Saturday, June 19, 2010

How best to do Chaplaincy?

I was wondering about this in the comments of Bryan's Blog.  If someone was to come to your church for a year that'd be a good slab of ministry time, time enough to sow positively into someone's life, longer of course is ideal but for a standard church it's a great start. In a year you get past superficialities, you can identify patterns and begin to challenge people. In standard AFES work you might have students for several years at the very most.  The work I gather is very cyclical, train up a new set of leaders have an impact on the current crop and then repeat the cycle.  The time frame is a lot tighter in International AFES work, sometimes measured in months, then everything gets compressed, discipleship, evangelism and pastoral care.  Then there is chaplaincy, I'm thinking now of hospital chaplaincy and the Anglican Mission to the Seafarers.  (School chaplains would operate on a slightly longer time frame to AFES chaplains but would face some of the same challenges.)  How do you do ministry in one conversation, one evening?  Obviously you want to make some sort of an impact, it could be limited to not being obnoxious or it could extend to asking really interesting questions at the right moment.  I guess with that sort of chaplaincy there'd be a real sense of being only one link a longer chain, only one part of someone's spiritual journey home to God.  I think it'd be important to always be prepared to create a good impression, have pithy answers on hand and do really good follow up in what ever form that took.

[Picture: U.S. Navy Chaplain Father Kenneth Medve offers Catholic Mass onboard the USS Ronald Reagan (2006)]