This week we have been talking about two different approaches to learning. The first approach is the “telling” approach, sometimes called deductive learning. In this approach, there is one person who is the “expert,” sharing with listeners what he or she has learned about a subject. The teacher is the active giver of information, the listener is a passive receiver of the information.
The second strategy is the “asking” approach, or inductive method of learning. In this approach, the facilitator creates an environment in which all the participants can be active learners and discoverers. The facilitator is more of a guide, not teaching or dispensing information so much as they are helping people to make discoveries for themselves.
As Marc said yesterday, the Art of Facilitating comes from the belief that people learn best when they discover truths for themselves through a well-facilitated process so they are more fully invested in the outcomes.
Throughout church history, efforts to evangelize and disciple others have focused primarily on preaching and teaching. This approach worked fairly well, and one reason was because the time to process ideas was woven into the fabric of life. We had more time for conversations, not just in our families, but in the community as well. But the pace of life in our modern culture leaves very little time to consider what you believe about God. Further, the breakdown of the traditional family and close-knit communities means that Christian principles and ideas are not modeled in relationships as often as they used to be.
For Christians, intentional facilitation is more essential than ever as a complement to preaching and teaching. We need to encourage people to stop and focus on truth long enough to process and understand the concepts and ideas being presented. Facilitation is learner-centered rather than teacher-focused.
Facilitation is more difficult than teaching, because we do not control the process. And let’s be honest: we all prefer to be in control. Facilitation is messier, takes more time, and requires more patience. But if it’s true that people remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 70% of what they say, and 90% of what they do themselves, then the investment is definitely worth it.
We need to embrace four core values if we are going to learn to be facilitators of people’s spiritual awakening and growth.
Self-discovery. People learn and grow best when they discover truth for themselves through discussion and study.
Safety first. An ideal environment for spiritual growth is a small group where personal dignity is valued, and leadership is shared. People need to know they are safe sharing about spiritual matters.
Spirit-guided. We must allow God’s Holy Spirit to guide those who are spiritually open.
Scripture-based. We begin with the belief that the Bible and the life of Jesus are worthy of serious examination.
Our success in sharing Christ with others may depend on our willingness to give up our desire to control the process and the outcome, and trust those to the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Lord, you know how much we like to be in control of the situation. Help us learn to trust your Holy Spirit more fully, so that we can help people discover you for themselves.