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Editor’s note: The North
American Mission Board’s evangelism ministries are focused on six primary areas:
Evangelism Networks/Resources, Chaplaincy, LoveLoud ministry evangelism, Disaster
Relief, Church Revitalization and Collegiate evangelism. This article, the
first in a series of six, spotlights chaplaincy ministries.
By Tobin Perry
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – From
foreign battlefields to American corporate board rooms to hospital bedsides to
the front seats of police cars and more, Southern Baptists minister through
their chaplains in some of the most hard-to-reach locations of North America.
have continued to see the need to send chaplains to places where the church may
not have access,” said Doug Carver, the North American Mission Board’s
executive director for Southern Baptist chaplaincy and retired chief of
chaplains for the U.S. Army. “They provide the ministry of presence, provide
the good news of Jesus Christ, opportunities to evangelize and witness—and
sustain the faith of Southern Baptists who are in those places.”
Carver notes that
Southern Baptist chaplains—serving in military, institutional, counseling,
disaster relief, corporate and public safety roles—extend the evangelistic
reach of SBC churches throughout North America and around the world.
Chaplaincy is one
of six areas of focus for NAMB’s evangelism group. He says while evangelism at
times happens differently in the military and organizational contexts where
chaplains serve, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is a critical part of any
chaplain’s ministry environment. In 2013 SBC chaplains presented the gospel to
over 125,000 people and baptized more than 3,700.
preach during our worship services here on post at our Protestant services,
they have the freedom to preach a powerful evangelistic message,” said Col.
Jeff Houston, the installation chaplain at Fort Campbell, Ky. “We regularly
baptize folks who have come to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.”
Often the critical
places and times when chaplains serve provide open doors for ministry that
aren’t available to the local church.
“When we walk into
the room of someone who is not a Christian, our approach is to provide pastoral
care,” said Jim Wright, a Southern Baptist chaplain serving as the director of
pastoral care at Baptist Hospital in Paducah, Ky. “But eventually the
missionary aspect will come out. We’ve had many opportunities to lead people to
Carver notes that
NAMB’s chaplaincy team is focused on four main areas over the next year. First,
NAMB will focus on providing care, support and appreciation for chaplains on
the field. Carver noted that when chaplains are fulfilling their pastoral roles,
they’re often doing so in some of the most difficult circumstances.
critical, and often tragic, moments of life that chaplains provide an
invaluable ministry of the presence of God to those seeking peace, comfort, and
hope in a particular life situation. Obviously,” he added, “when our chaplains
are engaged in that demanding and emotionally draining role, they need pastoral
embracing chaplains will mean giving them more frequent opportunities to share
their stories in SBC churches. He also says his team is working on a strategy
to help re-engage chaplains in the ministries of local churches once their
chaplaincy ministry concludes.
chaplaincy team will continue to educate churches on the ministry of all of its
chaplains and about their own opportunities to serve the military. As part of
that effort, NAMB has produced a toolkit (http://www.namb.net/Honoring-Military-Service_Members-and-Chaplains/) to help churches honor and appreciate
chaplains in their midst. NAMB is also encouraging churches to adopt chaplains.
churches don’t realize that they have chaplains and veterans in their midst,”
Carver said. “We want to increase the awareness so that chaplains can help
local churches in their evangelistic efforts.”
NAMB will continue
to come alongside of churches and help them reach out to the military community
among their members and around them.
“Just because of
the way God works, those serving in the military are often searching
spiritually,” said Gary Sanders, the founder and president of Military Missions
Network and the pastor of military missions at First Baptist Church of Norfolk,
Va. “It is a tremendous opportunity to share the love of Christ with them
because they are looking for relationships, they are looking for stability,
they are looking for hope. And of course all of those things can be found in
God through Jesus Christ.”
ministry at FBC Norfolk is an example of this. Among other service
opportunities, FBC Norfolk provides their building and childcare for military
Family Readiness Groups.
“Just by serving
the military that opens all kinds of doors of getting to know them and to get
into conversations with them about Christ,” Sanders said. “We serve them in
word and deed.”
Third, Carver and
his team are developing a strategy to help pastors and denominational leaders
incorporate chaplains into their ministry plans. Often, Carver says, chaplains
have ministry expertise that can help in other efforts, but those planning the
efforts don’t know of their availability.
chaplaincy is working toward a long-term strategy of developing a church plant
ministry near every U.S. military base in the world. At this point, Carver
says, NAMB is in the process of talking with leaders in each North American
region about what it would take to increase military ministry around U.S.
NAMB recently made
the strategic move to appoint a military church planting catalyst to help
foster church plants to better serve members of the military and their
families. U.S. Marine Reserve Captain Endel Lee accepted the position in
January. Lee brings a 33-year career as a reservist, 20 as a chaplain to the
work. Lee has also served as the national Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
chaplaincy coordinator since 2006.
Carver notes that,
although there are strong military-focused churches and Christian organizations
already supporting many of these bases, there aren’t nearly enough to properly
reach these military communities with the gospel.
information about NAMB chaplaincy, visit http://www.namb.net/chaplaincy. Listen to a
podcast to discover more about chaplain ministry.
Perry writes for the
North American Mission Board.
God works through His people, the Church. The Bible makes it very clear. The local church is central in God’s plan to move the gospel throughout the world. That’s why the evangelism teams at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) are geared to encourage and extend the ministries of the local church.
Date Created: 3/12/2014 2:38:38 AM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC