Last week the opportunity arose in two different meetings in different states for me to share IFPAC, something I wrote fourteen years ago in Teaching That Bears Fruit. A friend of mine, Barry Dollar, actually came up with the acronym as we were discussing how to help teachers create a true learning experience, though I changed one letter from his original version. IFPAC is still as valid today as it was when I first wrote about it and worthy for all leaders, teachers, and equippers to know and understand. IFPAC is actually an acronym to remind leaders and teachers of how people learn.
Interest – Create interest through an opening activity. Try to generate interest on an emotional level. Remember, for information to be processed into our long-term memory it must be attached to an emotion. We must realize an emotional benefit for retaining the information. People want to be part of something that is interesting and relevant to them in particular. You may get persons to attend once or even a few times, but if you cannot stimulate interest in your listeners, you will lose them. They will drop out and fall by the wayside. This is one of the greatest downfalls in most churches across North America today. The number one reason most adults give as to why they do not attend Sunday school is, “I’ve already been there.” There is no interest to attend because there was no interest created when they did attend.
Feelings – Feelings in our society today is another word for emotions. Know your learners. Examine their feelings. Ask questions as, “How do you feel after reading and discussing this?” or “What did this exercise bring to mind?” Learn the emotion of a question. Once you have reached them emotionally, you have reached their feelings, you have their interest and you have set the table for learning. True behavioral life-change learning can take place.
Principles – Allow the listeners to discover the principles for themselves. As we have seen through Jesus’ teaching and examining learning patterns, self-discovery learning is God’s built-in natural learning ability for us. Ask open-ended questions and wait for answers. Give assignments and let them discuss in small groups before bringing their findings to the larger group. Do not answer for them. Rather, guide the discussion in the right direction through their responses. Learning will take place when we allow our listeners to participate in learning. Self-discovery of principles and truths brings about behavioral life-change.
Application – Keep in mind, all of the content and information in the world is of no use unless the learner is able to process and apply it in their life on a daily basis. Create interesting ways to have learners answer the question. What are you going to do about it? How can you apply this in your life this week? Use illustrations, object lessons, questions, practice, and teachable moments to allow learners to discover application for their lives. The more familiar we are with something being presented, the easier it is for us to grasp and understand. Beginning with our attendees’ prior learning assists in the learning experience.
Challenge – Each and every lesson delivered should issue a challenge to the learners, be it implied or verbally communicated. What is the desired outcome of the truths and principles of the lesson? The challenge is for each member to implement and integrate God’s truths and principles in their daily lives. The challenge must be strong enough to cause the student to be willing to reorganize his or her actions and intentions. That is behavioral life-change. Learners should leave each session with a challenge to commit to something that will draw them nearer to God. “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” (James 4:8).
My first conversation last week was with a teacher following a Bible study session. There was good healthy discussion in the class and I thought this is good and when the teacher closes with a challenge (as listed in the curriculum) it will complete a good learning session. Then it happened. The teacher’s closing remarks went straight to the next set of scripture to be studied and the topic/truth the class would be discussing. There was no challenge, no mention of how to go and apply what we have been discussing. The topic was just dropped.
I was instantly deflated. A golden opportunity to complete a learning experience was missed. Therefore, it is doubtful that true life-change took place in any of the study participants. Issuing a challenge to complete the learning cycle and reinforce the discussion of principles and truths is a must for true, life-changing learning. To walk through a learning experience in a classroom, job setting, or other equipping opportunity without a challenge is similar to the following.
Imagine you decide to have a roast for Sunday dinner. You get up on Sunday morning, put the roast in the pan, clean and cut carrots and potatoes to add to the roasting pan. Following this you add water, salt, pepper, and other spices as desired. Ah, it smells good even now – before placing it in the oven. You adjust the racks in the oven to the right height, then cover the pan, place it in the oven and off to church you go. On the way home after church you can almost smell that roast in the car. You are so looking forward to roast,carrots, and potatoes you can’t think of anything else. Arriving home you walk in the door, walk over to open the oven door and realize the oven was never turned on. The roast is still sitting there uncooked.
Teaching or leading without issuing the proper challenge is just like the illustration above. You cannot expect the desired outcome without completing all of the five steps of IFPAC. All the other parts of the recipe can be spot on, but if you fail to issue a challenge for each person to live out the principle and truth of scripture, the lesson will sit as a roast in the oven that has no cooking ability.
Use all five elements of IFPAC in your leading and teaching. It will produce life-changing. This is Teaching that Bears Fruit.