Influence

 the shape of leadership

Teaching Through Preaching

Instruction is an important part of every sermon

Chris Colvin on February 28, 2020

If you’re a preacher, do you consider yourself a teacher? Many in ministry make a distinction between the two. But the truth is, every preacher is a teacher.

Perhaps you listen to a pastor you consider to be a good teacher because of his or her content and delivery. Such pastors know how to relay theological concepts to their audiences with the right tone and conviction. Maybe there are other pastors you don’t think of as teachers. In fact, you may not consider yourself a teacher.

Some leaders think of teaching as intellectual or boring. They see it as something for a classroom setting, not for the pulpit. After all, sermons should be exciting and emotionally stirring. You don’t have to be loud to be a preacher, but you do have to be compelling.

Nevertheless, every time you preach, you have an opportunity to instruct your audience. Not every teacher is a preacher, but every preacher is a teacher.

The Rest of the Great Commission

What is the goal of your church — or any church, for that matter? Would you agree that we can find it in the Great Commission? We often recite Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

But what about the rest of the Great Commission? There is another component that sometimes gets lost in the midst of compelling people to go, convincing them to make disciples, and encouraging them to baptize new believers. Verse 20 begins, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Teaching is a vital part of the Great Commission. It could even be argued that it is the heart of disciple making. Jesus was a rabbi with followers, or disciples. Around 60 times in the Gospels, Jesus was called “teacher.” This didn’t make Him different from the other rabbis. Instead, it demonstrated His credentials.

Making disciples in the New Testament was all about teaching, the passing on of instruction from one to another. Every time you preach, you have the opportunity to make disciples by instructing your audience. Sermons that don’t include teaching are not disciple-making preaching.

Teaching is a vital
part of the Great Commission.

What’s the Difference?

If preachers are teachers, is there really a difference between a lesson and a sermon? Absolutely. Simple teaching is not the same as effective preaching. You can summarize the distinction in two words: inspiration and invitation.

A preacher who teaches must be inspirational in delivery. Instruction without inspiration is just information. The information you are giving may be great, but inspiration moves listeners to do something with it.

Inspiration should not be confused with motivational speaking. Preaching is grounded in truth and honesty, even when it’s persuasive. You want to preach sermons that move people, but you can’t exaggerate the details.

Motivational speakers usually hope to sell a product or promote themselves. Preaching offers an invitation. Preachers who teach are invitational in their approach as they point people toward the life change that is available in Christ.

The invitation you give as a preacher is to follow Jesus. You may be asking those who don’t know Jesus to get to know Him. Or you may be asking those who do know Jesus to know Him better. Either way, the invitation is to follow the Lord. And that’s what disciple making is all about.

Invitations must be accompanied by instruction, though. To make life-changing decisions, listeners have to know what they are getting into. Jesus encouraged those who would follow Him to count the costs (Luke 14:25-35). When you teach, you need to be direct with your instruction, compelling with your examples and clear about an invitation to take a next step.

Follow Jesus’ Commands

A great way to think of yourself as a preacher who teaches is to follow Jesus’ command in the Great Commission. He didn’t ask His disciples to teach something they didn’t know. He wasn’t speaking to a crowd who had no idea what to teach. Instead, they were to teach what they had been taught.

Teach what Scripture teaches. That’s the heart of preaching. Tell others how you are different because of the gospel — and how it can change their lives.

If you are a preacher, you are instructing others on a regular basis. You instruct them on spiritual matters, and on life issues like finances and relationships.

As you grow as a preacher, don’t forget to build your teaching portfolio as well. Gain instruction you can pass on. Not only will you be following the Lord’s command, but you’ll also be following His example.

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