A Shrink Thinks

Preaching vs lecturing

Preaching vs lecturing
Alan Thomas
Alan Thomas Professor and Consultant in Psychiatry. Elder at Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church.
27 February, 2024 4 min read

I’ve long been conscious that I engage in two similar, but actually quite different, activities. In my work with various groups in the university, I lecture, which may be called by various names: small group teaching, large group teaching, giving a seminar, a talk, or even a lecture. And in our church I preach.

The word teaching may be applied appropriately to both activities, but does not mean the same thing in both. While preaching and lecturing are similar in that both involve sustained verbal communication to other people (monologues), there are key differences.

Consider this. If I deliver a lecture and nothing new is learned, then I have failed – because the point of such teaching is to convey new knowledge and understanding. I am invited to lecture for this very reason. My specialist knowledge is to be drawn upon to teach others who are less expert in some area of knowledge.

But if I preach and nothing new is learned, then I have not (necessarily) failed – because the aim in preaching is to worship God (Acts 2:42; 6:2-4; 15:35; 20:7; etc.). Preaching is not primarily about communicating new knowledge and understanding. It is primarily about lifting people into a deeper awareness of and worship of God.

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