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the challenge of the chaplaincy

by Larry A. Powell


Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions at



You can be a “missionary to the military” and a Free Will Baptist preacher while wearing the uniform of the Army, Navy, or Air Force. The chaplain is a missionary. He is a pastor, preacher, teacher, evangelist, counselor, administrator, and representative of his church and denomination. He is truly an extension of our churches in obscure and dangerous places around the world.

He touches the lives of people in prisons, hospitals, chapels, and Bible studies. Most important, he reaches them through personal evangelism. The Home Missions Department demonstrates concern for these brave men by prayer and family support. We are doing everything we can to encourage them and let them know we are proud of their vital ministry to the men and women in the Armed Forces.


Requirements to Become a Chaplain

The Home Missions Department works in cooperation with the Chief of Staff of the Chaplaincy of the United States Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. In order to qualify to become a chaplain, each candidate must complete 120 hours of undergraduate study in a college and earn a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. We encourage men to attend one of our Free Will Baptist colleges.



The government also requires candidates to complete 72 semester hours of graduate work at an accredited seminary, earning a Master of Theology degree. The seminary must meet government approval, but it should also stand for the fundamentals of the faith. The candidate must be at least 21 years old and younger than 46 years of age.


Pastoral Experience

The chaplain candidate should be called to preach—a divine call of God. He must meet the standards of his local association regarding church membership and licensure, and be an ordained Free Will Baptist minister in good standing with the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

The prospective chaplain must have two years of pastoral experience in a Free Will Baptist church, serving as senior pastor or as associate pastor under the direct supervision of an experienced pastor. He must learn pastoral duties such as soul
winning, discipleship, and pulpit ministry. He must experience every phase of pastoral care to families in the church during his tenure.

The general director will make the final decision as to whether or not the candidate receives ecclesiastical endorsement. That responsibility falls under the umbrella of the ministries of the Home Missions Department.


Enlist Prayer

Pray for our chaplains. All of them carry a heavy load. They are hardworking men who serve in battle as well as in peacetime. They comfort in time of need, serve in every way possible, and work to spread the love of God to all with whom they come in contact. Let’s hold their families up in our prayers.

Many of our chaplains serve in dangerous places like Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter the military situation for our country, in peace or in war, the chaplains are there. Let’s not forget them. Let’s pray that God will give them safety and success in this vital ministry to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.


About the Writer: Larry Powell is general director of the Home Missions Department. To learn more about the ministry of Home Missions, visit



©2008 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists