22 January 2018

Servicemen encouraged to explore faith

The Methodist Forces Board has launched a new initiative to help men in the armed forces  and their civilian colleagues talk openly about life’s big issues.

Soul Man?  is a hard cover, pocket-sized discussion guide that that covers 12 life themes to help men in the military explore different aspects of belief. They include the soul, God, prayer, belonging, success, ambition and failure, and the mind. The book encourages men to explore issues around faith and spirituality and can be used by military chaplains to guide group or individual conversations.

Soul Man?  has been adapted from the BRF’s (Bible Reading Fellowship) Who Let The Dad’s Out for men who can often find it hard to engage in traditional church formats and aims to inspire them to discover more about the life of peace and freedom Jesus promises to all his followers.

The chair of the Methodist Forces Board, Doug Swanney, launched Soul Man?  at Amport House, the Armed Forces’ Chaplaincy Centre near Andover in Hampshire. The audience included senior figures from the Army, Navy and RAF’s Chaplaincy Headquarters, the head of the Army Families’ Federation, other military Christian organisations and members of the Methodist Forces Board.

Doug Swanney, the Methodist Church's Connexional Secretary, said: "Soul Man?  is an innovative approach to assist military chaplains in their vital role. It helps men to engage at a deeper level by creatively asking them to consider what they believe. Chaplains find that men in the military sometimes need encouragement to open up and Soul Man?  provides exactly that.”

One of the main benefits of Soul Man?  is its flexibility, as military chaplains can decide how best to deploy it to support their work. Soul Man? acknowledges that people are at different places in their lives and gives them a safe environment to give voice to their experiences and opinions.

This ‘spiritual literacy’ enables men to put a language to their experiences and opinions. This helps them to understand themselves and their beliefs more clearly and contributes to improved resilience and capability in the Armed Forces.

The resource is useful for a one-to-one chat over a pint in the pub, in the barracks or out on deployment. It works well with individuals or in groups. Rather than following a formulaic front-to-back cover approach, it can be dipped in and out of as required.

Mark Chester, Soul Man?  author and founder of BRF’s Who Let the Dads Out?  which has supported hundreds of fathers and father figures, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Methodist Forces Board to tailor this pioneering resource specifically for armed forces chaplains to use with the men that they serve.

“There has been a gap in resources that can be used with a man before he is ready to go on a Christianity exploration course and Soul Man?  fills that gap.”

Free training is available to military chaplains to enable them to get the very best from Soul Man?.

For copies (free of charge for Armed Forces Chaplaincy Services), contact Phil Maltby, Methodist Forces Board Projects Officer: maltbyp@methodistchurch.org.uk, +44 (0) 7974 208360.

Editor's Notes

Methodist Church and Methodist Forces Board
The Methodist Church has extensive experience in providing a body of ordained ministers to deliver ‘all souls’ ministry to the circa 140,000 men and women of the UK Armed Forces, their families and MoD civilian personnel.

The Church’s work in the military is co-ordinated by the Methodist Forces Board. The Church currently provides some 30 Methodist chaplains who undertake basic training and go on exercise and operations with the unit in which they are embedded. This style of ‘walking alongside’ ministry provides exceptional opportunities to understand the pressures upon, and empathise with, military personnel. It is a unique ministry that carries with it great responsibility and great privilege.

The work of the chaplains is supported by Methodist Church staff who deliver pastoral projects, proactively engaging members of each military community, supporting service personnel and their dependants in a range of ways which are delivered according to local need. These staff provide continuity, stability and a capacity to link people together in highly mobile communities. They are sensitive to the needs of their local community, and serve with distinction those of all faiths/cultures and those with no religious beliefs.

The Bible Reading Fellowship
The Bible Reading Fellowship is a charity that works with churches of all denominations to run a variety of partnership projects such as Messy Church, Who Let the Dads Out and Parenting for Faith.
BRF supports over 3,000 Messy Churches and over 200 Who Let The Dads Out? groups. BRF believes, with the historic churches, in one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
BRF began with a vision to help people get back to the fundamentals of their Christian faith. As part of this, a monthly leaflet was distributed among members of the Fellowship to help them read the Bible and pray together. Although from Anglican roots, it wasn't long before this approach was being shared across denominations.

Who Let the Dads Out?’
‘Who Lets the Dads Out?’ is a BRF programme with a vision to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. The movement inspires and resources churches and other Christian organisations to support fathers, father figures and their children.


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