Helping your right-brain learners
Sharing the gospel used to overwhelm me. I know it is gloriously simple, yet when people asked me about the gospel I would think, “How do I say this?” or “What is the recommended order again?”
That all changed when I was given a Two Ways to Live tract by my pastor. Inside are six concise points of the gospel message and six simple illustrations. I finally had an easy-to-remember gospel explanation to share.
I think my former loss for words is because I am a right-brain learner. We tend to receive information in a large lump and process it as a whole. We tend to see the forest rather than the trees. And while my strong right-brain has given me some fun characteristics like being artistic and having a good sense of humor, it also means I struggle to process and retain auditory/verbal information. That struggle includes Sunday morning sermons and Bible study classrooms.
Statistics say that a third of any given group of people are right-brained. This means that we are in your congregations, trying our best to learn, despite the fact that auditory learning is a challenge for us. But because it’s nearly impossible to strategize for every particular group to which you are teaching, I thought it might be helpful to give you a cheat sheet. Here are three tips for how you can help your right-brain learners who faithfully show up.
Use maps, figures, graphs or charts as often as you can
These tools keep the right-brain learner’s attention and work as visual reinforcements for what you say verbally. A great example of this is a figure used in the study The Course of Your Life. In the study, a figure of an arrow pointing to the right with a cross through the center helps to illustrate the point of Colossians 1:13—that through Christ, we have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son. This visual is a powerful tool that helps turn an important biblical truth into a solid, lasting memory.
Use word pictures often
Pictures can help right-brain learners understand main points quickly and clearly. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 is a great example. The Lord speaks of his laws with this command: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” This command was not meant to be literal, but figurative, stressing the importance of obeying the Lord’s laws. But the image is powerful, comprehensible, and sticks with the reader.
Use study guides or sermon outlines
This can be on the projector, whiteboard or a printed worksheet. Outlines and study guides actively engage the listener and allow the right-brain learner to track and look back at points of reference during a lecture. This helps right-brain learners who sometimes miss words because they are trying to grasp the larger concept (or have accidentally begun daydreaming). Referring back to a study guide or sermon outline keeps the right-brain learner tracking with you.
Although we right-brainers can bring much to the church family through our creative strengths and big picture thinking, we can also struggle in the more traditional learning environments. Using these tips can help your right-brain learners grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Word, and as Romans 12:2 states “be transformed by the renewal of [their] mind.”