After doing the three styles of preaching, we measured and compared attention levels, comprehension levels, and retention levels between the teaching styles. It was during this research that we could draw conclusions about the multisensory effect as a powerful form of teaching.
To be straightforward with the reader, we anticipated better learning scores among those who were taught using multisensory communication. We had a hunch that multisensory teaching would outperform lecture delivery. The effect, however, was more powerful than we imagined. The learning differences between those exposed to lecture and those treated with multisensory communication was astonishing! Our statistician told us that what we had found was highly significant!
Later in this book, we will discuss further how this research was conducted and how the results unfolded, but here’s the watercooler conversation. Those who were treated with multisensory communication clearly had higher levels of attention, higher levels of understanding, and longer lasting memory of what was taught. In fact, the difference was so great that the results came in mostly at the.001 level.
Let me quote my friend and ministry colleague Eric Geiger about these kinds of findings: “When a researcher discovers a relationship at the.05 level, he calls a friend and brags about it. When he finds something at the.01 levels, he calls his publicist and prepares to write a book. Finding something at the.001 level does not happen often. If you’re a stats person, it’s called highly significant!”
Simply put, the effect of multisensory communication is increased levels of congregational attention, comprehension, and retention, which can then translate into higher application of the sermon. In other words, learning the Word and doing the Word are accelerated when people hear the sermon, see the sermon, and interact with the sermon, as opposed to just hearing it.
Rick Blackwood, The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 29–30.