“If this is your first time attending the FCMM (Fellowship of Christian Military Ministries) Conference, please stand,” announced Gary Sanders, the event coordinator.
I looked around and was amazed to see how many new military ministries were represented at this year’s conference. Almost half the room was standing! As I looked into the faces of these smiling, enthusiastic people, it was easy to see how excited they were about how God is using their ministries.
This gathering occurred this past spring, when representatives from Stonecroft’s National Military Team attended the annual FCMM Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. This was our fifth year to participate in this conference, and my teammates and I feel it was our best year yet! While Stonecroft Military is not yet a household name, people are hearing about what we’re doing and the positive impact we’re having on military women across the nation. Praise God!
A major purpose of this conference is for participants to share the new, innovative ways their ministry reaches the military. This exchange allows leaders of parachurch ministries to military personnel and chaplains to better understand what resources are at their disposal. Another purpose is to network and explore possible ways ministries can partner to reach more people with the Good News.
Our team attended relevant workshops during the conference and heard many exceptional speakers. One speaker highlighted the differences between inward- and outward-facing ministries, a topic that struck a chord with many attendees. He asked probing, thought-provoking questions that called us to critically analyze the focus of our ministries:
“Are we more focused on becoming popular (inward) or on hiring diverse people, … (outward) to discern the best ways for reaching the lost? Do we focus on fruitless, awareness-driven partnerships … are we productive or merely busy (inward)? Or do we strive to develop authentic, purposeful partnerships that help grow both ministries (outward)?”
He also challenged us to examine our “sacred cows” – “This is the way it’s always been done!” (inward) – and instead look for new, innovative, outreach-driven ways, thinking outside the box, and setting trends (outward).
Our team immediately realized that God already had been guiding us to become an “outward-facing” ministry. Over the past year, our Stonecroft National Military Team has conceptualized many new, innovative approaches for reaching military women where they are, as they are. We also have brainstormed many ideas to support chaplains with additional resources as we partner with them. The FCMM event provided opportunities for us to share our ideas more broadly.
Throughout the conference, the speakers continued to challenge us and left us with several compelling, sobering questions and statements to consider:
Are we losing touch and becoming desensitized to the people we’re serving? As leaders, are we the “head” or the “headache”? And a final warning: “Toxic leaders have a street named after them – One Way!” Yet when we seek the Lord, He and His ways will be found.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
– Isaiah 55:8, NIV
Lord, give us pure motives and clean hearts as we consider new ways – in this ever-changing culture – to fulfill your Great Commission. Amen!
Stonecroft National Military Consultant