Preaching is not easy, but it is far easier than teaching. Although preachers and preaching styles vary, preaching is still quite predictably monolithic: a male voice monologues for 30-40 minutes. No visuals. No interruptions. No discussion. No great surprises. That’s what everyone expects. Some may take some notes, but most people just listen (or, at least, appear to), and everyone goes home. Some believed; some believed not.But teaching students for the ministry is quite different. The emphasis in most classes is on conveying information – lots of it – in a way that students can remember and use in future ministries. Yes, there should be worship and character shaping going on too, but the focus is on accumulating usable knowledge. But how? What is the best way to do this? I’ve talked with lots of students and teachers from various institutions, and have found that there seems to be four main approaches: 1. The traditional prof stands at the front of a classroom reading from his well-worn notes. The students burn their fingers trying to keep up with their typing, while wondering, “Why can’t he just photocopy his notes and give them to us?” Or, more commonly, students get copies of notes from previous year’s students and catch up on email and Twitter while the lecturer thinks his students are engaging with his pearls of wisdom. Exam questions tend to test memory, but not understanding. 2. The conversationalist prof has given up on trying to pass on a body of information and instead conducts “fireside” chats on subjects that the students deem to be important. YouTube videos and short blog articles feature largely in this student-centered approach. Maybe some books are discussed as well. Students may not be so bored, but are they much the wiser? Exam questions tend to begin “Discuss…” but often produce more questions than answers. 3. The online prof does most of his teaching via the Internet. He provides all his lecture notes to students and may even accompany them with audio or video recordings of the material. He has less classroom time with his students but uses that face-to-face time to answer or pose questions based on the material previously provided. This approach certainly ensures that the students get substantial amounts of information in their folders, but have they read the notes and listened to the lectures? Or are they just winging it and waffling it in the face-to-face question time? Exam questions can certainly be drafted to test this, but maybe having to type out the notes produces greater concentration and engagement with the material. Also, does online teaching communicate the ethos and pathos of the prof – a vital question when we are dealing with theology. 4. The read-along prof provides full lecture notes at the beginning of the class and then proceeds to read the notes as the students follow along. I’ve tried this and hate it – as do most students, I believe. Indeed, each approach seems to produce complaints from students. #1 is “boring and pointless – just give me the notes.” #2 is “empty and directionless – I’m paying to hear you not my fellow students!” “We don’t get enough time with the prof” in #3. Try #4 and students faces seem to scream, “I can read this myself, you know!” So, do we just stick with the one approach that suits the teacher best, and accept that some are just not going to like it? Or do we offer all four approaches and say, “Just come to the class that works for you” (and run the poor prof into the ground)? Or am I missing something? What is the best way to convey theological information to this generation of students? And does that method also stimulate worship and shape character? Discuss!