When military people are saved and discipled they make great church members. They are different than the average church member due to the nature of their work:
- They may not be in your church as long as your average civilian members.
- They must be integrated on purpose.
- There is the possibility that they have been trained in a good military church.
- Don’t treat them as outsiders. Realize their great need and their great potential for the cause of Christ. Below are some pointers on integrating military families into your church.
- The children—they have moved many times and need to be embraced quickly by members, teachers, and other children.
- The teenagers—the teenagers have made friends and left them on more than one occasion. The best teenagers in the church must reach out to the military teens.
- The wife—she has many special needs. She needs a good Christian friend. One who will be there when troubling news comes (his unit came under attack—or worse). She needs a weekly opportunity for a mother’s day out. Forming a support group for wives of deployed soldiers would be a great blessing. She needs an accessible, loving pastor’s wife. She needs to be offered the opportunity to serve in the church. Many times in a well established church every job is filled by an ‘old timer,’ and the military wife is looked upon as temporary. Make a place for her to serve. Be there for her. Keep in touch with her regularly. Someone should know about the car or any repair that needs to be done at the house. The teens could be led to take care of the yard while her husband is deployed.
- Pray for soldiers privately.
- Pray for soldiers publicly. Call their names in church meetings, Sunday school classes, prayer meetings, and the pulpit.
- Correspond with deployed soldiers.
- Send deployed soldiers gift boxes periodically.
- Lead your people or a class to adopt a deployed soldier and his family.
3. Have Special Days to Recognize the Military
Having special days where you emphasize the military will help to keep your people thinking about their needs all the time. Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day are great times to show appreciation for the military and their families.
- Put special days on your calendar and plan well ahead of time. Announce them regularly and make them special.
- Decorate the church in a patriotic theme.
- Preach and teach on a military theme. The Bible is full of them. Don’t criticize the government or the Commander-in-Chief on these special days. No matter what you may think of our government or our president, our military people do not react well to criticism of their authority.
- Consider having a special guest who has a great testimony and is, or was, in the military.
- Encourage your active duty people to wear their uniforms.
- Have an honor guard post the colors when you pledge to the American flag and sing the national anthem. Your local reserve or National Guard unit can help you.
- Have some military gifts for the children. Your local recruiting station will be glad to help you.
- Two or three weeks ahead of time ask your people to turn in the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any active duty or retired military person or family that they know who lives within driving distance of your church. Send them an invitation stating that you would like to honor them for their service to our country. Follow up with a personal phone call.
- In the service, mention the wars Americans have fought.
- Recognize the active duty military personnel in the service. Ask their families to stand and give them a gift such as a camouflage New Testament.
- Follow up on military guests with a letter of appreciation. Call them and ask for an appointment to talk to them further.
By Tom Lancaster (published by permission)