Developing an EPIC Generation - Experiential

man crowd surfing at a concert

The first time I heard the concept of an EPIC generation was through Tim Elmore from Growing Leaders. EPIC is this understanding that the current generation is Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich & Connected, and if we are going to teach and develop young people then we need to be communicating in these ways, because they are more meaningful to them.

To be entirely honest, many of those things are not exclusive to the current generation, there have always been people who learn better from hands on experience than listening, or who retained concepts when they were presented as images etc, it just seems that these attributes describe more of the population and that they have the range rather than 1-2 of them.

Today I wanted to expand on the concept of Experiential and I will cover the other aspects in future posts.

It seems that many of our environments are set up as lectures, whether that is a school environment, a church service, a conference, a training course etc, and yet we retain only around 5% of what we hear. Good communicators will use slides when given the opportunity which might get us up to around 20% retention, but the research shows that retention gets close to 75% if there is an opportunity to practice by doing.

The reason I picked the image I did for this post is because listening to music is like listening to a lecture, it engages the hearing and in the moment you are engaged and maybe even moved. If it carries meaning for you then you will likely remember aspects of it into the future. But a concert is more impactful. The experience includes sights, sounds, smells, touch, tastes, connections that are missing if you are only listening. A live concert is a full experience.

To develop young people into disciples and leaders, we need to think about what experiences we can expose them to that will help shape and develop them. The impact of a missions trip to a teenager is much greater than just hearing about the need and seeing some slides or videos. The experience of sharing their faith, or of praying for someone, or of defending their faith is far more effective than just being told about how to do these things.

Even practical things like budgeting, dating, interviews, relationships, cooking etc are all best learnt with an experience.

If you plan and run a series in your small groups or teaching calendar, try and make one week or one aspect experiential, and make time to debrief and discuss the experience. Because greater than experience is evaluated experience.

One example that I did with the youth I was leading was a walk through the miracles of the Bible. I can't remember all the aspects but I set up one area with blue lights, fans and big curtains to replicate the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. In another space I set up as many heaters as I could in a small room with red lights to replicate Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in the fiery furnace. In those spaces we spoke about the character of God and his power.

The ideas are limitless and we serve a creative God who can inspire you as you lead, disciple, develop and teach young people.

Ask yourself this question: What can I do in the next 2 weeks to add an experiential aspect to our teaching/development?

We would love to hear what you try and how it goes.

 

Other posts in this series: