Learning in Public

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I need to be willing to bring people into the process that goes on behind the scenes. Show people how I get ideas. The idea is to allow the audience to follow along as I try to figure out how to make disciples of Jesus.

The Wrong Approach

I’ve spent the last several years trying to learn as much as possible and put it all together into one big project that I could share with the people. But as I’m reading one book, I find that it leads to a dozen more, and I start reading those books - and all the books they reference while I’m still reading through the original book that piqued my interest. Obviously, I’ll never be able to finish them all. I will never be able to review all of the information, which means that - unless I change my approach - I will never be able to even begin sharing anything.

The problem is that I’ve been thinking of this website as a place where I can publish some completed bible lessons that might help others become disciples of Jesus, and make more disciples. But as I mentioned, I’m constantly finding new information that I might want to add.

What if I started using this website as a publicly-accessible filing cabinet of thoughts and ideas that have stuck with me from the books and articles I’ve recently read? That might cause me to stop thinking of each post as something that needs to be well-structured, and to start thinking of each post as simply a new scrap of paper or index card with another idea or quote that I want to keep. Something to be jotted down that I could come back to later in order to connect it with other ideas to in order to form my own ideas.

I tend to think of each post as if it were going to be permenant, and therefore needed to be carefully constructed because it cannot be undone or altered once it’s shared. Where did this idea come from? I don’t know. But it isn’t helpful to me at all.

A New Approach

Instead, I need to be willing to - as one person put it - “learn in public.” To set all of my resources on the table and start talking my way through the data in a way that anyone can observe. I could share things as often as possible and let others know what I’m working on, what questions I have, etc… There may be others out there who are wresting with the same problems and questions. We could share the work. Create a sort of collective genius, or “scenius” - a concept attributed to musician Brian Eno. I first read about the concept of “scenius” in a book called Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. Here’s what Eno says about it:

So I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history – in the sort-of “Great Man” theory of history – they were called “geniuses”. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent. So I came up with this word “scenius” – and scenius is the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people. And I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture, actually. I think that – let’s forget the idea of “genius” for a little while, let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.

Brian Eno

In his book 5Q (about the five-fold ministry), Alan Hirsch mentions Eno’s “scenius” concept as a new way of thinking about how the church should be operating.

When we share ideas and allow others access to our work, we increase the likelihood that others can copy ideas from us (that we received from others they may not know about), and share ideas with us (that they recieved from others we may not know about). All of those ideas can interact with one another and form connections to ther ideas until those connections reveal a bigger picture than could have been imagined by any single one of us if we all had worked alone.

I need to be willing to bring people into the process that goes on behind the scenes. Show people how I get ideas. Become a documentarian of what I do. Interestingly, as I’m reading back over this post, it occurs to me that this is exactly what disciple makers do. They allow other people into their lives in a very informal and personal way.

This may be very difficult for me at first. I’ll try to do a “daily dispatch,” but it may be more of a weekly thing for awhile.

Seth Godin recommends daily blogging as well.

He suggests that even if nobody reads the posts, the act of writing them every day is beneficial to the author because it helps to clarify one’s thoughts. He’s not alone in that. As Dawson Trotman (founder of The Navigators) said:

"Thoughts disentangle themselves as they pass through lips and fingertips."

Dawson Trotman

When we’re forced with trying to communicate our ideas, our brain begins the work of trying to arrange our thoughts into something sensible and communicable.

So, that’s the next phase. This website is my own public filing cabinet where I freely share ideas and document how and where I came up with them.

The idea is to allow the audience to follow along as I try to figure out how to make disciples of Jesus.

Do you have a process for gathering information? For organizing it? What apps do you use? Do you do any analog note-taking?

Photo by Sanwal Deen on Unsplash.