How to Start a Home-Based Chaplaincy Business

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Are you a burned-out pastor looking for a career change? Are you a student studying theology but aren’t sure what your calling is? Maybe you’re religious and are interested in becoming a chaplain. No matter what stage of life you’re in, a home-based chaplaincy business can be rewarding and profitable.

  • If you are not already an ordained minister, you will need to pursue proper training in order to become a certified chaplain. You must have at least one year of theological school. This is a prerequisite for clinical pastoral education. You will also need at least one unit of clinical pastoral education that is certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Educations. The number of units required depends on the field of chaplaincy you choose. CPE is centered on pastoral reflection, formation and competence. More than 350 schools across the United States are accredited by the ACPE. You can view an online directory of the schools on its website (see Resources).

  • Get certified. You will need to acquire certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains or the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (see Resources and References). Each organization has its own set of prerequisites, so research the one in your area of faith. If you are seeking certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains, for example, there is a certain process you must undergo. First you must submit an application, which can be found on its website. The application is reviewed and the candidate is notified within 30 days to schedule an interview. After the interview is complete, the candidate is notified of the committee’s recommendation. Their recommendation is then reviewed by the Commission on Certification and sent to the board of directors. The board of directors ratifies the candidate, and the candidate is invited to receive formal recognition at an APC conference.

  • Create a profile of your target audience. Who will be using your services? Chaplains are often needed to speak at funerals, perform wedding ceremonies or provide counseling. You could be successful if you decide on a niche to specialize in and market to that specific group. For instance, a lot of people travel to California each year to get married on one of its beautiful beaches. Many chaplains run a home-based business targeted specifically at these couples. They recommend secluded beaches and provide just a little extra at the ceremony, such as a heart-shaped glass souvenir bottle filled with sand during the wedding. These chaplains are successful. There are also chaplains who specialize in animal ministry. This type of chaplain provides grief support, performs memorial services for pets or is there to hold your hand and pray with you when you have to put your pet to sleep. You just have to decide which area you are strongest in and market yourself to that group of people.

  • Market your business. The way you market your business will vary depending on which niche you choose to exploit. For instance, the chaplain I discussed earlier who performs beach weddings has an elaborate website and places advertisements on websites such as Craigslist, where a bride and groom would be searching for such services. However, if you plan to specialize in speaking at funerals, you would choose a different route for advertising. You might take out an ad in the Yellow Pages and place business cards at funeral homes.

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