By Kyle Bueermann
Ministry in a military community offers many unique opportunities and challenges. As we approach Veterans Day, it’s important to consider how you can effectively reach those in the military who are a part of your church and community. Here are three things to keep in mind.
Military ministry is transient ministry
This is indeed a challenge, but it is a reality that you must come to accept if you are to have an impactful ministry in a military community. Many of your military members and attendees will only be in your church for a short while.
The church I serve, First Baptist Church of Alamogordo, NM, is very close to Holloman Air Force Base. We have several pilots and other officers who may be a part of our church for three or four years. However, we have many more who will only be here for a year or two, and some for as little as three to six months.
This is the reality of ministering in a military community.
We would all love for our church members in the military to plug into our churches in such a way that, when they either retire or get out of the service, they remain in the church and the community. But that’s simply not reality.
They will get orders somewhere else or, when they get out, they will move back home or wherever they can find a job in their field.
So, you can either become frustrated by the transient nature of the military, or you can leverage that to impact the Kingdom of God.
Military ministry offers a global impact
If you’ve not already done so, find out where the members of the military in your church have served. Most likely you’ll find folks who have served around the world.
In our context, we have Air Force members who’ve served or are currently serving in Ireland, Qatar, Kuwait, Japan, South Korea, and Guam. They come from different locations around the United States and have often moved around the country during their time in the Air Force.
And that’s in a congregation that averages about 80 in attendance on a Sunday morning.
Many of our church members and attendees who are in the military will leave Alamogordo for an international assignment. What an opportunity to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission!
If you serve in a military community, you have a wonderful opportunity to have a global impact. The United States government will send men and women to your community who you can disciple and train, and then we get to send them out as missionaries around the world–at no financial cost to our church.
You have an incredible privilege to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission to the very ends of the earth through training up and sending out men and women to be missionaries in the military community.
Military ministry forces you to think outside the box
As I’ve already mentioned, ministry in a military community offers some unique challenges and opportunities. However, it will also force you to be creative in the way you do ministry.
Often, you’ll have members of your church whose spouses are deployed for several months at a time. This will provide you with great opportunities to care for these spouses and their children while their mom or dad is deployed. Your church can become, in a genuine sense, a family to these individuals.
Ask yourself, “How can our church serve the military members in our community?” Maybe you make a deployed spouse’s dinner. Maybe you host a parents’ night out once every couple of months, allowing a wife whose husband is deployed a couple of hours of alone time.
Can some members of your church adopt a military family to serve while they are in your church? You might even consider contacting the chaplain at the military base and see what some of the needs in the military community are.
Like any other ministry, ministering to members of the military is hard. But it’s an opportunity for even the smallest and most financially struggling churches to have an impact around the globe as you train men and women to fulfill the Great Commission.
KYLE BUEERMANN (@kylebueermann) is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico, director of replanter development for the North American Mission Board, and co-host of Not Another Baptist Podcast.