I once taught a class on how to teach adult Bible class. I asked the students to tell me their all-time favorite Bible class. 10 classes were listed. I then asked how many of these were primarily lectures and how many were primarily discussion. The answer: 8 were primarily lecture.
A well-done lecture can be a life-changing experience. This is one reason we have sermons and not discussions in our worship services. They actually work–at least some of the time.
However, a bad lecture can be really, really bad. Of course, a bad discussion class can be just as terrible. I’ve heard some of the most un-Christian ideas imaginable taught as truth in a discussion class badly led.
When the teacher is asked to present new information to the class, a lecture is essential. However, when it’s time to make a life application, often a discussion allows class members to open up and share their own stories in very powerful ways.
Therefore, the very best classes combine the features of both formats. The teacher begins by presenting new information, ideas, or perspectives, and then leads the class into considering the implications of this new information. It may take 5 minutes or 5 weeks to present the new material, but once it’s presented, the class will benefit by getting to talk about it.