The Table Podcast

Chaplaincy in the Workplace

In this episode, Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Doug Fagerstrom, John Gibson, and Millicent Poole discuss chaplaincy in the workplace, focusing on the ministry of Marketplace Chaplains.

Timecodes
00:15
What is Marketplace Chaplains?
05:30
What do chaplains and company care leaders do?
11:00
How do you recruit new chaplains?
18:34
How do corporate chaplains care for employees?
22:47
How does a client company engage corporate chaplains?
28:34
How do you train new chaplains?
35:37
What are the issues facing chaplains placed in a company?
44:24
How can companies contact Marketplace Chaplains?
Resources Marketplace Chaplains https://mchapusa.com/
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to the Table, we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic today is marketplace chaplains. And we’re gonna be talking about a ministry that exists, and the name of the organization is?
Doug Fagerstrom
Marketplace Chaplains.
Darrell Bock
Hey, that was hard, wasn’t it?

And I have three representatives of the organization with me. Millicent Poole, who’s executive director for training. Thank you Millicent for being a part of this. John Gibson, who’s the company care leader for the organization. And Doug Fagerstrom, I hope I pronounced that right, who’s president of the organization, Marketplace Chaplains. So let’s talk a little bit about where this came from. I understand the organization goes back to 1984, which is kind of an auspicious year to be founded in, it creates all kinds of images and that kind of thing. But what created the need for an organization like this, and tell us a little bit about the organization?

Doug Fagerstrom
Well back in 1984, a military chaplain by the name of Gil Strickland had a dream, and his dream was how can we bring this role of chaplain not into our armed faced or into the hospitals as we often know chaplain, but how can we bring that into the workplace? Knowing that here’s an incredible opportunity to reach what we believe is one of the largest mission fields in the world, and in our country, 120 million people, non-government employees get up every Monday morning and go to work, 70 percent of whom have no one in their life to talk to, much less a church or even a caring spouse at home.

And now the chaplain shows up, builds and establishes relationships, and gets to share the love of God and their concern about family, friends, work, finances, health, whatever it may be, with these new friends as a chaplain, to people who now have a name.

Darrell Bock
And so you’re hired by organizations, your people are hired by organizations that want to bring a certain kind of corporate culture to their business? Who turns to you for help?
Doug Fagerstrom
Well, we have companies all over North America that do turn to us for help. In fact, we like to say we offer hope and help with care and compassion to employees who don’t have that. We pick up where HR leaves off. And so a company, it can be McDonalds, it can be a Fortune 50 company, of which we serve. It can be that machine shop down the street with 30 employees, or it can be an attorney firm of 80 employees. They will hire us, fee for service, and we provide chaplains for them 24/7, 365, our chaplains come into that workspace every week to establish relationships with the employees.

And then when an employee calls through our – we actually have a chap app, and they can go to their smart phone, and they can get their chaplain in just a few key strokes, either by phone or E-mail, or text message, and say, “Chaplain, we’re down at the hospital, would you come?” “Chaplain, I’m down at the jail, I need to bail my son out, could you meet me there? I don’t know what to do.” “Chaplain, could you meet at Starbucks, I just really need to talk.”

Darrell Bock
Now Doug, how did you manage to get into this gig?
Doug Fagerstrom
Well I’m the second-generation leader from our incredible founder. And one day a headhunter called me up, I was doing ministry across the street from Campus Crusade for Christ, or now they call it Cru, with a church planting ministry. Had formerly been a seminary president, had been an executive pastor in two mega churches. And I asked the headhunter, “Why are you calling me?” And he said, “Let me read the profile.” And I said, “You just read the last 35 years of my life almost chronologically.”

But they were looking for someone this time who had a strong ecclesial background, someone connected to the church, someone who could bring a bit of theological perspective into the Christian worldview of our chaplain ministry. And, well, God brought us to Dallas. And it’s been a wonderful, wonderful two years.

Darrell Bock
So were you in Orlando previously, or –?
Doug Fagerstrom
I was in Orlando, where it’s hot and humid. Here it’s just hot.
Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right, yeah. Welcome to our world. Yeah, exactly.
Doug Fagerstrom
But I left snowstorms in Michigan for a bit of hail here. So everywhere you go, there’s something.
Darrell Bock
That’s right, you cannot escape the effects of the fall. It’s just that simple. Okay, so Millicent, talk about what you do at Marketplace Chaplains. What’s your role there?
Millicent Poole
Well I have the fun part. I get to train the new chaplains. And just imagine, you give these new chaplains with all this excitement, all this experience, and they’re ready to go into these companies. And so I like to look at, we’re looking at chaplains who have diverse backgrounds. First, they’re being called to fulltime ministry. But then they’re also being prepared by God, but they have previous work experiences. So I’m looking at chaplains, former nurses, former accountants, former bankers. Engineers. Former chaplains. It’s just fun, and I enjoy working with them through our training program.

