How to Become a Christian Chaplain

National Association of Christian Ministers How to Series: Ministry


To become a Christian chaplain, there are several steps you can take. Keep in mind that the specific requirements and processes may vary depending on your location and the organization you wish to work with. However, here are some general guidelines:

1. Personal Reflection and Commitment: Start by reflecting on your own faith and personal commitment to Christianity. A chaplain serves as a spiritual leader and counselor, so it’s important to have a strong foundation in your own beliefs and be committed to serving others.

2. Denominational, Church, of Ministry Affiliation: Determine which Christian denomination or organization you wish to work with as a chaplain. Different organizations may have specific requirements or theological perspectives. Choose a denomination that aligns with your beliefs and values.

3. Education and Training: Obtain a relevant educational background. Most chaplains have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many pursue graduate-level education in divinity or theology. Look for accredited theological schools or seminaries that offer programs specific to chaplaincy.

4. Denominational, Church, of Ministry: Seek endorsement from your chosen denomination. This typically involves a formal application process where you provide documentation of your education, personal statement of faith, and undergo an interview with denominational representatives. Endorsement signifies that your denomination recognizes you as a qualified representative for ministry.

5. Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): Complete a Clinical Pastoral Education program. CPE is an intensive training program that combines theological education with practical experience in a healthcare or institutional setting. It helps chaplains develop the necessary skills for spiritual care and counseling. Many hospitals and institutions offer CPE programs.

6. Certification and Licensing: Depending on the organization or institution you wish to work with, you may need to obtain specific certifications or licenses. For example, hospital chaplains often need to be certified by organizations such as the Association of Professional Chaplains or the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

7. Experience and Volunteering: Gain practical experience by volunteering in your local church or community. Participate in pastoral care activities, visit the sick and elderly, and engage in counseling and mentoring opportunities. This hands-on experience will help you develop the skills necessary for chaplaincy.

8. Job Search and Application: Once you have completed the necessary education, training, and requirements, begin your job search. Look for chaplaincy positions in hospitals, military organizations, correctional facilities, educational institutions, or other settings that align with your interests and denominational affiliation. Prepare your resume, cover letter, and any required application materials to apply for chaplaincy positions.

Remember that becoming a chaplain is a calling, and it’s important to continually nurture your own faith and engage in ongoing professional development to serve effectively in this role.