Content and Application


by Jeff Tunnell

Last evening I dialogued with a long-term educator and school principal.  We conversed about learning methods and how evidence shows that lectureis the least effective for the student to grasp content.  He noted that the second best situation for learning was in small groups of 3-4, where conversational exchange was followed by seeking a direct application for any newly discovered information.  This moves the learner from knowledge to relevance for living.  Concluding, with a broad smile, this educator told me that the very best method for a student to take hold of learning for life occurs when they are able to teach the content and application to another person.

If we only transmit knowledge to another person, or group of people, in order for them to pass a test by having the right answers, we have not discipled them.  Let’s aim higher in our training track, discipling equipping and leadership development processes.  Bring each disciple of Jesus to the point of personal transformation and growth that gives them an ability to express and demonstrate to others the life of Jesus within them.   Equip them to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

An optimum environment for Joyous discipleship is within a small group of 3 that meets regularly, preferable found within a group of 12 that meets on a weekly basis, as each person pursues daily discipleship with Jesus.  This intimate lifestyle will produce effective followers of Jesus who in turn will lead others in being authentic Christians, teaching both content and application.


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Contenido y Aplicación

Por Jeff Tunnell

Ayer por la tarde dialogue con un educador y director de la escuela. Conversamos acerca de los métodos de aprendizaje y cómo la evidencia muestra que la conferencia es el mecanismo menos eficaz para entender el contenido para un estudiante. Señaló que la segundo mejor situación para aprender era en pequeños grupos de 3-4, donde el intercambio de conversación era seguido por la búsqueda de una aplicación directa para cualquier información recién descubierta. Esto mueve el aprendiz del conocimiento a la relevancia para la vida. Concluyendo, con una amplia sonrisa, este educador me dijo que el mejor método para que un estudiante tome el aprendizaje para la vida cuando se enseñan el contenido y la aplicación a otra persona.

Si sólo transmitimos conocimientos a otra persona o grupo de personas, a fin de que pasen una prueba por tener las respuestas correctas, no las hemos discipulado. Vamos a apuntar más alto en nuestra pista de entrenamiento, el equipamiento del discipulado y el proceso de desarrollo del liderazgo. Traigamos a cada discpulo de Jesús hasta el punto de transformación personal y crecimiento que les da la capacidad de expresar y demostrar a los demás la vida de Jesús dentro de ellos. Equpalos para que “estén  siempre preparados para presentar defensa con mansedumbre y reverencia ante todo el que os demande razón de la esperanza que hay en vosotros. ” 1 Pedro 3:15

Un ambiente óptimo para el discipulado feliz está dentro de un pequeño grupo de 3 que se reúne regularmente, preferiblemente se encuentra dentro de un grupo de 12 que se reúne una vez por semana, ya que cada persona ejerce el discipulado diario con Jesús. Este estilo de vida ntima producirá seguidores eficaces de Jesús, que a su vez conducirá a otros a ser cristianos auténticos, enseñando tanto en el contenido y aplicación.


Portuguese blog:

Conteúdo e Aplicação

por Jeff Tunnell

Na noite passada conversei com um educador a longo termo e diretor de escolar. Conversamos sobre métodos de aprendizagem e como a evidência mostra que o sermão é o meio menos eficiente para um aluno entender o conteúdo. Ele percebeu que a segunda melhor situação para aprendizagem foi em pequenos grupos de 3 ou 4, onde a troca comunicativa foi seguida por buscar uma aplicação direta de qualque nova informação descoberta. Isto move o aluno do aprendizado para uma vida relevante. Concluindo, com um grande sorriso, este educador me disse que o melhor método para um aluno tomar posse da aprendizagem na vida ocorre quando eles são capazes de ensinar o conteúdo e a aplicação para outra pessoa.

Se apenas transmitirmos conhecimento para outra pessoa, ou grupo de pessoas, a fim de que eles passem um teste por terem as respostas corretas, nós não os discipulamos. Vamos mirar alto no nosso percurso, discipulado, equipagem e o processo de desenvolvimento e treinamento de liderança. Trazer cada discpulo de Jesus ao ponto de transformação e crescimento pessoal que lhes dê uma abilidade de expressar e demonstrar ao próximo a vida de Jesus entre eles. Equipe-os para “Antes, santifiquem Cristo como Senhor no coração. Estejam proparados para responderem a qualquer que lhes pedir a razão da esperança que há em vocês.” 1 Pedro 3:15

Um ótimo ambiente para discipulado prazeroso é dentre um grupo pequeno de 3 que se encontra regularmente, preferencialmente encontrado dentro de um grupo de 12 que se encontra em base seminal, como cada pessoa busca discipulado diário com Jesus. Este estilo de vida ntimo produzirá seguidores eficientes de Jesus que em troca liderarão outros em serem autênticos Cristãos, ensinando tanto conteúdo como aplicação.


4 thoughts on “Content and Application

  • Jeff,

    I believe you may be on to something here Brother!

    For many years, we in our cell-based church, have been meeting on Sundays for the twofold purpose of worship and instruction and then meeting on Wednesdays in cells for the twofold purpose of fellowship and expressions of our faith in Jesus Christ.

    We’ve stressed meeting on Wednesday mainly because of a study that was done by the Air Force Academy that discovered most people forget 95% of what we hear within the first 72 hours after hearing it. We, in our system, discuss and make application of Sunday’s message during the Word portion of the cell meeting. (There’s approximately 72 hours between Sunday celebration to Wednesday cell and approximately 72 hours between Wednesday cell to Sunday celebration; inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale).

    However, you wrote something in your post that I have been contemplating for some time now which has me rethinking our approach especially after a recent encounter I had with a man in our church who had been attending cell for many years and yet publicly threatened he would leave our church if I continued stressing the importance of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    A few months ago, I noticed that every conference/seminar I’ve been attending has us sitting around round tables for ‘breakout sessions’ after a presentation. I’ve been considering… What if, rather than sitting in rows on Sunday morning, we had church members sit around round tables and, after hearing the pulpit message, we had them ‘discuss and make application’ of the message they just heard? And then, in place of the usual cell meeting, we invite only those who truly desire to become genuine disciples of Jesus Christ to meet in smaller groups of 3-5 people (i.e.; triads) in cell and focus on discipleship during what we consider the ‘word’ portion of this smaller yet more intentional cell?

    Just a thought… Comments?

    Sharing the Journey,
    Rick Diefenderfer / Director
    Creating Christian Communities

    • Rick, YOU are on to something! I believe you are a “founder” pastor and as such you have enormous latitude to lead your cell church in new and excitingly biblical ways.

      If you have established cell leaders in place, form your Sunday tables as mentioned and have one leader at each table. Meet with those leaders prior to your preaching message to include them in the desired outcomes. Each group will need guidance, rather than allowing shared ignorance prevail.

      Follow through with the making of disciples midweek, much like Wesley did with his CLASSES. (See Cordle on this at

      It is a radical move with potential for radically different results, which I applaud!



  • Jeff,

    Yes, this would be “a radical move with potential for radically different results”. I recently heard Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor at First Baptist Dallas say, “I’m sick and tired of wimpy Christians … and they’re all around us.” This is precisely how I feel and what I’ve been wrestling with! Yes, I do believe, the Sunday table idea will suffice for the occasional church goer and the nominal Christians. We can then focus on being obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission, of teaching DISCIPLES in smaller/more intentional discipleship cells of 3-5 people per cell. BTW, we’ll soon be planting another cell-based church. Only this time, God’s purpose for His church will be plainly stated in the church name — “The Church of Disciples of Christ”.

    Sharing the Journey,
    Rick Diefenderfer / Director
    Creating Christian Communities

  • “…the very best method for a student to take hold of learning for life occurs when they are able to teach the content and application to another person.”

    Well said Jeff! We learn (and/or retain) most of what we teach others. The cell format creates the avenue for us to share and/or teach others, thus internalizing the values in our hearts. Good stuff!

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