Ch. 3

Chapter 3:

Ministering on the Front Line…
and the Home Front

What can the military member and family do to cope with deployment and separation?

1) Stay in touch

  • pictures / videos
  • old-fashioned (hand-written) letters
  • phone calls (at prearranged, regularly-scheduled times)
  • set a clock in your home set to the deployed member’s time zone


2) Pray!

  • Simultaneous prayer every day for one another
  • Serious prayer to avoid temptation and deal with the Devil

(1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7-8)

  • Reliance on the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17)
  • Peace through prayer (John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Perseverance . . .


3) Read and meditate on Scripture

  • to cancel impure and inferior thoughts (Romans 12:21)
  • to live a holy life (Psalm 119:11)
  • to enrich mind by excellent thoughts (Philippians 4:8,9)
  • to inspire by noble examples (Numbers 13:30; 14:24)
  • to counteract fear by faith (Joshua 1:8,9; Hebrews 13:6)
  • to counteract loneliness by God’s Presence (Hebrews 13:5)
  • to receive help from the Lord (Psalm 121)
  • to be inspired by God’s promises (Genesis 22:14)
  • to learn contentment (Hebrews 13:5)
  • to resist temptation (James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:8-9)
  • Simultaneous daily reading of same Scripture passage comparing notes, discussing meanings. (See 181-Day Bible Reading Challenge in Appendix # 1)


4) Prepare for separation . . .

  • In Him We Move” – article by Beverly Almond (see Appendix # 2)
  • Read about deployed location (limited if secret / classified)
  • Discuss with family the projected separation time, probable responsibilities of military member, dealing with problems in absence of military member, resources available
  • Anticipate Temptations
      • Relationship problems may develop while separated from spouse.
      • Loneliness may weaken resolve.
      • Rationalizing a “supportive” relationship can endanger relationship to spouse. Leaning on understanding friend / coworker may initially seem harmless.
      • Movies, videos, magazines, pornography on internet can intensify sexual drive and lead to immoral relationships!
      • Pornography has serious consequences – relational problems, extramarital affairs, destruction of marriages, misuse of classified equipment, compromise of computer security


  • Prepare a Help list
      • phone numbers, address (mail /E-mail) of unit
      • Emergency contact list
        • Doctor, police, fire, repairmen, ambulance, hospital
      • Important security documents in lock box
        • Will
        • insurance companies (addresses, phone numbers)
        • Power of Attorney
        • bank/credit union/mutual funds
        • passports


5) Think through money matters

  • Power of Attorney accomplished well ahead of time
      • up-to-date
      • general in nature
  • Checkbook monitoring
      • Review deposits, bills, allotments with military member.
      • Ensure accuracy and reasonableness of expenditures.
      • Avoid excessive impulse buying (diversionary tactic).


6. Prepare for reunion

  • Hold regular family discussions and prayer.
  • Increase frequency of e-mails and phone calls.
  • Read Department of Defense “Coming Home” pamphlets.

A Guide for Service Members (See Appendix # 3)

A Guide for Spouses of Service Members (See Appendix # 4)

A Guide for Parents, Extended Family Members or Friends (See Appendix # 5)


What can the church do to minister to the military family?


1.) Become familiar with the language and vocabulary of the military.

  • Military Missions Network website has a glossary of terms that will help familiarize you with military-speak.



2.) Involve the military family in worship

  • Share in worship war stories from the front lines.
      • Tell how prayers are being answered.
      • Share how God is at work in lives of members deployed.
      • Honor those who serve on a regular basis.
      • Tell war stories from the home front of families left behind fighting battles against loneliness, tell how they need courage and emotional support.
  • Preach relevant sermons that address contemporary issues.
  • Provide time for silent meditation and reflection.
  • Quickly accept the military family into the congregation and faith community . . . friendliness attracts!
  • Help them get settled – house, car, school, neighborhood.
      • Remind church members they many of them have military neighbors.
      • Find practical /non-scary ways to connect with them to show them the love of Jesus.
  • Reach out with compassion and celebrate God at work.
      • Take advantage of opportunities to impact community, show love by action, not just words.
  • Involve them in existing ministry without “proving time.”
  • Break down walls between stationary & highly mobile.
  • Create turbo-charged relationship-building environment.
  • Plug in / assimilate quickly!
  • Be a multi-generational church – address all ages.
      • Seniors can serve as role model – Adopt a grandchild!
  • The spin-off: mature, confident Christians who have discovered the secret of facing every situation (Philippians 4:13).


