On May 3, my husband and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. We married the day he graduated from basic training and since that day have lived in 11 states. He frequently says, “Home is where the Army sends us!”
In each place we’ve lived, we have attended chapels on post and churches off post. We’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand how the body of Christ can meet the unique needs of military families. Families like ours move frequently, endure long separations due to deployments, single parent for seasons and generally are not located near extended family for support.
All of this means there is a wide open door for the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus to military families. Here are five practical tips for how local churches can minister to military families:
Ask military families during deployments how you can support their family. Often military families will not ask for help so it’s helpful to ask them directly. If their response is vague, offer to provide support in tangible ways such as mowing the grass or watching the children one afternoon so Mom can go shopping alone. It’s also good to ask how they are settling in following a move and share information regarding local community resources.
Look for specific ways you can be of help or meet a need. Consider sponsoring a Parents Night Out, Mom’s Morning Out, or Military Appreciation Evening where childcare is provided for some much needed respite. Also, hosting military Bible studies or a retreat is encouraging; and, providing support in the form of household and vehicle maintenance are great ways to be a blessing.
Most military families say it’s meaningful to them when they are acknowledged and appreciated on special holidays that honor the military such as Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. Be purposeful to do this as a church family.
Just as our heavenly Father has adopted us and made us a part of His family, adopt a military family – get to know them and make them a part of your family. Be intentional about inviting them over for dinner and fellowship, including holidays. One creative way to do this is to be a substitute grandparent for the day on Grandparent’s Day. Also, attend the children’s sporting events, especially during deployments.
Military families want to be in community and serve at church but their schedules are often changing. Accept the schedule limitations and provide opportunities for them to serve, knowing their time is limited.
Lastly, praying for our military and their families is our best act of service!
I have not stopped giving thanks for you and remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:16
From a military mom and wife, thank you for showing the love of Christ to care for families like ours. As our women’s military ministry motto proclaims, “We are workers together for Christ!”