Family life is full of great joys and great trials. Military families can suffer these to the extreme. We believe we can't effectively minister to military members unless we can minister to the entire military family.
Junior members of the military are not paid enough to survive in many areas without significant financial help. E-1 through E-4 base salaries are below the poverty line defined by HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Food assistance, supplementary housing assistance, and other helps are often available, but still insufficient. Utility expenses, transportation costs, the costs of repairs of 'stuff', perhaps child care is needed, perhaps there are educational expenses, and perhaps some medical costs not covered or locally available to the family need to be covered as with a child with special needs. Some spouses take jobs to help make up the difference. Even those above the poverty line can be very financially stretched by high costs of living in some regions. Military benefits never catch up adequately with regional changes in costs of living. Military benefits do not have a line item for birthdays, anniversaries, special holiday activities, etc. All of these bad circumstances are good opportunities for The Church to show the love of Jesus. Some examples:
- food and clothing distributions.
- church run schools and child-care programs (fully accredited and faith-based).
- community holiday events (with discrete invitations to military families) such as Christmas tree give-aways, toy collection/distribution drives (or supporting those run by the military), holiday picnics, etc.
- welcome home events when a unit returns from deployment (a few of our churches provide welcome home get-aways to a local resort where church members provide a few days of child care).
- special events for military children when school is out, such as specially designed Vacation Bible School programs.
- a welcome-wagon ministry or periodic (monthly or bi-monthly) 'welcome to the neighborhood' events for local military families. (Military families often move too often to put down roots. But a good welcome by a community aware congregation can get a family more quickly transplanted.)
The most obvious area of ministry is in support of the marriages of military families. Marriage and family resources are available through many of our partners. many of our members have had special training to help grow and maintain marriage and family relationships intact through the inevitable times of separation and the stresses of transfers/changes of duty. Our own marriage and intimacy family of resources have proven helpful to many. We try to run special ministries prior to deployments and immediately after return from deployment (these are times of the greatest stresses). It is common for husbands and wives to have problems after deployments because the military member is off "doing their thing" while the spouse is competently carrying the load at home. The deployment is over and the military member immediately steps in to do the job at home, except perhaps things have changed significantly (especially when small children are around). Also the military member might be used to issuing orders; commands are not the best way of expressing love and affection and intimacy.
There are, sadly, instances of infidelity that occur. A wise congregation should be prepared to (1) seek to prevent infidelity and (2) provide strong principles of grace and reconciliation and sound counselling. A special area of grief counselling and on-going material and relational support should be available if there is death or injury either in the service or in the family when the service member is not available.
The support of the local church for military families is a tremendous community outreach opportunity. When a military member is deployed, the spouse and children are left behind. They have all of the responsibilities of daily life, but only a part of the family Team. While military wives usually link together and obtain help from the local base commands, there are many areas for the local church to help in very meaningful ways. For instance, young military families may need help financially, or with "big stuff" like mowing a lawn, fixing a car, painting projects, etc. Often these opportunities are a way of mobilizing a men's group to ministry in the community.
Whenever possible, integrate the family into the congregation and help them feel at home...but don't force things. Have good spiritual conversations with them. They are a cross-section of our society and may not share the congregational faith.
In all our ministries, we seek to work in support the military chaplaincy programs while maintaining our service to the LORD.
We freely share our various ministry concepts and associated resources to promote the growth and health of congregations locally and worldwide and enabling them to have more effective outreaches.
We encourage people to download all resources for the use of their local ministries and to translate them into local language(s). When a resource is translated, ensure that you use the most reliable Bible translation in that language for Bible references and citations.
If someone uses a Resource and translates it to another language, we request that they share it back to us so we may distribute it more widely.
We request that you would cite MATTHEW 25:34-40 Ministries or this website as the site where you obtained the original.