We take them through different segments. We carry them through the basic skills course, which is an online self-study, and then we have a facilitator-led online training. Which is focusing on the employee care program that we provide. And then the next step, we go to the systems training, where they’re going in to report their activities. And then the last stage is the coaching. So that coaching phase is where they’re taking all the curriculum that we carried them through, and put that into a real-life setting. By the time they finish this, Doctor Bock, they are ready and eager to get into these companies.

Darrell Bock
Okay, now how did you manage to land with your role in this gig? What’s your background that led you into working with the ministry like this?
Millicent Poole
Passion, the love of God, and grace. Before I even came to Dallas, my background has been accounting and training. After leaving and graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary here, I am so proud to be a part of, I had a powerful ministry. It just deepened even more. And I followed Marketplace Chaplains for a number of years, and at the right time at the right day, I just knocked on the door and God opened that. And so I have the best job, because I have a passion for corporate training as well as ministry.
Darrell Bock
Now I’m curious, ‘cause when you were here at Dallas, what program were you part of, what did you major in?
Millicent Poole
Women’s ministry, yes.
Darrell Bock
Okay, very good. So yeah, I’m eventually gonna ask where do you get your chaplains and what kind of preparation they have. So you have an accountant’s background, you came to seminary and you ended up in Marketplace Chaplains.
Millicent Poole
Accounting and corporate training, yes. And so that, it’s amazing how you start out – when you decide on the degree, really, it’s hard for a 16-year-old to decide, “What do I want to be for the rest of my life?” Okay, so that started out. But then God started to transfer my passions to corporate training. I come from my family, they’re both teachers and educators. So I always had that teaching desire, continue to grow, and that’s how I ended up to corporate training.

Now, I’ve always served the ministry for DTS, Dallas – Dallas Theological Seminary – I apologize, I’m so excited to be here!

I’m just – heart on the racetrack.

Darrell Bock
That’s okay, that’s okay. You’d have won the Kentucky Derby, okay.
Millicent Poole
And it just continued to, like I said, God continued to guide my footsteps to Marketplace Chaplains. I’m also an adjunct professor at Southern Bible Institute, where I teach women how to serve in the marketplace. And as God’s continued to guide my footsteps, when the door opened, that’s when I realized I was at home.
Darrell Bock
Wow. Okay, John, it’s your turn. You are company care leader?
John Gibson
Company care leader, yes.
Darrell Bock
Okay, what is a company care leader? I mean, I thought that was a chaplain? Am I wrong?
John Gibson
It is a chaplain. [Laughs] But I work with a team of chaplains at every organization that I go to, and there’s three other company care leaders that are also in the Dallas area. And there’s company care leaders all throughout the United States that take over different regions. And what we do, we do everything from recruiting to hiring. We’ll meet with churches, oftentimes, to let them know what we do. We will often – but the thing that we do most is we work with the leadership at that company or organization. We help, every six months we do a report review with them. Everything is confidential in that report, but it is matrixed, so they can see the different activities that chaplains do.
Darrell Bock
So you’re making sure the chaplain’s connecting well with the corporation, is that the –?
John Gibson
Exactly, exactly.
Darrell Bock
Okay, and how did you get into this gig? What’s your story in terms of how you landed here?
John Gibson
Well I was a senior pastor before here, and one of the things I really enjoyed about that, probably the most that I enjoyed about that, it’s just connecting with people in the community and the church, and having people tell me how hard their lives were going, and thinks that were happening. And very, very deep consequential things happening in their life. And I really just grew to love being with people and hearing that, the raw life. “Here’s what’s going on in my life, any words of wisdom? Can you listen, can you help me out?”

And then at one point, about two years ago, an E-mail landed in my inbox that said, “Hey, have you ever considered Marketplace Chaplains?” Which I’d never even heard of up until that point, but I made a phone call, and it ended like Doug was saying, it just fit where the Lord was leading me.

Darrell Bock
Interesting. So I’m not sure who to ask this to, but where do your chaplains come from? I know we had a chaplaincy program here for a while that trained people for a variety of chaplaincies. I think most of the chaplains that we ended up training were thinking about hospital chaplaincy and that kind of thing. But so where do people come from that end up in your ministry? They come from everywhere, or –?
Doug Fagerstrom
They just come from the school of life. And while we are blessed when a chaplain comes with experience, Millicent mentioned she gets to train chaplains to be chaplains. Well, they may have been hospital, military, or even hospice care, who make some of the most wonderful chaplains. But also, that gentleman or that very kind, compassionate lady sitting in the pew of a church make wonderful chaplains. You see, at the end of the day, we want to share the love of God in the workplace. That’s part of our mission statement. Our core values indicate that people are first and transformation of life is second. Only God can transform a life, but somebody needs to deliver that wonderful love and message of God to people.