3.) Develop strategy / cadre of people committed to minister to military members and their families

  • Support Groups
  • Prayer Partners


4.) Provide free child care – a good outreach

  • Mother’s (or Father’s) day out; Big Brother / Big Sister; Adopt-a-grandchild
  • Surrogate parents – members volunteer to help out in a father’s/mother’s absence
      • Activities can be done while doing them w/ your family [e.g. camping, fishing, school work, track meet, school play]
      • Parent left at home alone will have a difficult time being everywhere at once.
      • Many family activities get cut out.
  • Help out with transportation for after school activities
      • Watch kids so mom / dad can go to the store
  • These activities don’t take much time / cost much money, but profoundly minister to a “single” parent.


5) Connect with military people in your community!

  • Build relationships – bridge gaps, step out in faith.
  • Care one on one, family to family – this means going out of your way.
  • Welcome newcomers to church events.
  • Develop Bible study groups taught by military (active, retired, spouse of deployed).
      • Discover, in the process, their real needs.
  • Go above and beyond to reach out.
  • Assist in crises – be available during illness, child birth, death, loneliness, financial difficulty, etc.
      • LONELINESS and DEPRESSION – top feelings family members experience during regular deployments
      • Add WAR to equation – imagine what is going through spouse / child’s mind!
      • With no one to turn to, they go it alone!

THE CHURCH should be there for them!


6.) Design and implement a Watchcare Program for military families.


7.) Provide meeting space for monthly family support groups


8.) Offer a meal for spouses and dependents of deployed military members


9.) Send Care Packages to military members via unit liaison

  • Ask unit liaison what they need
      • Can no longer send to “Any Service Member”
      • Can send direct to the service member
      • Can send direct to the unit’s Chaplain


10.) Make computers available for e-mail

  • Donate computers to families
  • Help them set up a JUNO account for free e-mail
  • Make a POP3 e-mail address available from church website or internet service, for families to be able to have e-mail if they don’t have an internet account

Set up a pass-worded, secure section of the church web page where military families can post pictures of family activities, kids, etc. so the deployed service member can access it via web. Because the deployed service member has limited time to access email, this will allow them to view (and print) photographs without eating up their access time or clogging up e-mail access on the other end.

  • Be aware of security issues when communicating information about deployed members. Churches should be very careful about publishing information about deployment locations and dates so that this seemingly harmless information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Remember the old adage, “Loose lips sink ships!” They did. The still do. For more help, see the excellent article on operational security at


11.) Provide pastoral counseling for spouse and dependents.

  • Include coordination with military chaplain of deployed military member.


12.) Begin a small group to encourage dependents via Bible studies, prayer, meals.

  • James 1:27


13.) Initiate a proactive Singles Ministry.

  • Remember that many service members are single
  • Adopt a single service member and write to them regularly.
  • Go the extra mile – communicate with parents and siblings!


14.) Partner to regularly check up on dependents’ welfare.


15.) Offer premarital guidance, marital counseling and enrichment retreats.

  • Ask military chaplains to help!
  • HomeBuilders – numerous workbook-based Bible studies for strengthening marriage. Their website is:
  • PREPARE/ENRICH is material that is used regularly in military chapels to help couples prepare for marriage or to enrich their marriages. See their website at:


16.) Partner to regularly check up on military member.

