Teaching over Preaching


A friend sent me a good e-mail reminder from Tim Sanders, the former Yahoo executive and best selling author (You can link to his insights HERE). Though Tim’s thoughts are directed towards the business world, I believe his words apply to our current church context, and the reason I prefer teaching over preaching.

Though preaching has its place within the church, I am personally saddened by Christendom’s consistent idolatry towards this methodology. Since the days of the early church and its bent towards Hellenism (rhetoric junkies), somehow we think that lecture (“a talking head”) should be the primary avenue of communicating God’s Word.

Take this test: Imagine you are a missionary coming to the United States and there are no churches. Making observations and doing a cultural analysis, what would be your primary vehicle of communicating God’s Word? Would you come to the conclusion, “I should gather people into a large room, stand behind a podium, and lecture to them!”?

Sure, there are obvious ecclesiological issues here, as well as drawing on other forms of communication & learning aside from standard “teaching” (i.e. film, theatre, music, storytelling, etc.)…but I do believe this issue addresses the current elevation of “preaching” above all other areas of church ministry.

Preaching does and should have its place…but we now live in a culture of interaction, participation, collaboration, & partnering journeys…all the ingredients for teaching.


~ by Dave Smith on January 4, 2008.

2 Responses to “Teaching over Preaching”

  1. Very interesting from a missionary perspective. I definitely would not gather people into a large room and lecture to them. I think I would probably try to get a job in a very interactive, social environment, and love people to Jesus. That sounded cliche’, but I’d still do it.

  2. Yea, good point. I guess I wonder if the church’s love for rehortic has hindered the progress of communicating God’s word through more relevant and effective methods.

    I wonder if what you described could be the “main venue” of communicating God’s word…replacing the lecture (sermon)?

    Again, I do think the “sermon” has its place, and should still be woven in the experience…I guess it comes down to “how” and “when.”

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