You might find them riding in a convoy … or on the obstacle training course, shouting encouragement to participants … or in a tent, lending a listening ear.
Wherever the troops go, the chaplains go too. It’s called “ministry of presence.”
That’s how Foursquare military chaplain endorser Dr. Dan Miller describes the role played by the nearly 50 men and women who are Foursquare military chaplains. “The ministry of presence authorizes a chaplain to be wherever the people [he or she is serving] are,” he said. “The focus of a chaplain is not the pulpit; it’s where the people are.”
The chaplain, he explained, is free to move among the troops to whom he or she are assigned, wherever the troops are, whatever they are doing.
Becoming a chaplain is no easy task. Candidates for Foursquare military chaplaincy (currently there are 15) must meet educational requirements: a bachelor’s degree, plus enrollment in a M.Div. or M.A. in theology program. They also must hold Foursquare credentials, or have begun the Foursquare licensing process, and be active in a Foursquare church.
For chaplain candidates to become full-fledged, ecclesiastically-endorsed chaplains, they must have earned a master’s degree, become ordained, and have had two years’ pastoral experience. (Civil Air Patrol chaplains may have five years of pastoral experience in lieu of a master’s degree.)
Candidates who enroll in seminary and join a chaplain candidate program usually begin with the rank of second lieutenant, and become first lieutenants upon graduation/ordination.
Because military chaplains are not allowed to carry a weapon (per the Geneva Convention), each chaplain is assigned an assistant. The chaplain’s assistant not only provides personal security for the chaplain, but also assists the chaplain in a variety of ways, such as setting up for meetings and acting as a driver. Chaplain assistants do not carry credentials, nor are they required to have any type of religious background. Though this position is a job assignment, many chaplain assistants are committed Christians, and some choose to eventually become chaplains.
Military Foursquare chaplains work within an environment of religious diversity. “Your supervisor may be Jewish or Mormon or Catholic,” Dr. Miller explained. He said the role of all chaplains is generally the same: to advise the commander on all things religious within the command, and to assist the commander in ensuring that the command climate is respectful of all religious views (as long as those views are legal).
“The focus is on protecting the environment,” he said. “I’ve found that if you don’t do that, you’ll end up hindering the gospel.” At the same time, he added: “There’s nothing [in the doctrine of chaplain services] that prohibits a chaplain from preaching that which is consistent with his or her faith. The opportunity for evangelism is wide open!”