Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Preacher And The Teacher

A few of the conversations I've been having lately got me thinking and I figured why not share my thoughts on my blog, right.

A pastor delivers a message on Sunday morning. If he's a good pastor then the message is from God's Word. There are many different forms of giving a sermon that have been studied and learned, but that's not what's been on my mind. I've been thinking about why the pastor choses the topics he shares with his church. We'll call the two types the preacher and the teacher.

The preacher is a man who looking for something meaningful to share with his congregation on Sunday morning. His motivation might be different from another preacher but they all have a few things in common, "let me tell the people something about what God's Word says concerning how they should live their life (or the kinds of things the church should be doing)". That's a little vague, but vagueness is exactly how the preacher will often operate. One Sunday they're talking about God's Love, the next they're talking about how homosexuality is a sin, the next they're talking about "end times", and sometimes they're doing a study on a book from the bible but every week that changes subjects too, all of which is good stuff but it's lacking something.

It's sort of like a 3rd grader going to school. When they get there a teacher begins working with them on their times-tables (multiplication; at least that's what I was doing in the third grade). But what if this teacher started trying to teach the same kids, who were working on their times-tables, how to count from 1 to 10? And then at the next day of school they were being shown calculus? Sometimes that's a bit like that with a preacher pastor.

Now the kind of pastor that's a teacher is really different from that. The teacher knows that when the kids are working on their times-tables you don't start throwing calculus at them and you don't bore them over and over with the stuff they already know and are already doing a great job of applying. This is true of the teaching pastor. He knows his students; knowing what they already know and then makes every effort to get them to the next depth in their walk with Christ.

Am I making sense?

The pastor who is a preacher will treat Sunday morning like it's the only time they get the teach their congregation so they try to play to everyone in it at all their various spiritual maturity levels, and they usually will only reach maybe a quarter of their congregation, if they're lucky. But the teaching pastor will begin by seeing where his students are and begin to get the whole class to move to the next level.

The preaching pastor is not focused on the church moving forward, but rather he's just trying to motivate some people to get some things done around the church, and that's exactly how he preaches. The preaching pastor provides something good to listen to and some good things the church can do. The teaching pastor provides purpose, the next level, and vision. It's more than just how should I live my life this week, but it's "let's get this right as a church" and when they're done there's another place the teaching pastor is going to take them.

Do you see how these can be handled very differently on a Sunday morning?


Rick Lawrenson said...

I have frequently been told, "You're more of a 'teacher' than a 'preacher'. (I don't pound much pulpit, I guess,) My response typically says, "If I'm doing what I'm called to do, I'm both".

If preaching tends to be more motivational ("just trying to motivate some people to get some things done around the church"), and teaching heavier on the content of the Word, there better be a balance of both.

Motivation without knowing why produces burned out, shallow disciples. Content (do you know all the meanings of agape?) without motivation/application produces puffed up spiritual egg heads.

As with everything, there needs to be a healthy balance of both.

TerryKM said...

I agree that we need a balance of motivational and visionary/educational pastors. I think though that purpose and vision function as a greater motivational tool.

I had a really hard time getting my words out with this one. I felt like I was chiseling a statue and I knew there was something pretty there if I could remove some of the rocks to reveal it, but when I got done. . .it just didn't look all that pretty.