This is the place to find out the latest information about our extension activities, Our latest in training, and those we support in the field.
God is seeking people who love Christ, His word and the mission of His church; and who want to share the Gospel with others.
In recent months I have caught myself deciding to buy a book or some other printed item based on the number of pages and the font space and size of the text. If the chapters ramble on, regardless of the content, I find myself skipping paragraphs or speed reading to get the main point or finish the time-consuming task. I’m not proud of this, just being honest about the obvious impact on my study and reading time. It has caused me to buckle down relative to my attention span.
We’ve all been in classes, heard speakers, and read books where the main point if there was one, was lost in the weeds of verbiage. You left confused with more questions than answers. The person who said, “A message doesn’t have to be eternal to be memora-ble” is certainly right in our day of “less is more.” The days of the 45 to 60-minute sermons are becoming memories; even 30-minute sermons have become Sleep-aids. If a listener can leave with one point and one intentional application based on the sermon, an amazing thing has occurred.
We’re living in a time where the attention span is shrinking faster than the dollar or a cheap cotton shirt. The ability to concentrate mentally on a particular activity, especially in events where information is being dispersed is impacting every aspect of communication. In cases diagnosed as extreme by mental health professionals, a new label—ADD—has been coined: Attention Deficit Disorder. It has been estimated that every classroom in America, from elementary to college, contains students with ADD. Some schools have special classes and teachers to deal with attention span issues.
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 persons, studying their brain activity of 112 us-ing electroencephalograms. The results showed the average attention span of a human had decreased from 12 seconds in 2000, or about the time the cell phone revolution began, to eight seconds. In the meanwhile, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds. Other studies indicate that the average attention span of an adult or young person who is really interested in a subject is approximately 20 minutes. This calls at-tention to the need for upgraded communication skills: delivery, listening, attention, re-membering, application etc. Thus the questions: As a leader is your attention span longer than a goldfish? How about your listeners?
One of the major reasons Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863, is so memorable is because of its brevity—272 words. Today that’s about one double-spaced, 8 ½ X 11, typed page. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech lasted 17:29 minutes. Churchill’s “We shall Fight on the Beeches” address lasted 12:22 minutes. Steve Job’s Stanford Commence address lasted 14:45). It has been estimated that an average reader can read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in 18 to 20 minutes.
The Ten Commandments are presented in 17 verses in the NKJV (Exodus 20:1-7) and can be read in three to five minutes. Peter’s sermon—the first Gospel sermon—on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, is 11 verses (Acts 2:29-39). We don’t have a record of the “Many other words” preached (2:40). In his discourse before the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul spoke approximately 268 words as recorded in the NKJV. Yes, I remember he once preached until midnight and a hearer fell from a window (Acts 20:1-12).
My computer word count is growing. So I’d better get to the point. This is the intro-duction article to my new blog column for WBI: Power Points for Leaders. Each blog post will be presented with the realization that LESS IS MORE. I will get to the relevant point for leaders. There is amazing power in one word. Paul affirmed this when he used the Greek word rhema in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is A WORD of God. There is awesome power in ONE WORD, e.g.: No! Yes! Love! Re-pent! Stop! Obey! Etc. This is why James said, “Let your YES be yes, and your NO be no” (James 5:12). A word of God can defeat Satan.
Remember what Jesus said about the Gentiles: “And when you pray, do no use vain rep-etitions as the Gentiles do. For they think that they WILL BE HEARD for their MANY WORDS” (Matthew 6:7). Yes, less is more! Especially in light of the fact that we all KNOW more than we are practicing. We need continual reminders contained in brief points that, hopefully, will initiate new actions of leadership.
God has created us with brain functions that contribute cognitive processing abilities and resources to focus on stimuli and information. When we are exposed to information our brain exercises mental processes that decode it from our environment which allows us to experience it through our five senses. Our attention span determines how focused or how long we are focused on something we are being exposed to by listening and watching.
Paying attention is the first cognitive function which determines how we process the meaning and application of the subject, etc. Numerous things contribute to attention span and how we process the event. Here is a quick reminder of various types of attention.
Momentary attention. Out of the blue, you hear a noise and turn to see where it came front. Since it ceased quickly, you paid no more attention.
Selective attention. The speaker is rambling on and you lose interest, but when he comes to a joke or bit of interesting data you listen. This is selective attention. This is a popular form of listening to sermons and lectures.
Alternating attention. This is the ability and practice of switching back and forth from one project or subject to another, each requiring a different cognitive skill. Some-times neither task is done very well.
Divided attention. We’ve all heard a teacher say, “Let me have your undivid-ed attention.” This is the cognitive practice of alternating, somewhat successfully between two tasks. This is usually referred to as multi-tasking.
Sustained attention. This is the ability to cognitively focus with a laser beam of attention on one item, subject, etc. without being distracted. It is having “ears that hear and eyes that see.”
Prayerful attention. This is a self-control and spiritual approach to paying attention. It is a recognitions that Satan is continually trying to steal the word out of our hearts (cf. Luke 8:12). It is continually asking God to help you pay attention (cf. 1 Thessaloni-ans 5:17).
Avoidance attention. This is a deliberate cognitive choice not to pay atten-tion to what is being said. It is flipping through the song book or Bible during the message. It is focusing on a person or item in the auditorium.
Deficient attention. When a person has a brain injury, dementia, etc. it is not possible to focus on what is being said, or comprehend what is being presented.
These are the attention challenges a speaker or writer faces which demand staying abreast of the new advances and practices in communication. Remember your listeners and readers may not have the attention span of a goldfish. How about YOU? I’m looking forward to our next power point visit.
As a leader and teacher, you must challenge yourself to pay attention as well as teach others how to pay more productive attention. Here are some quick tips:
Believe you can pay attention. This is more than half the battle.
Know why you need to pay attention: to learn, remember, and use materi-als.
Make a commitment to self, others, and the Lord to paying attention.
Go to the event with an idea of what you will learn, or desire to learn.
Prayer specifically before entering the learning event.
Pray for the teacher before and during the learning event. (Mental prayer—self-talk).
Wear comfortable clothing which is appropriate and in good taste.
Make it a habit of paying positive attention to what is being said.
Get a good night’s sleep is will help prevent tiredness and drowsiness.
Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Proper eating habits contribute to alert-ness.
Get appropriate physical exercise, it contributes to your ability to stay fo-cused.
Remove all distractions: cell phone, computer, notes, iPad, music, etc.
Stay in the present. Don’t daydream, drift into “trance”, mind wanderings, etc.
Repeat what is being said in your mental self-talk.
Choose a good seat or pew close enough to a speaker or teacher to see his eyes.
Know you learning mode: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.
Take notes of major and relevant points, ideas, illustrations, etc.
Ask questions. (1) What is being said? (2) What does it mean? (3) How does it apply? Etc.
If there is a break take the time to quickly review what was presented.
As soon as possible after the class add additional notes from what you remem-ber.
Prepare a quiz or test over material to check what you have learned.
Form or join a study group where the subject is discussed, explored, and ap-plied.
Don’t continually look at the people around you. Focus on the teacher, etc.
If possible choose short lectures—20 minutes would be ideal.
If appropriate and encouraged, ask questions.
Research deeper into the subject: “become an expert.”
If at all possible, and as soon as possible, teach the material.
Make a plan to intentionally practice points relevant to your daily life.
Be excited about the class. Tell others about it, etc.
Ask for a conference with the teacher if you have major questions, etc.
Yes, you can learn by paying attention. Always remember that Satan doesn’t want you to pay attentions. His mission is to steal the word out of your heart (cf. Luke 8:11, 12). As leaders, we must train ourselves and those who follow how to be more attentive.
Watch for additional Power Points for Leaders!
Thanks to each of you who volunteer your valuable time and share your God-given abilities to teach in the most important education program on earth – Bible School. As a Bible teacher you are challenged to be a part of a most important ministry of the church. The responsibility of this great work is as great as the task itself.
The total quality of teaching in the Bible School is the sum of the qualities of each teacher, and the church is blest with a highly capable staff who offer their very best year after year.
Since newcomers are pouring into our country from all over the globe, 2017 looks to be a great year for congregations who emphasize outreach. It is our mission as God’s people to share the gospel with as many people as we can and opportunities abound. Every sincere Christian wants his/her church to be the kind of church that God expects, i.e., SOUL CONSCIOUS. Bible School teachers can play an important role in accomplishing evangelistic goals for 2017.
Unfortunately, this incredible resource is overlooked when we plan for church growth. Most every church hosts an annual Vacation Bible School. There is a massive influx of visiting children. We welcome them, enjoy their presence and then, at the conclusion of VBS, we say, “Hope to see you next year”. Why do we do that? Wouldn’t it be better to see them next week? Wouldn’t it be better to see them every week? While working with a church in Tennessee we did just that. We implemented some of the outreach efforts of VBS year round. The number of bible studies and baptisms increased dramatically.
STEP ONE: Set a goal (as a class) for the number of visitors in your class each week. Include the students in this “discussion”.
STEP TWO: Emphasize regularly to your students how important it is to help lead others to Christ.
STEP THREE: Reward students for bringing visitors to Bible class. (You can provide “brought one” buttons or stickers for each). You may also want to put a poster on the wall with recognition to those who brought visitors. Be creative.
STEP FOUR: Have your assistant (must have assistant) help make visitors feel welcomed and fill out a visitor information sheet for each visitor. Younger students may need some help filling out the form (This information will be used to follow up on the family). Make sure to get as much contact information as needed. This information is also used to invite the family to every church event. Birthday cards signed by each student will be mailed to the visitor(s) each year as a means to stay in touch.
STEP FIVE: Turn in your visitor information sheets to the “church growth guy”. This person needs to be well organized and responsible. They are responsible to make sure that each teacher/assistant is doing their part.
STEP SIX: The church growth guy will (1) make sure that the information is filed and (2) that someone from the church (preferably the class teacher) visits each of the visiting students at home that week (important). Thank the parents for allowing their child to come to class and invite them to visit as well. Offer information about the church (a nice/attractive packet is a good idea) and look for opportunities to develop a relationship with them.
Follow up visits will be made and the office will send out a letter to the family acknowledging their visit along with a copy of the KIDZONE publication (was our newsletter for youth).
WARNING: This approach to outreach has resulted in rapid church growth. You need to be prepared for such. We had to rent a portable building for additional classroom space as the number of students continued to increase. Eventually the church built a new and bigger facility.
Some say he was a doctor of the law, knowledgeable above all his peers. He is now an old preacher and missionary confined as a prisoner to live out his last days. His medical chart is several pages long documenting his numerous injuries. He has given his best years to the preaching of the Gospel. Death appears to be close at hand. In his flesh and emotional state he had every right to be bitter, disappointed, and resentful. Not this old warrior. Here is what he wrote to one of the young preachers he trained: “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry…Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the BOOKS, especially the PARCHMENTS” (2 Timothy 4:11-13).
Notice what the aged preacher asked the younger preacher to do:
Paul was still engaged in ministry. Therefore, he needed more help: “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” He was a team builder to the end.
Paul was still mindful of his health: “Bring the cloak.” This was protection from the cold and damp weather. Perhaps he wanted to give it to a needy person (cf. Gal. 6:10).
Paul wanted his BOOKS. What would an aged apostle who knew the law, Gospel, and doctrine, want with books? Notice he didn’t say “a book” but BOOKS. Even, as some claim, with poor eyesight he still wanted to read—to learn—to reaffirm, etc.
Paul especially wanted the PARCHMENTS. This was a thin skin used for writing. Paul was not a “has-been” writer, resting on his previous works given to him by the Holy Spirit. No! He needed to write personal letters and be ready just in case God has some additional epistles for him to write.
Paul is an amazing example for every Christian and especially for every preacher and leader in the church. He not only spent time in educating himself but obviously he believed in and practiced continuing education. Which is clear from the above Scriptures. How contrasting was Paul’s dedication to the practice of continuing to study and write to that of some preachers and leaders today. Sadly, many are trying to lead the 21st century church with an antiquated model learned in past decades. (I went back in my 50s and completed my doctorate).
I remember as if it had been yesterday. However, it was over 50 years ago. I was in my second month as a full-time associate minister working with a preacher who had been in the ministry for over 30 years. When I asked him a question about a controversial teaching on the Holy Spirit, desiring to get his views, he replied, “Oh, don’t worry about that. I handled that 30 years ago and don’t need to spend time on it. I haven’t changed my views on that subject and won’t either.” In the weeks and months following that event I discovered he was preaching and ministering with methods, traditions, etc. he’d learned decades ago. Members were complaining.
In over 50 years of full-time ministry I have noticed an amazing neglect of continuing education engaged in my preachers and church leaders. A typical scenario I have witnessed goes something like this. A man goes to an institution to prepare himself to preach. In some cases he is taught by men who haven’t been engaged in full-time church ministry as a preacher; thus they are teaching theory and arguments related to issues that no longer exist. Some are teaching ministry methods for evangelism, Bible classes, etc. that worked years ago but no longer communicate in the 21st century. Some are only conduits for the works and books of others; nothing original.
The church of today is facing issues that no other generation has faced. To name one—the powerful influence of the social media. How sad it is for some preachers and leaders to brag about how they don’t used a computer or any of the social media programs. Add to this the need for biblical counseling related to marriage issues, financial and money problems, poor leadership training, church growth, burnout, aging challenges, youth problems, etc.
Think about it! Almost all major professions, institutions, and businesses require members to complete a specific number of continuing education units during a prescribed time period. As an emphasis the need for continuing education by professionals, etc. was begun in America in the 1870s. It is estimated that over 90 million people are engaged in some form of continuing education each year in the USA. Guess which profession isn’t found in these numbers? Preaching!
An auto mechanic must continue his education to keep up with the technology. Nurses, physician, accountants, teachers, real estate persons, insurance salespersons, etc. are required to complete so many continuing education units to keep their jobs. Don’t you find it a bit ironic that professions and businesses that deal with temporal issues require continuing education while preachers who deal with eternal issues aren’t encouraged or required to participate in structured continuing education?
