02 Feb, 2015 Why avoiding repetition in your pulpit works against you

Educational experts — like teachers — have known for years the importance of repetition in education. The spiral curriculum is a concept of repetition. Every week, month and year teachers intentionally repeat and expand upon previously learnt knowledge. With brick laid upon brick, the student learns well.

Many Christian educators — like pastors — do not understand this. Their pulpits are continually fresh — with little to no intentional repetition of specific and practical application points, which would otherwise work to get applications in long-term memory. It is as if variety is the rule, and repetition a sin. This viewpoint needs to change!

The need for the repeated teaching of specific skills in sermon applications

In the equipping we are promoting via the Hope Project we are encouraging specific knowledge to be established through intentional and wise repetition, because it will be established no other way. It is only through teaching the same application points again and again that the lessons taught will move into the long-term memory of the members, and from there to application in their daily lives (which is the goal). The ‘Because we care’ video series (view here — https://alltogether.co.nz/equipping-videos/ ) includes some key application points that need ongoing repetition if they are to become a part of a persons skill-set. It is my conviction that churches will not produce members who are active and effective in their witness until they have learnt how to teach them effectively, with intentional repetition of the teaching of specific skills being a key component of that. I suspect that most of us lead our churches by imitating the positive values we have seen others lead churches with — rather than by applying principles we were taught in a classroom. Intentional educational repetition is not a part of current church culture in most churches – so its not being learnt by observing the positive habits of others.

What skills?

Regarding Christian witness, I beleive Christians need to know, through and through, a number of points and skills including:

— Why is a conversational approach necessary (so they are convinced of the need to acquire conversational skills)?

— What the gospel content is

— How to communicate this succinctly

— Why testimonies and story-telling are so important in a post-modern culture, and how to tell their own faith-story, and some keys to story-telling in general

— How to open a spiritual conversation with a NZer (who is a spiritual person — but does not want to be preached at)

— How to turn a criticism of the Christian faith into an opportunity / how to answer questions in a way that opens the conversation, rather than closes it

— the importance of team in outreach, and how to unlock its potential (not yet in the video series)

— How to continue conversations with interested people (the beginnings of discipleship).

Imparting these long-term is not as difficult as it seems upon first glance. We just have to be willing to consider this, and then begin.

These are the content of the application points in the resources we have provided, including of the sermon outlines, of the ‘bulletin booklets’, of the ‘Because we care’ video series and also of the small group studies that go with the sermon outlines. All these are available for free via the resources page at AllTogether.co.nz — and will continue to be available beyond the conclusion of the Hope Project NZ in 2016 via an ongoing resource that will be available to all pastors who recognise that they need help in the area of outreach mobilisation, and who are willing to give it ia certain amount of focus.

In summary: Ad-hoc equipping does not work.

Running ‘outreach equipping’ programs like ‘Walk across the room’ does not work — because members forget, and the church or pastor move onto the next ‘fad’ resource or program.

However, intentional and wise repetition does work.

Application points and skills go into long-term memory, and from there become practiced. This is my conviction — and one of our greatest hopes through current efforts is that principles like the this one become noticed, understood, absorbed and applied — because this would enable long-term change and growth. It is significant, because if we keep doing what we have done we will continue to get more of what we have. This is too important to overlook!

DAVE MANN. Dave is an Author and gifted communicator with a passion for the Gospel. This passion started when he came to faith at age 11. After Secondary School he went straight to Bible College, followed by 7 years in outreach ministry in New Zealand, then nearly 9 as a pastor in Singapore, before returning to New Zealand at the end of 2011. Dave is a visionary and fearless about pioneering initiatives aimed at helping the Church in New Zealand in the area of its mission. Author of various books and Tracts including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and available free on this site: “The what and how of Youth and Young Adult ministry”.
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