The focus of this blog will change from primarily addressing apologetic topics to the profession of chaplaincy. I completed my undergrad in Apologetics but in pursuing my M. Div.; the focus is on healthcare chaplaincy. My current employment is Spiritual Counselor and Bereavement Coordinator for a hospice, so look for content that increasingly focuses on this role. So, what is a chaplain?
So, just what is Chaplaincy? Chaplaincy is a very specialized ministry where the minister serves in a church ministry, hospital, nursing home, or institutional setting; better described as a “para-church” ministry. Chaplains work with the public. The people who make up this community may wear military uniforms, hospital gowns, hard hats, and badges. Like the Apostle Paul, chaplains are “bi-vocational”: they usually have institutional administrative and staff jobs besides their ministries. But that is acceptable to Chaplains, for serving in such “non-ministry” roles puts them in places where people with needs who ordinarily would never darken the doors of a church (much less talk to a minister) will come to talk and interact with the Chaplain.
The Chaplain is there to listen, care, and respond appropriately to the client’s agenda. Chaplaincy is a ministry of presence and availability. There are various types of chaplaincy. The following briefly describes some of the more common chaplaincies and their requirements. Regardless of setting, the chaplain is the advocate to those they counsel, putting their needs for comfort and succour ahead of their needs and those of the institution they serve.
People preparing for and going to war need Pastoral Care! Active Duty, Reserves, and National Guard Chaplains are in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Requirements are a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Divinity degree, usually earned before the fortieth birthday. The Air Force and Navy also sponsor volunteer Chaplaincy in the Civil Air Patrol and Sea Cadet programs.
Veterans Affairs and civilian hospitals, as well as hospices, hire professional chaplains. Who better to reach society’s hopeless, hurting, and dying than caring, well-trained Chaplains? To be a healthcare chaplain requires a bachelor’s degree, a Master of Divinity degree, and one year of Clinical Pastoral Training (better known as Clinical Pastoral Education CPE) in a healthcare context. The completion of 4 units of CPE are required, totalling 1600 hours. There are paid and unpaid internships.
God has seen that the felon has a chance to contemplate their crimes against society. Who better to reach out to the lost, hopeless, desperate, and forgotten of society with a message of deliverance and hope than a dedicated chaplain? Professional and volunteer opportunities exist in our nation’s Federal, state, and local facilities for Chaplains. Correctional facilities are presently the fastest-growing industry in America.
Could God call you to minister to those who have known nothing but bondage? Or could he be calling you to support Chaplains who do? Requirements vary according to the correctional facility; for professional Chaplains, the requirement is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Volunteer positions are plentiful and do not require degrees, but require training.
Business and industrial chaplaincy is a new and growing field. Employees not distracted by marriage and family crises, alcohol, drugs, and other addictions, as well as a myriad of personal and spiritual problems, are safer, more productive employees. Studies show every dollar spent on workplace chaplaincy results in a $4 to $7 saving for business because of absenteeism, accidents, medical and counseling intervention, treatment, etc. Specializations in workplace chaplaincy include union, truck stop, airport, seaport, fire department, police department, racetrack, and college chaplaincies. Requirements for these chaplaincies vary considerably.
Public School Chaplaincy for America is the only organization that equips clergy for ministry to students, faculty, and administrators in public schools in the US. A glance at the top tragedies of the last several years makes the mandate for this new genre of Pastoral Care painfully clear! Requirements are appropriate specialized training, criminal background check, and Ecclesiastical Endorsement.
While Professional Pastoral Counseling is not Chaplaincy but a necessary part of Chaplaincy, and it is an endorsable ministry that desperately needs Spirit-filled representation. Professional Counselors hold state licensure(s) and secular certification(s) as marriage and family therapists, alcohol and drug rehabilitation counselors, psychologists, and so forth Requirements for professional counselors are a Bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree in psychology or counseling, and many hours in a supervised counseling practicum. While these requisites may seem “stiff,” think of the impact that pastoral counselors would have on the lives of those who have lost their way, as well as the people of faith who may need a little extra help!
see also: Book Review: Hospital Chaplaincy