It’s not your grandfather’s chaplaincy anymore! The days of a chaplain who “couldn’t make it in a church as a minister and turned to chaplaincy is over and gone!” Granted, the pastoral ministry in the church is challenging with a demanding schedule, unreal expectations. Congregations can be extremely critical toward their ministers.
Chaplaincy as a called ministry, not a supplement to the church pastorate.
For the first time in 20 years, chaplaincy is actually a destination for the frontline of ministry to many who are called to the Gospel ministry fulltime. God is calling teenagers, college students, seminary students, working adults and retired friends to the ministry of chaplaincy. The chaplain is serving the Lord at critical points in people’s lives.
This call is to the military chaplaincy, community service chaplaincy, healthcare chaplaincy, correctional chaplaincy, public safety chaplaincy (fire, police and first responders) and of course the disaster relief chaplaincy. Today, we even have chaplains who are called to a corporate chaplaincy or local business chaplaincy for the staff and their clients.
Chaplains have been educated and trained in the ministry of pastoral care.
The military chaplain must have a Master of Divinity from an accredited school, and two years practical service as a minister to qualify for a position as a military chaplain. The guidelines are placed by the Department of Defense of the United States of America.
The military chaplains must be endorsed by an endorsement agency approved by the Department of Defense. The general endorsement requirements for a North American Missionary Board chaplain are extensive by design. They must demonstrate the call, competence and character for ministry. The endorsed chaplain requirements can be found at www.namb.net/pdf/namb-chaplaincy-endorsement-qualifications.
Chaplains can benefit the pastor and the congregation in the local church.
Pastors have taxing schedules and demands on their lives from the church, which can often lead to neglecting their families. Many deacons are not trained specifically to minister to those who have been affected by critical incidents. This brings an opportunity for lay people who are called to pastoral care through the chaplaincy ministry.
What if pastors led by the Holy Spirit sought out lay people to be trained chaplains in the church for the local Body of Christ? The pastors could empower chaplains who are already involved in disaster relief, community service, healthcare, correctional and public service chaplaincy to minister to the congregation.
The pastor could empower these local church chaplains to make hospital visits, long term care, homebound, extended care and grief visits.
Many chaplains who are specifically trained for ministry have to wait until a disaster strikes, and they’re called out by the state convention or the national convention to serve. Pastors could empower local church chaplains to be an extension of their ministry. The local church pastor can share their ministry:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13 NASB).
As of Feb. 4, the North American Mission Board has 3,588 endorsed chaplains of which 1,468 are military chaplains