In 2018, there was an opportunity to visit East Midlands Airport to participate in their carol service, there was free parking as parking at the airport so this was the thing that changed my mind about attending or not as the case may have been.
As part of the experience we were given the chance to visit the chaplaincy office at the airport following singing carols to passengers going on their vacation, for one moment I was hoping that they would say have you brought your passports we are going to Lapland, unfortunately not, wishful thinking on my part I suppose but maybe next year !!!
We have been to many airports around the world over a number of decades, as much as I attend church never has it really crossed my minds about the role of chaplaincy at airports or indeed maybe if they have such services but are they really up-to-date with the modern times? The international overarching body for chaplaincy is called the IACAC, you can check out there website here - https://www.iacac.info/united-kingdom.
I would like to see a webpage for each chaplaincy page on international airports that in affect are very similar, streamlined of what services they offer, if churches have an interest in airport chaplaincy or are involved in this then we should aim to influence how this is undertaken as a project for the up and coming year ahead along with awards for websites that can come up with innovative solutions of how they can make their services known more.
Questions we should be asking chaplaincy teams are:
How many people actually know where the chaplaincy is at the airport and actually visit this before a flight?
How many people know what the role of a chaplain is at an airport?
How innovative can the chaplaincy team really be moving forward to engage with people?
How can you add value to the airport in person ministry but also online presence?
Could you win team of the month, year at the airport or external awards such as Premier Christian Awards?
What do other airports in the UK and Worldwide offer in terms of services and what does their online presence look like?
Features: Meet the team, Our role, our mission statement, teams we work with, meetings we attend and services we offer, social media platforms used.
Features: Blogs, What you offer? Chaplains biographies with direct phone numbers and email addresses.
Features: Prayer times. Have you got chaplains that represents every faith regarding passengers travelling through the airport and if not, why not?
How many chaplains are multilingual for example?
Features: Annual report, Newsletter. How interesting can you make newsletters to be placed online working with the airport communications team and in terms of annual reports how open, honest, interesting and transparent can you be with annual reports so the public and airport management can read each year looking at what other airports produce to lead the way in every area of your work?
Charlotte Douglas Airport
Features: Sunday or mid week services for staff, photos so every opportunity you get photos with passengers, staff or maybe celebrities passing through the airport, be proactive create an Instagram page so others can see you at work in pictures.
Can you provide prayer sessions at airport board meetings etc and should you list where these take place at the airport?
Features: Facebook page, chapel services for employees, civil wedding ceremony or blessings, Local events, prayer breakfast, photos praying with pilots etc, make a donation page is interesting. Newsworthy including blogs and youtube videos.
FAQ, Meet our team.
International articles and local press
We need to see stories of what has happened at East Midlands Airport but also at other airports within the life of the chaplaincy placing this more on the website and social media so they break down barriers between them and their clients.
What publicity internally and externally have you done in the past and is 2019 the year to be radically different? What historic publicity can you place online?
Cheesy flying jokes and lines incorporated into articles would be good for example. How creative are you all?
Can airports commission their local newspapers, radio and TV crew to follow you around for an hour so the public at large can look at the work you do from a unique perspective around the airport as chaplaincy in this setting is much different to other settings?
Could you commission a mini documentary on the role of the chaplaincy with the airport commination’s team for example to place on the airport website and social media platforms?
Here are a couple of other items that could be of interest for airport chaplaincy teams to consider how they go about their work and how you can encourage them to use these different forums to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in their workplace:
Christian Gift Shop: These do exist in our towns and cities across the country however everything is now going online more and more but it would be interesting to look at whether any international airport has ever had a Christian Gift Shop in their airport but as this is a business does this ever make money or break even? Is this a viable option within this kind of setting as thousands of visitors do travel through airports annually, if planes are delayed they may well visit the shop and purchase something if they are bored or have nothing else to occupy their time?
Local artists singing:With security arrangements as they are how viable is this periodically if local Christian groups as this occurs within prisons, nursing homes etc were to play either in the terminal entrance or in the departure halls on a rotational basis throughout the year, could this be a useful evangelistic way of engaging with the public at large.
Posters: Drinkaware, Samaritans all have posters in the airport as forms of help or support so should the chaplaincy be having forms in similar areas?
Fear of flying courses: Everything now seems to be online however is there a need for a chaplaincy team with a flight simulator to be able to put these courses on again more in person?
Text a chaplain: Everywhere these days has a text someone, if someone is nervous before flying, they can text a number and you can send a prayer back to the passenger depending upon the times of the day or if the airport chaplaincy are in they could go and speak to the person wherever they are.
Live Chat: If a person is in the airport but does not want to speak to someone if the chaplains are on duty they could live chat with a person and then pray online, there are many online Christian chatlines now available so
Airlines: This could be a little more radical however if airlines like Ryanair travel from East Midlands Airport for example could they put a link on their website to the chaplaincy page so if passengers did want to speak someone they could make contact to promote the work you do for example.
Young Interns: Many church dioceses especially the Church of England have young interns so starting with East Midlands Airport could you trial a young leaders program in an airport setting if this does not occur already, maybe using some of the airport training as contractors may do to develop this scheme further, this can raise up a new generation of airport chaplains worldwide and not limit internships or discipleship years just to the confines of the local church but is done on a wider level.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the work of chaplains in the context of an airport, if your people are or maybe interested in this kind of work please by your holy spirit take this ministry to a new level we pray. Amen.