Case Studies in Effective Chaplaincy

These four case studies were developed by a team of chaplains and theological educators for educational purposes. Each case study focuses on a different set of skills critical for chaplains in all settings. Explore each one; each case study is interactive and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

There are “checkpoints” where you can pause to think and take notes before choosing how to proceed. You will be able to download your responses at the end of the case, but no data is being collected or stored.

For educators

Cover image of edited book Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care in the Twenty-First Century

Available May 2021, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care in the Twenty-First Century helps educators prepare chaplains for the day-to-day challenges of their work, as well as longer-term considerations for the field. Learn more here.

Case study 1 for chaplains
Case study 2 for chaplains
Case study 3 for chaplains
Case study 4 for chaplains

Suggestions for Educators

At the heart of the case study method are two questions: What is at stake? What would I do? The case studies offered here are a little different than those in traditional case study teaching because they are designed to be self-paced and completed individually.

In each Educating Effective Chaplains case study, you might also ask students to consider:

  • What implications does this case have for the field of chaplaincy?
  • How does it depict skillful chaplaincy?
  • How does this view align with or challenge your understanding of chaplaincy?
  • How might the challenges and competencies raised in each case apply in other chaplaincy settings (e.g. What might meaning making look like in a school or prison?)?

Try a creative approach:

  • Invite students to role play a situation from the case (for instance, in “Affirming the Sacredness of (a) Life,” how might you as chaplain respond to Bill when he says, “I stopped believing in God after what I saw in Vietnam, but I still believe I am going to Hell for what I did there.”)
  • Stage a debate about a dilemma
  • Invite students to prepare and present on different cases and consider overlapping themes
  • Ask students to find newspaper articles or bring in their own stories about similar cases to compare


  • Learning Designer and Developer: Lars Mackenzie
  • Project Coordinator and Editor: Liz Aeschlimann
  • Additional Contributors: John Schmalzbauer

All of this work was made by possible by the Educating Effective Chaplains project, where you can find more resources on chaplaincy education. This project is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Students and instructors that wish to include them in group based learning and conversation might learn from some of the following resources about teaching and learning with case studies.