Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
– Proverbs 22:6
Today we focus on the 1st of four parts of Gospel Identity for concrete thinkers. The attribute of learner – “as disciples of Jesus we embrace a life of learning his ways and living them in obedience to all he has commanded.”¹ This general understanding plays out differently for an adult than it does for a concrete thinker. And when we think of “learning” often we fall prey to the listen to me speak and then you will know. But what about those who are social learners? Or kinesthetic learners? Or visual learners? Or logical learners?
#1 See each concrete thinker as uniquely designed in the image of God and meet them where they are at
It starts by us remembering a core truth – that each student (whether our own child or someone else’s) is ultimately God’s child. We have been entrusted with them – and let us do well with that. Disciple making is a process – especially at the concrete thinking level. So rather than grow frustrated when our group dynamic is thrown – remember each student is unique, a Son or Daughter of the King, and made to learn in different ways than others. The question for us then is will we invest the time needed to know our flock the way a shepherd knows his sheep (John 10:14).
#2 Incorporate multiple learning styles in all you do
In a group setting don’t just settle for you talking. While at this age there are often times it seems it would be easier to teach a mouse to speak Klingon – don’t give up! Think through various ways you can be interactive and encourage conversation. It could be as simple as making each student read one verse. It could be challenging them to defend their answers as a group and if they do you will give them donuts (Seriously – just did this last week and the boys dove for the Bibles in the middle of the room!) Use a whiteboard for the visual learners, have them get in groups, draw charts and arrows for the logical learners, speak it over and over for the auditory, bring students up front and act out for the kinesthetic learners. You don’t change the Gospel just the style in which you teach it to make concrete disciples.
#3 Say the same things over and over again
The biggest thing about concrete thinkers is they need to hear the same things over and over again. It will get extremely repetitive to you – but it is ok. They like the same things – for better or for worse. And it takes a while for some things to sink in.
The reason they can sing every line to Uptown Funk is because they listen to it on repeat on the bus to the game, in the locker room, and when they are going to sleep. Yes – after awhile it gets old – but they listen to it over and over again. We need to continually speak a few set of concrete Gospel truths on repeat into their lives. And if it seems they grow tired of hearing it – push back and ask them to teach it to you. When they can only repeat 1/2 of it – it means you are doing it right. When they only recognize a part of it – it means you are doing it right.
Remember – Titus 2 reminds us the Gospel not only saves us but trains us as well. Prayers as you seek to instill an identity of a learner into your concrete disciples. Remain faithful with those the Lord has entrusted you.