Q&A with Mark Cress, Founder and President of
Community Chaplains of America
Q: Why do you think chaplains are able to win so many people to Christ?
A: According to some of the research we’ve done, most adults who come to Christ (80%) do so during a time of crisis. When those times of crisis come, many people don’t have a relationship with a clergy member. They may not want to go to a church, but they still need to talk to somebody. A chaplain has the opportunity to be present with someone during that crisis, to be a listening ear and a support system, and to gain permission to talk with them about Christ.
Q: Where and how are Community Chaplains already serving?
A: Several hundred people have completed the Community Chaplains training. There are commissioned chaplains now serving in 35 states and a variety of settings. We have one chaplain in Atlanta , Georgia , who is serving a local swim team. A church in Raleigh , North Carolina , has a strong chaplain program and encourages its leaders to take advantage of our continuing education services. We also have a college professor who will soon be the first official chaplain for her university. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. One of our Corporate Chaplains of America clients who owns a storage facility has requested someone to whom he can refer his clients, since people often rent storage space during times of personal upheaval. These are just a few examples of places where chaplains can—and do—serve.
Q: Describe the process of becoming a Community Chaplain.
A: The process is simple, and you can get started today! Community Chaplains training is available online at www.commchap.com. If you prefer, the materials are also available in hard copy form and can be mailed to you. Our training materials will prepare you to minister to people in crisis and approach every encounter as an opportunity to intentionally show God’s love and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once you have worked through the materials and received the approval of your pastor, you’re ready to start serving as a commissioned Community Chaplain.
Q: I would like to introduce the principles of caregiving as a church elective or discipleship course. Does Community Chaplains offer any materials for group study?
A: Absolutely. We offer a Community Chaplain group study kit with enough materials to facilitate a ten member small group class. This course offers an overview of caregiving ministry (less intense than the course designed for commissioned chaplains) and is a great way for churches to extend their reach within their communities.
Q: Who should explore the possibility of becoming a Community Chaplain?
A: Anyone who wants to minister to others, who wants to take advantage of their everyday interactions with people as opportunities to build relationships that allow you to be granted permission to share the gospel should train to become a chaplain. If you are already volunteering in your community in some way (i.e. room parent, coach, hospital volunteer, etc), you are perfectly positioned to transform that volunteer role into your ministry role. Our training materials were written by experienced Corporate Chaplains of America, and they contain everything you need to become a qualified Community Chaplain. No special background is necessary. If you want to be salt and light to a lost and dying world, this is the program for you.