Teaching as a performance – TNS part 3

I’m involved with people trying to make a difference, people trying to help people grow.

I watch people teach lessons, tell stories, give sermons and speeches. I help people plan events, whether church services or training seminars or concerts. I spend time talking in small groups or individually with people who are wanting to understand how to sense of stuff, whether computers or relationships or life or God.

You do too.

We know that it’s important to consider the next sentence, the sentence after the great illustration, the followup after the great event. The last two posts have been about the idea of the next sentence. I talked about where the idea came from and then told you about a recent instance of forgetting the idea.

The next two posts in this series are going to talk about why we neglect to plan the next sentence, the next step.

Reasons we forget: Teaching as a performance

There is always a performing component to teaching. There is something about a group that sparks something. But if we look at teaching as a performance, we are in trouble.

When you are giving a performance, you are playing a role. You turn it on, you turn it off. You memorize the lines without thinking about them. They may not even be your lines. And the measure of a performance is, did I make them laugh or cry? Did I entertain them? Was it good? Was I good?

But the measure of teaching is, the measure of discipling is…what can they do?

There are times for performances. There are times for drama in teaching. But unless you are an artist, only on the way to something.

Where are you after you speak?

That’s one way to tell if you are giving a performance or teaching. After a performance you wait for the applause and go backstage. After a lesson, you are looking into eyes, providing additional explanation. It’s a conversation. It’s clarification. It’s involvement in lives. It’s…it’s….it’s….not just another speech.

Where are the camels?

I’ll tell you a secret about church. Many people only come to the building twice a year: Christmas and Easter. (If there’s a funeral or a wedding or a christening, those are exceptions). The people with that schedule have their reasons. The people who run church often think, “We need to plan big events for those two times. It will be impressive and chreasters will want to come back.” (Yes, that’s what we call you. I’m sorry. I didn’t make it up.)

The problem with that idea is simple: no one has camels on the Sunday after Christmas.

If the goal of gathering from Sunday to Sunday (and in between) is growth, then to have a huge pageant to entertain means that people are entertained, and then incredibly disappointed when there isn’t something entertaining the next week. So people come back the next time there is something entertaining, for the next pageant.

(Truth in advertising time. A couple years ago, after having written and then watched a Christmas drama based on a Cubs fan entitled, of course, “maybe next year”, I walked out of the church building and said to my boss, “time to start working on Easter.” He made me shut up.)

If you want people to grow in understanding, then the next step isn’t the next pageant, it’s a conversation that says, “here’s how to live between the emotional highs.”

“But what do you want me to do?”

So how do you avoid turning lessons and events and stories into performances (if you want more from them)? Next week, we’ll look at several ways to be effective with writing the next sentence. But I have to tell you something now, right? Because otherwise this post is just a performance.

Always give people something to do. Now. Right away. And then one to do in a day. And then one to do in a week. And then for a lifetime. Sound like too much? Chris Brogan talks about giving people Five takeaways in every presentation (and he comes close).

Some people need something right now. Some people need something for a lifetime. Speak to both of those groups.

So what are the takeaways from this? You write them.


Coming up next in this series, why fear keeps us from the next sentence?


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One response to “Teaching as a performance – TNS part 3

  1. Pingback: Doing Myself Out of a Job « Winnowing