Military Chaplaincy

Military Chaplaincy

Military chaplains provide military personnel and their families with religious services and programs where they can exercise their right of freedom of religion. The military depends on all faith groups to provide theologically trained, spiritually motivated and qualified ministers to serve as chaplains.

SBC endorsed chaplains have served in all major conflicts for more than 150 years. Following this rich tradition, Southern Baptist ministers today serve with all components of the nation’s military. There is a wide range of military chaplaincy commitments, from full-time employment to volunteer service.

Active Duty

Military personnel and families often endure frequent transfers from one installation to another. As a result, they are often isolated and limited in active involvement in SBC churches. Southern Baptist chaplains serving on full-time active duty help bridge this gap. They provide ministry in places where pastors cannot go and no Southern Baptist churches exist. Chaplains become extensions of the church.

The ministry of a military chaplain is similar to that of the pastor. In addition to being a preacher, teacher, counselor and administrator, the chaplain serves on the commander’s staff as chief advisor on religion, morals, morale and ethical issues. Active duty chaplaincy is a full-time employment ministry.

Reserve/National Guard

Ministers engaged in full-time ministry within the SBC may be qualified to serve as chaplains to Reserve and National Guard units. As an adjunct to their full-time pastorate, these chaplains are affiliated with a military unit. This relationship enhances their church’s outreach and ministry. Ministers who serve both churches and the military are extending the churches’ missions activities to environments that otherwise might go unreached. These chaplains serve in part-time chaplaincy ministry.

Chaplain Candidate

The Chaplain Candidate Program was developed to provide qualified and competent chaplains for Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard. This program affords a firsthand look at the responsibilities and opportunities for ministry within the military chaplaincy. It also assists students with their vocational choices. Any ministerial students who are interested in military chaplaincy should enter the Chaplain Candidate Program early in their seminary studies.

Basic Qualifications/Requirements for SBC Endorsement:

Active Duty/Reserves/National Guard

  • Undergraduate degree of not less than 120 semester hours from an accredited college or university
  • Active Duty only – two years full-time ministry experience, following graduate education
  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from an accredited seminary
  • A principal vocation in full-time ministry within the SBC
  • Maximum age of 40 (unless there is prior service), additional age requirements vary by branch of service and entry program
  • Physical fitness examination as required for commissioned officers
  • A personal interview with a representative of the Chaplaincy Evangelism Team
  • Attend the new chaplain orientation
  • Ordained minister

Chaplain Candidate Program

  • Enrolled full-time in the M.Div. degree program in an accredited theological seminary
  • Membership in good standing in a Southern Baptist church
  • Age requirements as established by the military service
  • Physical examination, as required for commissioned officers

Civil Air Patrol (CAP)

  • Principal vocation in full-time ministry within the SBC
  • Graduate degree from an accredited theological seminary or qualifications based on the needs of the CAP
  • Ordained minister

State Defense Forces

  • Also known as State Guard, State Militia, or State Military Reserve
  • Graduate degree from an accredited theological seminary
  • Ordained minister
  • Contact your State Defense Forces for more information on eligibility requirements