If you can’t hear, you won’t learn. Of course Helen Keller would not agree and I’d agree with her, however, for most of us, hearing is essential to learning. Why is that important?
When our daughter was in her twos and threes, she had many ear problems and she was regularly getting “tubes” to clear up the problem. I recently heard of a little boy, who couldn’t hear, but no one made the connection and he is behind in his development of learning. Why? He couldn’t hear! Now that he has “tubes” in his ears he can hear and he is in the process of catching up on his learning.
Do you know the same is true in Christianity? If a person is only sitting in the pew and “listening” to a talking head (Bible teacher), but that person is not talking, you really do not know IF he is learning. If the person is not talking about what he is learning, you have no idea as a teacher, disciple, shepherd, or parent IF the person is learning. If you do not see actions resulting from the teaching, the person is not learning; he is only listening.
That is why home groups are so important. Home groups are designed to get people to talk through spiritual discussions. In “big” church and fellowship groups, most people sit and truly listen. But if they don’t talk about what they have heard, they will remember very little. Just do a check a week later and you’ll realize people remember very little from the week before.
But if you have them do a little review and then have them discuss the material along with related material, then each person will retain the information for a longer time in order to influence their frame of reference. If you involve the person in the process of the home group, either in the prayer, or hosting, or in the provision of the snack, or in follow-up, they will engage in the discussion, remembrance and follow through.
That’s because the person is not only listening, he is engaged and he has taken ownership of the content. The material becomes more real. Home group and discipleship are NOT about the leader talking and sharing his knowledge and wisdom. They are about a wise leader who asks good questions to help people discuss what they are thinking. When a person verbalizes his thoughts, he gains confidence about what he has heard and he takes ownership of it. That is why discussion is crucial for the spiritual growth process. Schools require it, homes require it, but why do churches often not see the benefit of it? Discussion helps a person grow spiritually in his particular spiritual stage of growth on his way to becoming a spiritual parent.