Try Creating an Experience

This basis for this material was adapted from The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore. HBS Press.

We live in an experience based culture. Think about the following organizations:

  • Build A Bear Workshop
  • Starbucks
  • Disney
  • Apple

One thing they all have in common is helping people interact with their product. You go from buying a stuffed animal at the store to building the perfect companion for your kids at Build-A-Bear. You don’t just drink Starbucks coffee; you experience community with fellow coffee drinkers. Disney helps make our (and our kids) imaginations come alive. Apple products are more than just cool tech; they become ways in which we interact with the world and the Web.

There is no question we live in an experience-based world. This points to three truths about students:

  • Students are more connected than ever before (Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.)
  • Students are less connected than ever before from real relationships
  • Students are experience driven, thriving on something that goes beyond informational presentation

While these three truths can be sobering, they lead us to ask some critical questions about how we should lead them in groups.

1. Will we use passive or active participation? Will my students directly or indirectly affect the outcome of the experience? What can I do to turn the time we meet into an experience in which students learn through doing rather than simply listening?

Jesus did this all the time. One example is in the feeding of the 5000 Jesus told the disciples to take the food to the masses. Could He have simply made everyone’s stomach full? Yes. He chose instead, to use the experience to teach His disciples about serving others and allowed them to join Him at His work.

2. Will we use absorption or immersion? Will the experience be delivered to the student or through the student? Imagine students getting the truth of scripture through experience rather than lecture.

Again, we see Jesus use this method when He turned the water into wine at a wedding party. Rather than doing it all Himself and telling everyone, He had those in the house fill the vessels with water and draw the water out. Instead of watching the miracle take place, Jesus delivered the miracle through the people. This magnified the power of what He had done as the people experienced Him directly.

So how can we accomplish these two things and help our students experience Bible truth?

We must address the four realms of experience:

  1. Esthetics:  How can my environment enhance the experience?
  2. Escapist:  What will my students do to become actively involved in the experience?
  3. Entertainment: What will keep my students connected to the experience?
  4. Educational:  What information will my students learn that will enhance their experience?

The goal is education and the environment, involvement, and connection will help drive students to it. With Bible Studies for Life: Students we have built in three optional Engage Options to help accomplish that task.

As a leader it can be difficult to make each week a memorable experience. But the calling of helping students know and apply God’s Word is worth our effort. You are the true heroes pouring your life into students to help them connect with the truth of the Word of God. And what you do through the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the gospel has eternal significance!



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