Friday, March 26, 2010

Why we suck at communication

* It's easier to teach more for less than less for more.
If we only teach one idea, we must creatively amplify and explain it until it's understood clearly.

* The context of ministry seems to be more demanding than the content.

The context instead needs to become secondary to the content.

We need to prioritise thinking and teaching over rostering and administrivia.

* We have bought into the 'going deeper' myth.

Often we think we are going deeper but most of the time it means we are taking people in over their heads.
We don't water down the message; but just make it flow like a tap rather than a fire hydrant.

* We worry about not having enough to say.

(Ouch. This is getting personal for me now. Lucky it doesn't mention "fear of being found out to be a fraud"!)
The object of our communication is not to cover a lot of material but to make sure people learn. If the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught.

* We fear we will leave something out.

(Yikes! Like the gospel? Amen)

*If we try to explain everything, we can be sure they will understand nothing.

(Dave Thurston talks about intentionally leaving 'gaps' in our teaching - wide enough to spark thinking in the mind of the listener, but not so wide that they get confused or give up. This helps people learn how to think well for themselves, as well as the content that we are teaching)

* We teach what is predetermined by entities outside our ministry.

Often we are pressured into teaching what others think is important. We must remember that it is we who are responsible for what is taught to those in our care.

* We confuse information with application.

(I heard once whilst at college that good exegisis IS good application. Really? I don't doubt it - for college lecturers who haven't met a real person on the street for 15 years)

* Often when we review our sermons or seminars we ask the wrong questions:

Is is true? Interesting? Creative? Passionate? Entertaining?

When really these should be givens.

What we really must be asking ourselves on behalf of our listeners is "Is it helpful?"

If not, we've failed to help our people.

It's like teaching shakespeare to people who really need to learn how to dance.


  1. Nice post Dave.

    You make some salient points here. I particularly like the comment, "What we really must be asking ourselves on behalf of our listeners is "Is it helpful?". I develop seminars and teaching materials and this certainly needs to be a central question - thanks for the reminder! I am constantly challenged by the thought - will this seed actually take root. I guess my (our) job is to sow the seed - it's the soils job to envelop the seed and engage with the seed in order to develop and foster life.

    Again...nice post!

  2. C'mon Dave, join the discussion. You know you want to.