Educating in the Technological, Post-Pandemic, World
by Phil Miglioratti
Christ is our message! We preach to awaken hearts and bring every person into the full understanding of truth. It has become my inspiration and passion in ministry to labor with a tireless intensity, with his power flowing through me, to present to every believer the revelation of being his perfect one in Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:28:TPT)
What a joy, what a privilege to preach or teach, the Body of Christ. Small group or Sunday School. Big church or store front. We diligently search and study. We attend seminars and seminaries. We have been told "one hour in study for every minute in the pulpit." Outlines. Fill-in-the-blank (yuk!). Study guides. Commentaries. Lexicons. PowerPoint.
All employed to enlighten our teaching and embolden our preaching
- Sermon-Seminar-Session or
- Councils. Conferences, Consultations.
- Sometimes discussion. But usually a monologue; a lecture from the expert.
Lectures by an expert were effective methods before the printing press ... which was invented in 1450. Now, as the Industrial Era gives way to the Technological World, the Church must fearlessly review and renew educating. Not our content, but the context into which we invite people to discover and discern then deploy themselves with that content.
If educating is "the act or process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or skills, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life," then we need to change our perspective of how we design "educating" in disciple-making. What forms and formats should we employ to make disciples who are equipped to make disciples who make disciples.
- Educating is a process, an action, not a static event or meeting. An investigative process that inspires the learner to acquire knowledge, comprehend its meaning, then apply that insight to both their personal experience and community needs.
- Our responsibility is to facilitate the learner's role in "acquiring of knowledge or skills" by prompting questions that provoke new thought.
- Our spiritual objective is for every person (student, learner; listener) to actively participate in "developing" and "preparing" themself for maturity. More than details and outlines, stories and quotes, this requires the spiritual discipline of discernment. Knowledge can be memorized. Wisdom must be discovered.
In this technologically driven age of virtual schooling and group conferencing, chat rooms and podcasts, the pastor-teacher needs a reset.
Start with an empty calendar. No set schedules or routines.
Ponder who you are educating. Do you perceive them as a:
- Schoolchild? - focus on the institution which they are a member
- Pupil? - emphasis on their age; a young child
- Student? - one who studies: reading, memorizing; attends a school
- Convert? -a person who has recently been persuaded to join a religious group
- Member? -
- a part (as an arm or leg) of a person or animal (original etymology)
- someone or something that is part of a group
- Disciple? - a devoted adherent who learns by following, listening, answering questions, a lifelong learner
Each of these terms are relevant but lead to a different perceived role by the teacher. When do you need to be a:
- Teacher? / Preacher? - one who does most of the talking; mostly be lecture
- Tour Guide? - one who leads a group of learners into different places and spaces
- Coach? - one who provides the learn with questions to assess understanding, behavior, progress, maturity...
- Counselor? - one who probes to help the learner discover motivation
- Reproducer? ...
Reimagine your role as the responsibility to make disciples who practice a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed life, so that they are skilled in listening: as they pray, when they read/study Scripture, as the share the Gospel. Rethink how to equip them to edify others, carry their burdens. Make disciples by utilizing real life experiences that cause them to give generously and live sacrificially.
Think about the types of gatherings that will accomplish these goals and the setting that best facilitates the learning of those participating.
- Is a monologue always the best format for learning?
- Our people live in a culture that has taught them to text, take surveys, post their comments or opinions. They get their news online, read magazines online, and share life and ideas with friends online. How can you utilize those functions in the educating process?
- Great communicators (Oprah, TED Talks) are informal-personal, laser-focused, brief-segmented, and utilize interviews to capture attention.
- Research is always connected to a prevalent or perceived problem. Help leaners discover the needs that motivate them to read/research.
- Focus groups provide feedback that benefits both the facilitator and the participants. How can you insert this into the disciple-making process?
- Learning styles differ from person to person. Many are auditory (they learn best listening to someone speak). Some are visual (they learn best watching a video). Others are kinetic (they learn best being active in a process that helps them research or realize a truth). Some learn best in private. Others need the interaction of a group.
As you rethink educating in the context of your ministry, ask the Lord to reveal new ways that you can provide information and guide towards transformation:
- Explanation - learners need information
- Be a teacher who explains the text/topic
- Involve the learner in the learning process by inserting Q&A, discussion, or an interview, into your sermons/lectures/monologues
- Ask good questions:
- What? ...does the text say? Original meaning? [Information]
- So What? ...does this truth mean to me? Church? Family? Culture? [Implication]
- Now What? ...does the Spirit call me - us to do? Action steps? [Implementation]
- Experiences - learners need instruction
- Be a coach; train them in real life situations
- Exploration - learners need an invitation into investigation
- Be a guide to help them safely scout new ideas, issues
- Exposure - learners need interaction
- Be a shepherd who takes them to different pastures for feeding
- Provide experiences that train/equip learners to implement the topic/truth you are educating them into; new people, new places
"Where do I begin?"
Ask! Seek Knock...
- ASK...the Holy Spirit questions, such as "Where do I begin?"
- SEEK...a Spirit-led discovery process for fresh ideas, search best practices
- KNOCK...then move forward through the doors God opens: insert fresh interactions, shorten lectures, add visuals, invite feedback, incite healthy (and respectful) discussion - Experiment!
- Note: The act of experimenting is in itself an educating component that teaches your learners to think differently
- Our theology is orthodox ("accepted as right or true; established and approved"). Our traditions, practices, methods, routines are NOT.
You have my permission to experiment in how and when and where you educate. And my prayer that you will teach and preach God's word with Spirit-led insight that is Scripture-fed producing a Widely-Spread movement of Christ-followers who love and live the Gospel.
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NOTE: "Educate" from Webster Dictionary
TEACH, INSTRUCT, EDUCATE, TRAIN, DISCIPLINE, SCHOOL mean to cause to acquire knowledge or skill.
TEACH applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn. taught us a lot about our planet
INSTRUCT suggests methodical or formal teaching. instructs raw recruits in military drill
EDUCATE implies development of the mind. more things than formal schooling serve to educate a person
TRAIN stresses instruction and drill with a specific end in view. trained foreign pilots to operate the new aircraft
DISCIPLINE implies training in habits of order and precision. a disciplined mind
SCHOOL implies training or disciplining especially in what is hard to master. schooled the horse in five gaits