  • (John 13:34; Philippians 1:2-6 – “partnership in the gospel”)
  • Singles often leave behind pets, cars, apartments, and houses.
      • Volunteer to watch a pet, occasionally start up a car, swing by an apartment to make sure everything’s okay.
  • Write cards and letters.
  • Send e-mail messages.
  • Communicate – stay in touch!
  • Make regular phone calls and visits.
  • Invite to lunch or dinner after church.
  • Adopt a military family – stay in touch with those at home, write / e-mail service member away.
  • Adopt-a-Soldier
  • Comfort service member on battle front by taking care of family back home.
      • LONELINESS – significant feeling while deployed
        • Married service members, especially women, feel guilty for leaving spouse / children at home
        • Frequent letters / e-mails – tremendous morale boost

Send worship bulletins and Christian literature

  • Refer a single/family to another church
      • Great help in a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) situation
      • Endorsement of church to transferring single/family
        • Military Missions Network is developing a database of military-friendly churches throughout the world. Once this database is complied, transferring families can search their on-line database to locate a church in the city where they are moving. See their website at:


17.) Offer parenting skills seminar or classes.

  • e.g. “Five Steps to Biblical Parenting” or similar materials from publishers like Serendipity House/LifeWay, etc.
  • Ideally, should be taught before deployment!


18.) Offer financial management seminar or classes.

  • Crown Financial Ministries has excellent materials for this. Learn more at their website at or by calling (770) 534-1000.
  • Economic assistance a great way to help, but churches may have economic challenges of their own.
      • Sunday School classes, on a personal level, should make it their goal to determine if members are hurting financially, then help . . .
  • Utilize existing financial assistance resources within the military community (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps Aid Societies, etc.).
  • Preparing Couples for Marriage includes material on budgeting. See for more information.


19.) Offer stress management seminar or classes.


20) Offer basic computer skills seminar or classes.

  • Word-processing
  • Using the world wide web — e-mail, attaching digital images


21.) Practice open-hearted hospitality.

  • Churches can put out the word.
  • Seek information / contact families of people deployed.
  • Meet for church-sponsored potluck dinner that could lead to the formation of support groups that could be led by chaplains (Hebrews 13:2).


22.) Provide practical support for spouse and dependents left behind.

  • Handyman skills
      • electrical
      • plumbing
      • auto repairs
      • carpentering
      • yard work
      • changing oil in car
      • cutting the grass
  • When the family handyman is deployed, these services either go unattended, or someone is hired at great expense.
  • Military wives stories – things breaking week hubby deployed
  • In some cases, the church can create outreaches centered around such activities.
  • Could offer one Saturday a month where families could bring their car in for routine maintenance/oil change
      • (They pay for parts/oil; church provide service/labor free)
      • If work beyond scope of ability, recommend a mechanic.


23.) Introduce service member and family to Christ.

  • The most important thing we can ever do!
  • Help them grow in relationship to Christ within the body of Christ.
  • If we have first dealt with their physical and emotional needs, there should be a natural and easy to do this . . .


24.) Pray — regularly, intentionally – for those deployed, and those at home.

  • Have public prayer services – for corporate prayer.
  • Extend offer to community to join church in prayer.
  • Solicit names from community via advertising in paper, TV, and radio.
  • Military spouses very protective of service member’s location, so for their safety and that of their children, they don’t want the whole world to know they are home alone.
  • Ask people to send church the names of loved ones / unit where assigned –simply promise to pray for them.
  • Communicate that the church is not distributing / posting names.
  • Send service member a card letting them know you are praying for them.
  • Have a Candle of Remembrance and Hope as a part of your worship service.
      • Place a large white candle on a stand near the pulpit that is lit each Sunday while service members are deployed. One church found small flags from each branch of the Armed Forces and placed them in a wreath around the base of the candle.
  • Operation Toy Soldier
  • Utilize the Army Cycle of Prayer available at
  • Sign up to pray for our troops (and our President, too!) through the Presidential Prayer Team


25.) Teach on issues / topics of concern to military families.

  • Support groups could discuss these issues.


26.) Study and emulate excellent models of church ministry to the military.


27.) Work with Parachurch ministries in reaching out to the military

  • Cadence International


  • Christian Military Fellowship


  • Military Fellowship (Navigators)


  • Military Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International

P.O. Box 120124
Newport News, Virginia 23612-0124
General email:
Main number: (757) 928-7200
Fax: (757) 928-7201
Toll free: (800) 444-6006


  • Military Missions Network


  • Officers Christian Fellowship


  • Focus on the Family


28.) Help the military member and family in the reunion process

  • Give them space.
  • Keep the kids and let the parents get reacquainted.
  • Don’t pressure the returning service person to “tell his/her story.”




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