Recently Dr. Win Am has completed a fascinating study on the relationship between the evangelistic process, the number of converts, and the dropout rate of those converts. He has concluded that the process by which people come into the church will determine the rate at which they drop out. This fascinating study reveals some important, significant truths regarding teaching techniques in the seminar setting. Dr. Am has divided the teaching process into three major categories.
The first he calls, Manipulative Monologue. In Manipulative Monologue the teacher is like a salesman. The attempt is to convince the listener. A series of carefully prepared psychological questions are asked to get the listener to respond in a certain way. The goal of this process is decisions. The only question asked is, "How many decided?"
The second teaching method Dr. Arn discusses is Information Transmission. Here the individual is a teacher desiring to impart information without desiring to influence the choice of the individual. As a dumptruck backs up and unloads a truckload of dirt, so the individual unloads his truckload of Biblical truth. The question here is not how many decided, but how many heard? The teacher sees himself as a purveyor of information. His goal is to get out the information. He is not as interested about whether people respond or not as long as they hear.
The last method Dr. Arn calls Non-manipulative Dialogue. In this method information is clearly and logically communicated. It is done in the setting of caring and love. The other person is treated with dignity and respect. His questions are openly received and intelligently answered. His needs are understood. In creative dialog the basic goal is presenting information in a loving way to positively influence the life of the other person, but never manipulating the will.
Dr. Arn studied three groups of 240 members each who had been recipients of an evangelistic invitation. He analyzed those who made a Christian commitment and were now active, those who dropped out after making a commitment, and those who said no. His findings are startling!
Eighty-seven percent of the dropouts, 209 out of 240, came through the Manipulative Monologue approach. Although initially this Manipulative Monologue approach persuaded the greatest number of converts, the apostasies from this approach were absolutely overwhelming.
Second, 75 percent of those who said No, 180 out of 240, saw evangelism as a process of communicating certain facts. They were approached through the Information Transmission process.
Seventy percent of those active, 169 out of 240, came through the Non-manipulative Dialogue approach. In other words they carefully listened to the information, filtered it through their minds, asked questions, felt satisfied that their questions were answered and personally decided on the basis of the information presented.
A seminar process which does not allow for questions or respect the opinions of another is bound to have low results. An evangelistic process which sees its goal as decisions, rather than disciples, tends to create dropouts. A decision and a disciple are not synonymous. Disciple-making is a process, not an event. The Biblical goal is not merely oral confession but a life transformed. If truth is presented too quickly, if doctrines come too fast, if they're not logical and systematic, if an individual feels manipulated or forced, he will either drop out of the seminar or continue to attend with a blockage of mind and not ultimately make a decision.
Mark Finley writes from Thousand Oaks, California where he serves as the director of It Is Written, an international evangelistic telecast program.