In the journey to find equipment and information that will help me in my new ministry of Police Chaplaincy, I realized sometimes it can take a lot of effort searching through the chaff to see what is really out there and is good.  So, to that end, I have put together an Amazon store linked to this site where a Chaplain might be able to find those items more easily.  If you are a chaplain, take a look and see if it helps you.  Click on this link to go to the new site:



Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  Usage of these links does not cost you anything!


Since starting my work as a Police Chaplain there has been a phrase that seems to recur frequently, and which sums up well what we do as chaplains. That phrase is, “A Ministry of Presence”.  Reflecting on this phrase, however, brings home the realization that a ‘ministry of presence’ applies to not only a police chaplain or any other chaplaincy, but the ministry of the bivopastor and to all believers, in general.  Every believer can have a ‘ministry of presence’, if they keep a few guidelines in mind.

  1. Make yourself available.  Unless you are actually available, people will not come to you.  Pure and simple.
  2. People need to know you are available.  Unless they know you are there and available they will not come to you. You don’t need to hang out a sign or a shingle, but simply be open.  Over time people will know that you care and are available.
  3. Be ready to listen, more than talk.  People often need someone to talk to, many times they don’t want anything more than this.  That is OK.
  4. Let God work in the background.  It is often said that God works in mysterious ways.  This is true, and He works effectively!  But we must let Him do His work and not try to change things by our own efforts. Your goal here is to bring God’s comfort to someone and perhaps be one of the persons in the chain to lead them to Christ.  But that is not your immediate goal.
  5. Don’t judge the person you are talking to.  Their life may be sinful, their habits dirty and their attitude terrible, but you need to let God do His work without judging the person based on appearances.  They are loved by God, and that is enough to know.
  6. Have resources ready.  Do I really need to say this? Have a Bible, a New Testament or at least a Gospel of John handy at all times. An index card in your wallet with names and phone numbers for resources you think might be needed may be enough beyond that.  Remember, it is alright to let people know where you are coming from theologically, and to know that no one is going to require you to practice outside your faith tradition.  It would be disingenuous to ask a Christian, for instance, to pray to the god of the Muslims or to Buddha. In my work as a Police Chaplain I am identified as not only a Chaplain by my uniform and name tag, but wear crosses as collar insignia, identifying me as a Christian, though I minister to everyone equally within those bounds.
  7. Cover it all in prayer.  This is the most important part.  Without prayer it will at the very least not be as effective as it could be.  At worst, your ministry will be dead in the water.  BE ready to pray with the person who comes to you, but ask their permission first.

These are all things any person can do.  They do not require extensive Bible knowledge or specialized evangelism training.  You don’t have to be a mental health counselor.  You just have to be there.


“For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.'”  
Psalms 122:8 (NIV)




What I am about to say may sound like I am getting far off the track of bivocational ministry, but I am convinced that all pastors should seek basic certification from FEMA (US Federal Emergency Management Agency) in Incident Management.

You may be thinking, “Incident Command?  What’s that got to do with me?”  If you have ever been involved in any sort of community disaster response then it applies to you.  If you have ever participated on a Nazarene Disaster Response team, then it applies to you.  If you have ever had a flood, snowstorm, hurricane or other disaster in your area, then it applies to you.  If you hold a chaplaincy in your area, whether it is Law Enforcement, Hospital, Nursing Home, Emergency Medical Services or Fire Services, then this applies to you.  If you have ever sent supplies to a disaster region, then it applies to you.  If you want to use your church building to help in times of need, then this is for you.  If you ever anticipate any of the above, then this applies to you.

Simply put, the Incident Command  System puts a structure in place that is flexible, scalable and standardized to encompass any sort of community response, whether it is a fire, a shooting, a flood, snowstorm or nuclear meltdown.  This is the structure that is used no matter where you are in the country, and regardless of whether it is a single responder or a National response effort. How you fit in to that structure is critical.  Knowing how you fit in is crucial.

How difficult is it to obtain this certification and training, and how much does it cost?  First off, it is easy…all the instructional courses and videos you need are online.  Second, it is free of cost for most of what you will need.  You simply sign up at FEMA’s site for a FEMA Student ID Number and take the courses.  I recommend spending a couple hours a day, for four days.  There are four courses and each will take you a couple hours…to avoid overload I would not try to do more than one course a day for fear your brain will turn to mush.  The courses you need are:

  • ICS-100b  Introduction to Incident Command System
  • ICS-200b ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incident
  • ICS-700a National INcident Management System (NIMS)
  • ICS-800b National Response Framework, An Introduction

Once you have those four courses under your belt there are others that can prove highly useful.  For instance, “IS-360 Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education, and Houses of Worship” is a course I recently completed which speaks directly to our work as the Church in our community.

If this makes sense to you, here is the link to the FEMA website, with instructions on how to take the Independent Study courses.

All of that said, I hope you do take some of these courses, and never have the opportunity to use them.   But if you do…you will be the face and hands of God to many around you.


