Is there a difference between preaching and teaching? There certainly is overlap. There are some larger churches that have a position called teaching pastor. What is meant by that is that this pastor is released from other duties and can focus on the preparing and preaching of sermons. In this way, teaching and preaching are used as synonyms.
But do preaching and teaching mean the same thing?
Are my activities within these two places the same? I actually have two separate goals for my preaching and my teaching.
When I preach in my church, my goal is to proclaim a biblical message (whether expository or topical) that will lead to spiritual change within the congregation.
When I teach at school, my goal is to pass on information and to increase the knowledge of my students regarding the Bible, theology or whatever other subject I’m teaching.
Having said that, there is overlap. In order to effectively preach from a passage, I need to also teach about the original meaning of the passage. I share information about the context and how it fits both within the larger biblical witness as well as Christian tradition. I also hope that my congregation gets a sense of how to interpret the Bible instead of just believing my interpretation.
When I teach, there is often an element of preaching that is present. I happen to teach in a Christian context to people who are interested in some sort of ministry. My desire is that they will increase in knowledge, but that the material will also impact their spiritual life.
Preaching is teaching plus application. Teaching has a heavier emphasis on the knowledge, but should also include some element application.
Teaching and preaching belong on a continuum with no clear line of when one becomes the other. It is more of an emphasis, depending on if the primary goal is knowledge or application.
I’m thankful that I have opportunities to both preach and teach. I allow both activities to inform each other.