Starting with the good stuff!
Our first blog post on women’s ministry in the military took a look at who “our people” are. If you like statistics and detailed information, it will be right up your alley. Even if it is not, I feel it is important to know who we are before we try to figure out what is going on and how we can make an impact. In that first post, I had told you that we would be looking at three questions:
1. What is happening in women’s military ministry with regard to Chaplains, Chapels, and PWOC? Churches? Para-Church organizations? Women’s networks?
2. How is the military changing with regard to women and what adjustments need to be made in women’s ministry?
3. How can all these ministries work together? How can we impact our world?
In this second post, we are going to take a look at two parts of the first question. It’s a really big question with a really big answer.
I want to break this down into the different areas because it really covers so much.
A. Women’s Ministry with regard to Chaplains, Chapels, and PWOC:
As I shared in the last post, we sent these questions out to those in our circle. This one, in particular, received quite a bit of feedback. I think most of that is because we are all connected to the military somehow and have some knowledge with this.
We found two big challenges with regard to these three areas. They seem to be facing budget restrictions across the board, not surprising since the military is facing budget restrictions everywhere. Not only is their monetary funding from the DoD decreasing, but tithes and offerings seem to be decreasing as well. The Chapel Tithes and Offerings Fund (CTOF) is the money used for many of the ministries of the chapel, including PWOC.
The chaplaincy also seems to be changing. Their role looks to lean more toward counselor than pastor these days, and their workload is simply increasing. Many Chaplains are covering at least a part of a unit, plus extra duties like congregations, counseling, etc. Focusing more on individuals, managing ministries or creating new ones is an endeavor that proves to be quite difficult.
With the dissolution of PWOC International in 2013, PWOC changed across the board. These ministries vary from one installation to the other based on the local leadership of the Chapels. Some PWOCs are still strong and effective. Some are struggling and some have gone away altogether. Again, this is wholly dependent upon the local Chapel leadership.
They do have some advantages. Through a Chapel environment, women’s ministry brings together women with a common denominator. This similarity of lifestyle brings women together who can relate to each other and, as is typical with military women, they seem to jump right in because they know their time is limited. This is also a uniqueness for PWOC because many women have a chance to serve in the local body, many of them in leadership positions, because it is necessary since no one really stays for too long.
Building of relationships in the military environment is a great advantage to women’s ministry under the umbrella of the chapel. Some Chapels are even able to provide childcare which makes a significant impact on women being involved. With the decrease in funding and the additional requirements of background check, childcare has suffered in many areas. There is much going on in the world of Chaplain, Chapels, and PWOC.
B. Women’s Military Ministry with regard to Churches
Churches can do so much. Without DoD/governmental restrictions, their ability to create and operate ministries that are targeted and effective is only limited by God himself and what He calls them to do. They have a stable volunteer base and many times are able to offer childcare on a regular basis, two big pluses when it come to ministry and women’s ministry in particular. Churches in some areas have started military-specific women’s groups or have had workshops or events that focus on these ladies.
A significant difference between churches and chapels is the denominational aspect. Chapels are all non-denominational and many churches are connected to a denomination somewhere. Independent of military installation regulations, churches have a lot more freedom to operate on a day-to-day basis.
Churches sometimes can lack some knowledge and resources in ministering to military folks. It is just a demographic that not all of them understand completely. They also struggle sometimes to reach the military folks as advertising on installations can be difficult even if it is a military-specific program. You have to know how to work the system. At the end of the day, though, churches focus on being Jesus to others, encouraging and supporting as well as teaching biblical truth. These are all areas that are vital to ministry whether they relate specific to military or not.
We covered a lot today, and this is only part. We will look at para-church ministries and women’s networks next time.
For these two areas, did we miss anything? Have you experienced something different? Do you know more than I do? Please share in the comments and share with your friends!
We are better together.
Reminder: We will be randomly choosing someone who comments on this series to win a prize at the end. Yes, it’s a bribe so you will share information with me. I love information. Have I told you I am a nerd?