Preaching or Teaching??

May 13, 2018

What is the difference between preaching and teaching? 

Some believe that there is no difference, while others have various opinions. I find the difference to be simple.  Preaching announces news to people who have not heard it before; teaching explains and instructs people on how to apply it.  Preaching announces the Good News, the Gospel.  Teaching explains details within the Gospel that people don’t yet understand and shows how to apply it personally in their lives.

This difference is important because it has a practical application for us as disciples of Jesus.  Every year on the feast of the Ascension we hear Jesus’ mandate: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel (good news) to every creature.”

Yet, many of us are afraid to do it.  Perhaps we feel inadequate in our knowledge of the faith.  Perhaps we are afraid of being unable to answer questions that people may have.  But when we look carefully at Jesus’ command, we see clearly that he wants us to be a preacher, not necessarily a teacher.  

We don’t need a PhD in theology to be a preacher.  As a Christian, we have more than enough “good news” to announce.  To be a teacher is different.  It requires knowledge and understanding so that one can explain and instruct others.  Officially, the Pope and the Bishops hold this role as successors of the Apostles. 

It isn’t enough to assume that people in general are good and because God is so loving and merciful, they will go to heaven anyway. If they are a good person, then they are fine.  Don’t you think that Jesus knew that??? Still, he commanded the Apostles to go in the whole world to proclaim the Gospel. 

Many of us are like the raw army recruit standing at attention on the drill field. The drill instructor yells, "Forward, march!" The entire rank begins to move, except this one recruit. He's still standing there at attention. So, the drill instructor strolls over to him and yells in his right ear, "Is this thing working?" "Sir, yes, sir!" the recruit yells. Then the drill instructor walks around to the other ear and yells, "Is this thing working?" "Sir, yes, sir!" The soldier says. "Then why didn't you march when I gave the order?" "Sir, I didn't hear you call my name."

God calls our name daily to proclaim His Good News through our love, our actions, our service to others.  “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” St Teresa of Avila

Kathryn Richards