A lot has been talked about over the years of churches being missional. The question arises, “What do we do?”, “How can we be missional?” I would like to offer a suggestion on how to be missional that can involve many faith-filled believers with a heart to make a difference in their communities.
There are two topics in Scripture where Jesus points us to how we go about being missional, the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 and Jesus’ comments about how we will be judged in the Last Judgment in Matthew 25. There are many people of God from various faith traditions who in the spirit of Christ are visiting the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Some of these folks serve as professional chaplains and are often found ministering in hospitals, prisons, universities, hospices, and fire and police departments. Some companies even offer chaplaincy services for their employees.
There is a population, however, that is under-served. It is the individual community where we live; the people that we meet daily in our routine activities. These folks are our neighbors, the acquaintances at the coffee shop, or those we often see at the diner we frequent. This group of people needs a community chaplain. Community Chaplaincy is a relatively new idea and certainly is a ministry anyone who has a strong faith and a relationship with God and a heart to serve his or her neighbor, can do.
The purpose of Community Chaplaincy is to walk alongside and accompany a person experiencing a trauma or a difficult situation in his/her life. Galatians 6:2 expresses the duties of a chaplain in these words…” Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Community Chaplains, under the seal of confidentiality, build a relationship with the person they are serving by offering an empathetic ear, moral support and a caring attitude. Community Chaplains help people get through the difficulties of life. This interaction can lead to opportunities for discussion about spiritual matters.
Members of Independent Catholic Churches and Eucharistic communities can become Volunteer Community Chaplains in their area through the Community Chaplaincy Ministry Program offered by Corporate Chaplains of America (chaplain.org).
Let’s read a few answers to questions about the Community Chaplains Ministry
What Is Community?
“You are not alone. You belong. We are all struggling in one way or another, but I can tell you that it gets better“. These are just a few words of hope that can be powerful when spoken at the right time in a person’s life.
Why does this matter? In America, we don’t really have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, that is what people would say they want in life; a sense of belonging, a sense of community, true and authentic relationships. Because as humans, we need to belong…to one another, our friends, our families, our culture, our country, our world, and our Creator God.
How Can You Help Transform Your Community, One Person At A Time?
We were designed to be in relationship; to belong. That is why living in isolation is so damaging to us, harming our sense of well-being, self control, immune function, health and even our intellectual achievement.
Most people want to change the community around them for the better. We all struggle in one way or another with this. We want to come alongside you in a relationship to help you as you seek to transform your community one person at a time.
Why Community Chaplains of America?
Born out of more than 20 years working with Corporate Chaplains in nearly 1,000 business locations, Community Chaplains of America seeks to multiply ministry by partnering with you to provide practical training to equip and empower you to transform everyday encounters you have with those in your community into relationships that can help them understand how to have life eternal in Heaven and life abundant here on earth._
Who Uses Community Chaplains of America Training?
We want to partner with Churches to help multiply your ministry by encouraging, equipping and empowering your Church members to reach out to those around them facing life’s challenges.
We want to partner with business owners to help you improve the culture of your company, answer God’s call to help your employees not only making a living but to find life, and increase the effectiveness of your business as a platform for ministry.
Para Church Ministries
We want to partner with para church ministries to help you increase the effectiveness of your mission, provide training that would otherwise be cost prohibitive, and to support you in a framework of larger ministry in our country.
Community Organizations & Non-Profits
We want to partner with community organizations and non-profits to help you have a group of thoroughly trained staff, donors and volunteers in a cost effective manner while supporting you through a framework of community caregivers all across our country.
What is the Community Chaplain Training Program?
These are the topics covered in the training materials. Imagine Being Equipped to Care for People Facing:
- Building Relationships of Care
- Gaining Permission to Care
- Confidentiality In Caring Relationships
- Sharing the Good News
- Health and Hospital Care
- Interpersonal Relationship Care
- Financial Crises Care
- Death and Grief Care
- Substance Abuse and Addiction Care
- Suicide Care
- Jail and Detention Center Care
- Legal Issues Care
- Cultural Diversity Care
Community Chaplaincy is an area of missional outreach that I encourage all faith communities to get involved in, especially communities in the independent sacramental movement. Jesus left the Apostles with the Great Commission..“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NVI). This is the command Jesus left to all ordained clergy. Certainly clergy also can be community chaplains but it is the responsibility of all disciples to follow the example of The Good Samaritan and fulfill Jesus’ order to “go and do likewise”. Community Chaplaincy gives disciples the tools they need to go and do just that!
May the Holy Spirit guide you in your service to God and to one another.
Bishop Tom Shortell, OSFC, D.Min. is the Bishop Ordinary for Mexico for the United American Catholic Church and currently resides in Guerrero, Mexico.