High School Spiritual Formation
Student Life Director: Jake Hoogstrate
The discipleship program offers students the opportunity to foster a deeper personal commitment to Jesus Christ as lived out in a life of prayer and obedience. The focus is on formation rather than information with weekly discipleship meetings, off-campus retreats, daily morning chapel, weekly chapel, and Advisory all working toward this goal. Students are taught that our prayer life includes a balance of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (ACTS).
Grade-level, base camps focus on leadership development, positive school culture, professional skills, and team building. Base camps are held off-campus at the start of the school year.
An annual off-campus retreat provides students a personal experience of God’s love and offers them an opportunity to respond to God with love and obedience. Students attend a one-day retreat with their advisory class each year.
Advisory is a homeroom class, and students will be assigned an advisory teacher, with whom they will stay for four years. During advisory, the advisory teacher assesses/advises academic progress, assists in spiritual growth, and supports students in developing deeper relationships with their classmates. Students are scheduled to meet in advisory 4 times a week.
The Discipleship Program is an integral part of the holistic educational approach at The Potter’s House School. This program is for Grades 4-12 and is designed to teach young people what it means to be true followers of Jesus.
Discipleship Program Grades 4-5
- Scripture Memorization
- Small Group Discussion
- Quiz Bowl
- Service Projects
- Personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Learn the Scriptures.
- Be like Jesus.
- Students make their decisions like Jesus would
- Guided by God's word
- Selfless, other-centered
- Servant's heart
Discipleship Program Grades 6–8
- Scripture Memorization
The program has expanded and grown over the years and has become more solidified in its scope and purposes. There is now a discipleship component in the curriculum for students from fourth through twelfth grades.
Patty Stoner began the Discipleship Program at The Potter’s House in 1998. Patty and her husband, Tim, had been part of a small group in their church during the previous year and had experienced spiritual growth in their lives in more significant ways than ever before. Being part of a small group had impacted their faith very positively by means of prayer, bearing one another’s burdens, and spiritual accountability.
At this time, Patty’s daughter was entering sixth grade at The Potter’s House, and Patty was exploring ways to disciple her. As she reflected on the influence the small group had had in her own life, she began to wonder what kind of impact could small groups have in the lives of young people in a Christian school setting? Could discipling her own daughter be multiplied ten, twenty, or thirty times by creating an avenue to disciple her classmates as well?
Patty approached principal, Deb Hoeft, with the proposal to start a discipleship program for the middle school students. Mrs. Hoeft enthusiastically accepted the proposal, and the Discipleship Program was born. Students were broken into “small groups” consisting of ten to fourteen students divided by grade and gender. In the first year or two, most of the leaders were middle school teachers, with a few volunteers recruited from the community.
Prayer is a mainstay of the program throughout. The programs begin with prayer, the students lay hands on and pray for the speakers who come to talk with them, and the small groups pray together for one another. Neighborhood prayer walks provide a way for the students to build relationships in the community by walking the streets several times during the year, knocking on doors, and taking prayer requests. The ability to pray easily in public settings and with each other is an important outcome of the program.
The mentors come from all walks of life and vary greatly in age and experiences. The only requirement is a personal committed relationship to Jesus Christ and a desire to help “younger disciples” get to know Him better. Some mentors continue to be staff, teachers, and parents, but many of the mentors come from the greater community through relationships that people at the school have with them. They spend time every week with the students who are assigned to them, getting to know them and discussing biblical truths with them. They also get to know what is going on in the students’ lives, and they form relationships that are significant for both themselves and the students.
A dimension to the Discipleship Program that has been added recently is “The Grandparent Program.” This consists of a group of senior citizens who come to the school every Monday morning to listen to the students recite their Bible verses. The grandparents record points which result in monthly prizes for successful attempts at saying the assigned verses. It has been a wonderful relational experience for both the grandparents and the students.
An additional blessing to the middle school program is a component by which the students’ verse memorization translates into offerings for a third world ministry. Thanks to the gift of a generous donor with a heart for Scripture memorization, each student’s points for memorization equals “dollars,” which are used to purchase needed supplies for Christian orphanages or schools in poverty stricken countries. The middle school students are doubly blessed—with the knowledge of having committed Scripture to their hearts and also helping others who are less fortunate.
The Discipleship Program is an essential part of the curriculum at The Potter’s House School. It is the intentional effort of the school to help students discover that the Bible is alive and real and relevant to their lives. It asks the students to examine themselves, to examine God, and then asks them what their responses should be. It emphasizes the fact that following Jesus is not a boring life, but instead it is an abundant life full of joys and challenges that will change them forever.
The Discipleship Program began in the middle school meeting for one hour every Wednesday, with the time focused on Scripture and a short lesson based on the text. Mentors spent time with the students to build relationships, sharing concerns, and praying together.
As the program has expanded and grown, dozens of mentors from the community have become involved. Fourth and fifth grade discipleship was added in 2004 and the high school began its program in 2008. The small groups now consist of three or four students instead of ten to fourteen. This allows for a higher level of intimacy and a better chance for mentoring relationships to have an impact on the lives of the students at the school.
The Scripture memory component at the lower levels consists mainly of short verses that are related to salvation or to Christian living. The middle school students learn longer scripture texts and have even memorized entire books of the Bible during the discipleship program. The program at the high school also has Scripture as a central component, but has a greater focus on Christian living and lifestyle choices. The memorization of Scripture is a primary focus of the program because as Patty likes to remind the students regularly: “Scripture has to go into your head first—then it can go down into your heart to change your life and THEN it can go out to others to change the world.”