A few years ago at Ignite, Lt. Col. Brian Daum, an RMD chaplain with the National Guard, introduced himself as a cross-cultural worker. As I recall he said something like, “Members of the military are a different culture. They wear different clothes, speak a different language, and eat different food (MREs).” While there’s a bit of humor in this, there’s also a lot of truth. When you combine an exceedingly unique job description, with a high level of stress and sacrifice, and throw in a family relocation or deployment every few years, it’s easy to see that members of the military live a different life than most other Americans. I bring this up for two reasons.
First, there are likely members of the armed forces who live in your community and who are far from God. In the RMD, there are five major military bases with a total population of over 20,000 active military personnel. This does not include their 23,000 family members living onsite. In addition to these, there are another almost 20,000 members of the National Guard scattered throughout our cities. While some churches located in cities with a base may have a more developed plan to engage service members, it behooves us all to consider how we may become a more welcoming church to this demographic. Examples of strategies used by some churches include:
- a ‘thank you’ message to military families on the church website
- a military parent’s day out with childcare
- special welcome gifts to recently relocated families
- family support during deployment
- military wives fellowship
- free get-a-way stays for military families
- marriage events with a special focus on military families.
While every church will approach this challenge differently and with different opportunities available to them, the following list of church military outreaches might be an encouragement to you or might generate an idea for something the Lord would lead you to do.
Second, I want to ask you to pray for Rapid City, SD. Over the next couple of years, this city and the surrounding area are predicted to double in size as the Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21, will find its primary station at Ellsworth AFB, located just on the edge of town. This will bring a massive influx of military personnel and families, and we want to be prepared to connect with them. This may look like new ministry initiatives for our Alliance church in Rapid City and possibly even new church plants. In either case, it will require hard work and Kingdom workers. Will you join in praying that God will provide the wisdom and the workers for this opportunity?
Whether it is in our own context, or pulling together to focus on specific initiatives in our District, may God grant us success in reaching this demographic with the gospel.
Together with you,
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