Last week a friend who wants to begin teaching a seminar he’s developed, recently brought several folks together, including me, to listen to a dry run of the seminar in order to get feedback. The audience was comprised of people who represented likely attenders, or who are experts on effective presentations. Repeatedly the feedback encouraged bringing more visual elements and stories into the presentation. Someone brought up the recent book Brain Rules which talks about how our brains are wired, and, as such, how people learn best. Here’s a website that discusses the implication of what Brain Rules tells us about monologue-based learning. This book echoes what many, many other studies tell us: that one-way monologue is one of the worst ways to learn anything. When I hear this fact reiterated it always makes me consider preaching, especially long preaching, and the centrality it’s been given in the Western church. Again, I am not opposed to preaching. It is a Biblical function, and most definitely has a place in spiritual growth. Yet in the West it has become a focus of the worship service, an encourager of a spectator perspective in worshippers, and a factor in why consumerism dominates the way people choose churches. Other functions of the church, such as small groups, recede to the background as optional as compared to the importance of a corporate gathering featuring preaching. Preaching is a good thing, but I think it’s become too central to our understanding of how we do church and how we grow. We’ve gotten to the point that we can’t conceive of not having preaching in a worship service. A good friend who’s now in a house church once said to me, “If you ever join a house church, you will be amazed how addicted you have become to preaching and children’s programs.” A preaching and programs combination is largely how American Church has been done for decades. It leaves me asking these questions: Do the current discipleship level of American Christians, and our impact on our culture and world, commend the preaching and programs model? Why is the non-Western Church, which uses a house church model more predominantly, growing faster both in health and number?
How people best learn