What Do You Need to Unlearn? by Terry Tieman
What Do You Need to Unlearn?
By Terry Tieman
Sometimes it is harder to unlearn things than to learn them! For instance, next week I will be joining my brothers for our annual Tieman Golf Outing. This is a time for us to reconnect and catch up on each other’s lives and families, as well as play a few rounds of golf. I love this time together!
Can you pick out Terry in the photo? Hint: Look for the TCN Logo!
The only problem is that my brothers are a competitive bunch and I am a terrible golfer! (I still can’t understand why they are all so good, and I’m so bad! Can’t be the genes, must be the shoes!) Anyway, to compound matters, I haven’t played golf all summer, so I will be going out on the first tee next week with absolutely no practice; and the only thing I have to fall back on is the muscle memory of my golf swing.
Bad idea! Why? Because I have a horrible golf swing! To simply repeat what I have been doing for the past 40 years will undoubtedly produce the same results that it always has—a banana slice and numerous trips into the woods! What I really need to do is UNLEARN MY CURRENT GOLF SWING. Until I do that, I will never be any good at golf.
I would suggest the same thing when it comes to the approach that many pastors and churches take toward ministry today! Simply repeating what’s been done for the past 40 years (or longer) probably isn’t a real good idea, especially when you realize how much our society has changed in that period of time. Dr. Robert Newton*, as well as others, have been telling us for some time now that we are in a Post-Church Age, where there is no current roadmap for guiding us forward in effective mission and ministry. The only solution to this quandary, he suggests, is to “unlearn” what we think we already know!
Of course, the first step toward unlearning is to admit that we don’t know everything. Kind of like what happens at an AA meeting, where everyone introduces themself by saying, “Hi my name is ,” followed by the confession, “I am a recovering alcoholic, addict, or whatever.” Using that formula, I should introduce myself in a church meeting by saying, “Hi my name is Terry, and I’m a recovering Seminarian, Pastor, & Church Consultant!”
In TCN Learning Communities, we begin with the admission that we don’t know everything about how to effectively engage our communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, if we were really honest, we should probably admit that we know very little and have actually done even less! But then the next important step is that we are willing to “unlearn” what we think we know and start really learning what we don’t!
*To learn more of Pastor Newton’s philosophy about “unlearning,” go to the following You Tube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8gfgkZH8fU and watch a video on the subject. Also, check this blog each week for more videos of Dr. Newton!