Including a Corporate Chaplain in Your Toolbox

The chaplain was able to step in and immediately give help to the employee, and the family, and represent the firm. A couple of weeks later the chaplain was able to lead the employee to Christ. Your church or mine would never be able to reach that employee and perhaps even you as an executive could have not be able to connect, but the chaplain could.

This year I was in Reno, Nevada, meeting with some of our key business owners for dinner. The subject of a corporate chaplain came up. They wanted to know if hiring a chaplain took away from the CEO’s responsibility to minister and serve the employees. I told them that the CEO still has that responsibility from God as do the other believers in the firm. But, all are needed to do the job. The chaplain, the CEO, key Christian executives, and any employee who is a follower of Jesus all have the responsibility and opportunity to model Christ daily and proclaim His Word to fellow employees, customers, and vendors in a non forceful way. I wish that every pastor and church staff person would serve one day a week as a volunteer chaplain to the firms of the members of their congregation. If this was done, our churches would increase in size overnight. We would be much more connected to the real world as we relate to the problems of the community as we encounter them in the reality of the daily workplace.

Boe Parrish is a workplace executive. He believes so much in the value of corporate chaplains, that he served as a part time chaplain for some local firms for the last twenty years. He spent an average of four hours a week doing this service. I asked Boe how many people came to Christ over these last twenty years. I was shocked when he told me that approximately 700 people had prayed to receive Christ during that period. I wondered how many small to mid sized churches had seen 30 to 40 adults come to Christ every year for the last twenty years. I wondered what would happen if we changed how we did church and trained all of our members to be workers, executives, and some to be chaplains in the workplace. Not only did these people turn their lives around but they became better employees and more loyal to their employer who cared enough for them to provide a free chaplain service.

Boe shared the following story with me. “I had been on the job about 2.5 weeks when I received a call from the HR director. He explained that the 13 year old son of a couple, who both worked for the company, had committed suicide. The younger ten-year-old brother had just come home from school and found his older brother dead in their bedroom. The trauma from this discovery was almost unbearable for the young boy. The parents were devastated and the entire company of 350 employees was in shock. Immediately I raced across town to be with the family who had no church affiliation and no network of support to lean on. Their grief was so heavy and impossible to carry alone. Hours turned into weeks and weeks turned into months of walking this tough walk of love with this family. Over the course of the next three to four months God used this tragedy and turned the curse into a blessing. The mother, father, and younger brother asked Jesus Christ into their hearts. God turned things around for many of the employees, with eight employees also inviting Christ into their hearts.”

Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over 30 years. While owning and operating a nationwide general merchandise distribution business, he worked with the nation’s largest retailers. After selling the family business in 1997, Kent continued to be involved in real estate, manufacturing, and medical distribution businesses. In 2002, he became president of Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI), an organization that equips and encourages Christian business owners who desire to use their companies as a platform for ministry.

For many years, Kent has spent much of his time ministering to business leaders and pastors across the country through speaking, writing, and mentoring. He has spoken in sixteen seminaries across the United States and Canada and at numerous international conferences. He is on the board of trustees for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Navigators, and Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City. His latest book, Lasting Investments: A Pastor’s Guide for Equipping Workplace Leaders to Leave a Spiritual Legacy, was released in February of 2004.