My second year of Bible College the Lord taught me a very important lesson about how to study for exams. I’ve always been able to memorize things very easily so throughout High-School my way of studying was to write things down on a piece of paper and then review it verbally. The night before most exams was spent walking around my room (verbally going through notes) while the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Soundtrack played in the background 🙂
During my High School years I (along with many other students) adopted the “dump truck method” of test taking. In other words my memorization style only thought in basic terms (this is the question and this is the answer) instead of thinking about the information (why is this the right answer?). In early years of education like High School its easy to get away with this because having the right answer is enough. However a dump truck method of learning doesn’t work very well in College.
I actually coasted along the first semester of my freshman year using the dump truck method because my professors had mercy on me. One literally gave us the questions and answers to each exam! However in the second semester I was in for a rude awakening because suddenly having the right answer wasn’t enough, now we had to prove why it was the best answer.
I can remember a professor my Junior year at bible college giving us a reading assignment that would be covered in a quiz the next class period. We were told to read the material carefully in preparation so I studied very hard and felt confident coming in.
The professor however wanted to teach us a lesson in noticing everything in the material (not just the words) so a question in the quiz was “does the author smoke?” Later on I realized in that chapter there was a picture of the author with a pipe in his hand but in my hurry to cover the material I didn’t notice it.
That professor and others at college helped me think through an answer by looking at it from different angles or viewpoints instead of just putting it on paper without a second thought. This change in thinking began by simply making me stop and think about my answer.
Sadly in a religious mission field (area where people have basic knowledge of Scripture but haven’t accepted Christ) we encounter many people who use the dump truck method when the Gospels shared. They have the right answers but it’s just memorized words that spills out of their mouths without really thinking like my words dumped on paper.
Sharing the Gospel in this mission field is definitely a huge part of missions…however part of me wonders if just sharing it should be our goal. Wouldn’t it be better to make them stop and THINK about those words?
Therefore the goal of Christians is the same as my professor in college by moving past the basic answer. I’ve learned asking a follow up question like “if God asked why He should let you in Heaven what would you tell him?” has the same result as my professors question about the author smoking.
With this new goal (thinking about the Gospel instead of just giving memorized answers) we change the way that we share the Gospel though the message will never change. This begins by making the Gospel a conversation instead of a statement.