The closes most churches come to encouraging the preacher to participate in continuing education is sending him to a lectureship. While these lectureships expose him to numerous topics and speakers, there isn’t an organized methodology and requirements to document whether he has learned anything. A lot of his time is spent in chit-chat sessions and browsing displays and thumbing through books. How do I know? Been there done that, don’t have a T-shirt yet. No! There’s nothing wrong with attending a lectureship for the exposure and fellowship. But let’s not confuse this with continuing education where learning takes place and skills are enhanced and developed. Back home it is ministry in the same old ruts and traditions.
While there are numerous continuing education opportunities in our fellowship, I want to share with you one that is available through the World Bible Institute (WBI). These programs are delivered through (1) extension schools—local and foreign, and (2) through online courses that are completed without leaving home. You may also earn credit through documentation of life experiences. Another major feature is the cost of each course is very affordable. Besides taking a courses for personal enrichment and education, you can earn a certificate, associate degree, bachelor degree, and master’s degree. In a WBI course you practice what you learn and learn what you practice. It is a result and skills based approach to learning. It is not theory or wasting time chasing rabbits. You are a DOER of the word (cf. Jas. 1:22-26).
Let’s be honest. I’m like you, I want to know the answer to the question: “What’s in it for me?” before I say yes to an opportunity or, in this case, enroll in a continuing education course through WBI. Here are just a few of the obvious benefits and blessing from taking a WBI course:
First, you would be “studying to show yourself approved to God” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).
Second, you would be following the example of the apostle Paul.
Third, you would be refreshing and remembering things you already know (2 Pet. 1:12).
Fourth, you will improve, enhance, and develop skills relate to sermon and teaching preparations and delivery. You will be a better communicator.
Fifth, you will improve, enhance, and develop counseling and communication skills that will bless you personally as well as your congregation.
Sixth, let’s be honest. You will be better “qualified” to work with larger and more challenging congregations in the brotherhood. Many now require degrees and specific skills.
Seventh, you will go deeper into the Scriptures through new hermeneutic skills and be better equipped to teach on a “deeper level.”
Eighth, you will be a blessing, inspiration, and example to the congregation.
Ninth, you will be able to explore and teach new subjects you are interested in, as well as add to those you are already interested in.
Tenth, you will glorify God in the church as a continuing student of His word, “growing in grace and knowledge” (Eph. 3:21; 2 Pet.1:5-7). It will contribute to your maturing in Christ.
By being involved in continuing education you are affirming that you are educated but you want to continue. You want to add skills and be on the cutting edge relative to meeting the challenges in a sinful world and in the church that is losing ground relative to growth and stability.
Check out WBI. You may be just a click from earning your degree.
World Bible Institute, under the oversight of the elders at the McDonough church of Christ, takes seriously the Great Commission. Before Jesus ascended back to the Father, he told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). WBI is going into all the world and baptizing disciples. In fact, during 2016, more than 3,000 (yes, three THOUSAND) precious souls obeyed the Gospel through the work of World Bible Institute. WBI accomplishes the Lord’s work by making, baptizing, and nurturing disciples in the United States, Ghana, South Africa, Haiti, Philippines, Uganda, and Micronesia. Plans are underway to venture into Ukraine and Nicaragua, if the Lord wills. World Bible Institute is truly global in her efforts.
WBI accomplishes its work primarily through preacher-training schools throughout the United States and the world. Let me highlight a couple of our works:
The work in Ghana is, by far, the most productive work undertaken by WBI. In just 4 years, more than 8,000 precious souls have been baptized into Christ, and several new congregations have been established. The work in Ghana averages about 170 baptisms per month!
Students preach via radio, and more than 500 people have been led to Christ through the students’ efforts. Every graduate is now working full-time with a congregation.
World Bible Institute offers good and solid degrees to her graduates. At our extension schools, you can earn an Associate Degree in Biblical Studies or a Bachelor Degree in Biblical Studies. In the BA program, we offer a preacher curriculum, a leadership in ministry curriculum, and a missions curriculum. Online, you may earn a Master Degree in Biblical Studies in either ministry or counseling. All our courses are taught by quality faculty with ministry experience and the appropriate academic credentials. While learning academically is important, the main emphasis is always on the best way to share the Gospel of Jesus with the lost and dying world.
World Bible Institute has a very simple missions philosophy: New works should be self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. In other words, we want these new congregations established through WBI extensions to learn how to get by without American money, learn how to govern themselves instead of relying on American brethren to make their decisions, and learn how to establish new congregations without waiting on campaigns from American churches.
We desperately need you to partner with us in this endeavor. We need your financial support. We need you to pray for us that God may continue to open abundant doors for ministry. We need you to send us students who are eager to learn the word of God. We need you to help spread the word about the good WBI is doing. Never forget that your help can change the population of heaven!!
May we work to see the Gospel cover the earth as the water covers the seas!