The first place I go with people when starting to talk about ministry is to the incarnation. All ministry is going to where people are, emptying ourselves, investing in relationship, loving, being. I’m always looking for new ways that ministries and churches are being incarnational in their approaches to ministry.
I recently had the opportunity to be in Manchester, Connecticut and had a great conversation with Wayne Keller who is a pastor and also a division director for Marketplace Chaplains USA. They supply chaplains to businesses across the USA. How’s it work? Basically a business contacts them about providing a chaplain for their employees. They find a pastor in the area who can spend a few hours a week at this place of business. His/her job is solely to build relationships and be available if someone there wants to talk, pray, etc. For those of us with youth ministry background its the Young Life model applied to businesses. I love this idea! They are incredibly sensitive to not be agressive about sharing their faith, preaching, praying out loud and singing Carman songs.
A few things are particularly fascinating to me about this:
1) According to Wayne, while most of the businesses that called them when they started were those with Christian owners, the momentum is shifting away from that. Most of their new business friends are non-churched owners who are looking for ways to invest in their employees as whole people, beyond just health care and a paycheck. The realization of business owners that they can invest in people in this way is great! It also makes me realize that while the initial rush of people into churches post-911 (particularly in the East where the attacks were closest) , starved for some kind of a spiritual answer, for some way to process, has subsided, it is still there lingering under the surface.
2) I think this is a great model for pastors to enter the work place as people who care and are interested in relationships. What an open door to new relationships! I wonder if some people I know might be interested in this kind of minsitry (whether formally through this organization or not). I see this as a great way to “go”.