Encounter: A Fresh Approach to Bible Curriculum

June 26, 2015

More than a century ago, Ellen White encouraged us to apply the “freshest thought,” “best methods” and “most earnest effort” toward teaching the Scriptures to students. The new Encounter series of Bible lessons is a bold step forward with this counsel in mind. It has already been piloted in several schools and will be introduced in ninth-grade Bible classes throughout the Northwest this fall.

This curriculum brings an emphasis on developing disciples for the Great Commission. It is a clear move away from rote learning of Bible knowledge and an intentional step toward helping students initiate and strengthen a relationship with Jesus and put real beliefs into practice in their daily lives. Ultimately it seeks to obey the Three Angels' Message of Revelation in calling people to stand during these last days in an active relationship with God, to be aroused from apathy, to embrace the principles of His kingdom and to worship the Creator alone.

Following Ellen White’s exhortation for Adventist educators to “train thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men’s thoughts,” this series features an inductive approach to Bible study. It’s not about didactic teaching, theory and information-overload. It’s about students and teachers making discoveries from God’s Word that can be embraced and lived.

Ultimately the goal is one of discipleship. And that involves four simple elements:

  • Vision — each student encounters God in order to understand what He wants to do in and through him or her;
  • Gospel — each student understands what Christ has done and is doing for him or her in order to accept His gift of salvation;
  • Lordship — each student submits personally and corporately to God’s direction as the Lord of his or her life;
  • Presence — each student learns to integrate the reality of God’s presence into every area of his or her life.

The North American Division (NAD) steering committee for the curriculum included Keith Waters, North Pacific Union Conference secondary education director, and Stephen Lundquist, Portland Adventist Academy Bible teacher. They oversaw adaptation of a curriculum originally developed by Nina Atcheson for the South Pacific Division. Atcheson has now taken on the role of NAD associate director of secondary curriculum for the Encounter series.

George Knight, respected author and professor emeritus at Andrews University, says, “This pioneering Bible curriculum is what the church has needed for decades. It is relational, wholistic and thorough, yet at the same time theologically respectable and biblically insightful.”

For a more in-depth look at this new series, go online to AdventistEducation.org/encounter.