Writing things down in order to remember them is as old as the first writing utensil. Writing is designed to do one of two things: to communicate to others or to communicate back to ourselves. Journaling—the concept of writing down thoughts, ideas, and facts for personal use—is used in everything from psychological therapy to book club studies. Many Christians effectively use journaling to write down prayer requests, answered prayers, thoughts on Scripture passages, sermon notes, and anything they sense God is speaking to them.
In the area of note taking, from class lectures to Bible teaching, studies have proven time and time again that people will selectively recall what they’ve heard, but when people write things down, the information becomes ordered and organized. In other words, if a student hears you teach on Wednesday night and doesn’t take notes, he/she might recall a point or two a few days later, but if that same student takes notes and writes down your main points, he/she has a better chance of recalling more points, even in order. And a 100 percent chance of remembering if they look back at their notes! The more they recall of teaching, the more they can practice the points.
Teaching your students to journal could be a valuable, life-long habit that improves their lives and enhances their spiritual growth. The story is told of a major corporation that brought in an efficiency expert for a day of consultation with the management staff. After a half hour or so of lecturing on efficiency methods, one executive interrupted and said, “We’ve heard all these sure-fire ways to be more productive before. What we need is just a practical tool to help us grow this company.” The expert said, “Alright, fair enough, I’ll give you one tool right now, I’ll leave, and only pay me for today if this does you any good.” A couple of weeks later, the consultant received a check for his full day at the company. What did he tell them that made such an impact? “Every morning, first thing, make a to-do list to prioritize what you work on. Stick with the list, marking things off as you go. If something doesn’t get done that day, add it to the next day’s list. Writing down your priorities is a plan to succeed and a tangible way to see your results.” . . . It must have worked.
Teaching students to write down what God is speaking to them to taking notes on Bible teaching will spill over into every area of their lives and likely make them stronger Christians and more productive people. You already know how important it is in your student ministry to teach them practical skills and Christian principles that will last a lifetime, so consider devoting one Wednesday night, or other training time, to teaching your students how to journal. Then in the coming months, watch to see how it not only changes them, but your total student ministry.
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. —Luke 1:1-4 NLT