So often, we’re looking for people who just very naturally, organically know how to bring Jesus to people, and bring people to Jesus. And that’s what we hope, at the end of the day. We don’t want hardcore preachers. We don’t want heavy-duty leaders. We want people who just love people and love God and care about people enough that when the phone rings at 2:00 AM, they’re not disgruntled about it, but they’re saying, “Oh boy, an opportunity to bring Jesus to somebody tonight, in the middle of the night, who’s struggling.”

Darrell Bock
Interesting. So that means people come with all kind of theological background as well, is that true? Or how does that work, how does the theological grounding of your chaplaincy work?
Doug Fagerstrom
We do have a statement of faith, and it’s rather evangelical. The NAE would be proud of us, the National Association of Evangelicals. And we ask all of our chaplains to be able to agree with our statement of faith. It’d be probably similar to what you have here at Dallas Theological Seminary. And that unifies us and brings us together and takes some of the guesswork out of what might be shared when somebody asks a tough question. Such as, standing by the casket and a dear widow says, “Chaplain, where’s my husband right now?” We want someone who can give an answer that is frankly from the Bible and not some idea that’s just out there. So we have that kind of grounding, and we’re established in the Book, if you will.
Darrell Bock
Okay, so how do people find out about you all? I mean, ‘cause I imagine there are people who are actually quite qualified to do what you’re talking about who might not even know that the opportunity to do what you’re talking about exists. So – in fact, John, didn’t you say that you didn’t even know who they were when you first encountered them? So, and it’s clear, you gave me the statistics earlier, I haven’t shared them, but you’re in 46 to 47 states, I guess that’s someone living on the border like that Geico commercial that’s on the edge of Virginia and Tennessee. Canada and Mexico, 800 companies, 1,400 chaplains touching lives of 180,000 employees, plus their families. And you mentioned that you hear stories of people coming to Christ virtually daily. So obviously you’re out there. How do people find out about you, and what kind of people are you looking for to be chaplains?
Doug Fagerstrom
Well, it starts with finding companies first. We don’t need a chaplain unless we have a company to serve.
Darrell Bock
Fair enough.
Doug Fagerstrom
And the majority of our companies come on board with us because of word of mouth. One company owner who has a wonderful experience with the chaplains in their company, and they see improvement in morale, they’ll see attendance go up, they see health go up, they see the overall company ethos and ROIs are increasing. And one company owner says to another company owner, “Boy, since I brought on these chaplains, things have really gotten good around our place.” And the company says, “Really? What’s that?” And before you know it they’re talking to one of our leaders out in the field who has an opportunity to share a little bit more. And anywhere from a month from first hearing about us ‘til up to two, three years later sometimes, they’re signing an agreement where we will bring chaplains in.

Then, we go looking for the chaplains. And we have established some new relationships in the last year, and forthcoming in the year ahead, with a number of denominations that have churches that we feel we’re in alignment with. And it’s in those churches where we can find chaplains. In those churches, we find maybe a staff member, maybe a retired pastor or missionary. Someone who has some kind of caregiving, shepherding, if you will, experience in life. Or like I say, that Sunday school teacher, that person in the pew who just oozes love for people, and that love comes from God. And so we are just blessed. We have waiting lists of chaplains, we have waiting lists of companies. We pinch ourselves every now and then to just say, “God, you’re just showing your favor, and we’re grateful.”

Darrell Bock
So is there a matching that goes on, then, beyond the company and –?
Doug Fagerstrom
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
So you have, I take it, you have someone who does that for you, or helps to do that for you, or a team?
Doug Fagerstrom
Yeah, guys like John, our company care leaders and others will go in, and we’ll do a full demographic and even psychographic study of that particular company. So we bring chaplain teams in. Never one chaplain. We want to make sure we have chaplain for the men, for the women, because they feel a little more comfortable sharing those intimate areas of life with someone who understands that the best. If a large number of people in that company speak another language, we will search high and low until we find someone who can communicate in that language, if English happens to be a second language. And we will do everything to provide the best match possible. Great questions.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. And the companies discover you by what, by word of mouth, or – primarily?
Doug Fagerstrom
Uh-huh, again, it’s one company owner telling another company owner where the chaplains are, and how to find us. And we do go to a few conferences where company owners are. We’re gonna be at the large SHRM conference next month. I just got back from – Hilton had tough duty, by the way, where we met with 300 business owners, many of them asked how they can bring chaplains into their company. And so we’re constantly out there doing our best, one-on-one, to make our needs known.
Darrell Bock
There’s something pretty ironic about this, and the conference call I was on before, literally walking in to do this podcast, was with a retired businessman and a current manager, he manages over 4,000 people in a large corporation, in which they are talking about how the health of a company, their culture, the way in which people function in the job and flourish in the job, is becoming very, very important to companies in a significant way, in this input of what builds for a healthy culture, how can people encourage one another, how can they flourish in their job. How can they function well.