“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)


handsYears ago I took a course called ‘Pastoral Counseling’ from what was known as the ‘New England Nazarene Bible College Extension’, taught by Dr. Kenneth Mills.  To this day it is one of the most practical courses I have ever taken.  I can vividly remember hearing one of the special presenters talking about hospital visitation and the whole class was in hysterics.  Seriously, this person could have been a stand-up comic!  And yes, the discussion that day turned into a serious one, one that still impacts my ministry today.

Of all the duties of a pastor one of the most difficult has to be when you become the bearer of bad news.  Pastors are often the chosen person to do this.  Our training, our compassion and our temperaments seem to make us the perfect choice.  That does not make it easier.  Walking into a hospital waiting room to speak to a family and tell them they have lost a family member, sitting with a person while they tell their spouse they have a terminal disease, or conveying the news of a life-altering accident are all common experiences for pastors.  The fact we are bivocational does not mean we are less likely to do these tasks than any fully-funded pastor.

Recently I was doing some research and came across an article that is well worth reading.  The article specifically deals with Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, but the principles are applicable to many situations.  The link is below.  I encourage you to read it, maybe even print it off and file it away.  If you are a pastor you WILL eventually be put into this kind of situation.  Be prayed up, and be ready with some solid thoughts going in.  God will bless you for bringing His grace, mercy and comfort to the table more than you can ever imagine.


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
2 Cor 1:3-5 (NIV)


visitationIn today’s technological environment, and perhaps especially as tech-savvy bivocationals ministering to an internet connected world, there is a big temptation to use social media tools as a replacement for face-to-face visitation.  Is this a satisfactory way to minister?  Should we use texting and messaging as our main way to contact people?

In my own church I maintain a website, a Google calendar and a Facebook page.  In addition we use texting and messaging.  But, as my in-laws keep stressing to me (80 years of ministry between the two of them!), you need to get out and meet people.  There are some very practical reasons for this:

  • People find you easier to ignore when you are not standing in front of them.
  • Sadly, people also find it easier to tell you an ‘un-truth’ when you are not looking in their face.
  • People are more likely to have an in-depth conversation when face-to-face.
  • You can ‘read’ a person’s body language and expressions in a way no emoji will ever communicate.  Some one can tell you they are “doing alright” and the look in their eyes can tell you that they are in all actuality hurting.  You’d never get that from a text.
  • People appreciate the effort of you visiting with them more than a text, tweet or Facebook message.  It makes more of a positive impression on them.
  • There are many people who do not know how, or who don’t otherwise have the ability to receive social media messages.  This is especially true with our senior citizens.

Social media and other technological communications methods are important, don’t get me wrong.  They can be fast, easy and very accessible. But they simply cannot substitute for talking with people face-to-face.  Technology is best for imparting information rather than having a “heart to heart” conversation.  You can take this as a good thing or a bad thing…bivocational ministers generally operate on tight schedules, so sending a text is easier…but we also have an ability to be flexible and intentional, especially with workplace ministry.

The take away lesson from this is, use social media ministry as a ‘rifle’, not a ‘shotgun’, to target specific purposes and audiences.  But don’t neglect the more traditional ministry of visitation.

“…as they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.”  Luke 24:15 (NIV)

counselingI am writing this on the Monday morning following the terrorist attacks in France and Beirut, along with the foiled attempt in Istanbul.  In recent days we have also had numerous school shootings and stabbings in the US.  Looking at the newspaper and news sources on the Internet it is possible to become overwhelmed with a sense of impending doom.  As a pastor I recognize this in myself, even as I have hope (i.e. biblically ‘confident expectation’ Click here for more study ) in Christ and know that He is still in control.  Looking around me, though, there are far more people who do not have this hope, and are left in confusion and despair.

This morning the principal of the High School addressed the students, staff and faculty concerning the attacks in Paris.  Although it was a nice gesture, hearing the Chamber Choir sing the National Anthem of France did not alleviate the fear and confusion many feel.  A discussion ensued among those around me as to why exactly these things happen in our world and what can be done to stop them.  It was at that time that it really hit home with me.  As a bivocational minister I am in a unique position to be able to minister to people as a ‘Chaplain of the masses’.

My friends, colleagues and office mates know I am a pastor.   I have even performed a wedding for someone in the office. At times like this they look to me to provide a different perspective than they’re getting from everyone else around them.  You, as well, as a bivocational pastor, will get the same kind of attention.  Even if you live in the Bible Belt there are many people who don’t know who to look to, or where to ask their questions.  If they’re not going to a church it is likely that they have little or no contact with a pastor in order to ask those questions.  They may very well look to you.

It doesn’t need to be a world-shaking tragedy such as the attacks in France to raise questions.  Local events such as floods and tornadoes bring up questions; family illness, death of a loved one, divorce and job loss all can make a person seek out spiritual advice.  If you are close, known and have built a relationship with someone…they will likely turn to you.  Are you ready?  Can you fulfill this important role of a bivopastor?  There will be little or no warning when the time comes.  Take the words of Paul to Timothy to heart and ‘be prepared in season and out of season’.

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”  2 Tim 4:2