Many pastors and Christian educators have embraced the power of multisensory communication, and they have begun a preaching-teaching revolution. I use the word “revolution” because for years, traditional teaching methodologies have ignored the role of the senses in learning. All too often, traditional teaching has also ignored the different learning styles and sensory preferences through which a student maximizes learning and accelerates learning rates.
This trend has been especially pervasive in public education. Failure to recognize learning styles in public schools has promoted a standard lecture format for teaching, which has frustrated the learning of many. Many public school educators dispatch a “one size fits all” style of teaching, i.e. lecture, and they ignore the fact that each person brings to the learning environment a unique set of learning characteristics. The fact is: One “teaching style” does not fit all “learning styles.”
Even more unfortunate is the fact that the church has caught “the lecture disease.” The same lecture methodology that dominates public education pervades the evangelical church. As opposed to being open to the multisensory teaching models of the Bible, the church has mimicked the “one size fits all” methodology of the culture. Such lecture teaching has curtailed the full impact of teaching the Word and resulted in less “doing of the Word.” It is time for a change. Educator Stephen Brookfield provokes all teachers to reflect on communication methodology when he writes:
Sooner or later, something happens that forces the teacher to confront the possibility that they may be working with assumptions that don’t really fit their situations. Recognizing the discrepancy between what is and what should be is often the beginning of the critical journey.
THE MULTISENSORY REVIVAL
A “revival” of multisensory communication is taking hold in today’s evangelical church. I use the term “revival,” because multisensory communication is as old as the Bible itself. For years, multisensory teaching methodologies were jettisoned from the church and considered simple, unsophisticated, and even ungodly. Today, however, many pastors and Christian educators are reviving multisensory teaching strategies, and the effect is remarkable. In fact, after significant research in the disciplines of theology, neurology, and cognitive experiments, our findings conclusively demonstrate that multisensory teaching can make us more effective communicators. And if you’re like this pastor, you can use all the help you can get.
All of us who teach God’s Word want to captivate people’s attention, and then impart the truth of God’s Word in a way that is understandable and memorable. Multisensory communication raises that capability. It has helped many pastors and Christian teachers to be more captivating, more understandable, and more memorable.
What I love about multisensory teaching is that it transforms biblical teaching from both sides of the communication dynamic, that is, the teacher and the congregation.
For the teacher, multisensory communication brings the opportunity to be creative, to introduce variety, and to have outright fun in the teaching process. Oops, did I say “fun”? Multisensory teaching can keep us out of communication ruts and allow us to express ourselves from changing angles.
For the congregation, they receive a multidimensional experience. The learning process becomes more than just hearing; it becomes a hearing, visual, and participatory experience. This can make learning fun, diverse, and unforgettable.
Rick Blackwood, The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 17–19.
Resources to help you be more multi-sensory:
Teachers: check out my video preview of the Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lessons at http://www.sundayschooluniversity.com/
Preachers: check out my new website http://stickysermon.com/ It is a work in progress, but here is what you can expect to find. Each sermon will include:
- A PowerPoint—most of them with embedded videos that make the point stick
- A 15 minute coaching video where I talk to you the preacher about what I have in mind for the message, and go over any visual aids I might use.
- A Good Question Bible Study Lesson to be used by your small groups to further reinforce the message. The same power that was at work in the Purpose Driven Life Campaign will be at work in each week’s message.