How Do I Remember All That I’ve Been Taught?

In our last blog we talked about the importance of teaching truth to help God’s people grow. We also suggested two important reminders to this. Firstly, it is more important to apply truth than it is to understand truth. Secondly, we are seeking to produce teachers of the truth, not just learners of the truth.

In this post I will share with you briefly our strategy as it currently stands in seeking to positively benefit the church in south east Asia in the area of truth. If you have been following our ministry for any length of time you will be aware that we take a group of students for two years at a time, giving them 1 week of training every three months. Thus over two years, we prepare them with 8 training weeks, and our goal is to provide a basic platform for new church planters and leaders to be equipped.

So, what do we teach in these eight weeks? We divide our teaching into two categories of Content and Skills. In regards to Content, we start with a basic curriculum of subjects which give an overview of Christian truth we believe they need to be introduced to. These are as follows.

Week 1. Introduction to the Gospel, Discipleship, and Mission.

Week 2. Old Testament Overview.

Week 3. New Testament Overview.

Week 4. Theology- The Bible, The Triune God and the Work of Christ.

Week 5. Theology- Salvation, The Church, and End Times.

Week 6. Pastoral Care and Counselling.

Week 7. Church Leadership.

Week 8. Apologetics and Church History.

For each of these subjects, we have divided the material up into 8 teaching sessions, which give a summary of the topic. So, for example, for the Old Testament subject, our 8 sessions include:

a) Genesis 1-11;

b) Genesis 12-50;

c) Exodus;

d) The Books of the Law;

e) Joshua to King Solomon;

f) The Wisdom Literature;

g) King Solomon to Nehemiah;

h) The Prophetic Literature;

The challenge of teaching this content is the challenge of developing teachers rather than just learners. There is so much content which can be covered in these topics. How are we going to expect national leaders, many of whom are not highly educated, not only to hear and understand so much content in one week, but also soon become teachers themselves of the same content?

This is of course the great challenge of our ministry. But what is the alternative? Stretching out the course to become a longer and more in-depth course is not feasible for the majority of our students who cannot afford time away from work for full time study. Furthermore, how common is it that many students who are exposed to longer more in depth courses end up retaining very little of it anyway, and they actually exit the course with little than a certificate of completion?

So, although there is a very real danger of students listening to 8 lectures on the Old Testament in a week and remembering very little of it, I suspect the problem is not going to be necessarily solved by making the course any longer or slower. In fact, I’d suggest that by making each course relatively short, this makes possible another factor which may in fact produce more effective long term learning. This factor is reproducibility.

It is our goal to convert each of our 8 sessions into a format which can be reproduced- either in a written or a video format, with discussion questions. This means that the student will be able to walk away from the course and able to go over it again, and then even to teach it to others. It will be the repetition of the course over and over again, especially as it is taken by the student and taught to others, which will be most effective in helping them to actually learn the content well. And this is why keeping it to just 8 sessions of content each week may be strategic.

But it is not only Content that we teach in a week. It is also Skills, which include “Sharing the gospel”, “Preaching a sermon”, and “Leading a discipleship group”. We will share more about these another time.

For now, think about this question. How are you going in your growth in truth? Do you have a plan for yourself or within your church in moving through the equivalent of our list of 8 subjects? Are you active in not just becoming a learner but also in becoming a teacher?  May the Lord bless you in this.