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        What is the biggest problem that elders and preachers have in their teaching program?   Here's one problem that probably most would agree on.

        Consider the preacher being asked to preach on an important subject. The congregation is attentive and the preacher's prepared and feels a contact is made with every one of his points. The lesson has been delivered successfully. The members exit while telling the preacher how great the message was.

        Our memory is a funny thing. As you walk out of the church building, have you ever suddenly realized you can't remember where you parked your car? What about this? Has anyone ever asked you about the sermon and, lo and behold, you realize that you've totally forgotten what the sermon was about? And you had just complimented the preacher on it!

        What's going on? Are you coming down with early-onset dementia? The recent theory is that your real problem is that pesky exit door. It's the reason why you can't remember.

        Some psychologists are intrigued with a recent research at the University of Notre Dame. In a series of three experiments, virtual and real, Gabriel Radvansky, psychology professor, found that his study population forgot more after walking through a doorway compared to going the same distance across a room.

        "Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary' in the mind", Radvansky postulates. The theory is that the brain categorizes rooms into "episodes" and once the room is left, it becomes harder to access the information from the previous episode.

        The results of this study is said to be important for architects in their effective designing of spaces for doorways. Since one cannot do away with doorways, the elders and preachers should seriously consider other ways to delay the fading of what has been taught. Lessons important enough to be taught are important enough to be delivered in the most effective way. Immediate memory loss is real and an obstacle that should be dealt with, if possible.

        There are many things that we know about the brain's function that should used in enhancing our instruction. Since we know that the short-term memory loss is real, we should concentrate our efforts toward minimizing that.

        Jesus, the master teacher, who created all things, understood how to teach for maximum effect. Some if not most of His teaching was done outdoors to multitudes who followed Him (Matthew 5:1; 11:7; 13:2; Mark 6:6; Luke 5:15; 13:22; 14:25) and the open courts of the Temple whose perimeter was six stadia [4864 feet] (Matthew 21:23; Mark 14:49; Luke 21:37). This was especially true with his closest disciples. On the other hand, He did utilize regular sabbath meetings in an enclosed synagogue (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:21; 6:2; Luke 4:16,31; 6:6; 13:10).

        The best lesson from this could be that when we camp out with fellow Christians, youngsters, etc., we should take advantage of the opportunity for teaching that it affords. I remember hearing memorable lessons that were taught during such evening devos. This may explain why "tent meetings" were so successful once upon a time.

        However, the church building with doors is real also. Can we develop and plan our "church" lessons so that they don't stay inside of the building when we leave? How about using handouts that exploit the sermon's main points? Rusty Hilliard at Haines City, Florida, prints his Sunday morning sermon outline inside of the weekly bulletin. Another thing that I found helpful over the years is to urge members to write down an outline while you preach or teach. Usually this is more successful for teenagers. Adults don't seem to like anything that reminds them of their school days.

        Another thing that Rusty sometimes does is to recap the morning lesson while including audience participation during the Sunday evening hour. Chad Brock is the first one that I'd seen that did this successfully. This appears to be an excellent way to reinforce memory, especially for new converts and serious students that would be secure in Biblical Truth.

        What other ways can you think of that would help the retention of our remembering an important lesson from God's Word?

        Next article: Some of Jesus' Teaching Methods

        - Gaylon West

        Throw Out the Lifeline

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