Tod Bolsinger responds to Gali on chaplains today:
But increasingly, this is not the mission of the church today. In a post-Christendom context, the metaphor of pastor as healer, chaplain, or curer of souls is inadequate to the task and literally killing the church. Churches that continue to cling to a Christendom context and expectation for pastors (as seen mostly in mainline churches like my own) are dramatically in decline and becoming increasingly irrelevant to the changing cultural contexts that are far more like a mission field in the first century than the cultural contexts of the most recent past centuries for which Galli (and most of us, frankly—even me) pine nostalgically.
But that day is gone.
The Missional Movement, as originally inspired by the insights of Lesslie Newbigin expressed theologically by Darrell Guder and others, has given rise to an entirely different understanding of a pastor as the leader of a people in mission.
In this post-Christendom context, the congregation, not the pastor, is the embodiment of Jesus (literally “the body of Christ”). The congregation, not the pastor, is the true ‘healer of souls’ going into the world to demonstrate and proclaim the reign of God.
Read more here.
Mark Gali writes of the need for more chaplains:
We find ourselves in an odd period of church history when many people have become so used to large, impersonal institutions that they want that in their church as well. Thus the attraction of megachurches, where people can blend in and not be seen if they want. Many thought leaders who ponder church life naturally end up championing massive institutions and denigrating (inadvertently, to be sure) the healing of hurting souls. And this in a community whose theology is supposedly grounded in the universal and cosmic love of God who gives attention to each of us as individuals.
There may be something else going on as well. A chaplain is a minister in the service of another. A chaplain at a hospital or in the military is clearly not the highest ranking member of the institution, clearly not the person in charge of running things. The chaplain’s job is defined by service—service to the institution’s needs and goals, service to the individuals who come for spiritual help. The chaplain prays for people in distress, administers sacraments to those in need, leads worship for those desperate for God. In short, the chaplain is at the beck and call of those who are hurting for God. He’s not his own man. She is not her own woman. There’s no mistaking a chaplain for an entrepreneurial leader, a catalyst for growth. No, the chaplain is unmistakably a servant.
Read the whole article here.