A church with a focused military ministry is one which has developed a unique and creative ministry to the military. The military ministry of a focused church goes beyond being military-friendly to the place of having a vision, plan, and strategy which actually has been worked out and put into practice by those leading the ministry. Ministry to and missions through the military is a significant aspect of the vision of a focused church. However, having a focused military ministry does not mean that this is the total emphasis of the church, but rather one important ministry and way of doing missions.
Characteristics of a church with a focused military ministry
1. The senior pastor and key leaders have adopted the philosophy of military missions and ministry.
Each church has its own leadership structure. The point here is that the appropriate leaders, especially the senior pastor and leadership board, have officially adopted the military missions and ministry philosophy as that of their own. This means conducting some type of leaders’ orientation on the philosophy. We suggest that an official affirmation be recorded in the minutes of the appropriate leaders’ meeting(s).
2. The Church has been led to understand and embrace the biblical paradigm of military missions and ministry as a deliberate missions strategy of the church.
We encourage the senior pastor or missions pastor to plan an orientation and training forum of some type for the purpose of educating the congregation on this subject, to be followed by some appropriate way for the congregation to indicate their affirmation. This can be done in a variety of ways such as through a sermon series, in a business meeting, or as a part of a world missions conference. In smaller to medium-sized congregations this probably would involve the entire congregation. In the larger or mega-churches this might be done in the leadership or core group circles only. The point here is that in general the church understands and embraces the biblical paradigm of military missions and ministry, and sees the need to network and partner with others within the three streams of ministry.
3. A positive attitude is prevalent on the part of the church regarding the constant movement and transition within the military community. The church, having been led to embrace the philosophy of military missions and ministry, has consequently developed a positive attitude about military people coming and going in and through the church.
This obviously involves a subjective evaluation on the part of the leadership. Oftentimes there is a negative undercurrent among church members toward the military because of the transient nature of their lifestyle and the resulting challenges to relationships and church life. This is often perceived as negative, discouraging individuals within the church from getting involved with military members and their families, or from inviting them to freely participate in the life and ministry of the church.
Rather than seeing the transient nature of the military lifestyle as a negative, a church embracing the paradigm of military missions and ministry actually views this as a positive, making it possible to have a greater missionary impact in the world. The evidence that a church has effectively made this paradigm shift is that a positive attitude is prevalent on the part of the church as a whole regarding military people coming and going in and through the church. People in the church are actually excited about military members and families constantly moving in and out of the church!
To facilitate this paradigm shift in the typical church, leaders must guide the members to understand and embrace the biblical philosophy of military missions and ministry. Leaders must call the church, at the appropriate levels, to intentionally adopt a positive attitude about ministry to and missions through the military. Because attitude is so vital when it comes to being effective in any aspect of church life this is a very important characteristic.
4. A specific group of people within the church has been called out and identified and are now leading what is characterized as a focused military ministry.
In the typical church where there is a significant component of military there is a group already prepared by God to lead this ministry. Many of these individuals will be military but some will be from the civilian world. It is just a matter of calling them forth, and then identifying, training, and commissioning them to lead the ministry.
5. A vision, plan, and strategy have been formulated by the appropriate leaders and have been put into practice in order to reach, train, equip, and minister to the military of the community.
This means that the appropriate leaders, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have formulated, clarified, and written down the vision, plan, and strategy for doing military missions and ministry in and through the church. It should include specifics in terms of evangelism and outreach, ministry and caregiving, training and discipling, and commissioning and networking, as these functions relate to military members and families in the church and community.
6. The church has developed a kingdom mindset in general and regarding military missions and ministry in particular.
This characteristic is somewhat subjective. For a church to become excited about military missions and ministry it must have a kingdom mindset! The question here is, does the church in general have a kingdom mindset in this matter?
7. There is a desire and willingness on the part of the appropriate ministry leaders of the church to connect with other like-minded Christians involved in military missions and ministry within the U.S. and around the world.
Why is it important to intentionally connect with others doing strategic missions through and ministry to the military? First, all Christians should be concerned for the health, well being and propagation of the body of Christ worldwide. Second, Christians are required to partner in the matter of winning, discipling, and caring for those within the military lifestyle and culture. After all, the body of Christ is worldwide and the military is worldwide. Partnership is a required necessity! The question is, will we do this well, in an intentional and strategic way, or will we do this haphazardly and poorly? When it comes to military missions and ministry, missional churches intentionally connect with others both locally and globally in order to be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment!
For Focused Churches Desiring to be Listed in the MMN Directory of Churches
The following three things are required for a particular church to register and be listed on the web site. First, be defined as a church with a focused military ministry using the description and characteristics provided by the MMN. Second, have a full description of its military ministry on the church web site. As a service to focused churches the MMN will list the church web addresses along with the church names. This provides accountability so that the churches listed on the MMN web site have in reality developed a focused military ministry that is missional in mindset and nature.
It also enables individuals and families moving to a particular area to be able to fast-forward connection to particular churches by viewing their web sites and specifically the sections about military missions and ministry. Third, be able and willing to embrace the basic purpose and faith statement of the MMN. These would need to be affirmed and embraced by the senior pastor and appropriate leadership. Of course, this affirmation does not mean that a church has to compromise or give up distinctives in theology and practice.
Also, please note that churches which are listed in the focused directory of churches are also listed under the directory for military friendly churches. It is assumed that churches which have developed a focused military ministry are already truly military friendly.
It is also requested that each church listed on the MMN web site consider providing a link to the MMN on their respective web site.
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