Monday, February 22, 2016

Reader Question 5


I’m having so much fun answering your questions, and judging by your comments, I’d say these are hitting areas we’ve all dealt with or wondered about! I’ve got 2 more in my “questions stash”, so if you’ve got another one to add, go ahead and either leave it in the comments to be answered for the whole group or email it to me at . I’ll answer until there are no more questions. 🙂

Here’s today’s question:

I was speaking with a woman up at my church, who I deeply respect and know that she loves the Lord with all her might.  We were talking about an upcoming conference at our church where we will both be speaking.  She is leading the conference and as she was explaining the vision for this conference and trying to describe the type of messages the conference was going for she said, “There’s a difference between speaking and teaching.”

This truly threw me into a tailspin because I had always thought that when I “spoke” I was teaching!  That exact same phrase came up again with the other ladies speaking at the same conference (there are 4 speakers) and I had to get some clarification.  Turns our our definitions of “speaking” were different – they were simply thinking of someone who basically stood up and didn’t connect with the audience.  So, I guess my question is, have you ever found this to be true – a difference between speaking vs. teaching?  I had always considered them to be the same – when I speak I teach, when I teach, I speak. ~Kate

Kate, I agree with you. If we are effective communicators, we’ll include a variety of aspects of great communication. No matter the setting or the style, there are three things that we want to include in all messages: information, application, and inspiration. Here’s how these break down.

Information includes all the facts in our messages. A wide range of elements fall under information, and they can include statistics, word studies from Bible passages, the passages themselves, historical background, details found through research, etc.

Application is the practical tools, action steps, and challenges that we include in our messages that lead to transformation in others’ lives. We don’t want to step into “preachiness” here, but we want to give our audience a concrete step to take once they’re home. As Karen Ehman pointed out to me, people are either too spiritually immature or too busy to figure out the next step by themselves. We need to make it plain so that they’re more likely to move toward change.

Inspiration creates a dynamic of forward motion in our messages. This content is what creates a desire in our audience to go live the truths we’ve shared. Lysa TerKeurst always says, “Application is the ‘how to.’ Inspiration is the ‘want to.'” Inspirational material includes stories, quotes, and using words to paint a picture of the benefits of change. These elements show our audience what it would look like to live in the power of the truth you’ve imparted.

For those of us who want to deeply impact our listeners’ lives (and I hope we all do–I’m fairly horrified that “speakers” were defined as people who don’t care about this!), we need to include information, application, and inspiration in every message, no matter the setting.

Having said that, I believe that the setting affects the balance of these essential elements. I always think of “teaching” as what I do in a Bible study setting. Although I’ll include the other elements because they’re all important to engage and motivate, I’ll spend the majority of the time on information and application.

In contrast, at a different kind of event like mother-daughter tea or a spring luncheon, I’ll spend lots of time on inspiration. No one is taking notes, so a message laden with information would be ineffective and inappropriate in the setting. I always build my messages around scripture, and I always want there to be transformation at my events so information and application would play a part. They would just take less time.

Does anyone else have thoughts about teaching and speaking? Are they the same or different to you? How do you define each?

Leave a comment here | 4 Comments
Share and Enjoy:


  1. I love how you differentiated between how you present at Bible Studies vs. other types of events. That makes so much sense!

  2. I’m loving this series, Amy! Thank you. It’s so helpful and practical. Hits right where I need it.

  3. This is such a great reminder. Thank you for sharing these points – they’re helping me stay grounded!

  4. I loved this post today. It helped me confirm that I am an inspirational speaker. I guess when it comes to teaching, I would rather show stories so that those who know him little or not at all will get it. God has given me poetry I use in my talks and when there is a truth I want to bring home I will slip into a poem, often without anyone knowing it. Since many of my poems are conversational, this works well. And this way I’m just telling them a poem, if it rings true for them, so be it.

    And I think in this way they are being taught, they just aren’t aware. Another thing I remember from a class I took as a returning student on the brain is that the way to get people to remember things is to touch their emotions. In that class I had the opportunity to hold a human brain in my gloved hand. Something not all the students wanted to do. As I held it I was amazed at God’s intricate design of all of us. What good is anything we try to teach someone if they don’t remember it. I’ve been to lots of conferences. The ones that meant the most weren’t the ones where I came home with tons of notes. It was the stories, the ones that resonated with me. The ones that started out being the speakers’ stories and ended up triggering my own.


Speak Your Mind