A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Ben Schoettel

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Ben Schoettel

Ben Schoettel has served the past couple of years as the executive pastor at Real Life Community Church, but his journey to this spot has not been typical. Originally from Milwaukee, Schoettel worked in building trades. However, he felt a calling that led him to becoming a pastor.

“It's not your typical journey,” said Schoettel. “I grew up in a trades family, and I went into building trades right out of high school. I went into the union, did tech school, and I worked my way up to being a working foreman for a construction company in Milwaukee. How I transitioned into working with the church was like baby steps. I started volunteering 12 years ago with my wife. We kept saying yes to different opportunities, and it reignited a passion to be involved in the church that I've always had. I grew up never thinking I would be a pastor of the church.”

Schoettel’s main role is community engagement, but he doesn’t limit himself to only serving that job title. Building relationships is key for both Schoettel and the church.

“I like to look at it as creating bridges between the church and the community,” said Schoettel. “We try to build relationships with our neighbors and figure out ways we can serve and support them. That’s the whole identity of the church. My role is uniquely designed to get our people engaged. A lot of my job is also operations like calendars, strategic planning, and volunteer relationships. I have never liked the idea of zipping myself up into one specific job title. I have always wanted to jump in and help where I can whether that’s in the church or community.”

Schoettel is very involved in the community whether that is working for organizations like the Northwest Indiana Food Bank or the Indiana Department of Child Services. Schoettel and his wife also help maintain the community garden. 

“I feel like the church and community we landed in has been so open to being involved,” said Schoettel. “I have never had so many opportunities to do things, and so many people have been willing to come along. My wife and I have been trying to help lead and maintain the community garden that we have across the street from the church. We also work with the Portage Township schools for support and resources. We are trying to collect items for them and provide our building for them to bring students in."

Schoettel wants to follow Jesus in how he built relationships and was out in the community. For Schoettel, it is about not only preaching the messages of Jesus but following them as well. 

"It goes on and on with the things we do," said Schoettel. "For me, it is looking around in our community and seeing that there are so many incredible people and incredible organizations that are already serving our neighbors. It is my job to walk through that open door and ask how I can help. I think that preaching the words of Jesus inside a building but not living it out in the community is counter to what Jesus calls us to do.”   

Outside of work, Schoettel loves music and baseball. He likes to listen to music, play music, and study the lyrics in-depth. His wife has also gotten him to appreciate the outdoors and nature. Schoettel has two kids, an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old.