One of the great organizations I’ve been introduced to in my role of being a C12 Group area chair is Corporate Chaplains of America (CCA). CCA provides chaplains to serve the employees of companies across the country. When I first heard Mark Cress, the founder of CCA, speak at a C12 Group training session and explain the corporate chaplain concept, I was excited about hopefully bringing that opportunity to Central Wisconsin.
What the chaplains do is spend time getting to know the employees of the network companies, building relationships, providing a listening ear that many do not have anywhere else in their lives. The routine is for the chaplain to visit the company once a week for about an hour, stopping to chat with the employees for a few minutes and catch up with them. Sometimes those visits need to be around scheduled breaks and lunch times so as to not disrupt the workplace. The chaplain is also available to the employees 24/7 outside of work hours, providing his phone and email contacts. Our local chaplain has attended family funerals and visited employees in the hospital, even given rides to the hospital for some who had no one else to turn to.
CCA has strict guidelines about confidentiality, so the employees can confide in the chaplain in ways they would not feel comfortable sharing with the business owner. In addition to being a trusted friend and confidante for the employees, with the employee’s permission the chaplain is able to share the message of salvation when appropriate to do so. The opportunity to do so locally has presented itself and some employees have taken that step of faith. The chaplain is also there for the owner when he needs a listening ear, which happens on occasion.
After inviting CCA representatives to visit my C12 Group in Central Wisconsin and share about the CCA offering, three of the member companies invested in the CCA service. There was also another company in the area that was using the service state wide, so we had enough demand for CCA to hire a local chaplain.
My C12 Group member companies that have taken advantage of this service are excited about the impact CCA is having with their employees. When one business owner is asked how many employees he has, he always answers “24 and a half”. When the inevitable question comes about who is the half, the owner talks about the corporate chaplain and what he does for the company.
Here’s what another owner has to say about what CCA has done for the employees at his company.
“CCA has given them an opportunity to connect with someone outside of the management team here and put a face on Jesus. Our Corporate Chaplain connects and builds relationships that I as a boss and a business owner can’t always do. It has given me inroads to share my faith and have the employees open up and ask questions. Our Chaplain is the only connection they may ever have with a church or someone who brings Jesus into everyday life and shows the relevancy of Christ. Our Chaplain has become part of the team and everyone including myself looks forward to his arrival every week. He has been a blessing here! We all love him!”
Here’s a story from the local chaplain, demonstrating what his visits may look like and what kind of impact a chaplain can have.
“A while back I was making my rounds at a company seeing how people were doing. I asked one employee how she was doing and she responded hesitantly. That is often a sign that the person wants to talk so I stayed by her for a little while as she worked. Every time she started to talk, she teared up and finally said “I can’t do this right now.” So I reminded her that she could call me anytime and we could talk or I could meet her for coffee at a local coffee house before or after work if that I would be easier for her. I then do what I always do in such cases and asked if she still had my card, while reaching in my pocket to give her another one. She smiled, reached into her shirt pocket, pulled my card out, and said, “Yep. I have been carrying it with me at all times for the past week, just to remember that there are people who care for me.”
That employee and others know that someone cares for her, and hopefully, they will come to know of the One Who cares for them most. That happens because several C12 employers care enough about their employees to make sure their employees are being cared for.”
Introducing Corporate Chaplains to my C12 Group members has been one of the most impactful things I have done. I am grateful Mark Cress had the vision for CCA and that the C12 Group is so connected to Mark and CCA.
You don’t have to be a C12 Group member to engage with CCA, any Christian business owner can make the investment. Visit the CCA web site for more information about the program, starting with their FAQ page: http://www.chaplain.org/for-hr-managers/faq/. I’m also happy to answer questions and connect you with CCA regional staff if you are interested.