Increased school enrollments offer new opportunities for outreach
Enrollment in WELS schools is up 9.8 percent this school year (8 percent for Lutheran elementary schools alone), according to the recently released 2021–22 school statistics, with 26,586 students in 282 Lutheran elementary schools and 11,672 students in 363 early childhood ministries.
This is the highest ever recorded enrollment for WELS early childhood ministries and the highest number for Lutheran elementary schools since the 2004–05 school year, according to Mr. Jim Rademan, director of WELS Lutheran Schools.
About 70 percent of WELS schools increased their enrollment this year, while 25 percent decreased and about 5 percent stayed the same.
Besides enrollment increasing, schools are seeing more opportunities for outreach. More and more students attending WELS schools are mission prospects, with nearly 33 percent of families in early childhood ministries and 16 percent in Lutheran elementary schools identifying either as non-Christian or no church home.
“Enrollment is up in our schools,” says Rademan. “Now how can we take advantage of the opportunity? Conditions have been favorable for having more students sit at the feet of Jesus in our classrooms. But how long will that window be open and how well are we going to take advantage of that open window and be as urgent and resolute as we possibly can about sharing the gospel with those children and their families?”
To help congregations and schools connect with unchurched school families, WELS Congregational Services offers a workshop called Telling the Next Generation: Utilizing our Schools for Outreach. Available in person for groups of congregations or a single congregation or virtually for single congregations, the workshop provides resources and advice to help congregations develop outreach plans and strategies to share the gospel with school families.
Learn more about Telling the Next Generation.
Watch last week’s Together video with Mr. Jim Rademan.