an interesting experiment...
Theological students at Princeton found themselves in an interesting social experiment without knowing it.
Twenty or so students doing a preaching class were in one room doing preparation on different texts that had been handed out. Every fifteen minutes a different student was called out to another room down the corridor to deliver a short sermon on their given text.
As they walked down the hallway, an actor began to groan and look distressed, almost falling to the ground in one of the doorways.
Some of the students stopped to help him. Others walked right on by.
But here's the thing: half the students were preparing their sermons on the parable of the good samaritan! Their topic, fresh in their minds, was helping their neighbour!
The question you're dying to have answered is: did the ones preaching on the good samaritan stop to help the groaning man?
Well, some did, and some didn't. The percentage of 'Good Samaritan' preachers who stopped to help was not much different from the 'randomly-assigned-texts' preachers.
The difference that was crucial was the time factor. Half the students were told they were nearly running late to give their sermon. The other half were told that they had plenty of time.
Out of the time-stressed group, only one in ten stopped to help. Out of the time-rich group, six in ten stopped.
Maybe part of effective Christianity is going to be managing our time so that we are not too stressed out about our own schedules to be able to deal with other people's needs.