The Information Distribution Theory of Christianity doesn't work. That means most preaching doesn't work. Most teaching doesn't work. Most reading of most books doesn't work. Or if they work, they work inadequately, incompletely, superficially, and temporarily.
It doesn't work because it ignores the way Jesus used to bring about transformation.
It doesn't work because it misses core insights the Apostle Paul gives us about change.
It doesn't work because it doesn't understand the essential nature of our human makeup.
It doesn't work because it neglects the best methodologies for how adults learn and grow.
So here are a few introductory thoughts to renew your thinking.
Information is vital. Truth matters (greatly). Doctrine is important. What you believe is essential. Go wrong on knowing the truth - then you go wrong on everything that follows. So, in NO WAY am i suggesting for a minute that truth doesn't matter. It does. In fact, it is because I am so passionate about the truth of the way of Christ, that I am so concerned about transformation (and its lack in our lives).
To be human is to have . . . a mind that thinks, a heart that feels, an imagination that dreams, a soul that desires, a will that decides, and a physicality that embodies and fleshes out what is believed. All approaches to change must take into account - THE TOTAL MAKEUP OF THE HUMAN PERSON, and design communication strategies that reach every aspect of our humanity.
No one aspect of our humanity can bear the burden for transformation. No one aspect was every meant to. Any strategy that appeals to just one aspect as the primary means of transformation - is destined to fail. The evangelical preference is to put the burden for transformation on the intellect. Therefore - give more information to the mind.
To be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2) does not imply a particular approach. it only says our minds are to be transformed. It is an unwarranted assumption that information distribution is the way the mind is renewed.
Jesus spend most of his three years of ministry doing life with a group of 12 (plus a few more) disciples. Yes, Jesus preached and taught to the crowds, but he chose a very different "andragogical approach" and gave most of his time investing in a small group of core followers. As we study the way Jesus interacted with the Twelve Disciples, we see a holistic, integrated, situational, relational, conversational, approach to their training. Jesus preached to the crowds. Jesus discipled the twelve. The crowds remained unchanged. The Twelve were not only changed, but they changed the world.
Transformation is being formed into the image of Christ and the one called Christ being formed in us (Galatians 4:19). Think about how GRAND is this vision of the Christian life! We are to be made new in every facet of our being. What we believe, feel, desire, want, will, dream, love, pursue, prioritize, imagine, and embody - are all contained in Christ.
To be transformed is a comprehensive process where truth must be received and welcomed; it must be seized and held to; it must be loved and cherished; it must be activated and implemented. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work creating these kinds of processes.
We must make the shift from being teachers who pas on information, to those who facilitate learning experiences in community with others, where they use their entire humanity to engage with the truth. You are not successful when you teach or preach. You are successful when you facilitate learning (and growing, i.e. the change of transformation). Teaching is a tactic and methodology, not a strategy and certainly not the essence of change and transformation.
The best learning is participatory, highly active and highly communal. Any mode of teaching that requires the audience to be mainly individual/isolated, passive, listeners is a sadly and seriously deficient paradigm for change. We learn by doing, we learn by engaging, and we learn as we participate together with others.
We have a vast amount of work to do in creating transformative learning communities (TLCs) in the church. Think of the life on life of Jesus and the Twelve disciples. They were the original TLC. Most of us who were trained in Bible college and seminary have a massive reFraming program ahead of us. That is just to equip us for the work God wants to do through change agents. Then, we have an even greater work to do in designing and sustaining these TLCs in the local church.
Tomorrow - the model of holistic learning that engages our total humanity.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International