The military lifestyle creates a unique sub-culture within our communities and presents a variety of ministry opportunities from missions and leadership development to hope and healing ministries. The military lifestyle creates a unique identity that shapes the worldview of our service members and their families in how they understand two very important principles that a church needs to exhibit in order to have an effective ministry to the military personnel in their church — Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, Veterans, and their families. These two principles are trust and commitment.
Trust among our military personnel is gained quickly because they are expected to deploy as a unit and fight the nation’s wars. Their bond is deep as they live, train, deploy, and face the enemy together. Combat deployments will solidify this level of trust unless something egregious occurs to shatter it, e.g., abandoning one’s post in war. And this level of trust among military personnel will also extend to their family members. The shared military lifestyle creates a unique bond that extends even into our veteran community too. Congregations can build trust among their military members by recognizing the uniqueness of the military lifestyle and building relationships. And as trust grows so will their commitment to the local church. If that trust is broken it will impact their level of commitment or may cause families to change churches.
Commitment originates from the military’s goal of accomplishing the mission. Every service member is expected to maintain highs levels of physical fitness, occupational proficiency, and deployability. From a team, troop, company or squadron, every service member, Private to General, is needed to fill an authorized position with designated roles and responsibilities. This military functionality finds similar language through the Apostle Paul’s description of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:4-27. As every Christian is gifted for service as a member of the body of Jesus Christ, every military service member is highly trained for their position within a unit. When service members and their families, active duty and veteran, are encouraged to serve in their local congregations they bring that same level of commitment focused on mission accomplishment.
As you can see, trust and commitment are important principles among our military personnel just as they are within the Church. Being receptive to and accepting of the uniqueness of the military lifestyle can benefit the local congregation and the community. Service members, active duty or veteran, can assist the pastor and staff members understand the benefits and challenges associated with the military lifestyle, assist in establishing and building trust with the other service members in the congregation and community, network with veteran organizations, and encourage greater participation in helping meet the needs and missions of the local church.
Richard E Davis is a BACE member and retired from the United States Army with the rank of Master Sergeant after twenty years of active duty service. He was a Special Forces qualified soldier for ten years with six combat deployments. Richard is currently serving with the Military Ministry at First Baptist Clarksville Tennessee. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Ministry with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary focusing on ministering to military families struggling with psychological trauma caused by war.