Friday, April 10, 2009

"Killer Illustrations" D

This post (and a lot of silliness that has gone on recently) got me thinking about warning and best results labels for sermon illustrations. [Other Warning Labels: 1 2 3.]

    WARNING: Some illustrations can run counter to sanctification.
The goal of the preaching should be to unpack the Word of God in such a way that sanctification results. The role of the illustration is to assist the explanation of the text. Therefore, the illustrations exists to serve the sermon with the goal of the Word sanctifying. However, many times, an illustration not only fails to adequately serve the Word, but it even runs contrary to the process of sanctification.

A pastor must exercise caution that his illustration does not call people to feed the flesh. If in the process of preaching a pastor causes members of the congregation to sin, surely he will bear this burden.

For Best Results: Consider the following when preaching:
    Consider the audience. Could I give this illustration with my grandmother in the room? Could I give this illustration with my grandchildren in the room?
    Consider the REAL Audience. Am I comfortable giving this illustration in front of Jesus Christ? Would I alter details of the illustration if I could see Jesus visually sitting before me?
    Consider the larger context? If a video clip (or book, for that matter) is being used, are elements beyond the clip I am showing inappropriate? Could this exposure cause a person to be tempted to see more than they should? Am I exposing them to a greater work for which I am not comfortable?
    Consider the lost. Is sin presented as sin? Would a lost person hear this illustration and think we are just like them in every way?
    Consider your own heart. Am I presenting this illustration with a great deal of cynicism? Am I exhibiting an anger or self-righteousness which could become infectious to the listening audience?

For Best Results: Consider the following when listening to a sermon:
    Consider the audience. Would I enjoy this illustration if my grandmother was sitting next to me? My grandson? Am I content with illustrations that are safe for all ages or do I want my pastor to pursue more "edge?"
    Consider the REAL Audience. Would my reaction to the illustration be the same if Jesus were sitting right beside me? Am I desiring illustrations that "get away with as much" as we can, or am I willing for the pastor's illustration to pursue holiness as much as possible?
    Consider the lost? If they guy behind me is lost, will he see that I grieve over my sin and respond differently than he does to my own sin?
    Consider the larger context. Do I automatically consider a form of media "safe" if a portion has been shared in church? Am I willing to do my homework and see if the entire context is beneficial or just this small portion?
    Consider your own passions. What emotions/passions/cravings are being stirred up by this illustration? Am I currently being tempted to sin?
Like rinsing a cup in the dirty dish water in the sink, the pastor may believe the Word has sanctified his congregation while his own illustration soiled them up again. We should desire at no point to indulge the flesh, no matter how great we think the illustration may be.

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