Which is exactly related to what chaplains would be discussing with people, is becoming a concern that really corporations are becoming focused on, interestingly, particularly as younger people come along, who don’t simply want a job and to earn a paycheck. But they want their jobs to be –

Millicent Poole
meaningful.
Darrell Bock
In some sense meaningful and satisfying, exactly right. And so this is a very important and growing space, I take it, that exists. And my sense is that if we had gone back 30, 40, 50 years, we wouldn’t have – this didn’t really exist. Am I right about that, or did it exist informally, or –?
Doug Fagerstrom
It was often a very informal situation, where a company owner, their pastor would be retiring. And they’d say, “Pastor, would you come into my workspace? I’ll pay you something every time you come in, just to love on my employees. We’ve got employees that have issues, and they don’t have a church. There’s obviously those who have family members who die, and they don’t know where to go.” And so this happens all over the country and still does, in one-off situations. There’s a number, probably 20 other companies, that are doing what we’re doing in their space in the US. So it’s good.
Darrell Bock
So is there – I just thought of this question, so is there like a professional business chaplains organization?
Doug Fagerstrom
No, no.
Darrell Bock
It’s that new?
Doug Fagerstrom
It’s that young. Some have talked about it, and that’s all they’ve done. I don’t know, maybe you can start that, and if you do, let me know, and we’ll come for the free lunch.
Darrell Bock
So everyone’s out there trying to do the best they can, and that kind of thing?
Doug Fagerstrom
Yeah, you know, it’s so interesting, we say 180,000 employees, and some people go, “Wow.” You know, that’s only 0.13 percent of the workforce. I wish there were a thousand organizations doing what we’re doing. Our strategic vision and goal is to reach one percent of the workplace. Just one percent. That’s almost seven times from where we are right now. To accomplish that is monumental, it’s huge. And putting a chaplain in isn’t light duty. Millicent can maybe talk more about some of the requirements –
Darrell Bock
Yeah, we’re gonna do that on the other side.
Doug Fagerstrom
And it’s – well, there’s a little phrase out there, “To whom much that is given is much required.” We feel like we’ve been given much, and we feel like we’re at the top of God’s list of expectations, as well, to provide the best chaplain care possible. So the vetting process and everything is very important to us, as well as the quality training that Millicent is providing.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, ‘cause it’s a challenge, ‘cause you’re actually stepping into people’s lives, some of whom may not entirely be aware of, much less entirely appreciate, what it is that you provide or where you’re coming from, but who need the presence of a loving heart and loving hands.
Millicent Poole
And Doctor Bock, we take it seriously when companies are giving us keys to their door to allow chaplains to go in and care for their employees. We do not take that lightly. Because that’s a large responsibility.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. So Millicent, let’s start with you. You do the training that’s involved here with those who come in. But there also is, there’s kind of two prongs to this, if you will. And John, I’ll ask you as well. Maybe I’ll start with you, John. A company says, “Ooh, we don’t have one of these positions, but I could see where it would be helpful.” What happens next?
John Gibson
Well we’ll meet with them and talk with them about what the company needs and how a lot of times when they ask us, Marketplace Chaplains, they really don’t know much beyond, “Hey, I talked to somebody for a few minutes and it sounded very interesting, it sounds like it’d fit our culture.” And we’ll just spend time with them fielding questions that they might have, and we’ll present a layout of what it could look like on a daily basis for them of having chaplains in there, serving their employees. And often, as it’s very organic like that, they ask questions, we’ll present what a marketplace chaplain does, and we just field that. And after that, if they sense that it’s a good fit, we’ll just continue on with it.
Darrell Bock
Now when you sign on, I mean I imagine these companies, because they’re companies, they’re not churches, so they’ve got people from a wide variety of backgrounds, right?
John Gibson
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
So how do you handle that part of the equation? What do you tell the owner about what he can expect from the chaplaincy service in terms of the background of their people?
John Gibson
It’s a great question. We don’t come in the front doors blaring Jesus Saves, we don’t do that. [Laughs] We come in and really, we work with people who – employees everyday who come into the workplace with a variety of needs. People, you’d be surprised at what people are dealing with at the workplace. From financial needs to, they might be going through or starting to talk about divorce in their family. They may have stress or anxiety. At the baseline, that’s – many employees are going through every single day when we talk into a company. And you wouldn’t know because they’re all doing their work, but somebody might have dealt with a death or a breakup. Any manner of issue that any of us would face, we go in there and we serve them on that level. Sometimes they might just say, “Hey, I just need a friendly ear to listen.” Or, “Would you pray with me?” Or, “Do you have any advice, any resources that you could give me to help?” And we really just help them with what they ask us for, and we help point them in the right direction.
Darrell Bock
So you really place the chaplains to be there as kind of friends and ministers in the most positive, generic sense of that term.
John Gibson
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
To serve people, and I take it if people really get in a tough bind, is there referring that you sometimes do, and that kind of thing, if it’s kind of above the chaplain’s pay grade in terms of the challenges that they face?
John Gibson
Well somebody once quipped that Marketplace Chaplains are like the ambulance, not the hospital. We get people to where they need to go. And oftentimes, we can sit down with somebody and over one or two times to talk with them, or just short conversations – we try not to tie up their time at work at all, we keep that very brief. But if we sense that there’s long-term care that would be needed, we have a very complete referral basis with counselors, churches. Sometimes an employee might say, “Hey, I’m looking for a singles group,” we know lots of singles group throughout the Dallas area. And we just help them place to what they need.
Darrell Bock
Now, and if we talked about, you’re located in 46 or 47, I’m dying to know which states haven’t bought in yet.

