How do you learn best? When I was in high school and college, most of my classes consisted of lectures, taking notes, and memorizing information for tests. Today, most of the classes I observe are much more interactive; there is class discussion, questions are posed, and teachers serve as guides, leading students to the main points or themes they are trying to teach. The first method is OK if all you want to do is regurgitate information, but the second method invests students more deeply in what they are learning. They are more likely to remember and retain what they learned when the process is more interactive.
The same is true of biblical truth. Scottish theologian William Barclay once said, “It is only when truth is self-discovered that it is appropriated. When a man is simply told the truth, it remains external to him and he can quite easily forget it. When he is led to discover the truth for himself, it becomes an integral part of him, and he never forgets it.”
More recently, author Randall Arthur said much the same thing In his book, “Wisdom Hunter”: The person “who learns through the process of honest questioning, objective thinking, and respectful challenging is more apt to know in the end what is really true. And he will also know why he believes it.”
This art of “facilitating” revolves around a simple principle: that people learn best when they discover truths for themselves through a well-facilitated process. As he has been with the other 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations, Jesus is our role model as a facilitator, too. He was all about letting people discover the truth of who he was for themselves. The theme verse for 2020, John 1:39, captures this perfectly. “Come, and you will see.”
Jesus’ first-century ministry reveals the timeless value of facilitation. He invited people to wrestle with the meaning of his words. It’s easy to imagine people walking home after listening to Jesus teach and discussing what they had heard. And while he certainly taught publicly, his primary focus was to facilitate learning and growth in a small group of 12. Time and time again, he took these disciples aside and helped them think through what he had just said or done. He typically gave them far more questions than answers.
The idea of helping people discover Jesus for themselves through a facilitated small group is one we want to explore in more detail as we continue learning about the 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations.
Prayer: Lord, when it comes to sharing our faith, we often think we have to do it all. Help us to see that spiritual conversations have less to do with us knowing the right words to say, and more to do with allowing your Holy Spirit to guide a process of self-discovery. Give us wisdom for this process!