Chaplains in Schools, a WELS-affiliated organization, is set to reach nearly 3,000 students in seven different Christian voucher schools in the Milwaukee area with the gospel this school year.
Because they have a WELS history and connection, these schools want their students and families to know Christ and be connected to a WELS pastor and church. While the traditional model is that a congregation starts a school and then reaches out to the community through the school, this is the opposite. These schools were started as Christian schools and have now invited Chaplains in Schools to serve the spiritual needs of this planted mission field.
Led by Pastor Paul Steinberg, Chaplains in Schools serves as the spiritual resource at the schools. Steinberg teaches students about Jesus, helps families through tough times, leads chapel services at the schools, teaches Bible information classes to parents, and even instructs the teachers on the Bible lessons they then teach in the classroom.
The work of Chaplains in Schools has grown rapidly since it started in 2016. Starting this school year, there will be four full-time chaplains, including Steinberg, at seven different schools. Steinberg attributes the growth partly to the coronavirus pandemic. “It was COVID-19 that helped us get into these additional schools. The schools, when they couldn’t meet in person, had to figure out how to do ministry. I was able to record chapel services and Bible lessons that I sent to the other schools,” says Steinberg. After expanding the reach of ministry digitally, Chaplains in Schools was invited to serve the additional schools in person.
The increased use of technology to conduct ministry due to COVID-19 has prompted another initiative, still in its very early stages. Chaplains in Schools is looking to develop an app- or web-based platform to conduct Bible classes with families. Steinberg explains that the families he serves often face obstacles with work schedules, transportation, and childcare to attend in-person classes. By offering instruction that can be accessed from a phone, Chaplains in Schools will be able to reach people where they are.
The families are receptive to hearing about Jesus. “They chose a Christian school on purpose. No one has ever gotten upset with me for calling them,” says Steinberg. He’s conducted about 270 baptisms at just the first campus he served since the organization started. Last fall, he also started leading weekly worship with a core group in one of the schools.
“They built and opened up their mission field to [Chaplains in Schools],” says Steinberg. “We planted a church, and we’re doing WELS outreach. We are reaching out in the community, but our core audience is the more than 500 students who come in every day to each school and their families. We get to see them every day.”
Steinberg is working to train parents to eventually become leaders in the ministry. He says, “If we build a congregation of families that understand the community, they will be the natural bridge to continue and grow the ministry.”
Learn more at chaplainsinschools.org about how Chaplains in Schools is reaching out to students and families.
Volume 107, Number 8
Issue: August 2020