But anyway, so an owner approaches you with an interest and you explore that, you determine the fit, and then you go about the process of trying to match the company to – and I take it there’s more than one chaplain who goes into a company once you sign on with a company?

John Gibson
Exactly, always male and female, and sometimes it’s a very large company that requires more chaplains to take care of.
Darrell Bock
Is there a ratio that you try and go for, or is that something you feel out?
John Gibson
We have a metric that helps us to establish that, so we can go in and we can say, “Here’s how many chaplains that will most likely be the right fit for that company.”
Darrell Bock
And when they go in, are they there, are they like an employee of the company? Or how does that work, are they there every day, I guess is part of the question I’m asking?
John Gibson
Sometimes when those relationships really grow, you feel like an employee of the company. And we start off, we do a startup meeting where a lot of times the organization leader, the president, HR, owner, will have a meeting where we all come together in one room, and we introduce and lay out what we do. And then from there, every single week we go into the company location, and we get to know their name, their pets’ names, their families, things that they’re dealing with, as they’re comfortable with sharing. We never force a conversation. It’s always what they’re comfortable with sharing.

So some employees, we might just say, “Hey, how you doing?” And that may go on for several weeks or months, and then one day they may have a need and say, “Hey, chaplain, my mom’s in the hospital,” and we’ll say, “Hey, would you like myself or one of our chaplains to go visit your mom in the hospital?” And invariably, “Yes, we’d love that.”

Darrell Bock
So is a chaplain assigned to a company, or is a chaplain connected to a variety of companies? And is there a certain day each week?
John Gibson
One chaplain could visit 15 companies, 20 companies a week. But we keep the same, usually about the same day and time each week, so there’s consistency.
Darrell Bock
Okay, so you’re really making use of your manpower in a way, interesting.
John Gibson
Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
All right, well that’s the corporate side of this. Millicent, let me ask you about the other half of this. So someone’s sitting out there and says, “Ooh, corporate chaplaincy, that sounds – I’ve never thought about being a corporate chaplain. I have a heart for people and that sounds like an interesting ministry.” Maybe they’re a minister who’s retired, or maybe they’re someone who’s looking for a second career coming out of business. What’s their side of the story?
Millicent Poole
I say, “Come in, come in.”

Well, you know, one thing I do share with you, I serve in two capacities. I am not only a training director, but I’m also a chaplain. So I get to see the frontlines as well. And it’s almost like my cousin, he’s a cardiologist. So he is not only a surgeon, but he’s also a professor. So he gets the chance to see the real world as well as train that. That helps me become a better training director. But anyone who has – know their call, fulltime ministry, they have practical work experience in the past, and they know, they have a desire for evangelizing to the lost, and have a good, active listening ability, and have empathy for, having compassion for people. I say, “Yes, we welcome you.”

Darrell Bock
And so what is that, and what would that involve for them? An application and an interview, or – what would happen if they actually stepped forward and said, “Ooh, I think I’ll test the waters”?
Millicent Poole
Well they have to go through application process, and then they go through an intense background check. We also interview the references. They go through a credit check, a driving record check. And we just want to make sure, not only for their purposes, but also for our client company purposes as well.
Darrell Bock
Okay, so then they sign on, they say okay, you get through that first hurdle, what’s next for them? What comes next for them?
Millicent Poole
Well after they have gone through the interviewing process, they have passed all the intense background checks, then they come into the training part. And the training part, with the self-study part, it’s about six hours of training. They cover everything from the identity of the chaplain, they cover everything from the employee care services. We talk about the specialized training services we provide. Also, the systems training. But let me say this one thing. Doctor Bock. A lot of times, they confuse the role of a chaplain versus the role of a pastor. And so we have to make sure they understand clearly the differences.
Darrell Bock
Okay, tell me what those differences are.
Millicent Poole
Now John did cover one part about, the chaplain has a limited scope. Where we’re there short-term, as opposed to a pastor’s long-term. Now there’s also the nature of a chaplain. We’re looking at all individuals, as opposed to a pastor, they may be more influenced by the members of the church. Also, like I said, short-term long-term, but they’re also kind of, we are providing service to the employees and immediate family, as opposed to the churches. The immediate family, the employee, and all the family members. So once we get that clarity, they feel much better. A chaplain and a pastor, we have the same calling, but different duties.
Darrell Bock
Okay, fair enough. So they go through this self-assessment, is that what you called the first phase? I missed, the first phase where they do the six hours, what is that –?
Millicent Poole
Self-study.
Darrell Bock
Self-study, okay. And then after that, what comes next?
Millicent Poole
Then it comes into, we take the highlights of self-study, the core essentials that will make them effective in the company. So we cover everything, like I said. Job-related issues, we cover the type of conversations that you have. There are different types of conversations. You have your small talk, you have your elevator pitch, “How are you doing, how’s the weather?”

