Why We Should Pay Attention to Brain Research

Why We Should Pay Attention to Brain Research

By Holly Inglis, DEdMin ’12

Why should the church pay attention to brain research? With everything else happening in and around us, why should we attempt to understand and apply scientific research about the brain? What difference would it, could it make? Consider these scenarios:


We want to believe that what we do in the church and in our various ministries make a difference and have a lasting impact on students. The greatest impact we can have is not merely by imparting wisdom or knowledge but by gaining a better understanding of how learning occurs and how learning can be reinforced and become part of the long-term memory of individuals, impacting not only their thinking and reflection in the current setting, but their actions and behavior in settings beyond the walls of the church. If we become more aware of the way our brains learn and remember and if we are able to make some shifts in what we teach and how we teach, we may have a greater likelihood of being agents of transformation for those who participate in our ministries.

Let’s look at the answers to the questions posed in the scenarios above as a way to understand some of the implications of brain research for the church.


For the most part, this is not new information. However, taking the time to apply these principles to areas of ministry outside the Sunday School classroom can be somewhat challenging, but holds the potential to be literally and neurologically transformative.

To put what you’ve just learned into practice in your own setting, give this article to others and plan to discuss the implications. Come up with your own scenarios and ask the “Why?” question for yourselves.

Rev. Dr. Holly Inglis is a Certified Christian Educator, currently serving as the Associate Pastor for Nurture at Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville Beach, Florida where she implements whole-brain strategies in worship and education. She will be installed as President of The Associate of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) at their annual conference Jan. 25-28, 2017. You can reach her at holly.inglis@palmschurch.org.

This article was reposted with permission from the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, Inc. ADVOCATE blog. The original article can be found here.


The Center for Lifelong Learning is offering Seven Concepts That Will Change Your Teaching, a three-day workshop, on February 13. This program is for congregational educators – lay teachers, pastors, teaching and program staff who want to be more effective in their teaching in the congregational context. Register today to join us for this great learning experience.

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