What’s the difference between a preacher and a teacher? I would love to be a teacher, but I can’t stand most preachers. The preacher is supposed to announce the gospel. Proclaim it. I suppose they can proclaim any part or story in the Bible. But should they teach? A teacher explains, clarifies, and educates the congregation based on what is being preached. It seems to me that a teacher needs to be a bit more qualified to teach than does a preacher to preach.
These days, I feel that preaching and teaching are too easily confused. Worse, an unqualified pastor begins to preach but then transforms into teaching. This is probably why I can’t stand application messages in sermons. Most preachers are not qualified to teach and application is purely about teaching, there is no preaching in it. In this perspective, I’m perfectly fine with preaching, but its the unqualified teaching which irks me.
Anyone can be a preacher because it is the Holy Spirit who proclaims. Not everyone can teach because you would need to first be qualified which would include both practical and theological understanding. Paul was the great teacher of the NT, and he knew the Scriptures in and out. The other disciples were more or less only preachers only proclaiming the gospel. There was nothing wrong with it because the gospel in and of itself is powerful enough. Their theological understanding was limited, although Jesus did impart quite a bit of knowledge onto them. Jesus himself was quite the teacher, educating Pharisees as a boy and speaking with such authority and command of the Scripture that very few could question of Him.
Secondly, it doesn’t seem right to actually teach the bible in a decisive way. Jesus, for the most part, stuck to parables and quoting exact verses. He rarely stated definite responses, but in turn responded in a way which made the student ponder the answer and draw his own conclusion. In schools, we have both the evolutionist and creationist camps. Is it fair for a teacher to teach only one? Or should it be for the student to decide what they choose to believe? The same is even more true for religious teaching. The Bible is God’s revelation to each and everyone of us. And for each and everyone of us, that revelation is unique. If a teacher chooses to teach only their revelation experience through academics, then the real risk is that the student closes the door to the actual revelation experience God has in store for them.
Having said all of this, I want to teach. I reached my current relationship with God by exploring all the perspectives and coming to my own conclusion, or rather allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me. When I was younger, teachers forced their revelation of God down my throat and ultimately I rejected it. If I someday get the opportunity to teach, I want my students to understand the possible perspectives and then reach their own conclusions. They should have their own personal revelation of God. Only then can a teacher actually help the student experience their own personal revelation with God. Otherwise, they just get in the way.