Less Information, More Formation

blog books information listening Dec 15, 2021

I (Alan) have a lot of opportunities to communicate with leaders through coaching, training, speaking at retreats, and providing spiritual direction. The longer I do this sort of work, the stronger my conviction grows that in many settings, learners today are so supersaturated with information that a high-velocity, high-density teaching approach is ultimately counter-formational.

 

Others may disagree. I know this isn’t the conventional wisdom or the assumed “best practice” out there. But my experience, especially in the context of training leaders, supports the wisdom of a “less is more” approach. More space for reflection, interaction, and practice around less content (albeit strategic, well-focused content) helps the teaching take root and grow. Otherwise it can be like pouring more water on supersaturated ground that cannot soak in anymore.

 

Think of times when you’ve attended a conference with multiple sessions. Perhaps you took copious notes. How often have you gone back to review them after you got back to your busy life? I must admit that review has been rare for me. I’ve already moved on to absorbing yet more information that is coming my way.

 

I fear sometimes that the density and intensity of the information we try to pass along in our teaching may actually be training people to be comfortable living with an immense amount of undigested insight that never gets put into practice. That’s not what we’re aiming at, is it?

 

Reflection

  • What is one good insight God has given you recently through a sermon, a book you’ve read, or a podcast you’ve listened to?
  • How might you try on that insight through practice? Refresh that insight in your own soul by sharing it with a friend who needs encouragement.

 

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