Untitled Document

 Training of Military Ministry Leaders

 Reifsnyder

 2009-08-12 오후 2:20:00  3293
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TRAINING OF MILITARY MINISTRY LEADERS

 

By Bob Reifsnyder, Lt. Col. US Army (Ret), bobandbj.reifsnyder@gmail.com,

1-814-435-8864, ACCTS Staff for Latin America and the Caribbean

 

The adequate training of leaders in any organization or association is vital if they are to accomplish the work for which they are responsible. Such training must necessarily include both leadership skills and appropriate subject material. This is particularly true of organizations and associations which depend on volunteers to assume leadership positions.  In the world wide ministry which God has raised up to reach military personnel with the Gospel there are many such organizations or associations.   Since we are participating in the AMCF Seoul Council 2009, in this presentation I will discuss only the subject material training of military ministry leaders in the Association of Military of Military Christian Fellowships (AMCF).

 

During my 22 year career in the Army of the United States of America I worked with military leaders at all levels from Squad Leader to Division Commander.  At these different levels of leadership, the training and knowledge required by the leaders in order to do their jobs became increasingly more detailed and covered a broader area.  Many of my assignments were related to training.

 

Likewise during the 29 years that I have been on the staff of the Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service (ACCTS) following my retirement from the U.S. Army, I have worked with military ministry leaders at different levels of leadership.  This has been true in the Association of Military Christian Fellowship (AMCF) and the organizations which support it, as well as ministry leaders of others Christian organizations.  Here too, many of my responsibilities have related to training.  However a significant difference is that in the work with military ministry leaders I have been blessed to be working as a team with my wife.

 

Based on these experiences I have come to address the needs for subject material training and encouragement of military ministry leaders, and some ways in which they can be met, at four levels:  the Local Leader, the Regional Leader, the National Leader, and the International Leader.    These remarks will primarily address training of military ministry leaders in well established national Military Christian Fellowships (MCFs), but when modified to suit the need, these remarks are also applicable to newly emerging MCFs. 

 

It is amazing how much the Local Leader of a small group must know and be able to do in order to be fully effective. In this presentation whenever I use the words “He must know” something, it also means “He must be able to do” that thing. Let us look at some of the things he must know and be able to do. He must know how to clearly present the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to others.  He must know how to lead a small group in studying the Bible.  He must know how to lead a small group in prayer.  He must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the churches in the community, and how to cultivate it.  He must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the Commander, and how to cultivate it.  He must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the military chaplain if there is one, and how to cultivate that. He must know about para-church groups that can help him in accomplishing his mission.  He must know how the small group he leads fits into the national MCF.  He must know about the goal and objectives of the national MCF in order to be able to contribute to them.  He must know about the activities of the national MCF in order to pray for them and participate in them.  It is also good for him to know about the AMCF and what is going on in other countries. All of these are in addition to a basic knowledge of leadership.  But most of all he must know how to seek God’s will to guide him in his activities as a military ministry leader. 

 

Almost all nations are divided into smaller political entities.  These may be called states, departments, provinces, etc.  As national MCFs grow they usually establish groups or branches in these areas or regions.  When several small groups have been established in a region it is fairly common to appoint a Regional Leader to help, encourage and supervise these groups, as well as to encourage the formation of additional small groups.   This is the person we refer to as the Regional Leader.  Obviously this person needs to know everything that the Local Leader of small groups must know.  But in addition he must know more about leadership including how to teach, how to supervise, how to organize, how to encourage, and how to support Local Leaders in relationship to churches, Commanders and chaplains.  In addition he must have detailed and complete knowledge about the national MCF, its goals and objectives, how it is organized, who the leaders are, what activities are being planned, etc. But most of all he too should know how to seek God’s will to guide him in his activities as a military ministry leader.

 

Within the AMCF the MCF President is the National Leader.  He must know and be able to do everything that the Local and Regional Leader must know and be able to do.  However where the Local and Regional Leader normally work alone, the National Leader must work with some sort of Board of Directors and some sort of staff to assist him.  The tasks are more than one person can do well alone.  Not only does he have to lead and supervise activities throughout the nation, but also the activities of those with whom he must work at the national level. He must establish and revise the goals and objectives of the MCF as well as the policies and procedures to accomplish those projects and reach the goals and objectives.  He must be able to recruit and work with volunteers.  He must be able to effectively delegate tasks in order to get all the work done.  He must have detailed knowledge of the AMCF and its activities, the AMCF Presidential Bench in relation to the national MCF, the Principal Supporting Organizations for the AMCF, and Other Supporting Organizations.  He must work closely with them in order to gain their support for the national MCF.  In all of this it is essential that he know how to seek God’s will to guide him in his activities as a military ministry leader.

 

The International Leaders within the AMCF are the AMCF President and the Regional Vice Presidents.  Together they make up the AMCF Presidential Bench.  They must know much of what the National Leader must know, and in addition know what they can and cannot do as members of the Presidential Bench. They must work closely with the Supporting Organizations.  They obviously must also know how to seek God’s will to guide them in their activities as military ministry leaders.

 

How does the Local Leader of a small group learn all the things he needs to know?  From whom should he receive the training he needs?  The same questions apply to the Regional Leader, the National Leader and the International Leader.  Fortunately the answers to these questions are not as difficult to get as one would at first think. 

 

As the AMCF has grown it has become aware of many of these needs, and has developed the AMCF Reference Manual which answers many of these questions.  It also points to training and support available from the Presidential Bench, the Principle Supporting Organizations and Other Supporting Organizations.  But simply having it is not enough.  To be useful one must learn its contents and use them.  When this Reference Manual was first published it was sent to several key persons in military ministry.  Some time later I had the privilege of visiting one of them in his home.  That evening some questions came up and I turned to the Reference Manual which I had with me and quickly found the answers. This person became very interested in the Manual and we went over quite a number of items in it.  My host was amazed at the fact that I had such a valuable document and said he wished he had one, so I gave him mine.  I knew I could get another one.  The next morning I found the copy he had been sent much earlier sitting on the piano in his home, so I took it to replace mine which I had given him the night before.  The point is that simply having it does not do one much good.  The AMCF Reference Manual is now available on the AMCF website in several languages.  Now let us look at it to see how it answers many of the questions first posed above at the Local Leader level remembering that these questions also apply at the Regional and National Leader levels.

 

The Local Leader of a small group must know how to clearly present the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to others.  He must know how to lead a small group in studying the Bible.  He must know how to lead a small group in prayer.  These three are grouped together here because they are grouped together in the AMCF Reference Manual.  In Annex P, Sample Lesson Plans, a leader will see lesson plans and work sheets that military ministry leaders at every level can use to learn these subjects and teach them to others. 

 

The Local Leader must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the churches in the community, and how to cultivate it.  Chapter Five, the National Military Christian Fellowship, paragraph 7, provides guidance in answering many of the concerns and questions frequently asked by churches.  This guidance also applies to military ministry leaders at every level.

 

The Local Leader must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the Commander, and how to cultivate it.  Annex N, MCF-Commander Relationships, shows a military ministry leader at any level how to develop a good relationship with a commander.

 

The Local Leader must know the importance of having a good relationship between the small group of military Christians and the military chaplain if there is one, and how to cultivate that.  Annex O, MCF-Chaplain Relationships, can help a military ministry leader with this at any level if needed.

 

The Local Leader often works alone. But he does not necessarily have to do so.  There are many para-church organizations that have complementing missions and are anxious to work with him.  He needs to know about these, know what they do, know how they can be mutually beneficial, and be aware of the potential problems that can come from working with them.  Annex S, Other Support Organizations, lists many of these and shows briefly what they do. 

 

Most of all, military ministry leaders must know how to seek God’s will to guide them in their activities as military ministry leaders.  Annex K, Pray and Plan, shows how vital Pray and Plan is to determine God’s leading and then follow it.

 

It is good for the military ministry leader, especially at the national and international level, to know about the AMCF and what is going on in other countries.  Chapter One of the Reference Manual and Annexes A – D provide a very complete picture of what the AMCF is and how it works.  Chapters Two, Three and Four with Annexes E – J tell about the Primary Supporting Organizations, how they work, and what support they can give the AMCF and national MCFs.  Chapter Five and the remaining annexes provide information and help to the national MCFs.  

 

In addition to providing the Reference Manual, the AMCF uses international conferences to train military ministry leaders.  Many of these conferences, in addition to having wonderful fellowship and opportunities to worship God and learn from His word, have training in Evangelism, Inductive Bible Study, Conversational Prayer, and Leadership.  Not only are these subjects being taught, but in presenting them the AMCF is showing the kind of support that Supporting Organizations can provide because sometimes these subjects are taught by the Campus Crusades for Christ Military Ministry (CCCMM), the Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service (ACCTS), Accts Military Ministries International (Accts MMI), and Pointman Leadership Institute (PLI). 

