Applying the 70/20/10 Learning Principle to Church
By New Churches Team
The 70/20/10 Adult learning principle describes the following: 70% of learning is accomplished by doing (on the job, trial and error); 20% of learning is accomplished through informal feedback (mentoring, learning by interaction); and 10% of learning is accomplished by listening (conferences, seminars, classes, formal education). According to this principle, the primary way we learn is by doing and interaction, not by listening.
Are We Doing Sunday Morning Services Wrong?
If Sunday morning services are primarily listening, are we doing it wrong? The principle states that 10% of learning is listening. That means that an important piece of learning still comes through listening. Classes and sermons all have a role because we are learning something new through them. But then we need to interact with what we’ve learned, process it, and internalize it. When it comes to Sunday, there is something unique and powerful about the Word of God being preached.
Discipleship training isn’t decided completely by Sunday morning experiences though. In the Christian life, it’s good to have time together to worship the Lord and study the Bible so that then you can live it out, life on life, shoulder to shoulder. When you are serving the poor, ministering to your neighbor, and sharing the gospel, those are also ways you learn. If your Christian experience boiled down to sitting in a room, singing, and listening to a pastor, that would be problematic. However, most people in church life spend more time in relationships than in church service.
Avoiding Transactional Church Experiences
A big church can become transactional if you aren’t careful, but most churches spend time and energy to make sure people don’t see that Sunday morning service as their only Christian experience. It’s important to have the 70, the 20, and the 10. So, what does it look like within the Sunday morning gathering to have examples of the 70 and 20? During a sermon series, invite the congregation to come forward and respond in some way. That’s active participation.
Preaching is not the only thing that matters, but it does deeply matter.
Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode 455: The 70/20/10 Principle. Click here to listen to more to church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.