The Military: while we thankfully lift them up in high esteem, and for many a good reason, we far-too-often give little regard to their spiritual condition.
I speak to Christians on a regular basis about the spiritual void within the military, and the resulting struggles young people often experience upon entering the service. For some young people it’s loneliness, for others it’s the anxiety of finally being on their own. But for far too many young people new to the military, it’s the lost opportunity of the church to impart the life-changing truth of the gospel to them that is so tragic. An opportunity that unfortunately many Christians do not see, or even understand. Being thankful, patriotic Christian Americans, we lift these courageous young people up in high esteem, while far-too-often giving little regard to their spiritual condition.
According to a recent study by the Center for a New American Security there are over 42,035 non-profits that exist to support our nation’s military. Many of these organizations would even fall under the umbrella of Christian ministry, yet even among those ministries you can count on two hands those that actually serve the spiritual needs of the military, if one will define spiritual as being gospel-centric. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good that comes from some of these other organizations, and we at MTM greatly appreciate the work they do. Even so, it is obvious that the church, and the many para-church organizations, are overlooking a great opportunity for true spiritual ministry to the military.
3 Observations as to why there is a lack of concern for the spiritual welfare of the military:
The Military Chaplain
Many feel that we are meeting their spiritual needs through the ministry of the military chaplain. However, because of the growing acceptance of political-correctness in America, the biblical Chaplain is having an increasingly difficult time maintaining a biblical ministry to those of his congregation. I spoke of this problem last week in my post about Military Intolerance of the Bible. Biblical censorship is on the rise, and more and more of our chaplains are finding themselves being disciplined by their commanding officers for simply preaching and counseling according to God’s Word. Indeed, the most advantageous position for sharing the gospel of Christ within the military setting, is the military Chaplain, yet his effectiveness is dwindling with every day that passes. Political correctness, and governmental oversight, are impeding the chaplain in his endeavor to share and teach the truth of the Bible within the military today.
When I speak to groups about what we do in Missions To Military one of the things I like to ask is “How many veterans or active duty are here today?” Invariably I get similar results depending on the age group. Groups in their thirties: about zero percent have ever served, in their forties: not much better, in the fifties: there are few (maybe 10-20%), sixties: probably about a third (sometimes a little better), and in groups composed of people seventy and over: the vast majority of the men have served our country in the armed forces. As a someone charged with helping our ministry grow through financial gifts it’s not hard justify the bias I have toward speaking to an older crowd.
For the Christian millennial, it is those who have served, or live closely with someone who has, that have an inkling of the great need of a gospel centric ministry to the military.
The Church is Focused Elsewhere
The church has become focused on other things. With the rise of mega-churches, we are seeing global outreach programs take a back seat to building bigger buildings, buying more comfortable chairs and other things peripheral to what God has called the church to do. This phenomenon of the church, which has rapidly expanded over the past twenty years, has resulted in a populous of Christians who do not understand the priority of the Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20) in regards to God’s program for the church. As a result, the military, and those who are uniquely adept in evangelizing her, have to fight for the attention of the church, and the giving budget of Christian individuals. With that said, many see the bigger problem in missions giving in the overall decline of church membership. Such churches generally do not view increasing their missions budget as good reform.
Action is Needed
It’s been well said before: “If you don’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them!” Considering the current state of affairs in our country today, I pray that a few more Christians would consider falling to their knees daily and pray for our military, and consider regularly supporting a ministry, or a missionary, that focuses on the spiritual welfare of the young men and women of our nations armed forces. Our courageous young people of the military are already willing, if need be, to fall and make the ultimate sacrifice for us, they give us their best in service to their country, and they deserve our best. We should Support Our Troops, by first supporting a gospel-centric ministry willing to focus on Winning and Training the Military for Jesus Christ!
Have you ever given thought of the Military in your missions giving? Maybe you haven’t ever thought about supporting a missionary? Please leave your comments.