 

These Supporting Organizations can provide much training as described in the Reference Manual.  I will briefly discuss only one of these, the Interaction Program sponsored by ACCTS, because I have had the privilege of being Coordinator for the Interaction USA Program for several years.  There are really four versions of the Interaction Program.  The first and oldest is Interaction USA, which is held on the east coast of the USA with support of the OCF, is designed to meet the needs of senior national MCF leaders and members of the AMCF Presidential Bench, further preparing them for their role in the MCFs of their nations and in the international arena. The second is Interaction Rocky Mountain High, so named because it takes place in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, USA.  This program, which is a cooperative venture with the OCF, is for military cadets and young officers, teaching them practical leadership using Jesus as the example, challenging them to serve their nations as exemplary Christian officers, and also to serve God as missionaries wherever they are assigned. The third is a Chaplains’ Interaction Program. This is held in partnership with the IAEC at various military installations and brings together chaplains, and leaders who want a chaplaincy in their forces, to study chaplaincy matters.  The fourth is Regional Interaction Programs which are held in different parts of the world, often following AMCF Regional Conferences, to meet the needs of military ministry leaders at all levels and are tailored to meet the needs of the participants.  All of these are called Interaction because the participants learn from each other rather than attending a “school” where everything is presented by “teachers.”

 

National MCFs can take advantage of all this training material and training opportunities. But they can also, and should, plan and conduct other training to meet their own needs.  For example the MCF of Guatemala developed a training program for senior leaders of the MCF.  These persons met in the home of one of the members 16 times, once every other week, each time covering a subject such as The Vision, Our MCF, The Extra Mile, The Leadership of Jesus, Characteristics of the Christian Leader, The Secret Life of the Leader, How to Follow-up the New Believer, AMCF Supporting Organizations, and The Power of the Holy Spirit.  The Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF) of the United States operates a decentralized training system at key locations throughout the United States.  They are characterized by a “Learn—Do--Learn” philosophy.  In other words, the OCF members gather together, usually weekly at places like the Air War College or the Military Academy and are taught by a Field Staff representative who uses a locally developed curriculum of topics and study notes with real-world illustrations drawn from personal experience.  The OCF members then go to their neighborhoods or workplaces to start/lead Bible study fellowships.  They return weekly for more training which they can immediately apply to leading their fellowships, setting a personal example in the workplace or being a spiritual leader in their home.  Another example is South Korea which last year held four Interaction programs for training military ministry leaders.

 

The United States Army, where I spent the first 22 years of my adult life, makes a great effort, and spends much time and money, training its leaders. Placing untrained leaders in positions of responsibility makes achievement of the mission questionable, and can have disastrous results.  I believe this is also true in military ministry.  During 29 years in military ministry with ACCTS I have observed many MCFs first hand, and learned of many others through knowing their leaders and reading reports.  I am convinced that the primary reason MCFs struggle and become discouraged is that their leaders at all levels, and their wives, have not been properly trained. I firmly believe that within the AMCF the adequate training of military ministry leaders at all levels will contribute greatly to helping the MCFs “become mature and effective.” 

 

The AMCF can provide much information and training through the Reference Manual and international conferences.  The AMCF Presidential Bench and the Supporting Organizations can provide mentoring and make much material and training available.  But it is ultimately the responsibility of each national MCF to train its leaders at every level, using all the resources available, so that they clearly understand and can carry out their responsibilities.  It is equally important to train their wives in what the leaders are doing, and gain their support.  Otherwise the wives may not only fail to support their husbands, but may actively oppose them.  The example of the early church, as stated clearly in I Corinthians 9:5, was that wives accompanied the apostles, the Lord’s brothers and Peter. At that time the wives learned by accompanying their husbands.  Today they can also do so by accompanying their husbands, both as they train and as they carry out their God given work.

 

Each of you here in Seoul Council 2009 is here because God has called you to be a leader in international military ministry either as part of the AMCF Presidential Bench or a member of one of the Principal Supporting Organizations.  I encourage you to learn all you can, and when you return to your own area of ministry do all you can to insure that all of the military ministry leaders in your area of ministry, and their wives, are fully trained to do their jobs, whatever they are. I firmly believe this will contribute greatly to helping the MCFs “become mature and effective.” May God guide you and bless you richly as you do so.

 

 

 

 
     

 


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1  Mil Ethics Paper in MSO CI from Dunlap     CalDunlap 2009-09-11 3014
2  Funding for Vice Presidents of AMCF     Kaltenbach 2009-09-11 3126
3  Mobilizing Churches to Pray for the Military     Prindle 2009-08-12 3222
 Training of Military Ministry Leaders     Reifsnyder 2009-08-12 3294
5  Reconciliation Ministry     Ogwang 2009-08-12 3107
6  Enhancing Efforts for WoWW Ministry     Minks 2009-08-12 3088
7  Including "Other Support Organizations"     Barnes 2009-08-12 3130
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