The tension is building. Soon the course will begin. “Introduction to Chaplain Ministries” wasn’t exactly what some of you had in mind for this semester. Yet, here you are. You may be feeling like one of the many students I have encountered in Chaplain ministries:
You may be presently serving as a Chaplain. “The Current Chaplain” brings both tremendous insights to the course, and, sometimes, an understandable concern that “I have been there already, and I have the t-shirt.” You might even feel like, “I’m doing it. What else can I learn?” The Chaplain who has served for many years (or who is new but wise) reasons, “On the other hand, maybe this could be a time to reflect on my calling as a Chaplain. What if I listened to the voices of my fellow students and heard the voice of the Lord whispering to me? What if I discovered something new about myself? What if I fell in love with the ministry again?” This is the student, maybe yourself, who concluded, “I may have ‘the t-shirt,’ but, to be honest, that old shirt hasn’t been fitting right lately. It’s getting a little tight. Well, that is enough. I’m doing it. ‘Okay. Send me in Coach.’”
Alternatively, you might be like the “Hesitant Student” I have encountered. You are wondering if taking a course on Introduction to the Chaplaincy is right for you. But you signed up. “I need the credits. This may be a good place to grab them. I’ll look and learn.”
Then, there is what I call the “Investigative Student.” You are not sure you even know what Chaplains do, other than what you see on TV or when you see one at the hospital. So, maybe I can learn more. You think to yourself, “What if the very vocational specialty I have been overlooking is the one with my name on it?” “Okay, I’m in. Lord, help me to follow You in this course.”
There are, of course, many other types of students who sign up for this course (as there are for other courses). I want you to know, up front, that I LOVE YOU ALL. I am very happy you are here, even if that is only because you need the credit! Reason? I get to share with you what I feel is one of the most needed, vocationally satisfying, and Great Commission-grounded ministries in the Church of our Savior Jesus Christ. My prayer is that through this course you will come to see both the gifts and graces needed to serve in this unique calling, but also get close to the nature and practice of Chaplain ministry. Whether in the Armed Forces, healthcare settings, corporations, first-responders, or palliative care, the Chaplain ministry is expanding and becoming more important to leadership and ministry teams than ever before.
So, welcome. And know just how humbled and honored I feel to “get to” be with you in this learning experience. Or, maybe it is more of a theological reflection experience that you anticipate. Regardless, I am excited to be with you. Consider me your guide to the world of learning: learning about the joy of serving God by serving others through the Chaplaincy.
“Bringing God to People in Special Places.”
That is the focus of this course. And that is why I am so very happy that you are joining us.
Let’s get going. This is going to be great.
 You will notice that throughout the course I will capitalize the word “Chaplain” when using it in possible relationship to or inclusion of U.S. Armed Forces Chaplains. This is an editorial rule of the Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Army. I follow this editorial rule. You don’t have to. But I wanted you to know why I practice this grammatical-editorial peculiarity.