by COL Rich Goldsmith, USA (Ret.)
If you have ever led, now lead, or even aspire to lead an OCF fellowship group–thank you! You and your OCF group are truly the heartbeat of OCF, where lives are changed and love and service to one another are practiced.
You gather for fellowship, prayer, and to hear the Gospel. The Bible is read, studied, and applied. And mutual compassion and support through the many trials and heartaches of military life is rendered with love, understanding, and compassion.
Starting and Becoming an Effective Group
The important thing is getting a group started so there is a safe place where you can encourage one another to acts of love, service and Christian maturity. As commissioned officers and Christians in the Armed Forces of the USA, most every one of us can find a wingman to pray with about starting an OCF group.
Once you have a meeting day/time set up, you’re ready for the next step. If the group consists mostly of peers (age/rank/job location, etc.) or specific demographics (sex/marital status/retired, etc.), you should be well attuned to needs and preferences. Check the OCF website home page for Small Group Resources and click on Leading Small Groups for an article with excellent advice by Jon Harris. Topics include prayer, Bible study, relationships and preparation to lead. A downloadable PDF and other related articles are also available.
If your OCF group is effectively meeting the participants’ needs, you will see the evidence of growing affection for each other and in their desire to share the experience with others.
Important: To improve from there, OCF encourages that at least once a year the leader collect feedback by using the feedback form available on the OCF website.
Growing OCF Groups
Caution: if the group gets too large to comfortably fit the venue (work meeting or home living rooms) the experience can become less personal and the motivation to bring in new participants diminishes.
If your group has more than twelve regular attendees each week, you should pray about dividing into two groups–if, when, and how. Knowing the importance of small, growing OCF groups to the lives of our military and their families should motivate us to overcome the temptation to let our OCF group become complacent.
The number of OCF groups at a civilian locale or a military installation is a strong indicator of the impact that military Christians are having. Often participants in OCF groups who are eligible for membership never join OCF. No one ever invites them to do so.
Make it easy. Hand them a Heartbeat of OCF brochure (available from the OCF home office), which contains an application form. Better yet, bring your laptop, go to the OCF website and click on the Join Now button. They can fill out the form online.
Important: OCF encourages that at least once a year the leader should invite non-members to join OCF. Help them benefit from actual membership in OCF.
Staying Connected–No Matter Where
Let other OCFers arriving in your area know how to find you by having your group listed under the Find OCF Near You button on the OCF website. If you’re not listed there call the OCF home office to get listed.
Group Leader Action Checklist
- Encourage OCF non-members to join by giving them the Heartbeat of OCF brochure or sign up directly online at the OCF website.
- Collect annual feedback using the feedback form available on the OCF website.
- Be sure the OCF home office has your group’s current day/time meeting information. Update your own personal profile, too.