“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. “Galatians 5:13.

The Apostle Paul made this statement over and over again that the Christian life is a life of personal liberty. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to keep them in bondage but to live a life free from the bondage of drugs, alcohol, sin, and brokenness that destroys families and one’s future. With interest in formal faith and church activities declining the religious community has an opportunity to be “ministers of presence’ in the lives of those working in industrial settings as workplace chaplains representing the sincere concerns of the Christian community. Workplace chaplains, just like Jesus, go where the people are, and serve humbly in love.

Americans seem to be fairly comfortable with their standard of living. Due to the recent recession, Americans have received a long anticipated wake-up call that has altered their thoughts for the future. Savings rates have declined, debt has risen to unprecedented levels, saving money has become a thing of the past, equity in home ownership has reached an all-time low, and the recent freefall of the stock market has cost Americans $15 trillion in net worth (Barna, 2011). Certain events, many of which are becoming common to the American workforce, include the death of a family member, being laid off or fired from work, pregnancy or the birth of a child, the death of a friend, a child leaving home, receiving a frightening medical diagnosis, and changing one’s field of work are causing health and emotional duress. Events previously less stressful than before include the death of a spouse or divorce-indications that our marital relationships may have less impact on us than we’d like to believe (Jayson Barna #13).

These problems present both challenges and opportunities for the evangelical church to minister to people in the industrial workplace displaying the good news of Jesus Christ and how His crucifixion brings hope to a world desperately needing answers. Industrial chaplaincy is one way in which the church can meet the challenges of ministry of the industrial world for those who may never enter the front doors of a church building. A Chaplain may be the only contact with a religious entity the worker may ever encounter and they will be seen as an extension of God’s care and concern for all people.

What Is the Future of the American Workplace in the Year 2030?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. workforce will lose the skills and knowledge of forty-six million college educated baby boomers, who will retire over the next twenty years. Unless we drastically open the doors to immigration to offset low fertility and low productivity, quality of life will decline (Canton, 2006). In 1950, there were seven working-age people for every elderly person in the United States, but future census figures show that by 2030, there will only be three.

The increased skills of foreign workers, and the stability of their country of origin, will become key drivers of U.S. productivity as Western businesses look toward a global workforce pool for services and solutions they cannot achieve at home. Outsourcing, which is both cost effective and holds a professional advocatory position, will become a major player in the success of U.S. companies. In addition to reduced overhead costs (eliminating the hiring of highly paid professional HR staff members and specialized support staff members) the increased skills of foreign workers, some with even advanced professional skills over the U.S. worker, will drive this trend in the 2030 future.

Future job placement will require even more advanced professional and technical skills, a higher degree of education and training, with greater sophistication to meet demand. Innovation and education will be the driving factor for a competitive advantage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor ninety-seven percent of the American youth hope to go to college; 63 percent eventually enroll, but only 30 percent actually receive a bachelor’s degree (Canton, 2006). Employers estimate that 39 percent of their current workforce and 26 percent of new hires will have basic is skills deficiencies.

What Will the American Family Look Like in 2030?

While the term “family” has been traditionally used to denote a unit of one, two, or more adults living together with at least one child, society has, and will continue, to significantly alter this conception where members of a family may not necessarily be living together under the same roof. Not only will numbers of household members be altered in size and structure, but also the functional dynamics of the family will change drastically. By 2030 women in the workforce will drastically increase and the population birth rate will decrease, abortions will increase, and birth control usage will continue to increase with younger females starting at age 12. Globalization, new technologies and life styles will affect how children are raised, how families are structured and how young people define their lives and their future.

The American workforce is not fully aware that things are changing on the family spiritual front. A recent report by George Barna (2006) stated how half of all adults (50 percent) agree that Christianity is not the default faith of most Americans. Changes in the American family will have significant implications. Divorce is on the rise and suggests that fewer and fewer children and more stepchildren will increase. Illegal abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs will continue to increase and will become extremely costly to the nation’s work force in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.  All of these elements affecting the family will eventually enter into the workplace reflected in absenteeism, low morale, and poor overall attitude.

Welcome to a New “Ministry of Presence” Opportunity: 

Within the population of the industrial workplace we will find a new group recognized as the “nones” who have been turned off from religion by its corporate and political overtones. Can these ‘nones’ be brought into the fold of Christian fellowship through an industrial chaplaincy business model? What sort of program might appeal to the new ‘nones’? No church steeples. No crosses. No choirs. No special music. No verbose imposed Bible language. No collection plates. The future is clear…the next opportunity to champion the cause for Christ without all of the distinctly churchy appearing nuances is the industrial chaplaincy model of making a difference in the lives of people away from the normal confines of  a programmed conventional Sunday church service.

An industrial chaplain is an ordained clergy-person who is equipped by training and experience to offer pastoral counseling, support, encouragement and resource referrals to people outside of the typical religious setting. He or she sees their work as a personal calling to reflect their faith in a unique setting without appearing too ‘churchy’ and without the pomp and legalisms typically associated with organized religion.

The United States military has used chaplains on the battlefield for over 150 years, where they provide valuable service to soldiers and their families. Their services are highly valued by military and civilian members alike. Yet there is a new battlefield rising up in every community across America for the soul of families and individuals in need of being touched by the church. And the church should extend itself into the workplace through an industrial chaplaincy business model.