Then we go into the positive relationship building conversations. So if I walk up to your office, I will notice the pictures on your wall, I’ll say, “Well Doctor Bock, that’s wonderful, is that your daughter there, is that your dog? Oh – ” Anything that gets me interest into your life. That helps me build that open door, because our whole purpose is to build credibility. To build that trust level. To make you feel you have a safe place, a friend to talk to.

And then we get into, okay, we come in week after week, building that relationship. At some point, Doctor Bock, you’re gonna feel comfortable enough to say, “Well you know what, my son was going through an issue, you mind if we talk about that?” Or I may come back from the previous week and you talked about your son, I say, “Well Doctor Bock, how is your son doing?” And you may say, “Oh my gosh, you know what, last week, he had a rough time at the football game,” and that will recall a confidential discussion.

Darrell Bock
Shouldn’t have fumbled that ball.
Millicent Poole
Well you know, it’s just amazing.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Millicent Poole
And then after we get to that confidential discussion, then we get to the evangelistic conversation. Conversations that lead them ultimately to salvation if they’re lost. So we never lose focus of our mission. Our mission statement is to demonstrate the love of Christ, leading them to Christ.
Doug Fagerstrom
That was so good, and sometimes – all of Millicent just shared could happen between a chaplain and employee inside of three months. Or it could take eight years.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. So they go through that phase of training. About how long does that last, that second phase?
Millicent Poole
Second phase – okay, first phase, six hours. Second phase is three hours. And then the next phase is two hours, and that’s the systems training. And then you get to the coaching. So like what John was talking about, you have some chaplains that only have one company. Then you have some have multiple companies. So that coaching phase will be dictated upon how many companies that they have.
Darrell Bock
I see. So what’s the systems phase? Is that just understanding the way businesses work, or what do you mean?
Millicent Poole
Systems training is all about the computer software. So okay, now example, a lot of times what John does, he goes out to the company, provides a six month or semi-annual report, summarizing all the activities that our chaplains have done in the past six months. So along the way, the chaplains have to enter the activities.
Darrell Bock
So they’re reporting on what they’ve been doing.
Millicent Poole
How many confidential discussions did we have? How many did we lead to Christ? How many faith-building discussions did we have? How many phone calls did we make? All these things, these companies want to know what exactly are you doing for the past six months?
Darrell Bock
Interesting. So when it’s all said and done, I think I’ve added up the hours, how many hours does it take to be done with the training?
Millicent Poole
Right now we’re estimating – well, 11 hours before you get to the coaching, because that’s all dependent on their assignment. But the core, the basic skills courses, that’s about 11 hours.
Darrell Bock
And part of what’s going on through this process, I take it, is an assessment about where this person might fit, what kind of company they might be capable of and equipped to be able to handle and interact with?
Millicent Poole
And keep in mind, they’re never fully – you have that training, but then you have the OJT. So they’re still constantly have these questions.
Darrell Bock
And OJT is on job training?

Start talking in code, I gotta _____ _____.

Millicent Poole
MCJT, Marketplace Chaplains Job Training. And so that’s why we call upon our company care leaders like John to ask those questions that we don’t have answers to.
Darrell Bock
Okay, interesting. So they get placed, okay, so we’re just kind of going through the cycle of what this involves from people. They get placed and they start having those conversations. And what are kind of the array of things? You said earlier, we all have stories. What are the array of things that your chaplains deal with? I mean the obvious ones are the traumas and tragedies that hit people, but I imagine there’s a huge array of things that the chaplains run into.
Doug Fagerstrom
Well once a month, I actually shadow a chaplain so I can get boots on the ground and get a feel for what is our mission really all about. When I come back from those half-day experiences, some of the staff accuse me of having been undercover boss.

