Monday, April 13, 2009

"Killer Illustrations" E

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, 4.]

    WARNING: You don't want to illustrate like Jesus.
No doubt, some will react to this series as if I oppose illustrations. I have never stated such and if one were to listen to my preaching, he would certainly notice I do not object to using illustrations. It should go without saying that they are a necessary part of unpacking the texts. However, they are not intended to be the center and core of a sermon.

But Jesus used illustrations all the time, they argue, what about the parables? They're entire messages built around illustrations!

For Best Results: Consider the following when preaching:
    Consider the Messiah. Are you really going to assume you can preach like Him? Do you have as good a command of the Scriptures? Were you given His same divine purpose? Do you have first-hand account information on the kingdom of God?
    Consider His illustrations. Are you using basic things for examples--things understood worldwide--like dirt, fish and suffering widows?
    Consider His mission. Are you trying to fulfill prophecy? Are you intending for your illustration to leave some confused? (see: Matthew 13:1-23)
For Best Results: Consider the following when listening to a sermon:
    Consider the Text. Is the pastor illustrating from experience, or from the Scriptures? Is his illustration elaborating on his wisdom or on God's wisdom?
    Consider your emotions. Was the illustration so emotionally stirring that you are not motivated to exercise discernment? Did you "enjoy" the illustration so much that it really don't matter to you if it makes a biblically accurate point?
    Consider your desire. Would you be pleased with the most basic of illustrations, provided it unpacks the texts? Do you desire sophistication with an illustration?

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