What Does a Chaplain Do?


chaplaincy - Jim Kirkland

Make a friend, be a friend, draw your friend to Christ

A Vision for Chaplaincy and Life Coaching
By Pastor Jim Kirkland
Executive Director
Christian Chaplains & Coaching

There are two important questions we ask our chaplains and life coaching clients to consider.

What is God saying to you right now about what He wants you to do, and what are we going to do about it?

If you actually became the person God wants you to be, what would that look like?

We get to spend the rest of our lives answering these questions and if you are still breathing, you’re not done yet!

The first question is divided into two thoughts. 1) What is the calling on your life? Who are the people God is calling you to reach? 2) Who are the “we” who will serve with you, like a family and on mission to reach those very people in your community as you help each other make progress at walking the walk we talk?

The second question is designed to motivate action toward creating a personal statement of purpose to help you make progress. This will help you to change from the person God does NOT want you to be and into the person He DOES want you to be.

Chaplaincy is not an office in the church, nor does it hold authority in the church. A chaplain is not a pastor/elder, or deacon. These are different offices with different purposes. Chaplains in general are credentialed servants of Christ who are legally recognized as clergy. This will open doors to ministry. A Chaplain does not occupy an office in the church, to the church, or for the church. A Chaplain is distinctly focused on mission and ministry for Christ outside the church to the community in which they live.

What a Chaplain does is, well, exactly what Christ asks all believers to do: “Glorify God, proclaim the good news of Jesus, walk in their Gospel Identity, share their testimony, help people in need, offer encouragement and assistance, build friendships with the unsaved, draw people to Christ, and make disciples who make disciples.”

When we ask someone to consider chaplaincy it is NOT asking them to add something new to their already busy plate. Rather, it is simply asking them to arrange their lives around the mission Christ gives to all disciples. And, we empower them with training and a credential that facilitates their ability to do what Christ has already commissioned them for.

As a Pastor my primary job description is rooted in Ephesians 4:11-12 “… the pastor/teacher, who equips believers for ministry until the Body of Christ may be built to completion” (personal translation). In this passage, the words “pastor and teacher” describe what we pastors do, “We pastor (shepherd) the flock and teach them from scripture how to live for Christ.” This work is expected to produce believers who do the work of ministry outside the church so that the Body of Christ is increased.

Therefore, Chaplaincy becomes an equipping tool that enables mature believers and ministry leaders to hold a nationally recognized credential that opens doors for ministry. As a Chaplain instructor I stress the importance of certain key themes:

  1. Gospel centrality: Jesus is always at the center of everything we do.
  2. Gospel fluency and personal testimony: We always go deeper into our knowledge and understanding of the Gospel while learning to share it effectively with others.
  3. Ministry in community with other believers: The New Testament church is described as “The Body of Christ” and not as “The Lone Rangers.” We do mission together.
  4. Find a people to whom you are called: Finding a particular people group, neighborhood, or network of relationship to be on mission to.
  5. Finally, Lay Chaplains who carry the Christian Chaplains & Coaching title of “Ordained Chaplain” are expected to work within their community, in cooperation with their church and in submission to their pastor.

Encouraging mature believers to become a Chaplain is the way we equip them to do what God is already asking them to do. We believe that “Every believer is either a missionary or an imposter” (Charles Spurgeon). We stress the biblical expectation that our Chaplains will be on mission with others, like a family, to draw people to Christ and help them live for Him. The work is, I believe, primarily outside the church. This is best accomplished when we do life on mission together as a family that increasingly looks like the body of Christ.

Therefore, Chaplaincy is a major benefit in the equipping ministry of Pastors. It is my hope that you will partner with us to encourage chaplaincy. There is something inexplicable that happens for many who receive the credential of “Ordained Chaplain.” It is empowering in ways that are difficult to explain but we have observed. It recognizes and confirms that every believer at your church is expected to be a servant who is on mission with Jesus to a dying world.

In the hands of a mature believer the Chaplain credential will open doors to ministry. The legal recognition as “Clergy” creates opportunity for conversations to prisons, jails, hospitals, nursing homes, sports leagues, motorcycle riders, halfway houses, first responders, homeless, workplace, neighborhoods. recovery, and many others.

Please feel free to contact me. I would love to talk with you.

Phone: 229-355-3021 Ext. 1  –  Email Jim@christianchaplains.org

Website www.christianchaplains.org

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