When I attended a course on how to train people in groups, I was taught to make allowance for individuals’ different learning styles. 
This is why I don’t just talk during my training sessions; I also incorporate visual aids and other media, give opportunities for practical application and encourage questions and discussion.
Schoolteachers are taught about learning styles and encouraged to incorporate them into their classroom environment.
What would happen if we began to apply these same principles to discipleship, Bible study and our devotional life?
Do You Know what Your Learning Style is?
You may relate to one of these 3 main learning styles:
1. Visual—you learn best by seeing—reading, diagrams, visual media and other visual aids.
2. Auditory—you learn best by hearing—lectures, audio media, discussions.
3. Kinesthetic—you learn best by doing—hands on, activities and an emphasis on practical application.
The Visual style can be broken into two further categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. 
At the end of this post I will give you a link to an online questionnaire to help you discover your primary learning styles.
How Using my Learning Style Renewed my Devotional Life.
I have shared recently how our devotional life—vitally connecting to God through prayer and studying the Bible—can suffer when we feel we have to do it out of duty, to please God or people. 
A few years ago, I became exhausted and my devotional life waned—especially Bible reading, study and journaling.
When I was picking up the pieces of my life, I reflected on where I had gone wrong.
One of the things I noticed was that I had been trying to conform to a set method of journaling for my personal Bible study.
The method I had been using did not come naturally to me.
My personal learning style is primarily visual. Being creative, I also need an unstructured way to record what I am learning from the Bible.
I put aside my A5 lined journal, purchased an A4 unlined notepad, and began to use diagrams and mind-maps to visualise what I was learning about a Bible passage or topic and to record what God was saying to me.
Life began to flow back into the time I spent with God’s Word!
Devotional Methods are Tools, not Rules.
It is vital that we understand that devotional methods, such as journaling styles, are not rules to be followed.
Instead, they are tools that we can choose to use—if they suit our unique wiring—that can help us connect to God and His Word.
There is a common misconception that one particular devotional or journaling method is better than others.
For example, some churches provide SOAP journals for all of their congregational members.
SOAP is a simple and effective devotional tool that everyone can (and should) learn. However—let’s not stop there!
The limitation of SOAP journaling is that it assumes a Reading/Writing learning style. And this does not come naturally to many of us.
So let us teach, encourage, model and provide resources for Bible study that incorporate all learning styles.
And let’s validate the unique ways that people connect with God, rather than endangering their relationship with Him by leading them into performance.
Marlene Le Fever, who teaches about learning styles, tells the moving story of an old African-American man who approached her at the end of a session.
“Teacher!” he said. “Iffen somebody’d a tol’ me when I was a kid that God made my mind right, I’da’ done something for my Jesus.” 
Using a Questionnaire to Discover Your Personal Learning Style
You are created to uniquely connect with God and His Word, the Bible.
Do you know what your learning style is? Sometimes, we are aware of our primary learning style but can also benefit from using a questionnaire to help us confirm this or discover our secondary learning style.
I have included a link below to an online questionnaire that can help you discover your learning style. 
Following are the basic learning styles and some ideas of how to make the most of these in your Bible study and in journaling.
Ideas for Bible Study Using the 4 Main Learning Styles
VISUAL – You learn by seeing
- Journal using diagrams and pictures. Try mind-mapping your Bible study
- Make use of colour coding, indexing and highlighting in your journal
- Bible teachers that use vivid (picture) story telling will suit you
- Use your imagination when reading Bible stories (create an internal movie of the scene)
- Parts of the Bible have been filmed using the NIV text—try Matthew or Acts on DVD. Ask at the Christian bookstores what is available
- Illustrative Bible study tools and dictionaries
- Locate good teaching DVDs
AUDITORY – You learn by hearing
- Read portions of Scripture aloud to yourself
- Process what you are learning in the Bible verbally—you can do this through praying about it, sharing with others or simply musing your thoughts aloud
- Try a conversational journaling approach, where you talk with God about what you are learning and write what you ‘hear’ Him saying to you (e.g. prayer journaling)
- Listen to the Bible on MP3 or CD—purchase or download free from the Internet
- As above, but Bible teaching (Ensure that the teaching is sound and not slanted towards a particular doctrines or agenda)
- iPod or MP3 player while walking, using public transport, doing housework, etc
READING / WRITING – You learn with words
- Traditional forms of devotions may suit you
- Try daily devotional booklets
- Practice journaling (SOAP or similar)
- Selective Bible reading (character studies, books, portions)
- Sequential Bible reading (read the Bible in a Year – look-up or One Year Bible formats)
- Bible teaching or study books
- Use written study tools such as commentaries, dictionaries—in text form, software or online
KINESTHETIC – You learn by doing
- Find a good devotional that includes Bible references and reading, and includes life application principles
- Teaching and study tools that have practical life application will suit you.
- Write ‘action points’ in your journal from your Bible studies or teaching that you receive. This will help translate what you learn into everyday life. Follow them through
- Teaching with real-life case studies and stories will be helpful
- Cross-reference devotional and instructional teaching in the Bible to historical Biblical accounts of actual characters. For example, a study on wisdom—who demonstrated wisdom in the Bible and what did they do?
- When studying with others, discuss real life situations and case studies. Try role play.
If you have found this article or recommended resources helpful, I would love your feedback, as I am in the process of developing further studies and resources to aid people in this area. Do you know what your learning style is? Are the above lists helpful, or do you have other ideas?
 Cert IV in Assessment & Workplace Training
 In 1987, a researcher called Neil Fleming split Visual, which originally included learning through reading, into two categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. Visual encompassed learning through diagrams and symbols, whereas Reading/Writing referred to the traditional, text-based style of learning. This distinction is helpful in examining fresh approaches to devotional study. Fleming, N.D. and Mills, C. (1992), Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection, To Improve the Academy, Vol. 11, 1992., page 137.
 See the following posts:
 I recommend the SOAP method of journaling personally. See the following post:
 Le Fever, M. Learning Styles, Reaching Everyone God Gave You 2002. Cook. p 11,
 Take the VARK learning styles questionnaire online at
For more information on learning styles, see also
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog