I was able to watch a webinar from Preaching Rocket a few weeks ago. A number of pastors and communicators were asked about their craft and the way that they prepare. I was thrilled to hear from a number of preachers that I admire.
Regarding learning, he said that 90-95% of what is heard is forgotten in 72 hours.
If you check out the source linked above, something else is worth mentioning… lectures with notes provided allow the learner to remember 65% of the data. Participatory presentations allow the recall of 70%.
In 9 Lies Pastors Believe While they’re Preaching, Ben Reed points to two conflicting misgivings that pastors feel as they preach…
8. If I go long, people will love me for it.
9. If I go short, people will judge me and wonder what I did all week.
The conflict lies in whether a pastor should go long for the sake of going long, or if they should be intentionally brief despite feeling insecure about the opinions of the listeners.
I don’t think there is any one perfect answer.
(Good, Jon, ’cause no one asked.)
Seriously. These things percolate in my grey matter.
When I think of a sermon, I think of a one-directional presentation, with no participation aside from the occasional “amen.” Many Sunday School settings are also in this vein. It makes me wonder if some Biblical instruction would be more effective if communicators would re-think their presentations with the end in mind – the retention of the information presented.
After all, if someone can’t remember what a preacher said, how will they act upon the truths imparted?
I do not deny the Holy Spirit’s role in retention, and have personally experienced the Holy Spirit’s ability to bring information to mind when it is needed to influence me in some way. And I understand that the hearer bears responsibility for their own spiritual growth. But does the imparter of information have some responsibility to do everything within their power to enable the hearer to remember what was said?
An outline in the bulletin. A one-sentence “take-home” point that is easily remembered and readily referenced throughout a message. A truth made accessible by storytelling (I heard about a man from Nazareth that did this well). Necessary techniques? No. Helpful when it comes to retention of important information (namely, all of the Word)? Yes.
Do you take notes during sermons/presentations/sales pitches, whether or not an outline is provided? Would you be more likely to remember what you heard if you did?