Here is an excerpt from Good Questions Have Small Groups Talking: the book.
Lecture is a good method, especially in certain special circumstances.
- If you need to communicate a good deal of information quickly. Lecture can be a very efficient way of communicating.
- If there is only one person in the room that knows the truth. Group life should not be about the pooling of ignorance. I have seen groups fish for the right answer for days when there is just one person who knows. Say it.
- In short bursts. Every lesson ought to have some lecture. In my online lessons I will often put footnotes to the teachers and say, “Preach a little on that.” Every lesson ought to have a bit of the prophetic voice of someone saying, “Thus saith the Lord!”
- If the material is somewhat complex one voice will often make it clearer than a group of voices discussing.
- If you only have an expert in the room for a limited amount of time. I remember hearing Dr. Curtis Vaughan speak one time in El Paso, TX. Dr. Vaughan taught me Greek in seminary and I have enormous respect for his knowledge. I remember people asking a question about a word that was completely out of context and off the top of his head he would say, “On page 1232 of Kittel, volume 4, it says. . .” Anyway, at this meeting in El Paso, he gave his presentation, then opened it up for discussion. Discussion? Dr. Curtis Vaughan is in the room. I don’t want to hear us dummies speak. I want to hear Dr. Vaughan. Let him lecture till the cows come home!
There is a place for lecture, but lecture has its limitations, especially in a group setting. I can think of two primary limitations of the lecture method.