I’ve talked before about the inability of churches to change. It’s almost as if each of them represent a stronghold protecting their piece of the puzzle. If your theology is a close match, you’re welcome to join them for protection from ‘the others’. If your theology is not a match, then you are an ‘other’ and you are more than welcome to go to another stronghold for protection from them.
It’s a sound illustration, but sometimes we forget about the logistics of supporting a stronghold because of our unfamiliarity about life within reach of them during the Middle Ages. For one, a stronghold requires all sorts of people. There are the people that support it from outside and the people that run it / defend it from inside.
Most people live outside of the stronghold. They’re the farmers that grow the food, the craftsman that make the furniture, the families that raise up the next generation. No stronghold could ever be made big enough to protect an entire community. In times of danger, people could flee into the stronghold for safety – but they would have to abandon their homes, their shops, and their fields.
Inside the stronghold are well-trained soldiers. Fighters that are on the walls, archers that take out more distant enemies, and skilled leaders that try to keep morale in check and the men motivated for whatever they might face. There are also rooms full of supplies – both food and weapons just in case of a siege situation. In the ancient world, the siege was an attacking army’s ally. It was a waiting game – surround the stronghold just outside of range and watch and wait. Eventually their supplies will run out and then they can easily be conquered with little casualties from your own men, that is, if their hunger doesn’t cause them to meet your terms for a surrender first.
Churches cannot survive without support from the outside. Today it could be a bank loan, or a generous contribution from another church or their denomination. From the inside, it’s core members pay for the building’s maintenance and other main elements. Outside of churches, families raise up children who are trained up in Christianity with varying degrees of success.
These Church-Strongholds are all in competition with each other for a very valuable resource: converts. Sure, you could set your sights on non-believers, but the resources it takes to train one up diverts from the key mission. At least with converts, somebody else has paid that expense and they are ready to put to work right away. The more converts you can pull into your Church-Stronghold, the more money you can use to shore up your defenses with new Christian materials.