When Teaching Creates a Barrier to Change

When Teaching Creates a Barrier to Change

by Tony Morgan



When Teaching Creates a Barrier to Change
One of the great myths in ministry is that we have the power to change behaviors by teaching more.


Tony MorganOne of the great myths in ministry is that we have the power to  change behaviors by teaching more. We teach during worship services. We  teach at student ministry gatherings. We teach at women’s events. We  teach at men’s retreats. Even our small groups are built around  teaching. We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the only way people  will take a next step is if we teach at them more.

My dad was a marching band director. Because of that, I grew up loving The Music Man.  Harold Hill is nothing like my dad. Hill was a con artist. He really  knew nothing about starting a marching band. All he wanted to do was  sell band instruments and uniforms to make money. For his charade to  work, he used the “think system” in order to train his musicians. Hill  wasn’t concerned about the kids learning the notes to become better  musicians — he just encouraged them to think their way to becoming a  marching band.

My dad’s approach was very different. His system involved teaching,  but it also included learning how to play each note, individual lessons  and practice, band rehearsals to fine-tune the music, marching drills  on the practice field, band camps to master the programs, warm-ups  before each performance, etc. Dad implemented systems to support his  teaching, and it resulted in an award-winning marching band that became  known as the “Pride of Piqua.”

Teaching is a good thing. Jesus did it. He taught in front of crowds  of thousands. That was only one part of his ministry. His teaching was  supported by faith steps, relationships, disciplines, and actions that  led to a movement.

If churches (and people) are going to get unstuck, we have to stop  leaning so heavily on teaching to produce all the change, and we need to  begin creating healthy systems to support the teaching. Within the  context of a church, a healthy system is a simple, replicable process to  help people move from where they are to where God wants them to be.

For example, if we want to move more  people into serving others, we should teach about what the Bible has to  say on that topic. We need to support that teaching with healthy systems  to encourage people to take their next step. Those systems may include  creating ways to help people identify their gifts. You can train people  how to “tap shoulders” of their friends to invite them into ministry.  You can create “first serve” opportunities so there are obvious first  steps into serving. You can streamline the connections points with one  stop in your lobby and one stop on your Web site for people to sign up.  You can eliminate competing events that deter people from serving. You  can reduce staff to increase the reliance on volunteers. If your systems  are broken or lacking, though, you can teach all you want, but it’s not  going to change behaviors.

Again, one problem I see in churches I work with, though, is that they believe the teaching is the system. When that happens, they begin to rely on what I’ve affectionately begun to call “The Funnel of Doom.”  The funnel works like this. If we want to change behavior, we gather  people on Sunday morning, and we teach them. Then we promote an event  where we try to gather people again. When we get people there, we teach  them some more. Then we encourage people to gather in groups where — you  guessed it — we attempt to teach them even more. And along the way, we  grow frustrated because fewer people are actually taking each step. We  blame it on people for not prioritizing their time and showing up. Maybe  it’s time we just acknowledge that “The Funnel of Doom” doesn’t produce  life change.

Don’t misquote me on this. I really do believe that biblical teaching  is a key component to encouraging life change. The problem occurs when  it’s not supported by healthy systems to encourage next steps and  application of that teaching. Teaching alone promotes personality-driven  ministries where people show up and listen. We need to create systems  to encourage people to put what they learn into action.

Your message has the potential to shift thinking. Your systems have the potential to shift behaviors.

What’s your experience? Have you seen healthy systems support teaching to produce change? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.

  Tony Morgan is the Pastor of Ministries at West Ridge Church near Atlanta. He’s also a strategist, coach, writer, speaker and consultant who equips leaders and churches to impact their communities for Christ. More important, he has a passion for the people. He’s all about helping people meet Jesus and take steps in their faith. With Tim Stevens, Tony has co-authored Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers and Simply Strategic Growth—each of which offers valuable, practical solutions for different aspects of church ministry. His newest book, Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing), was released in 2009.  visit Tony at www.tonymorganlive.com

Impactos: 3

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *