Workplace chaplaincy used to be called ‘industrial mission’. However, the accompanying image of walking round a factory wearing a hard hat fails to capture the diversity of workplace chaplaincy today. Workplace chaplaincy has always changed to reflect the evolving nature of the UK economy - from long-established missions to seafarers and railway workers, through chaplaincy to wartime ordnance factories, then huge industrial plants, and now in service industries and retail centres. So ministers and volunteers might now serve as chaplains in the following sectors:
City or town centre, or other retail areas
Sports clubs or venues
Manufacturing and industry
Public services such as the police and fire service, or in council offices
Transport providers, such as bus and rail companies, airports and even canals
This is not an exhaustive list. It could be anywhere where people are at work. We encourage ministers and churches to look for opportunities in their community where the offer of pastoral care and faith- and value-based support might be welcomed. Of course, often, workplace chaplains support people who have no work at all, as they pastor those made redundant or listen to those seeking work when the economy moves on to leave a community without its traditional industry.
All chaplaincy is about building trust as chaplains have no formal authority in their settings. Workplace chaplains have to gain the confidence of a wide range of people - people of Christian faith, other faiths or no faith; the lowest paid workers through to organisational and community leaders. This trust is built on empathy. Chaplains seek to identify with and understand people in the world of work with its particular challenges. They act as a Christian presence and prophetic voice in the world of work and the economy.
More information is available from Workplace Ministry Chaplaincy UK.
The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity also has some excellent resources that help every church member to consider how to live out and witness to their faith in the workplace.