Intro to Chaplaincy
In general terms, a minister who is a chaplain provides spiritual nurture and, in some cases, emotional and mental support in circumstances beyond the normal sphere of the ministry of a local pastor (see the IFBC Chaplains Handbook). Many, if not most, employers of chaplains require chaplains to be endorsed (officially recognized) by some recognized faith group. The IFBC is such an endorser through its Chaplain Initiatives.
CHAPLAIN INITIATIVES BENEFITS THE PROFESSIONAL MINISTRY
The chaplaincy opens up a wide array of ministry opportunities for which some ministers are gifted. The broad categories include the military, medical services, correctional (jails, prisons and other detention centers), emergency services and workplace ministries.
In turn the opportunities in the general category of workplace ministries is almost infinite. The environments served include business, such as manufacturing plants, banks, auto dealerships, corporations and many more. Workplace ministries also incorporates community-based or faith-based ministries, such as para-church organizations and café ministries. Also, military auxiliary organizations, such as the Civil Air Patrol.
CHAPLAIN INITIATIVES BENEFITS THE LOCAL CHURCH
Since each chaplain is required to be a member of and amenable to a local church, there is a sense in which that chaplain’s ministry is an extension of the ministry of that local church. This means the identification of increased numbers of ways the local church can be involved in the community served by the chaplain.
Also, unless it is a prison or military chaplain, there will be high probability that some of the people served by the chaplain will, at some point, decide to visit the local church to which the chaplain belongs.
CHAPLAIN INITIATIVES BENEFITS THE DENOMINATION
The leadership of any church or church-related organization worth their salt will want to have the widest influence possible, consistent with their mission. With a limited number of possible assignments to local churches, the chaplaincy provides the IFBC an infinite number of possibilities to invite increased numbers of ministers under the IFBC umbrella and provide them support in finding a way to minister in a context consistent with their individual callings. This, in turn, increases the influence of the organization.
CHAPLAIN INITIATIVES BENEFITS THE KINGDOM
Sometimes, if our thinking and activity is limited to the local church, or even to the local church and foreign missions, we tend away from “Kingdom thinking”. Kingdom thinking is that mindset that allows us to see activities by all Christian organizations and individuals as legitimate Kingdom work. Conversely, Kingdom thinking reminds us that our ministry…our activities…are only a small part of the activities within the Kingdom. If we really think that way, it protects us from the various attitudes of exclusivity and it encourages us in that we are an integral part of something much bigger than ourselves.
In this context, because chaplains generally serve in a non-sectarian setting (see IFBC Chaplains Handbook), the chaplaincy represents an expanded opportunity for cooperative and mutually supportive ministries across sectarian lines. Ministry that cuts across denominational limits.
Ultimately, the Kingdom always benefits. And if the Kingdom benefits, the IFBC and its local ministries can never lose.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Chaplains make a real difference. And if you want to be and are qualified to be a chaplain (see the IFBC Chaplain Guide), you can make a significant contribution to the world…for the sake of the Kingdom.