Becoming a Chaplain

Called and Appointed to Serve

A chaplain serves as a pastor sent by their home church to a unique culture and people group. The calling to serve those who serve our country is rich with opportunities to influence a group who literally impacts people and nations around the world. If you are interested in becoming a chaplain, the NAE Chaplains Commission can help you through the process. There are two major things to understand when considering serving as a chaplain under the endorsement of the Chaplains Commission:

You are a pastor sent out by your church body.
Like all pastors, you will be expected to perform ceremonies, offer counseling and various other responsibilities common to all who are commissioned as ministers. You carry unique privileges and responsibilities as a tangible reminder of the holy. As a result, we require that all of our chaplains and applicants be recommended to us by a church or denomination that is a member of the NAE Chaplains Commission. For more information regarding on church membership, explore the Join the Commission portion of the website.

You must be endorsed for service.
A chaplain recruiter will inform you that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs require that chaplains be endorsed by an approved entity. As an endorsing agent, the NAE Chaplains Commission is a crucial part of the entry process.

However, an endorsement is an ongoing relationship that must last the duration of a chaplains service and beyond. Our strict standards and detailed endorsement process enable us to provide quality chaplains for service in environments throughout our country and world. There are eight requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for ecclesiastical endorsement through the NAE Chaplains Commission:

1. Applicant must be affiliated with a denomination or independent local church that is a member of the NAE and the NAE Chaplain Commission.
2. Applicant must be active in leadership as a ministering member of a local church body.
3. Applicant must have completed a Master of Divinity or the equivalent degree. The degree must consist of 72 semester hours or more of graduate level theological studies in an accredited institution.
4. Applicant must meet all qualifications of the military branch to which he or she is applying. These include but are not limited to age, education, physical fitness and mental/spiritual aptitude.
5. Applicant must meet all qualifications of their denomination or local independent church for ordination and be ordained.
6. Applicant must receive the written endorsement of their local congregation and its spiritual leadership.
7. Applicant must fully complete the NAE Chaplains Commission Application for Ecclesiastical Endorsement and submit it to the Chaplains Commission along with the appropriate application fee.
8. Applicant must be interviewed by the Chaplains Commission Executive Director or their designee and assessed for spiritual calling, aptitude and disposition to be a military chaplain.

After all of the above have been satisfactorily completed, the final decision for granting ecclesiastical endorsement will reside with the Executive Director of the Chaplains Commission. Following approval, the appropriate documents will be submitted to the Office of the Chief of Chaplains. Once they receive their orders, chaplains are required to pay dues to the Commission based on their service status.

For more information, email the Commission or call 571-535-0547.