In many Christian schools around the nation — whether primary, secondary, collegiate, or graduate — the idea of discipleship is, unfortunately, treated as an addition to the academic programs offered by the school. It becomes school + Jesus, and the people who are graduated from these institutions have a biblical or Christian worldview but basically look the same as those who graduated from a secular institution.
At Front Range Christian School we believe that while an admirable start, this approach is not enough. If Jesus is truly our Lord, then there can be no area of our lives that stands apart from him. The LORD is not something to be “tacked on” to whatever we are doing. He either reigns over it, or He does not. So what does that look like at FRCS? It is not just about “spiritual formation.” It is about the transformation of hearts through the renewing of minds. It is about forming radical “disciples of Jesus…who, communally, take up the creational task of being God’s image bearers…”*
At FRCS, discipleship is not just a program added to the curriculum. Discipleship is at the very core of who we are. It is a responsibility taken up by teachers in the classroom, students in the hallways, coaches at games and practices, families at special events, and administrators in how the school is run and operated. Discipleship cannot be separated into an add-on program, because it permeates everything we do. Our interest is in helping students become true disciples of Christ — not just adults who have a Christian worldview.
While we believe that discipleship happens in every area of our school, there are specific programs created at FRCS to help facilitate this kind of transformation. Our goal is for every person — faculty, staff, student, Board member, administrator, coach, etc. — to be actively discipled in some way.
Current Discipleship Program
Imagine a school where a student is motivated to do his or her very best in response to his or her love for God. Whether it is in academics, athletics, fine arts, etc., a student’s lone drive would be to commit all of his or her might to doing the best that he or she can as a means of expressing his or her love for God. Take academics for example. Because students realize and believe that their minds are more than a storage unit for information, they become life-long learners of truth. Academics become more than transcripts for successful completion of high school and necessities for entrance to college. In this environment, the mind is not “checked-at-the-door” for ignorant and naïve religious indoctrination, but rather clear and well-developed wisdom and knowledge are looked upon as an achievement in expressing gratitude to the provider of all Truth.
Interwoven into this sold-out and relentless pursuit of excellence is a heartfelt passion for our fellow man. As a means of expressing their love for God, students welcome and seize the opportunities to meet the needs of others. Imagine, upon completion of high school, students who have had the opportunities to reach out and touch lives locally, nationally, and internationally. Imagine what it would be like if students were able to begin to shift the focus from “What does this world have to offer me?” to “What do I have to offer this world?” What if students entered the world after graduation better knowing what gifts and talents they possess and how they could possibly offer these in their careers?
What if students began to capture and integrate the aforementioned to the point in which they too felt the need to make sure those who follow them know the magnitude of traveling this path of life? Would the lives of students in such a school be different? What would their impact on the world be? If this is possible, could this not bridge the gap of what Jesus taught discipleship to be and what it has become? With this in mind, “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17) takes back its original meaning. This is the potential of the Discipleship Program at Front Range Christian School.
FRCS has begun the formulation of the Discipleship Training Institute. The DTI’s purpose is to develop discipleship among the FRCS community: faculty/staff, parents, students, and Board & Administration, as well as provide opportunities for the greater Christian community.
Discipleship is intentionally integrated into our athletics and fine arts programs.
Discipleship is also integrated into all of our outreach programs, including Go! Outings and Spring Practicum.
Every senior high student is in a same gender, discipleship group (called a dGroup) comprised of 9-12 grade students. These groups are led predominately by staff members and a few parents. Students are encouraged to remain in the same discipleship group throughout their high school experience. Each leader determines the direction of his/her group based on the members and their needs. dGroups meet each Friday during the school day and other times set by the group.
Every junior high student is placed in a same gender, discipleship group comprised of students grades 7 & 8 (these are also called dGroups). These groups are led by a select group of FRCS Juniors & Seniors who take the Becoming Like Christ discipleship class. Leaders go through a thorough application process: statement of faith, statement of reason, two adult recommendations, a signed covenant, and an interview. The direction for these junior high dGroups is determined in the Becoming Like Christ discipleship class and generally deals with the basic tenants of the faith and junior high issues. These groups meet once each week on Wednesdays.
Every elementary student grade K-6 is introduced to our discipleship program through our Mini-Me Program. Once a month, the students in the Becoming Like Christ discipleship class create a Bible lesson to share with a group of elementary students. The high school students begin their time by playing at recess with the elementary students. They then move indoors and work through their prepared lesson. At an early age, FRCS students experience the significance of older students, who are committed to Christ, investing time in them.
Currently, 11 junior/senior high teachers at FRCS are participating in a Staff Discipleship pilot program. These teachers are paired with mentors in and out of the FRCS community. The goal is to pour into these teachers and disciple them so that they can become better mentors of students themselves. Our goal is to make this kind of discipleship relationship available to every FRCS staff member by 2019.
Eleven members of our junior/senior high staff are also forming a staff dGroup as another aspect of the staff discipleship pilot program. Like the dGroups for students, the purpose is life-on-life discipleship and community building.
Like our desire for our entire staff to be discipled, we are working to do the same with our school Board. Once this is complete then every facet of FRCS will integrate the tenants of discipleship that Christ modeled.
* Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith