachia, we will amend those parts, and if you want to remain anonymous, we will be happy to keep your identity private.
Hello, my name is Christopher David. I am an author and sustainable systems designer. I am writing a book about Appalachia and how to help the people who call this place home thrive in times of uncertainty and crisis. I live a simplified lifestyle, off-grid in these mountains, where I grow my own food, raise chickens and live out my faith in Jesus Christ.
The Unfolding Crisis
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly apparent that misguided government policies and corporate profiteering have negatively impacted Appalachians for decades. The belief that infinite extraction of our regions people and resources is hitting some hard limits. Contrary to those blissfully ignorant of our predicaments, we live on a finite planet with a limited number of resources for everyone to share.
The effects of the Pandemic have made things clear. We are not "returning to normal," as mainstream media or political pundits tell us. Things have changed. We are entering an era of resource scarcity that will no longer support our high standards of consumption. An easy transition to alternative energy is a fantasy designed to placate Americans into thinking the situation is not as serious as it truly is—meanwhile, the 1% work to acquire the remaining resources for themselves while corralling the masses.
To be successful, we need to be realistic. We cannot rely on some technology, political party, or miracle to save us. Unfortunately, our cognitive dissonance hinders any progress from addressing these issues. We want someone else to take care of our mess instead of taking responsibility for how we live our lives. Disassociating from our problems and convincing ourselves that God will instantly resolve us from uncomfortableness is not a winning strategy.
We live in a fallen world with evil people directed by hostile forces. These broken people wish us tremendous harm and will stop at nothing to further their selfish goals. Because these people are on the spectrum of psychopathy, their relentless push for corporate and governmental control of our lives will not end until the total collapse of our civilization.
With this in mind, wouldn't it be prudent to take simple steps to buffer ourselves from their demented schemes and stand for Christ in truth? In order to do this, we need to first address the local suffering of our fellow neighbors.
According to 2020 census data, roughly 14% of Appalachians live below the poverty level. In some regions of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, this number jumps to a staggering 45%. Moreover, nearly one million children in Appalachia go to bed hungry every night. With 80% of Appalachians (20,000,000 people) identifying as Christians, how is it acceptable for us believers to profess that Jesus is Lord while ignoring the unnecessary misery of so many people?
How can we sit by in apathy and pretend this is normal or out of our hands? Are you aware that there is an estimated 40-50 million acres of lawns in the United States? Lawns are the single largest cultivated crop in the nation, all for the sake of ego and vanity. How many acres of lawns and ornamental landscaping do churches spend thousands of dollars annually to maintain while adults and children go hungry?
While the corporate-sponsored politicians that make up our failed State print trillions for their pet projects, the rest of us need to unite and make our communities resilient. We cannot rely on feckless people to save us. We need to be the salt of the earth and a city on a hill showing a better way to live. So, for those whose faith goes beyond mere words, let us work to rectify these disparities in our communities while taking steps to push back against corrupt forces.
Today, we Christians are coming to an important crossroads in human history. As we speak, forces are in motion that will decide not only the fate of our nation but Western Civilization. No one will be untouched by these developments, and those that ignore their existence will be particularly hard hit. Resource scarcity, food and energy shortages, inflation, systemic government corruption, and never-ending wars are just some of the destabilizing forces we face. Although we cannot stop the consequences of these issues from impacting our lives, we still have time to soften the blow by building personal and community resilience—starting with food.
What can we do?
Given that finding enough food will soon dominate most Americans' lives, it is my mission to help facilitate fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ to become as food independent as possible. We need to use the little time we have left to design and implement sustainable food-producing systems that will support our local communities for generations. Churches need to be a center for weekly worship and a place of protection, support, and sustenance. Church members should not have to worry about feeding themselves in case of job loss, health problems, or any other unexpected event. The Church needs to step up and be their safety net during these times of crisis.
I am contacting you today to see if any congregation you know is being called by the Spirit to increase food resilience. If you know of any Churches that are actively developing ways to prepare their congregations for destabilizing times, please direct me to their work. If you do not know of any, please pray about this email and reach out to me to discuss its message and the immense asset you and your congregation could be to your local community.
Self-glorifying lawns, which are symbols of vanity and domination, should be removed, and in their place, should be intentional gardens for the congregation to cultivate. By extension, we can encourage community members to participate in nurturing their minds, bodies, and souls. Sunday school in the garden can be a fantastic teaching opportunity for all ages, as there is no better way of connecting with our Creator than to be surrounded by His creation.
How can we be ambassadors for Christ if we do everything like everyone else? How will people be energized to follow Christ if Christians have vanity lawns that serve no purpose? If we want to show people an alternative to the worldly desires of consumerism, what better way to do it than through sustainable food production?
Instead of sending Christmas gifts across the planet to unknown people while our neighbors starve, why not ask the congregation to bring in seeds, plants, and fruit/nut trees in the new year that will be planted in Spring?
Seed starting day for vegetables would be a joyful gathering for the Church and community. As the seedlings grow inside, Sunday could be a time for the members to water and observe their progress. Then when the threat of frost is past, there could be another celebration of planting time where people would come to help plant, sing worship songs, eat locally raised foods, and thank God for His providence.
During summer, there could be more events to celebrate the harvesting of certain crops, succession planting, or enjoy the garden's splendor and each other. When Autumn rolls around, the Church does not throw a consumerist-based "harvest festival" (where pumpkins, straw, and all sorts of food are trucked in from afar) but utilizes what is grown locally to celebrate an honest-to-God harvest.
If space allows, poultry, especially laying chickens, would help provide food for the congregation's members. Community members would be encouraged to enjoy what God has given when there is a surplus. If there are any older folks in the assembly, why not encourage them to find a calling in tending to these animals on church land?
The staggering gulf between older generations and younger generations is hard to ignore. Using the older generations' knowledge, passion, and resources, these folks could teach younger generations how to raise animals, plant crops, process food, and store them appropriately. We need their knowledge, and they need young minds to fill with hope for the future. Instead, our people are lost, depressed, isolated, and confused. We need to unite, build each other up, and support one another through intentional action. The support of each other will be the only way to maintain some sort of normalcy going forward. Evil wins when we are isolated, dejected, enraged, and propagandized to hate one another.
Moving Forward with Purpose
If any of these words speak to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. I want to clarify that I am not selling any products or looking to make money. My mission is to share my knowledge of sustainable living with fellow believers so that they are filled with passion and purpose in a world that is being ripped apart. If you or someone you know is interested in actively living out their faith through strengthening member and community ties, I would be honored to talk with them and collaborate on what is being done or what can be done to accomplish this. Attached to this email, I have included a growing guide and some examples of church properties that I designed. Thank you for your time in reading this message.
I look forward to hearing from you. God bless, and Happy New Year.