W.R. (Bill) Collier Jr.- As Christians we should be witnesses to the people who live in this present society. But we should also be wise and remove as much of our lives as possible from the influence or control of this godless society. In practical terms, this means we should be working toward self-reliance in which we, as Christians, depend on each other within relationships and common standards that are godly and righteous.
(Pictured is a model of a “Co-Housing” facility, a form of self-reliance meant to provide safe, and cost-effective housing for members of a self-reliance group who cooperate to create their own housing. We hope to promote this idea for members of our missional Christian refuge, Upadaria.)
Self-reliance means you are reliant for your own necessities on yourself. But we are social beings, designed by God for interaction and community, and so our self-reliance cannot be solely individualistic, it is based on relationship and associations, and in concrete terms, what it looks like is a local association of people who are in part motivated by mutual care and support, and by an ethic that success “I care as much for your welfare as I do my own welfare.”
Christians can form local self-reliance groups, or clubs, whether they do within and through Upadaria, a virtual to local “missional Christian refuge”, the basic principles are applicable. What are some of these principles?
- Mutual care is key- people in the group simply agree to help ensure that no member suffers lack if they are doing everything in their power to meet their needs and it still isn’t enough
- Common standards are important- we use the four core ideals (Unity in diversity, Popular sovereignty, Democratic equality, and Rule of law) as the basis of a fair common standard
- Meeting real needs is important- identify needs, using questions meant to identify them, and find practical ways to meet them, be deliberate about such issues as the need for work, the need for health care, and the such, try to find solutions that do not require anyone outside the group to participate
- Isolation is not the goal- these groups should neither disconnect from fellow Christians not from the outside world, if they do, they will become insular and die
- Being connected is key-the group should use the internet to stay in regular daily touch and regular gatherings together both for projects and for fellowship
Of course there are many other things that apply, but these five principles are absolutely necessary for creating a local self-reliance group.
How big should a self-reliance group be? The group should have smaller sub-groups of 5 or so families ad attached single adults who meet together face to face, but consist of around 20 or such such groups, ultimately, in order to have enough resources, buying power (for items bought in bulk to save money), and to have an adequate knowledge and skill base. The whole group can stay connected through online resources, like forums (which we will set up in our community), email lists, and by connecting to each other through social media accounts, like Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Indeed, the group is likely to begin as a larger regional virtual group that becomes local as its members start meeting face to face.
What can self-reliance groups do online? Initially, they can share knowledge, trade information about resources, and even set up some group buying with vendors (the group approaches a supplier who provides bulk prices and each individual pays for their own shipping). By inviting people you know into the virtual group, especially people who live near you, you create the basis for forming a local group of your own that is connected to the regional virtual group.
We have to pursue self-reliance. We will provide information and resources, for free, to people who may use it within our community, our virtual to local missional Christian refuge, or outside of our community. Our hope is that the ideas of self-reliance take root, that Christians get it into their heads that we can be witnesses to this society without being under this society;s control or manipulation.