21: OCF Membership
IN THIS CHAPTER
OCF is a ministry body composed of members (regular, associate, honorary) who are all committed to OCF’s Purpose (to glorify God by uniting Christian officers for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society). Regular members determine the direction of our ministry by voting for Council Members and for changes to the OCF Constitution. Every member of OCF affirms the Statement of Faith and the Statement of Participation (to participate actively and prayerfully in the ministry of OCF with my time, talents, spiritual gifts, and financial resources).
This chapter addresses the question of why we focus on commissioned military leaders to accomplish the primary laity work of leading OCF fellowships for the good of the entire military community. Our member-led model allows us to have a small staff focused on equipping, encouraging, connecting, and sending OCF members into various areas of service.
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THOSE WHO COMMIT TO PARTICIPATE
The emphasis of OCF, as implied by its name, is to focus on the faithful Christian stewardship of military officers and officer candidates in their leadership roles. Officers (commissioned, Warrant, officer candidates) serving, or those who have served, are the regular members of OCF that guide the ministry by voting for constitutional changes and for our governing council members. These voting roles keep OCF governed and financially focused on the reason OCF exists within the parachurch ministry space. We are a member-led ministry stewarding limited resources (time, energy, money, facilities, staffing, etc.) with an intentional focus on those leaders who are to have a positive Christ-like impact on the larger military population.
We see every person as an image-bearer of God and thus of inestimable value. No one person has greater importance because they fill a particular military role. Non-officers join OCF as associate members, subscribing to our Purpose as well as our Statements of Faith and Participation the same as regular members. Thus, every OCF member is committed to the same Purpose Statement. We exist for the good of the entire military society. Joining OCF makes one a member, so we simply refer to Regular and Associate members as “OCF members.”
STATEMENT OF PARTICIPATION (affirmed by every member upon joining OCF)
Inasmuch as I am a sinner and deserve the wrath of God, and since Jesus Christ died for my sins, was buried, and has been bodily resurrected, according to the Scriptures, I have accepted Him as my own personal Lord and Savior and am saved by His Grace alone.
I am committed to the purpose of OCF: To glorify God by uniting Christian officers for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society. As an expression of my commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His work in the military society, I will participate actively and prayerfully in the ministry of OCF with my time, talents, spiritual gifts, and financial resources. I further commit, by God’s grace, to live my life as an example consistent with Biblical guidelines.
Our name, Officers’ Christian Fellowship, does not indicate a separatist or elitist group. We are a ministry body made up of enlisted, officers, and civilians who are a part of Christ’s body—brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and all eternal co-heirs in Christ. May the Holy Spirit make us more like Christ in our relationships with those we touch and work among!
Christ’s body is present wherever our members gather for fellowship, Bible study, and prayer. This body is led by volunteers in the field, most of whom have not received seminary-type training. OCF’s work is usually facilitated by non-chaplain, non-OCF staff, and non-clergy individuals. This lay member-led work comes with the risk of someone in the field having a bad experience with OCF. However, with a very small staff, we get to trust that God oversees the study of His Scriptures, that He hears the prayers of His saints, and that He will feed His sheep.
WHY OFFICER FOCUS
OCF exists to focus on a small part of the military ministry work being done by the church around the world. Our focus is on the commissioned leaders responsible for the professional, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and growth of subordinates. We challenge these officers to take up the mantle of spiritual leadership and minister effectively in the military society. God uses flawed men and women of clay to influence a culture through the words, witness, and example of these leaders, “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). God has given governing authority to some who will give an account for how they served others, used their influence for good, were voices for what is right, and advocated for those who stood unjustly accused (Romans 13:1-8; Acts 10:24-45).
OCF members minister at the intersection of the military community and their identity in Christ as a part of His body. They have the unique ability to mentor and help one another within this military context. Christian leaders build small communities by being able to talk to brothers and sisters who understand their context, responsibilities, language, customs, and courtesies.
SERVE FROM WITHIN
The key concept of OCF’s model is to help develop and connect effective leaders who live, work, and minister within the military community. We do not want members who are dependent on OCF staff for leading and hosting local fellowships. This member-led concept should exist anywhere OCF members live, work, go TDY/TAD, and deploy. To support OCF members, we have OCF staff. Staff enable face-to-face connections, they cast vision for outreach and mentoring, and they help local fellowships get established. We pray that wherever OCF lay leaders sit in academic environments, drink coffee, eat meals, strap into aircraft, fire weapons, or stand on the bridge, there will be a life-giving aroma because of the faith of even one officer who believes in the living Son of God sitting at the right hand of God. Where this one officer exists, there exists the potential for a leader who will also lead local fellowship, Bible study, prayer, and other means of Christian witness.
OCF’s impact goes beyond the workspace because it is also felt in the places we live, shop, and play. Since spouses and children are right alongside the one in uniform, our leaders need to pray for the wisdom to know how to employ all parts of their “family team” during the years they are serving in uniform. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). May your local OCF fellowship reflect the larger body which God has joined us to through Christ.