Everyone learns differently. There are more books, research, and theories on learning styles and development than I’ll ever be able to read. But through them all (or at least the ones that I have seen), one thing rings true: the method is the message.
The method is the message. This means that what you are teaching is not just what you say, but what you do.
Take the college classroom, for example. I had a history class where the professor gave lecture after lecture. They were all very interesting, filled with stories of his current dig site in Egypt and passing around coins from ancient Mesopotamia. And his tests were always killers, requiring at least five hours of studying/memorization the night before. And in his class I learned history. Or rather, I learned how to listen to someone talk about history. I learned how to memorize data.
He was teaching history, but he was really teaching me how to listen to someone talk.
Or take our youth groups. We teach. But what are we teaching? Our words are important, but more than that we are teaching how to listen to someone talk. We sing. What are we teaching? Our songs are our prayers and worship, but more than that we are teaching how to sing and pray together. We have small groups. But what are we teaching? Our curriculum and activities are fantastically creative, but more than that we are teaching how to interact, to journey with, and to carry one another.
None of this is to say that the words we teach, the songs we sing, and the small groups we prepare are meaningless. Rather they are even more meaningful. But simply be aware that what we do is what we teach, not just what we say (or think we’re saying).
If you want students to learn to give, don’t talk about it. Do it.
If you want students to join God’s mission, don’t talk about it. Do it.
If you want students to pray, don’t talk about it. Do it.
What students learn is what they do. And what you do with your students – that is your message.
So what’s your message?