I love that the church where I am pastor (FBC O’Fallon, IL) is near Scott Air Force base. We have hundreds of military folks in our church and it is a great blessing. It will be 19 years this summer since I came and I’ve learned some things about the military folks. (I am a slow learner.) Here are some things I’ve learned about ministry with the military community.
1. Military types move. A lot. To lots of places. It isn’t unusual for me to meet a new family moving in from Guam while saying goodbye to another moving to Germany. Some move in saying “I’m only here for three years so I’m jumping into the church with both feet.” They look immediately for opportunities to serve and connect. I love that! Others say, “I’m only here for three years so I’m not going to get involved.” The smart aleck in me responds with, “How long will you be here if you do get involved?”
Military families learn how to deal with new circumstances and environments. The children of military parents learn to make friends and adjust to new things. Their moves make them interesting to us civilians. They have seen places we haven’t and enjoyed experiences foreign to us. We are impressed with the variety of their experiences.
They are so interesting. But, they leave us. And, if we aren’t careful, we guard our hearts against the pain of their departures. I remind our church often that we must be willing to love each other- military and civilian- even though our hearts are broken when we part. Love is worth the pain.
2. Military types deploy. Continue reading