The Ministry of Service: A Critical Practico-Theological Examination of the Ministry of Presence and its Reformulation for Military Chaplains

Mark Tinsley, Liberty University

Document Type Article


For centuries, the military chaplaincy has been guided by an applied ministry paradigm known succinctly as the ministry of presence. Although this model has served the chaplaincy well in many ways, it is not without its ideological, theological, biblical, and practical weaknesses. This work purposes to illuminate some of these weaknesses, while at the same time affirming the various strengths of presence ministry. In the end, however, this thesis will propose an alternate ministerial model for the military chaplaincy, namely, the ministry of service. Unlike its presence-ministry counterpart, the ministry of service will be shown to harmonize better with biblical revelation, conservative theological commitments, and commonsensical faith practice. Although it is not without its own weaknesses, the ministry of service will be shown as a superior alternative to its forebear.