Counterinsurgency and the church

By James D. Sanderson
Special to The PREVIEW

What in the world, you might rightly ask, does the church have to do with techniques of counterinsurgency? Well, in the military sense, when guerrilla fighters or other nontraditional forces have infiltrated an area, counterinsurgency is the method that has been developed to drive them back. By winning the “hearts and minds” of the people, it is believed the guerrillas will find no place to get a foothold. That is a pretty simplistic explanation, I know, but I think it will suffice for our illustration today.

In the same way, we have seen the infiltration of our neighborhoods by the forces of darkness — drugs, alcohol abuse, violence, greed and so on — those things that are called sin. Yet the church has not made its presence felt where the most good can be done — in the various neighborhoods. To meet that need, then, the One Church Pagosa Springs has developed a discipleship course that can help us disciple others, who will in turn disciple others, until each home, each street, each block in Pagosa Springs has a Christian presence that will change the outcome of history.

A common phrase among patriots at the outset of the Revolutionary War was, “Nil desperandum.” Never despair.

“Where there is a spark of patriotic fire, we will rekindle it,” Samuel Adams said.

In the same way, we are working to rekindle the fire of Christianity in every neighborhood in Pagosa Springs.

It is for this reason we are calling upon you to help us establish a presence in your neighborhood. We must begin to disciple those who will disciple others among our neighbors so that, over time, we will rekindle the fire from the spark. Please let us know if you will lead in this, or follow, or can suggest someone in your area we might contact to help us in this great cause. We must have commitment and we must have it now.

Several conditions must exist for an effective counterinsurgency campaign.

First, there must be a legitimate government established that is supported by the people. The One Church in Pagosa Springs has certainly gained the support of a vast number of people these past two years.

Second, we must have a coherent mission and operational mandate. This is given us by Jesus Christ Himself when he directs us to “Go … make disciples” in Matthew 28.

Third, we must control the physical and human terrain. (The recommended minimum is 20 counterinsurgents per 1,000 residents.) We are seeking to attain this through person-to-person evangelism and by discipling believers in each area of the county.

Fourth, there must be an effective system of logistics. This means supplying each area with what is needed. We have found this to be very low cost compared to supplying the needs of a normal congregation — its building, sound systems, insurance and so on.

Fifth, positively influence the local population. This we are accomplishing through face-to-face visits, follow-up phone calls and by an email network.

Finally, sixth, we must be confronting an ineffective and illegitimate force. We can render our opponent ineffective by taking action, and evil is the most illegitimate force in the world.

The Bible tells us that the very gates of Hell cannot prevail against the church. Time to press against the gates.

To get started right away, please contact us at

This story was posted on July 24, 2014.