Sometimes we can deal with the same biblical passage in a variety of ways. Much of the scriptures are in the form of stories (narrative). Hence we can simply tell them. This is how these stories were passed down until the point when they were compiled in the sacred text.
Telling in an oral culture, one without writing, can be a very stable form of communication. Important history can be carefully passed from generation to generation without much change.
Teaching has another purpose. It is to divide and define. It is more analytical. Often it takes the form of an informative lecture.
Preaching has as its goal to call the people of God to keep the word of God in their lives. It is not enough to define the bits and pieces of a story. It is not yet enough to pass on the information. It involves a call to believe, obey, turn from error – in short, it calls for a response.
I’ve been telling the bible story at our children’s mid-week ministry, to 3rd to 5th graders. My telling is freer than the passing on of ancient tales. It is an attempt to tell the story in terms that kids can relate to. A little drama and some movement is always good. A few shouts here and there – especially if the kids get to join in. We actually shouted down the walls of Jericho – ours were made of paper-bag blocks.
This summer I am both telling the text as story for he whole church, kids included, and then preaching to the adults. It will be interesting to see if the adults will like the story telling as much as the kids.
It is because I like these two parts that I am better suited to church ministry than to academia. I love the scholars, but I am not one of them.