by Beth Dowty
Summer can be an exciting time of change in military life. For those of you who just commissioned—hallelujah! You’re already at or are looking forward to your first assignment. While some have completed ACSC, while others are PCSing.
Many of you left a great OCF group behind, but there’s no OCF study where you are or else the Bible study is very different. Now what? What should an OCF fellowship group look like in this new place?
An OCF fellowship group can look like a lot of things—there is no “authorized” cookie-cutter model. However, sometimes it involves changing one’s perspective from merely a consumer to that of an owner.
Many of us first encounter OCF where there are paid staff members and large existing groups, such as at the military academies, with fellowship, Bible studies, and service programs for groups of generally homogenous cadets and midshipmen all under the OCF banner.
Others experience OCF in the smaller venues of college ROTC programs, voluntarily led by retired, active duty, even college-age OCF members. In both instances, all the cadets/mids have to do is easily fit into the existing group, becoming consumers of OCF’s “product.”
Becoming an owner means asking “What kind of OCF group needs to be at this location and what should I do about it?” rather than “Where is the OCF group I can join?”
Remember—you are OCF. Your level of involvement and leadership is the determining factor in the success of OCF where you are now. Here are some suggestions on how an OCF fellowship group might look in differing environments:
- Home Bible study—officers, enlisted, retirees, or civilians meeting in someone’s home, using DVD, inductive, or topical Bible studies.
- Deployed group—an ad hoc group who meets for prayer/Bible study, often ending when deployment ends.
- Lunchtime workplace—a mixed group of AD, reserve, guard and civilian contractors meeting at lunch for Bible study.
- Pair/Spiritual Battle Buddies—two people praying/studying the Bible together; great discipleship opportunity.
- Church affiliated—varied people meeting for fellowship/prayer study as a formal ministry of a local church, cooperatively with OCF
- Specialty group—any of the models above but created specially for singles, women, senior officers, or whatever salient demographic at that location.
Since you are OCF, your group will be what you make it at your duty station. Determine the need and start working to fill it. OCF’s website has great resources for starting/leading groups and finding other OCF groups near you. Or contact the home office link-up program for assistance.
Let the home office know if you do begin a group, and encourage others in your group to officially join OCF—not just participate in an OCF group—so they can enjoy the camaraderie and benefits of formal membership.
Enjoy the unique camaraderie we have through OCF—connecting in fellowship with other military members who love Jesus, to support, equip, and encourage each other in God’s Word.
Beth Dowty served as a personnel officer in the United States Air Force from 2000-2004. She is now serving as a military wife and homeschool mom.
This article originally appeared in COMMAND magazine, or an OCF Ministry Report.