Chris Pitts is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserve serving as a chaplain. His family and our church say goodbye to him each summer for many weeks and eagerly await his return. He writes about what it means to be a military chaplain and the impact of the local church. Part two follows.
Last week we considered three questions What is a military chaplain? Should we be involved in military chaplaincy? and Who can be a military chaplain? Today, we think about one final and important question -
What is the role of the local churchin military chaplaincy?
One role the church serves with a missionary and military chaplain is to send the individual and his family (Acts 13:1-3). Military chaplains should not pursue this ministry in a vacuum. The support of the local church in sending is not a “nice to have” but an absolute requirement. It is the local church that observes and recognizes the giftedness, preparedness and qualifications of a minister. Once the church has fulfilled this role, they then identify with the work the chaplain has been called to by commissioning or sending. The local church is not simply sending and saying, “We are happy for them!” Rather, the church is also getting behind the work and saying, ‘We are happy to participate in the work!”
A second role of the local church in military chaplaincy is to be the main source of accountability and support for the chaplain. He and his family will participate locally with a body of believers, but membership will continue to reside with the sending church. The pastor, members and chaplain family should engage with each other as possible to encourage accountability and support. This also serves to encourage the local body in their participation in the work, the Great Commission (Acts 14:24-28).
Hopefully this piece has succeeded in helping your understanding of military chaplaincy and encouraged your support of missions. We have an incredible privilege in being an integral part of the mission through our missionaries. It may have provided you the information needed to defend the chaplaincy should someone dispute it. I hope it will create advocates for the chaplaincy.
If, Lord willing, I am reappointed as a chaplain, we may have the opportunity in the near future to send me and my family into the mission field. We are incredibly grateful for the support we have already received in this pursuit. We love our church family and would not be able to do what we do without your prayers and support. Thank you for participating in this work with us.
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.