But I remember one, just very vividly, is that we’re in a manufacturing plant, it was literally 128 degrees, I asked, inside the plant where they melt aluminum. And I was –

Darrell Bock
And they’re workers, simultaneously!
Doug Fagerstrom
We were all melting, and I was walking along with a chaplain, a hi-lo driver came by, squealed his tires to a stop, ran over, grabbed the chaplain, picked him up about three inches off the ground, says, “Chaplain, thank you!” And the chaplain said, “Thank you for what?” He says, “What? You saved my marriage.” He said, “I did? What did I do?” And he said, “Don’t you remember what you told me about a month ago?” Chaplain said, “I have no idea, what did I say?” And he said, “Well chaplain, you told me to go home and be nice to my wife, and it worked.”

And here’s a reminder again of the 70 percent of Americans who have no one in their lives to show them, to share with them, these simple, what I would call a Biblical truth. Go home, and be nice to your wife. This man had never heard that, never knew that. He tried it, and it worked. And he was so profoundly thankful that he finally said, “Chaplain, my marriage hasn’t been better.”

And then the chaplain said, “So what else can I do for you?” He said, “Well, my mom’s having surgery next week, Tuesday.” You know, you just don’t forget these things. And he started to take a pad and a pencil out, and he started writing out, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” ‘Cause we’re in Dallas at the time, he says, “My mom’s up in Cincinnati.” He said, “No, what hospital?” He said, “What’s her name?” He said, “What time is surgery?” “7:30, Tuesday morning.” He said, “Don’t you worry about a thing. We will have one of our Cincinnati chaplains with your mom at 7:00 before she goes into surgery.” And we did. That is the other side of real life that happens. And we could all go on and on.

Millicent Poole
That’s exciting, that’s exciting.
Darrell Bock
It is, it is. So I’m gonna have you each tell a story. So I’m sure you certainly – [Laughs]
John Gibson
Yes, it’s just which one do I choose? Well this one is more on the positive side from the outset. I had an employee who was sharing with me that he was just coming out of a very, very difficult time with his wife, and they were going through a very rough time in their marriage. And somebody had just happened to send – just happened, an E-mail that there was a marriage conference going on in a different state. And I just thought, “I’ll send it to him, see what God does.” Well not only did he sign onto it, it was out of state and they made a whole vacation out of it. And then when I saw him the next week, he was beaming ear-to-ear, and said, “We had such a great time. We want to sign up to be sponsors with this organization, and my wife said to say thank you so much.” And that just happened a couple weeks ago.
Darrell Bock
Doesn’t sound like you’re marketplace chaplains, you’re marriage chaplains.
Millicent Poole
It’s a big need out there.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s right.
John Gibson
But I can give you a different one, I was actually interviewing a chaplain at one time, and my phone went off, and on the other end of the phone was one of the employees of the companies I manage, and he said, “I’m at McDonalds, I’m thinking about taking my life.” So I dropped everything and went to meet him for the next two, three hours. And it’s just like that. It can be like that, it can be something simple and positive like just helping somebody along the way. It can be a crisis moment, just like that, where you drop everything.
Doug Fagerstrom
Exactly. I was following a chaplain one day, and we were in a McDonalds in the backroom, and this lady pulled away from the fryer for a moment and she said, “Chaplain,” she says, “Could you join me and my husband down at the jail next Friday? My niece is going to be arraigned and we just don’t know what to do.” And the chaplain just took out his calendar and said, “I will be there. You just tell me what time.” So it’s all of life.
Darrell Bock
Millicent, you got a story for us?
Millicent Poole
Yes I do, matter of fact. It’s amazing how God leads you to certain situations based upon your past experiences. You know, God prepares you for certain things. And so tends to be, I am attracted, God draws me to mothers who have parenting challenges. Not to say I have parenting challenges, but in this scenario here, one of the mothers, she’s a single mom, has three daughters, but she found out that one of her daughters was cutting herself. And she was just overwhelmed. And so we went away to take a break, and we talked about it. And from there, I talked to her. You know, more or less, listened to her concerns. ‘Cause you always want to just listen. As much as I’m a motivator, I love to motivate, say, “You can do better, I can do better than that.” But no, I just listen.

And as she just downloaded everything, then I said, “Okay, now we need to get a plan together.” So I said, “Well, why don’t you look at a counselor for your daughter? Because obviously she has some things bound up in her. She needs to just get out, because if she’s taking out on her body, there’s something deeper that she needs to get out of.” And she had her daughter go to a counselor. Everything started to get so much better. So my next couple of visits, every time I see her, I say, “You are such a good mom. You are such a good mom,” and I hug her. Women love to hear that. Sometimes we don’t hear it all the time. And so that went on for maybe about a month.

Then she called me about a week ago, and she called me, I was driving home, and she said, “Millicent, I found out my other daughter is cutting herself.” And Doctor Bock, it was just like a flood just came over me. So I pulled over and I talked to her. I said, “You know, okay we need to identify, what was the issue over here with this first daughter. And then let’s talk about the issue with the second daughter.” Two totally different issues, but when you see one sister do one thing, the other sister tends to take on the same tendencies as well. And so I gave her a game plan, and I said, “Because you need to do this before you go to bed tonight, because if you don’t get your second daughter into counseling, you gonna go over sleep tonight and wake up the next morning with the same problem.” I said, “Now make sure you text me tonight that you did get your daughter into counseling.”

She texts me, I say, “Well great.” I call her the next day, I say, “How everything going?” She said, “Well great,” she said, “Millicent, thank you so much.” And Doctor Bock, it just amazes me how God just gives you so much joy. Because you helping some other mother, my case, you know, help her life easier. Same thing with John, same thing with –

Doug, I’m _____, please forgive me Doug, please forgive me.

Doug Fagerstrom
You know, we can’t edit that out.
Millicent Poole
But you know, like I said, I really get excited about what God has called us all to do. Everyone who has a compassionate heart, they want to help others. And we get the opportunity to do this.
Darrell Bock
That’s good. So, if someone is kind of encouraged to think about this as maybe something they could do, what advice would you give them? What would you say to them as they’re thinking, listening, going, “Ooh, that may be something I might be interested –” ‘Cause I imagine some people would go, “That sounds interesting, but I’m not sure whether I’m really cut out to do this or not.”
Doug Fagerstrom
Well the simplest thing to do is just E-mail us and go into our self-serve system, where they can begin the first application process. We actually have a double application process. The first really just vets them, and it’s really more for them than it is for us. And it helps them understand if this is really something that they ought to pursue. And we walk the journey with them. Just because somebody applies doesn’t mean they’ll be a chaplain. But we would love to have that conversation. They can go to Marketplacehcaplains.com and you’ll find us. And there we are, and they can begin the process by clicking on that little box that says, “I want to be a chaplain.”
Darrell Bock
And the headquarters is here in Plano, but does everyone contact you here in Plano, or do they contact you elsewhere?
Doug Fagerstrom
Well, the contact may begin locally, whether they’re in Connecticut or Michigan or California. But ultimately, to begin a formal process, it’s an online contact. We just happen to get it here in Plano, and we respond from Plano. But it’s strictly online to begin the process, and then someone locally will actually end up meeting them and interviewing them and walking through the process, asking the personal questions.
Darrell Bock
Well I thank you all for coming in and helping us find out about what Marketplace Chaplains is about. We thank you for joining us on the Table, and we hope you’ll join us again soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Douglas Fagerstrom
Douglas L. Fagerstrom is the President and CEO of Marketplace Chaplains (Marketplace Ministries, Inc.), which provides an employee care service to corporate America with 1300 chaplains, serving nearly 800 companies in over 3000 locations, reaching 180,000 employees. He is the author of 14 books on Christian ministry.
John Gibson
John Gibson (ThM '98) is a Chaplain with Marketplace Ministries and the Senior Pastor at Ennis Bible Church in Ennis, TX.
Millicent Martin Poole
Millicent Martin Poole holds an M.A. in Christian Education (Women’s Ministry Track, 2007) from Dallas Theological Seminary.  Featured on “A Time to Dream” radio show, she was cited as a natural communicator. Her message of life by design, not default, resonates with audiences from all walks of life– from the homeless to CEOs. She has spoken to corporations, conferences, professional associations, churches, women’s retreats, and national radio and TV shows. Millicent is also an M.B.A., training executive and author of What Are You Really Running From? a non-fiction on courage and the life lessons of the Ancient Egyptian slave, Hagar. Her latest book, Be the Answer NOW, an Amazon Bestseller, Millicent shares how she lives out her life’s calling and what she overcame to finally reach her epiphany. Millicent is a passionate storyteller with a rich background ranging from the corporate world, public service, a near-death experience with an 18-wheeler, motherhood, and her Christian faith. Audiences truly enjoy Millicent’s authenticity. Millicent travels across the country to empower and spark transformation, traveling from Dallas, Texas. She was appointed National Committee Member of the Institute of Management Accountants, inducted into the Stuart Cameron McLeod Society, served as Director of the Christian Women’s Job Corps – an auxiliary of Woman’s Missionary Union – the largest Protestant missions’ organization for women in the world. Founder of Upgrade Your Life.
Theology
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David K. LoweryDavid K. LoweryMikel Del RosarioMikel Del RosarioTerri MooreTerri MooreDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
Experiencing the Christmas Story Mikel Del Rosario, Drs. Darrell Bock, David Lowery, and Terri Moore discuss the Christmas story, focusing on the experience of New Testament characters as well as believers today.
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Eschatology in the Nicene Creed In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Glenn Kreider discuss the Nicene Creed, focusing on its historical context and statement on eschatology.