Teaching Or Preaching

A Fine Line


In the world of public education, as a teacher, I am told that I need to pretest my students to see what they “know” or “don’t know” about the subject that I am about to teach, to see if they have any prior knowledge and/or experience with that subject, then teach the subject, and conclude with a post test to evaluate or assess what they have comprehended from my lesson.  Unless you are in a Bible School or Seminary somewhere, where they are to teach by this model, you will probably get most of your religious training through sermons by your pastor or staff.

Most preachers assume the lack of knowledge by those to whom they are directing their sermon (although I have heard literally hundreds of sermons on some of the same topics over my life span.  You can get over 80,000 free sermons on www.SermonCentral.com ).  I have never been to a church that has asked their people in the congregation to give their “prior knowledge” on the topic of the sermon that is about to be delivered.  The sermon is then very academic, point by point, backed by scripture after scripture, as most in the congregation sit there comatose, a few taking notes that will fill up their Bibles until the binder breaks. I think preachers would be petrified of the results if a posttest were given a week after the service to see how much had been retained!

Preaching has become the religious form of lecturing, expounding the knowledge of the presenter upon the unlearned one.  As an educator, I am taught, and I have learned from first hand experience, that lecturing is the most ineffective way of teaching (ask any college student), for lecturing just puffs up the presenter’s ego that he knows more than you do and is gracious enough to share his knowledge.   Hands on experiential lessons are always a step up. Learning “about” a given poem, doesn’t compare in effectiveness as “experiencing” the poem.  Learning “about” forgiveness through a sermon, doesn’t compare in effectiveness of actually “experiencing” forgiveness.

Christian teachers, preachers, and pastors need to learn and teach that “the Holy Spirit” is the teacher, not themselves.  That is a totally different mindset. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am”, Peter gives all the answers of what other men and scholars say.  When confronted personally, he gives the correct answer, “You are the Messiah”!  Jesus then reveals the source, the teacher of the lesson, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, The Holy Spirit did.”  The Holy Spirit has been sent by Jesus and His Father to teach and reveal to His believers all Truth!  Let’s begin to allow The Holy Spirit to “teach” and “reveal”, and we become only facilitators or vessels to guide the lesson as the Holy Spirit directs.

If the Holy Spirit is in each Christian, then allow that Spirit from within each person to teach and reveal the truth that is needed in each individual’s life.  The Holy Spirit knows how to bring forth the truth of the lesson, always revealing Jesus Christ in it. 

In an internet age, facts can be “Googled” on almost any given topic, but what the person has to determine is if that fact is truth.  You can find people on the internet who have denied that the Holocaust during World War II even existed, but the truth is that it did exist by the countless accounts of people who have “experienced” it personally. The key to this generation’s learning is distinguishing false facts from true facts.  The Holy Spirit has been sent to be that mediator to “teach all truth” to believers in Jesus Christ. Church “teachers” need to allow the Holy Spirit to teach, and be as amazed as those learning to see the “posttest” being “truth” and “life” exposing the “revelation” of Jesus Christ in their personal life and in what they do!  Their fruit will expose their new knowledge of that truth and revelation.  This is what “wisdom”, as Solomon discovered and recorded in his book called Proverbs, is all about!  The “truth” and “revelation” of that different mindset is what we, as teachers, must learn before we teach it to those under our tutorage.