The uniqueness of an industrial chaplain is they work in all types of industrial facilities to intervene with all people on tough issues. Issues such as stress, marital and family strife, substance abuse, financial hardships, anger, illness, and changing circumstances in the workplace are daily occurrences for the industrial chaplain. Pastoral counseling on religious and ecumenical issues are common place and they are trained to work with all denominations.

Worksite chaplains offer what is called a “ministry of presence”, quietly working behind the scenes with employees as a buffer, and supporter, between the employer and the employee. They do not wear robes or vestments, but dress like those they are serving within the company. Their support is especially helpful in times when an employee or family member is sick or passes away. These chaplains are on 24-hour call 24/7 to meet with employees and be of assistance.

The Benefits of an Industrial Chaplaincy Program:

Most companies report a significant improvement in the areas of employee retention and morale. Austaco, a large Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchisee corporation reported as a result of the industrial chaplaincy program it was able to reduce annual employee turnover from 3005 to 125%. One large trucking company, Allied Holdings, reported that, in an industry where annual driver turnover usually runs at nearly 100%, it was able to substantially lower driver turnover to around 4% as a result of the chaplaincy program. Tyson Foods employs 120 chaplains in seventy-seven different production facilities (Lambert, 2009).

Following the military-chaplain model, these roving spiritual advisors typically visit offices or factories weekly, greeting employees, hanging out in the break room, handing out business cards and meeting one-on-one with employees. They also perform weddings and funerals for employees who have no one else to go to. And they pray with employees, assist with starting a budget, and serve as a referral source to social service agencies.

Driving Forces Supporting an Industrial Chaplaincy Program:

The religious landscape is changing and more people are turning away from conventional church activities. Within the workplace are many problems and issues that can affect employee performance that need to be recognized by an industrial chaplain:


The shift in social attitudes (what is considered normal and acceptable), together with changes in demographics, will allow individuals to live alone and have freedom without responsibility (Watson, 2008). The higher divorce rate is attributed to absent spouse (always-at-work or always working) partners. Being single and living alone will become more prevalent causing mobility back to the cities. This lack of responsibility and movement will contribute to an unsettled attitude toward anything spiritual.

Technology and Science:

Historically science and God have been on opposing forces. In the future we will see an increased interest in science as the new God of higher intelligence. It will be our relationship with machines and technology that will be the defining characteristic of the twenty-first century. Those enthralled with computers and technology will not have time for God as they place their security in machines that have no feeling nor feel pleasure or pain.


The focus for happiness and work/life balance is really just an aspiration, a search for meaning in a meaningless world. It is also the result of the fact many people have too much time and money on their hands trying to find themselves. People are working harder and longer than ever-and earning more money as a result-but do not seem to be getting any happier. Workers are also realizing that identity and self-esteem are not shaped by what you ow and how you liven or consume but by whom you are.

The responsibility of the workplace chaplain is to be an ambassador of Jesus for all persons of every religious background. A chaplain is a minister who loves all people and desires to help employees walk in relationship with their heavenly father, the God who created them and commissioned them to work.

Jesus Always Went Where the People Were:

To the church or minister seeking a new ministry outlet the industrial chaplaincy is an excellent fit. Go find an opportunity. Activate yourself. Move towards being pro-active seeking those who will never enter your conventional church building. Success involves reaching out and touching other people. It is getting your hands dirty not expecting anything in return. People you wish to help may never come to you. In fact they rarely do. You must go to them.

You will never see success which you are not willing to pursue.

Jesus knew this very fact. He did not sit on a throne in the middle of a temple in the city and say, “This is my palace. This is the only place you will see me. If you want to see me you must come to where I am.” In other words he did not just sit in an office…he went to the marketplace. He went to the boats where the fishermen were. He went to the temple. He went to the homes of people who needed him. He went everywhere. Today he uses workplace chaplains to go into industrial factories and minister to those who need to be touched by God. They go where the people are.

Successful Christians are seekers. They do not fear rejection, they believe in their product and they continue to tell their story. They believe the ultimate goal is worth it. Jesus was the consummate chaplain. He left the presence of angels and His heavenly Father. He willingly walked into an atmosphere that was unholy and imperfect. He stepped out of the comfort of a magnificent and perfect kingdom into another world that was corrupted by sin and filth. But, he walked into the lives of those who needed Him.

Jesus went where the people were. Jesus went where people were hurting. To be successful as an industrial chaplain you must get out of your comfort zone, get out of your car, walk into a factory or employer, and tell them you are there to love their employees and reflect the attitude of Christ.

Success always begins in the heart of a believer.

Success always has a point of beginning.

Success always begins with someone.

You must go where the people are.

Jesus did.


Barna, G. (2006). Revolution: finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary, Carol Streem, Ill.: Tyndale House

Lambert, L. (2009). Spirituality, Inc.: Religion in the American workplace. New York: NYU Press

OEDC International Futures Programme (2008), The Future of the Family to 2030, Annual Report. Paris, France.

Watson, R. (2008). Future Files: A brief history of the next 50 years. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.


About The Author: Michael B. Russell, MA, MBA, DSL, MLIS is a licensed Consultant working strategically with religious and non-profit organizations. He holds an earned Doctorate from Regent University School of Business and Leadership. He can be reached at mike@mrains.net or 479-268-4471.




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