The reality about military ministry is that even if it's overseas, it's not generally toward persons of a foriegn culture. This cause a little problem between myself and a military minister in Japan (Cadence International). I wanted to reach the local Japanese population and he was adamant that his ministry was to the US Military in the area. In case anyone is wondering, he was right, and I was wrong. But that is another story altogether.
But this episode in my past brings up a good question. Is military ministry missions or not? I believe it is, for these reasons:
1. It is part of the progression of missions described in Acts 1:8.
A ministry to the military, whether stateside or overseas, should probably be listed as the Jerusalem or Judea part of that progression.
2. Military personnel who leave the military are good candidates for missionary service.
I've had this conversation on blogs before when folks discuss who is a good candidate. I know there are many types of candidates, of course, but the fact is that ex-military personnel, particularly those who have retired from military service, make great candidates. Not only does military ministry complete the first two steps of the missionary progression, but ministering to a service member can lead him or her to pursue ministry to the other parts of the missionary progression.
I don't mean it to be too technical and I definitely don't mean to proof-text Acts 1:8. Simply put, I think that Military Ministry is not only vital, but that it should count, for those who might doubt it, as missions.
Great question to ask. The title of Missionary has been thrown around in a lot of different contexts so that it's definition has been somewhat obscured. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing except for the fact that not everybody knows what you mean when you say the word. In my experience there is a caricature that people have of what a missionary is and it's very hard to break away from that, good and bad. For that reason I see it as helpful for to use different terms that might be more specific and clear. In my case, I almost never use the word "missionary". I tell people that I'm part of an international church planting team. Do you ever use different titles for the role you see yourself in related to ministry?
Well, that's part of why I wrote the post in the first place. The fact is that I don't really know what to call myself. Right now, I just say that I'm involved in the Military Ministry at CEBC (our church). I don't call myself a missionary, and probably won't in the near future.
Thank you for your thoughts! I agree that the term missionary has been put through the wringer over the years. Hard to know who thinks what about it now days, and I'm taking a class on it in Seminary!
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