by Wendy Lee

Have you ever brought something home and kept it aside only to find the item has gone missing the very next moment? The thought that crossed your mind was probably you’ve placed it elsewhere but you can’t recall where you’ve put it. In most cases, you are pretty certain you left it at that very exact spot. After looking high and low for this object, searching thoroughly
around the house, scanning the spot where you have last left it, the search was left to no avail. However, the moment when you least expect it, the item appears, lying visibly in the middle of your cabinet or perhaps it magically reappears when your mom steps in and points at it.

How could this possibly happen? You were pretty sure you checked that area not once, but multiple times. There is this phenomenon called the
“Disappearing Object Phenomenon” (DOP) and I am certain this has occurred at least once in our lives. What is the theory behind this? Could it possibly be some sort of paranormal activity? Certainly not. In fact, there are multiple possible explanations that will give a better answer than to think that a ghost caused the event. These reasons are very much related to this article’s topic in terms of improving our Christian life.

The very likely possibility is that you were simply absent-minded, your labour was there in terms of searching for it, but your mind was not fully functioning its best at that moment. You may have either misplaced it but forgotten about it or you were partly “blank”. Forgetting is part of human nature but choosing to remember is a work we could all strive to improve on. As Christians, we do our part by coming to church at least once a week; every Sunday we sit, listen to the sermons presented and partake the bread and vine. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them
and continued his message until midnight” Acts 20:7.

How many of us can actually recall HALF of what we have learnt? We have sat through the entire session yet do we bring home the knowledge or did
it get lost? If it did get lost, the ultimate difference between DOP and us is the question of whether we actually strive to find it back. Let that thought sink deep in every one of us.

The other possibility is the idea of “selective attention” in which the object is really present, but you are unable to see it due to your attention being diverted. One may think this is hard to occur but there are many sychological events that happen in our daily lives without us realising. Our brains can really play tricks and take a toll on us and the way we perceive things if we do not take good care of it.

A simple example would be trying to find your keys when you are grasping them in your hands. It is silly but this occurs every now and then. When we assemble at church, are our minds even focusing on the lesson? Or are we completely thinking of outside matters and neglecting the lessons preached. This is possible as some people can only focus on one thing at a time, thus they constantly get disrupted when they start thinking about other issues that bother them.

However, in most cases, we are more likely to get caught up with “divided attention.” This is when we tend to focus on multiple things at once. Instead of just having one thing to focus on, your mind is running several things at one go which is not really the best way to act when attending weekly church service. Instead, having “sustained attention” would be the desirable type of attention to have in a church service. It is the ability to actively focus over the targeted topic or activity in an elongated period of time. The question is, what can we do in order to stay focused and store the lessons learnt in a proper manner.

There are three main types of memory namely the sensory memory, short-term memory, and the long-term memory. I would like to mainly focus on the idea of the short-term and long-term memory. Simply put, as the name
suggests, short-term memory is the working memory that holds temporary information unless you make a conscious effort to retain it, in which case it will be stored in the long-term memory. Long-term memory, on the other hand, is the memory we can hold for a long period of time and may even last till the day we die. A simple example of it would be our own names.

We do not need to put effort into remembering our own names or the name of our saviour, Jesus Christ. Why do you think so? It is through the activity of repetition over the years. Now, do repetitions occur in our church? Yes! The preachers in our church are always reminding us about the contents of the Bible. Though the topics and style of lessons may be different, they repetitively bring the same message in order to encourage and educate all of us. The question lies within us whether do we build ourselves up stronger after each lesson? If we don’t, it is like going back to square one in subsequent classes because we have not kept the knowledge.

Then there comes the question as to whether we actually store it right. “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” Matthew 4:4. Hence, it is important to remember God’s words. In order to store information right, we first need to pay attention in order to input the information.
Here are some ways in order to increase our attention during church sessions. One effective way is by simply taking notes of the lessons. This is not just an activity to help register information in memory but also consolidates it. If you’re feeling sleepy or tired, note-taking will help combat it since you’re required to activate the use of senses and movement. This is
because you will pay attention to listening what was preached and are forced to view the slides in a much more focused manner, in order to write the given points.

Secondly, the ability of paying attention falls on both ends. Receivers need to try their level best in focusing whilst givers need to be great deliverers as
well. This means that as part of the giver of information, it should not be delivered in such a manner that bores an audience. Voice projection that is monotonous, dull, and lack of energy in teaching will certainly mess with the attention span of their hearers.

As a teacher, one has to ensure that the way they deliver their content is interesting enough to keep an audience interested in what they have to say. Do not get me wrong, teaching any content of the bible should never be an issue of causing a Christian to be bored or uninterested.

However, it is the emphasis on the way of deliverance which certainly plays a pivotal role in order to ensure hearers keep track of the lessons and store the lesson in the right manner rather than tossing it aside. No one likes a teacher who just reads out the textbooks back in your younger days, am I right? Thus, this way can help improve the overall teaching and learning

Last but not least, by hearing God’s word and storing it right, we are also storing our priorities right by laying up our treasures in heaven as stated in Matthew 6:19-20:“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth. and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Be reminded that while we are to be good listeners, it is important to apply the lessons learnt into our everyday lives. James 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”