2: The Distinctives of OCF
IN THIS CHAPTER
We are a ministry to the military community by those who are serving, or who have served, within the military community so that Biblical fellowship happens around the world in a way that positively impacts the entire military community. This chapter helps you answer, “What makes OCF unique in the military ministry space?” The following three distinctives can help you encourage others to become co-laborers in the OCF body as you articulate our place alongside other ministries.
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OCF members and leaders are “insiders” of the military community. They come from within the ranks, live on and around military installations, and can go wherever the military goes. We are a ministry of volunteers. This allows the effects of OCF to reach into military units and communities, because the primary work of ministry is being conducted by those in military-only areas on or under the sea, in the air, and on the ground. They understand what their colleagues and friends are going through, because they experience personal and professional life with one another. In our way of speaking, we would say they walk the deck plates, share the tents, and are on the radio net with us. (See the chapter on “OCF Membership” for further implications.)
The OCF body helps members integrate the dual calling of being a Christian leader and a military leader during their time in uniform. We equip Christian military leaders to live integrated lives within their professional calling in a way that positively impacts the military community (Romans 12:1-2). This faithful stewardship of the talents given by God glorifies Him as OCF members lead well and seek the good of those serving with them. (See the “Integrating Faith and Profession” chapter for a deeper discussion.)
Our original incorporating document stated that the Officers’ Christian Union was formed to “bind together officers serving, or who have served,” and whose allegiance is to Jesus Christ. Connecting in fellowship was such a hallmark of the ministry that it became part of our name when we changed from “Officers’ Christian Union” to Officers’ Christian Fellowship. It reflects our deep identity of connection.
Biblical fellowship is critical for equipping and encouraging our members. Above all, those in OCF groups are members of a larger Christian family of brothers, sisters, parents, and children with Christ at the head (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 2:19). This family relationship extends beyond the local fellowship to the larger church body. OCF is unique among military ministries because we provide the opportunity for formal membership. Members accept both a call to action and a commitment to serve—to go on mission with OCF is to minister for the good of the entire military community.
We say “OCF for a lifetime” because our laborers are found in every phase of life—among officer candidates, those in uniform, family members, and among those who have retired or separated from the military. We encourage members who have served earlier in life to continue to use their experience and talents to impact the lives of men and women currently serving in the military. This focus on lifetime membership creates a steady, long-term touchpoint of Biblical fellowship for those who serve in this challenging profession. (See the chapter on “For a Lifetime” for more thoughts.)