What is the first step I should take if I want to be endorsed as an EFCA chaplain?

Contact the chaplain endorser (chaplains@efca.org) with a brief note of introduction which includes:

1.    Contact information (email and phone)

2.    Church membership (including location of the church)

3.    Which area of chaplain ministries you desire to serve

4.    Current education status (including school, anticipated year of graduation and degree obtained)

5.    Anticipated time frame(s) to meet chaplain qualifications for active duty or institutional employment

6.    Questions for the Endorser

What is an Ecclesiastical Endorsement?

An Ecclesiastical Endorsement is a national level official document from one’s denominational representative certifying that the chaplain or candidate has the maturity, educational aptitude and professional ministry experience (PME). It also indicates they have completed all the basic ministerial requirements and standards of his/her faith group, (b) is in good standing regarding his/her ministerial credential, and (c) is competent and recommended for ministry to a particular organization, agency, or institution to which that individual has applied.

An ecclesiastical endorsement is required by all military branches for service as a Chaplain (Army, Navy, Air Force). An ecclesiastical endorsement is also required by agencies such as the Bureau of Prisons and Veterans Affairs. Hospitals, Hospice, Police departments and other agencies may require an Ecclesiastical Endorsement.  Corporate chaplains may also be required to be endorsed. 

How may I obtain an endorsement through the EFCA to serve as a chaplain?

1.    You must be a member in good standing of a local EFCA church and maintain membership in a local EFCA church throughout your endorsement as a chaplain.

2.    You will be required to secure an EFCA credential. Before beginning the credentialing process, contact the district where you reside to learn about their specific process. See EFCA.org for contact information for each district.

a)    A Ministry License (Three-Year Renewable) is the first credential you will need to obtain.

b)    If you are serving in the military, it is required you obtain an EFCA Certificate of Ordination for men and a Certificate of Christian Ministry for women before your chaplaincy begins. The Ministry License will have been obtained prior to these credentials.

c)    For institutional chaplain roles, the minimum credential is the Ministry License (Five Year Non-Renewable). Some employers of institutional chaplains may require the Certificate of Ordination or the Certificate of Christian Ministry as well as PME and board certification.

Credentialing information can be found on the EFCA Credentialing website. Professional Ministry Experience (PME) is necessary and usually follows the receiving of the Ministry License.

3.    Read the EFCA Chaplain Handbook and complete the application for endorsement to the Endorser.

What is the Military Chaplain Candidate Program?

Seminarians may apply for the Chaplain Candidate program of the respective military branch if they have less than half of their degree program completed. Each branch has separate and specific requirements for its Chaplain Candidate Program. The seminarian will also be required to obtain an Ecclesiastical Endorsement from the EFCA Endorser for the Chaplain Candidate program. 

Most programs will require that the chaplain candidate take the Basic School Chaplain training during (or immediately following) seminary training. The prospective Chaplain Candidate, if accepted into the program, is commissioned as an officer in the US National Guard or US Reserves, but not fully regarded as a chaplain until seminary has been completed and the Candidate has obtained a credential through the denominational body to which he/she has obtained the ecclesiastical endorsement. Commissioning will require duty one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer while in the chaplain candidate program. The Army and Air Force chaplain candidate program is a maximum of six years. The Navy Chaplain Candidate program is a maximum of eight years. Careful planning by the chaplain candidate must occur to complete the program in the specified time.

Will an Ecclesiastical Endorsement guarantee acceptance into the military or any job as a chaplain? 

The Endorsement alone is not sufficient for obtaining chaplain positions. It is simply one requirement among many. The military has its own specific requirements as do healthcare agencies and other institutional organizations. 

What are the requirements beyond an Ecclesiastical Endorsement to become an EFCA military chaplain? 

Each branch varies somewhat in determining its own requirements. For military chaplains, the following general requirements are listed: 

1.    Be a U.S. citizen.

2.    120-hours (semester) undergraduate degree (B.A. or B.S.)

3.    72 semester hours (minimum) of seminary from an accredited evangelical program. Graduate work must be in theology, Bible and practical ministry-related subjects leading to an M. Div. degree. A person may not combine degrees (or programs) to qualify for the 72-hour minimum. The EFCA recommends the 90-hour M.Div. program for military chaplain applicants.

4.    Age requirements will apply depending on which branch and component you are seeking.

5.    Physical and medical condition of the applicant will be important considerations. Must be able to pass Armed Forces physical and meet height and weight standards.

6.    Practical Ministry Experience (PME) (of not less than three years) within the local church setting following seminary. This means that the applicant has sufficient pastoral experience to function as a chaplain to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardians. Some waivers may be granted for PME outside of the local church context. Ministry prior to seminary or during seminary is usually not accepted by the military.

7.    Must be able to pass (Secret level background investigation)

8.    Complete all requirements for a Certificate of Ordination (men) or Certificate of Christian Ministry (women) from the EFCA.

9.    Both the military and the EFCA will require separate interviews prior to the accession of a chaplain into the respective military chaplaincy program. The EFCA interview will assess all aspects expected to be an EFCA chaplain.

10. Completion of the Application for Ecclesiastical Endorsement (including all forms, appropriate transcripts, references, testimony, and other data).

What are the basic requirements to be eligible to apply for an institutional chaplain? 

1.    Undergraduate Degree: B.A./B.S. of 120 hours (min.)

2.    May require a seminary degree: M.Div., M.Th. or equivalent (not less than 72 semester hours)

3.    Completed Credential from the EFCA (See Credentialing requirements)

4.    May require Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) of up to four units for most health care entry positions (1 year = 4 units of 400 hours each).

5.    Application completed for Ecclesiastical Endorsement if required by hiring institution.

What are the expectations of the EFCA denomination of all EFCA credentialed chaplains serving in institutional or military chaplaincy? 

1.    Retain membership in good standing within a local EFCA Church during endorsement.

2.    Payment of dues and Chaplain Ministry Reports.

A table of specific dues is available through the EFCA Chaplain Handbook.

·      Semi-Annual Reports are expected for military chaplains.

·      Annual Reports expected for institutional chaplains.

Reports are emailed to chaplains@efca.org or mailed to the EFCA, 901 E. 78th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55420.

A form is provided for each of these two divisions of chaplain ministry.

3.    Attend training at least once every two years (District Conference, EFCA Theology Conference or the national EFCA One Conference, and the Endorser’s training meet these requirements).

4.    Maintain regular contact through the District to which one is accountable as well as to the Endorsing Agent.