Making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) means disciples need to step into the world, interface with people, and share the Hope that is in us. To do so well means we must listen–to frustrations, hurts, hopes, and dreams. We must ask questions–about what we hear in order to encourage, help, and offer hope. That sounds a lot like the work of a volunteer chaplain.
Steps to Serve as a Volunteer Chaplain
- Seek Training. Listening and counseling training and practice helps. Here I am not suggesting that you become a formal, paid, or trained chaplain as much as gain some skills and confidence.
- Assemble a List of Sources of Help. You will encounter life situations that are beyond your ability to help. Include professional counselors and other sources of help that you think might be needed. But add to your list as requests are made and you seek out solutions.
- Ask if you can serve as a volunteer chaplain. Prayerfully consider places in your community that might benefit from a volunteer chaplain. Some natural places to consider are those you visit frequently: restaurants, stores, work, etc. Other places might be fire stations, police stations, schools, etc. Talk with the manager. Share a business card. Offer to help as needed.
- Establish hours and be on call. Again, visit frequently. Spend time getting to know each staff member and customers–if the manager is supportive. Listen and care. But help isn’t only needed at convenient times. Offer help beyond when you are onsite. Help by phone. Help in person. Be reachable.
What if every business in your area had a volunteer chaplain? What if every member of your church sought to serve somewhere in the community? How might your community gain greater health, help, and hope? How might your church members grow? Allow the world to see Jesus in you. Care. Share Jesus. Make disciples!
Thanks for the good word, Darryl! In my own transition from pastor to hospital chaplain, I learned that an emphasis on presence through reflective listening is vital. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers, just be there. Simply start with presence. When in doubt, be like Job’s friends… before they opened their mouths. Blessings!