Into the looking glass…
In his book about discipleship1, Mike Brean speaks of three basic ways that we learn:
· We assimilate information. It may be in the form of a book or a lecture or a video. We listen or watch and hopefully recall what we have learnt. Our education systems in the west largely reflect this way of learning
· We learn through apprenticeship. We can read a book about how to change a plug, but to watch someone who knows how to do the task is a far more effective way of learning
· We learn through immersion. This is a far more subtle form of learning. It involves people being emerged into a culture, which by the very act of immersion into that culture, creates a context for learning and change. Mike Brean says that this requires two things of that culture. First, that it is easily accessible; second, that the culture is ‘fluent.’ That is, it behaves in ways that understand, articulate and live the culture.
Of course, good learning requires a complex interplay between all of these three ways in which we learn. The first two ways of learning will be reinforced by a healthy culture in which people learn simply from being a part of it.
Thinking about our discipleship learning, I suspect we live with the fantasy that simply feeding people information – sermons, books, etc. will, somehow of itself, lead to people deepening their faith. The evidence that such an approach won’t just lead to stuck Christians is there to see.