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Focused on Students

Motivated by the challenges of COVID, Journey Church found a new way to share Christ with its community.

If every cloud has a silver lining, Meade County Christian School in Brandenburg, Kentucky, is a silver lining etched from the dark clouds of COVID.

Appreciative for the efforts of the local school district, but disheartened by his son’s isolation during the early stages of the pandemic, Ryan C. Franks, 38, pastor of Journey Church of Brandenburg, saw an opportunity to not only provide a more positive environment to students, but to offer the love of Jesus to the Meade County community in a whole new way.

“My son would get on Zoom at eight in the morning,” Franks says. “(The school system) had established one teacher for hundreds of kids, and those teachers, as well as the system, were overwhelmed. Everyone was doing their absolute best to trailblaze what life could look like online through COVID, but I just remember looking at my wife and saying, ‘This can’t be the future for our son.’”

Franks remembers brainstorming with his wife, Tristan how to create the best learning experience for their son and other students during an unprecedented time. Working within local health guidelines, Journey Church opened its children’s ministry facility twice a week so students could come to school. By charging a minimal fee, the church was able to enroll enough students to hire two certified teachers.

“It just offered some sort of pre-COVID, non-six-foot social distancing and got these kids interacting with one another again,” Franks says.

That endeavor was the beginning of Meade County Christian School (MCC).

Journey Church owned a building next door that housed a gym and cafeteria that had good bones for a school building. Before renovations started, Franks gathered information from others in Christian education and did his research. Then, Journey Church raised half of the necessary funds for the $600,000 renovation project and borrowed the balance.

“We just went for it,” Franks says. “We recruited and promoted, and we got enough kids to come that first year. And then the second year, we increased our enrollment by 30%, and we’re going into our third year, and we’re increasing our enrollment by 30% again.”

With projected enrollment of 125 this fall, a wide variety of electives being offered, and several sports opportunities, Franks declares, “It’s just exploding!”

Franks and his team desire to offer top-quality education, so all the teachers at MCC are licensed and certified by the state.

With 75% of its enrollment from students who do not attend Journey Church, MCC is impacting Meade County in a big way.

“We are incredibly polished in our preschool through 6th grade,” Franks says. “We pioneered junior high this year, and we’re pioneering freshman class next year.”

Joe Girdler, district superintendent of the Kentucky Ministry Network, says the thing that sets MCC apart is its ability to operate like a school yet have the heartbeat of a missional church.

“Kingdom building is the center of all that MCC strives for,” Girdler says. “They offer baptisms through their partnered local church, Journey Church of Brandenburg, and provide access to summer church camp and MEGA Sports Camp. MCC not only offers quality education for their students, it models a Christian lifestyle as well.”

Susan M. Stewart, 36, teaches kindergarten and first grade at MCC and sees the school having a tremendous impact on the families it serves.

“As a kindergarten/first grade teacher at MCC, seeing my students grow not only academically, but in their faith as well, is absolutely what it's all about,” says Stewart.

“We have had students who attend MCC and Journey Church become baptized, and we have seen families become members of Journey.”

Franks is grateful for the Lord’s favor in launching the school. He also gives credit to the dedicated staff, including Tristan, who serves as academic dean.

“I want to send my kids to school where they can read their Bible and pray,” Franks says. “I’ve got to have Jesus at the center of my kids’ lives, and if I can do something about it, I will.”

LOWER PHOTO: Ryan and Tristan Franks with sons, Ryder and Jenson.

Amy Lynn Smith

Amy Lynn Smith lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with her pastor husband, W. Kevin Smith and the two youngest of their six children. She has served in various aspects of ministry with the Assemblies of God for 27 years, including worship leader, deacon, and youth pastor. She is currently office manager at Radcliff First Assembly.