The following reflection prompts were drawn together from our Everyone an evangelist, even chaplains? event. They have been offered by chaplains from a range of contexts. They are intended to be used as starting points for Christian chaplains to reflect on their callings as disciples of Jesus within the boundaries and expectations of the role they are in. You can see recordings from the event here

We hope that the people we encounter will

  • experience something of the unconditional love of God in Christ - through us
  • notice God's peace in people and places – including in us
  • know their worth and value
  • experience healing for brokenness.

We hope that we will be able to

  • share God’s love in the way we journey with, listen, love, help and care others
  • make a difference in people's lives in some way
  • build relationships, connections and community
  • ‘be with’ rather than ‘do to’
  • point towards Jesus.

Challenges chaplains face in evangelism:

  • We are guests in a host institution, so must be appropriate, respectful and sensitive.
  • Working in interfaith or interdenominational chaplaincy teams with different views on evangelism.
  • Sometimes we don’t see the change we hope for.
  • Seizing the opportunity for faith sharing at an appropriate moment.
  • Moving at the (slow) speed of trust and knowing when you’ve said or listened enough.

Opportunities chaplains face in evangelism:

  • We can value others as a fellow human made in God's image and see Christ in them.
  • Because of our roles, we are often the ‘go to’ person for faith conversations or to ask for prayer.
  • Building real and long-lasting relationships with meaningful connection and conversation - God is in these!
  • Faith conversations in interfaith or other contexts give us an opportunity to consider what we believe ourselves.
  • To break through the apathy people feel about faith, and to surprise or challenge people’s perceptions of who Christians are and what they believe.

Practical tips for evangelism in chaplaincy:

  • Listen, love, care and journey with others.
  • Offer to pray with or for people.
  • Offer suitable scripture or other literature if appropriate.
  • Draw people without faith into planning or leadership of big events (e.g. Christmas Carol services)
  • Pay attention to God at work and who God invites us into relationship with.
  • Partner with other faiths or with other secular groups to run an event or project.
  • Look for the little opportunities that are sent to us - and seize them!

What can the wider church learn from chaplains about evangelism?

  • Don't focus on outcomes, just focus on the person in front of you.
  • Be natural, be yourself.
  • Evangelism is a wider ministry than how we’ve defined it in the past.
  • Build partnerships with other groups in the community, including other faith groups.
  • Get out of your buildings!
  • ‘Be with’ rather than ‘do to’.
  • We need to be embedded in our communities and ministering way beyond the walls of our churches.
  • Chaplains have a lot of wisdom to share around or faith sharing in secular spaces in appropriate ways that many Christians who work in secular places could learn from.
  • Evangelism is a ministry of presence; it is incarnational, care-full, appropriate, defined by context and informed by the gifts of the evangelist.

Questions to reflect on

  1. Think of a time you’ve had a faith conversation in your role recently, what was positive about it?
  2. What is your gospel to proclaim in the context of your ministry? How do you proclaim it?
  3. Are there practical ways you could more intentionally point towards Jesus?

“I have a gospel to proclaim – and in that sense, chaplaincy, like any form of Christian ministry is a form of evangelism. Evangelism is a ministry of being as much as a ministry of doing or saying. It’s answering the call to be the leaven in the lump, or the salt of the earth, ministering to sheep without a shepherd. I’m convinced that God calls us to an evangelism aimed at transforming people’s lives and communities through love. This is the value of our ministry. To love without ever expecting anything back. Ours is a ministry that seeks to love for loves sake. That’s the chaplain’s gospel – that’s the gospel I have to proclaim.” - Melvyn Kelly, University Chaplain, shares his experience of evangelism in a chaplaincy context. From the event 'Everyone an evangelist, even chaplains?'