“Fitting in is killing me,” Halley blurted. It was obvious she was frustrated.

Halley was a twenty-something, single, registered nurse who had given her life to Christ during her college years. She was smart, well spoken and stylish in her dress and hairstyle.

“What do you mean by ‘fitting in’?” I asked, suspicious that I knew exactly what she meant.

“When I first came to church here,” she began, “I loved how people would talk with me and encourage me in my faith. I felt a gentle accountability that caused me to grow spiritually. But about a month ago I ran into this group that seemed more invasive than encouraging to me. They are very nice, but they have kind of interrogated me about everything I do, from what I wear to how I vote and what music I listen to. It isn’t that they are judgmental, but it is obvious if I don’t buy into their predetermined set of values, they think I am on dangerous ground – that I am not being pleasing to God, or something.

“Please don’t misunderstand me,” she continued. “I want to be holy. I want Jesus Christ to be my Lord. But does that really mean I have to wear outdated styles of clothes and stop listening to Coldplay or other groups that don’t have overtly Christian lyrics? Is it true I have to act just like that group prescribes or be unpleasing to God? I mean, the group all acts the same, dresses the same, responds the same – they remind me of a clique from high school.”

I knew exactly the kind of group Halley was talking about. They are in every church. She was talking about those wonderful believers who feel like it is their job to imitate God by trying to make others in their own likeness and image. They are Borg-ish.

The Borg

I know it’s no longer cool, but I’m kind of a Trekky. The writers for the Star Trek television series created a scary race of beings known as the Borg. They called themselves “the Collective” because each of them had relinquished their individuality to function as ONE.

They were a pretty evangelistic group because everyone they bumped into along the way in the universe was “assimilated” into their Collective. You could try to resist their invitation but they simply replied, “Resistance is futile,” and assimilated you anyway. They assimilated races by infecting them with a self-duplicating, virus-like “nanoprobe” that changed them into Borg. They all wore the same kind of clothing and gear, walked and talked the same robotic way, and had all the trimmings one would expect to see in a horror show. Once you became Borg there was no turning back.

I have seen many groups inside Christian churches and ministries that were Borg-ish. These are not horrible people; in fact, they are often very kind and godly. But they are infected. They think they have everything figured out and everyone must externally look and act the same way.

In a Borg infected group you will not see much individual expression. Not on your life. There is a predetermined set of mannerisms that are considered holy and right. These mannerisms usually come from Bible verses taken out of context or from deductions the leaders have made – deductions often based on biases against anything cool (or against women).

It’s not unusual for these groups to wear out-of-style clothing (it takes about 5 to 8 years for clothing styles to become “sanctified”), to have the same walk (modes of behavior) and to talk the same robotic way (codified holy-language is held as a premium). And, if you value diversity and individuality, they are definitely a horror show.

We evangelicals are pretty susceptible to Borg disease because many believe the weightier part of being a Christian has to do with external mannerisms: what we wear, how we talk, what we like or dislike and what we don’t do. Let’s face it – there is a Borg-ish, cookie-cutter, Christian culture that is touted in many Christian circles as “Christ-like.”
Be Like Mike