In 2008, LifeWay Christian Resources introduced a focused strategy for ministering to students based on a three-pronged approach: Know, Own and Known.
The strategy is founded on Luke 2:52: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people" (HCSB). It targets Bible teaching and learning on students’ upward development with God (Know); inward development in owning their faith (Own); and outward development (Known).
Supporting the strategy is LifeWay’s KNOWN curriculum, a Bible study package featuring a holistic approach to student spiritual development.
Kyle Rolph, pastor of discipleship at Eastwood Fellowship Baptist Church in St. Thomas, Ontario, has been using the KNOWN curriculum since its introduction.
"LifeWay’s Know-Own-Known strategy has the same component focus that we have in our church," he said. "In every aspect of our church we try to have a focus on worship, discipleship and evangelism. That’s what I saw in this material. It has been a great, focused fit for our student ministry."
The KNOWN curriculum, available in print or electronic download, is a discussion-based teaching plan and student resource. Rather than taking a broad approach, the material focuses each week on one question and one point, reinforced with life principles for student leaders to drive home. The material includes four steps weekly:
- The "get started" section features questions or activities to break the ice and get students thinking about the unit theme and that particular lesson.
- The second section focuses students’ attention on that session’s question and point.
- The life principles section is the main focus of the discussion. Each session contains three to five life principles, relevant discussion questions and scriptural support.
- The "wrap it up" section emphasizes the main point of the study and provides application.
Mike Lovato, minister to students at Magnolia Baptist Church in Riverside, Calif., said the KNOWN curriculum has led his students to grow stronger and more confident in their faith.
"I really appreciate the discussion-oriented approach to the curriculum because it keeps the leader from talking ‘at’ the students," Lovato said. "It’s easy to use and gets the students talking about Scripture and direct life application that they can truly use and personalize."
According to Rolph, "So many student study materials and programs are lacking in solid teaching and depth. The KNOWN material builds a great lesson around a passage of Scripture rather than starting out with a theme and trying to grasp at Bible verses to support it."
Student leaders using the print or electronic version of the curriculum can access free supplemental study materials on the KNOWN Web site. The supplemental materials include creative teaching options for the four sections and suggestions for using the material with age- or gender-specific groups. The KNOWN team also provides free weekly podcasts for leaders and students as well as a monthly podcast for parents.
"Having the option to tailor the study for a specific group is a great part of this curriculum," Rolph said. Since he implemented the KNOWN curriculum at Eastwood Fellowship Baptist, Rolph has also started a student leadership team – high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates – tasked with learning how to lead the younger students.
"We call these students the ‘gap team,’" said Rolph. "Oftentimes students get lost after graduation – stuck in that gap between high school and college. We use the KNOWN material to teach them how to run youth events, how to share and disciple younger kids.
"That, and the fact that the leader-insight material really helps leaders know how to teach, has made this a great resource for our church," Rolph said.
Mike Wakefield, project leader for the KNOWN curriculum at LifeWay, said student leaders like Rolph and Lovato are helping make the material even better.
"We provide a basic lesson plan that we write in-house," said Wakefield, "but so much of the material and content comes about through ideation conferences where we bring in student leaders from around the country to help us unpack the outlines. We get great ideas on how to teach the sessions."
Because the KNOWN material is not writing-intensive, "we can bring in the thinkers and creatives who help us really hone in on the objectives we need to hit," Wakefield said.
"It’s a very complete and trustworthy curriculum because the people using it are writing it, too," Rolph said. "[LifeWay is] asking those who are right there in the trenches working day-in, day-out with students to contribute ideas for what should be included in the KNOWN material."
Visit LifeWay.com/KNOWN for more information.