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Practice solidifies learning

by Sherry Bohn, Entrust, Massachusetts

man playing violin in empty concert hall

Whether it is a new app, new phone or gadget, new road or new procedure, daily learning is a part of the 21st century norm.

Most of us learn best by being involved in the process of learning. Reading about something new may be the initial step, but most of us don’t feel we have learned until we put the idea into practice.

Because of the pandemic, many people are meeting in small neighborhood church gatherings rather than in large congregational services. Many are experiencing valuable discussions focused on the pastor’s message. I love it when small groups are all that they can be, and people are engaged and learning.

How would you describe an ideal small group discussion?

relevant, involving, collaborative, safe, informative, challenging,

constructive, engaging, inspiring, fun, like a drink of fresh water …

In our trainings, I love to hear participants exclaim:

-I have a voice!

-I can do this!

-I thought guiding a small group was a talent I didn’t have. Now I know the secrets, too!

In our Facilitating Relational Learning trainings, we talk about keys to making small groups work well. We also give each participant a chance to practice and build the necessary skills to facilitate an engaging small group Bible based discussion that is life transforming.

A few years ago, an educational expert, Dr Muriel Elmer, came to our training to evaluate what we do. We were thrilled to find that our style of step-by-step training, with opportunities for each participant to practice what they are learning, was indeed the way educational research shows that adults learn best.

The Learning Cycle: Insights for Faithful Teaching from Neuroscience and the Social Sciences

Drs. Muriel and Duane Elmer’s book, The Learning Cycle: Insights for Faithful Teaching from Neuroscience and the Social Sciences describes how adults learn best for life change. Our Entrust training is one of the examples used in the book to illustrate the effectiveness of new skill training when it is put into immediate practice. 

It’s good to know that our ministry training aligns so well with current educational understanding. As we combine those best practices with biblical principles and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the midst of each training group, we see tangible transformation in leaders’ lives. 

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