Ground Warfare vs. Air Warfare

In January, i had the amazing oppertunity to go with some amazing people to Converge, a weekend of spiritual growth and community building.  At one of the break-out sessions, titled “Ground Warfare”, the speaker (cant remember his name, but he was amazing) broke down what it meant to ministry to people on the ground, compared to what he called air combat.  To break it down a little, let me explain:

Ground Warfare:  The one-on-ones.  The Bible Studies.  The discipleship.  Personal commitment to one another.  Accountability.  True friendship.  And living how God calls you to live.  Ground Warfare is the frontline battlefield in what people call “Spiritual Warfare.”  This type of ministry is the ‘dirty’ work where people dive into scripture at a personal level with another or a small group. 

Air Warfare:  The big-gigs.  The concerts.  The specticals.  Flashy.  Movies.  Shock-and-awe Stories of the Gospel.  Events that bring in the crowds of people.  Air Warfare is what brings people out of their homes to see what the big fuss it about.  This ministry is valued for bringing the people in by the masses.

During the interview for BCM leadership, Micah asked about one of my responses to a question on the survey, where i basically stated that i think BCM (as well as many other campus ministry organizations) needed to work more on discipleship and personal interactions than events (basically Ground Warfare above Air Warfare).  He asked (paraphrased and in my own words, not his) if i thought that group worship (ie: campus ministries events) were not needed in ministry. 

To me, most campus ministries events (BCM, FCA, and many others) are like Air Warfare.  They are flashy, loud, and barely scratch the serface of what it truely means to worship.  A lot of times, they end up being social events where people show up to talk to friends about anything but God. 

I was born and raised as an Army Brat, so after 20 years of growing up in the military, i saw the analogy of Ground and Air Combat in a way that many people wouldn’t dream of seeing it. 

Logically speaking, no nation has ever won a war without setting troops on the ground.  Ground combat is inevitable in every single conflict around the globe.  No nation has won a war using only Fighter planes, Bombers and Helicoptors.  Yes, they are helpful at bringing suprimacy to the battlefield, sometimes they are quite ineffective. 

With a militaristic view of a battlefield, i see things differently when people talk about Spiritual Warfare and bringing people to know God and to know Christ in a personal relationship. 

On campus and in many churches that i have seen and visited (not all), many people put so much effort into the presentation of the Holy Scripture to large events that they forget to engage people in a more personal setting.  People spend so much time and effort in the spectical of the presentation that they have nothing left to give when it comes to discipleship and one-on-ones and personal interactions. 

I think one of the reasons Air Warfare has taken effect in our society and the Church is that it is much easier to put on a big event “to reach more people” than to commit oneself to pouring their life into another person. 

Yes, using Air Warfare helps when presenting the gospel, but unless it leads to a personal commitment to individuals, it is useless.  For a military example, look at the use of air combat in Vietnam.  The military had full control of the skies, but couldn’t hold the ground with ’em, so they combined the use of the helicoptors with ground combat to change the way they fought the war. 

The same thing needs to be said for ministry.  Unless we put more effort into fighting in Ground Warfare, Air Warfare has no effect.

I am not saying that we need to abandon the big events and what draws the people in (Air Warfare).  Without it, then the battle would be difficult and much time and lives will be lost (look at the trench-warfare of WWI, or the Civil War where hundreds, if not thousands lost their lives to gain control of a small bit of land). 

Without Ground Warfare, we wouldnt get anywhere, but without Air Warfare, while it is possible to do without, we would be left with a hard fought battle that would be taxing and difficult. 

It takes a unique blend of both to reach people on our campus, in our homes, communities and lives. 

God Bless and PEACE

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