The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

The 3 Sets of Rules for Helping People Change

Posted on: April 19, 2016

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Last week, we looked at the power of matching methods to goals, and that when you creatively and effectively do so, your ministry can elevate to a level of impact you cannot know otherwise. This week, we look at the actual rules (methods) for major impact.

There are three sets of rules for helping people change. There are rules for teaching when knowledge is your goal. There are rules for teaching when lifestyle change is your goal. And there are rules for teaching when imparting a skill is your goal. This week we look at those rules and how they can impact your own spiritual growth and the growth of those you influence.

Knowledge Rules – there are three levels of knowledge, each requiring their own rules:

The Memory level: recalling what has been taught. When your goal is teaching for memory, the rules are:

  1. Reduction: Boil the information down to its irreducible minimum so that the learners only have to work at remembering essential information.
  2. Preview: Show the learner the big picture of what is to be learned.
  3. Activity: The learner must actively participate in the memorization process; recite out loud, fill in blanks, draw diagrams, take notes, etc.
  4. Progressivity: Memorize one thing, then attach the second thing to it… then attach the third thing to that, etc.
  5. Creativity: If something is unusual, it sticks in the mind more effectively.
  6. Multiplicity: Memory is enhanced when more than one perceptual system is used; see, write, recite, listen, touch, etc.
  7. Feedback: Memory is reinforced if the learner has immediate feedback on whether his learning attempts are right or wrong.
  8. Repetition: the more often a learner repeats a memory activity, the better he will remember it. Repetition is the key to mental ownership.

The Understanding level: comprehending what has been taught. When your goal is teaching for understanding, the rules are:

  1. Questions: Give the learner the opportunity to ask questions.
  2. Restatement: Have the learner state something in his own words. If you cannot say something in your own words, you do not yet understand it.
  3. Summary: Have the learner summarize the information. When you outline or summarize information, it enhances understanding.

The Application level: applying to one’s life what has been taught. When the goal is teaching for application, the rules are:

  1. Personal Example: Give a personal example from your own life of how the truth applies. Also, ask the learner to think of how the truth would apply to his life.
  2. Real Example: Give an example of how the truth applies by using a real situation from history, anecdotes, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs or current events. Ask the learner to do the same.
  3. Hypothetical example: Give an example of how the truth applies by illustrating with a hypothetical or fictitious story, such as Jesus did with parables. Ask the learner to think of a “such as” example that illustrates the truth being taught.

Lifestyle Rules – When your goal is teaching to influence a learner’s attitudes, values and behavior, the rules are:    

  1. Modeling: living the desired behavior in front of the learner Life-on-line is the greatest methodology for affecting someone’s attitudes, values, and behavior.
  2. Exposure: introducing them to other people or groups who model the desired behavior. Exposure to others who model the attitudes, values, and behavior being taught is a second powerful way to influence another’s lifestyle.
  3. Examples: give examples–both real and fictional–from history, literature, movies, etc., of the desired behavior.
  4. Instruction: draw on exemplary, authoritative sources to authenticate the value of a given behavior.
  5. Evaluation: provide opportunities for self-evaluation to illuminate potential needed change.
  6. Challenge: appropriately challenge learners to change.

Ministry Skill Rules – When your goal is to help someone acquire a skill the rules are:

  1. Demonstrate: let the learner see the skill demonstrated in its entirety.
  2. Divide: break the skill down into its components and demonstrate each component.
  3. Practice: have the learner practice each component under supervision to make sure it is being done correctly.
  4. Master: have the learner practice under realistic conditions until mastery is gained.

I hope you find these guidelines helpful. If you want more details on the why and how of matching the appropriate teaching methods to your goals for imparting knowledge, inspiring lifestyle change or helping someone develop their ministry skills, be sure to get my book, Brave New Discipleship*. I’ve dedicated several chapters in the book elaborating on these principles. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, this information changed my life and has guided and empowered my ministry for over three decades. Master these principles to transform your ministry from spreading sunshine to firing laser beams.

*As of this post, my book Brave New Discipleship is on sale online at my publisher’s author’s page – click HERE for a discount on the book, plus, use the code BRAVEFS at checkout and you’ll receive free shipping for the book.


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