Study Habits Development Program
I've heard it said countless times that it takes approximately 21 days to implement a new habit as part of a persons daily routine and a further 21 days to solidify and confirm that habit as an immovable part of ones daily routine. It is, therefore, reasonably expected that at the end of 40+ days of continuous, conscious, purposeful, accountable and consistent activity, one should have created a solid habit. It is also, reasonably expected that, after that point in time, the need for an active and forceful form of accountability to keep one true to the task is reduced, though not eliminated entirely....
But does it work in the real world?? More importantly, are there examples of this in the bible to support such models?? Indeed there are… The Bible actually has many examples where God made major changes and transformations after the period of 40 days:
- Noah experienced the 40 days of renewal and transformation twice. First when it rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over and then again when Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark (Gen 7:12, Gen 8:6)
- Moses was with God on the mountaintop for 40 days, twice. (Exo 24:18 Exo34:28-29)
- The Israelites experienced the repercussions of 40 days when, after scouting out the Promised Land (which took 40 days), they spent a year per day of exploration in the wilderness. (Num 13:25, Exo 16:35)
- Israel experienced 40 days during the stand-off with the Philistines when Goliath taunted Israel's army for forty days before being killed by David (1Sam 17:16)
- Elijah experienced 40 days when he was strengthened by one meal and went forty days on Mount Horeb and heard the voice of God. (1 Ki 19:8)
- Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days to repent or God would overthrow the city. (Jonah 3:4, Jonah ch10)
- Jesus experienced 40 days twice as well. He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and was seen on the earth for 40 days after his resurrection and before his transfiguration. (Mat 4:1-2, Acts 1:3)
Initial Formation of the Program
It was this thought process that the Study Habits Development Program (SHDP) was initiated upon. But rather than attack our desire for a full and in depth study time from a full on standpoint, we felt that it was appropriate, like an athlete, to build up to where we ultimately wanted to be, starting with small increments and small victories. It was decided that a 15 minute daily study program should be easy enough to start off and stick with. The Book of Proverbs was steady enough in its content to provide regular valuable study materiel lasting the appropriate period of time throughout each day of the month.
To ensure that we all stayed true to the task, we each committed to posting a Daily Personal Commentary. This served two purposes... first it served as an "I-Dun-it" indicator, but more importantly, it served to start making us think about what the passage meant as opposed to just reading it to say that we'd read it. Each day the DPC's would be collected up and would be posted online as an anonymous collaboration of our cumulative work.
Trial Run - Phase 1 - Round 1
This was the theory... We put it to the test... 13 members of the fellowship started the trial program on the 1st of May 2008. 42 days later came with some interesting results. Only 4 members of the fellowship had actually been able to keep to the schedule throughout, with the majority of the membership falling off at the halfway mark.
From a personal standpoint, I (Jason/PsYkO) found that it was very easy to put the study off because, as the administrator of the program, I paired my study with the administration of the program which entailed collating the DPC's together and then posting them. This unfortunately resulted in an approximately 45 minute period of study and admin that was draining late at night. By the end of the program, I too had failed to meet the minimum mark to indicate positive progress.
Since the first program run, we have made some modifications to the program. First, the administration of the DPC's has been removed as a requirement of the program and each group is updated by direct mailing of our DPC's within each small group and to the membership as a whole, as possible, by volunteer members of each small group.
We have, to date, run through the program twice more, with 8 members involved in the second set of studies and with approximately12 members involved in the third set of studies. Success levels have risen from approximately 30% of members successfully completing the program in the first run of the program up to roughly 60% successful completion in the second and third runs.
GC4C is currently preparing for another round of study, starting 1st of March 2009.
If you would like to be involved in this program in any way, just email me at hubbard_jason @ hotmail.com or through the website and I'll ensure that you're connected with a small group study team.
Jason / PsYkO.ns