Last month, On November 11th and 12th, the MCF held its first spiritual retreat in conjunction with the annual general meeting. The intent was to come together in the name of Jesus, stop our busy routines, worship, fellowship, reflect upon the Word, listen and pray. The hope that prompted the retreat was that we would encounter the Lord in a tangible way. We were not disappointed.
The two-day retreat began with a prayer breakfast at the National House of Prayer. Next, all those gathered, walked to the National War Memorial to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony. After the ceremony, folks fellowshipped over lunch. Beginning in the afternoon of the 11th and running until the afternoon of the 12th we followed a pattern of: orientation, silent prayer, scripture reading and meditation, then communal reflection upon what each person learned and experienced during their contemplative time with the Lord. The retreat was based upon two words: disciple and disciple-making. When the group reviewed the results of the communal reflection period several themes became obvious, which together provided direction for the MCF.
In Matthew 18 Jesus responded to what in military terms could be called “careerism.” Careerism occurs in various degrees, but the central issue is the pursuit of a mission for the primary purpose of advancing one’s career, one’s self interests. The disciples came to Jesus and asked Him “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Wow, it’s difficult to believe that they could be so bold, so presumptuous as to ask such a question. Yet, I appreciate their honesty. Who hasn’t sought to be elevated? The military’s personnel evaluation system is dedicated to elevating people and most members are assimilated into its thinking, but the mindset is counter-Kingdom. Jesus’ response is to point to a child as the standard for greatness: humble, trusting and obedient. While Jesus continued to amplify His point, it is verse 20 that reflects part of what the Lord was communicating to us at the spiritual retreat – “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them”.
The MCF’s mission is to bring the gospel to the military community. Ok, then how? Should we hold regional evangelistic meetings? Should we preach on street corners? Should we produce all sorts of printed material and distribute it door-to-door? Should we knock on doors, should we host MCF events? How people and organizations have communicated the gospel is diverse; however, the direction to the MCF reflects Matthew 18:20. Small groups of two or three people are the core of how the MCF is to bring the gospel. One-on-one disciple-making and discipleship. While the MCF operates within a military culture, which is personified by a hierarchy of authority, the MCF is a network of small, and some would say very small, groups in which one member disciples another. The group needs to be singularly focused on following Jesus together.
So, over the next year there are five simple goals that I would like each of us to pursue together:
- Every member is in an MCF small group (2-3 people – sometimes more);
- Every member understands who Jesus is and how to become one of his disciples;
- Every member can confidently present their testimony of faith in Jesus;
- Every member can confidently explain how to become a follower of Jesus;
- Every member is active in praying regularly for at least one unsaved family member or friend.
Jesus wants us to disciple others as we go about our lives. The pursuit and achievement of these five goals will enable each of us to fulfill His call on our lives. Pursuing these goals together within the military community will enable us to achieve the MCF mission.