Teaching vs. Preaching. Is there a difference?

I was once asked “what is the difference between preaching and teaching?”  by a friend who was questioning the reasons I am now attending seminary. This really struck me funny, because I know there are differences but at the time I could not put my finger on exactly what all those differences were.

So after a little meditation and prayer, here is my list.


Definition of TEACHING (from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teaching)

1: the act, practice, or profession of a teacher
2: something taught; especially : doctrine <the teachings of Confucius>
My definition:
Teaching is a transfer of thought or principles that are perceived as truth from one person to another for informational purposes.
Teaching can be about anything and is for equipping people to accomplish a task in the future.

Definition of PREACH (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preaching)

intransitive verb
1: to deliver a sermon
2: to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action; specifically : to exhort in an officious or tiresome manner
My Definition:
Preaching is the pleading of a preacher for the listener to repent and turn to God with the help of the Holy Spirit’s convicting and redemption.
Preaching is primarily about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin. Preaching is not for equipping as much as a plea for the salvation of one’s soul.
Practical Differences:
1) The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a major component of preaching. (Making a praying pastor and praying congregation vital for the preaching to be effective.)
In teaching, the Holy Spirit may still be a component but the role is different. There is not a heart transformation in teaching, but an equipping to do the work of the Spirit.
2) The Content is different.
Again, preaching is for repentance and forgiveness through God’s grace, while teaching could be on life principles, Biblical doctrine or just about anything else. Preaching is more focused, teaching is broad.
3) The Audience is different.
The audience (meaning who the message is for, Not who is attending) is different. The audience of preaching should be the lost. While the audience of teaching should be Christians who are looking to go deeper in their relationships with God or get equipped to do His work.
4) The Responsibility is different.
The role of the Pastor is held to a higher accountability. If the Pastor is not diligent with the Word and clear in the message, people may not understand the message and continue to be lost. Therefore, he is partly responsible for those who are not reached with the message. (I am NOT saying that the pastor brings salvation. Only Jesus brings salvation with the Holy Spirit. But if the message is not clear, the Gospel will not be heard or understood.)
The role of the teacher is still a high role and one should not take it lightly. But ultimately it is a matter of equipping and not salvation.
There are many more. But before I give them all to you, ask yourself what others can you think of?

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