One powerful way to think about preaching, especially in this era, is to see the sermon as a series of images. It is set up like a motion picture or a story. You move from “setting” to “setting” simply describing the setting before moving on. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well a “word picture” is also worth many words. The Bible writers often use picture to convey powerful truths.
For example, in Psalms 23, the author simply says that the “Lord is my Shepherd.” Here the author uses the picture (shepherd) to teach us valuable things. When Jesus revealed to John the truths about the end time as well as the empire of Rome, in the Book of Revelation, God used images like Babylon, Jezebel, Beasts, Churches, and Trumpets. Jesus often preached by making use of pictures (parables). “The kingdom of heaven is like…” you fill in the blanks. And we cannot forget the Ancient Hebrew Tabernacle services which were an extended object lesson of the plan of salvation.
Yes images are powerful, but somehow many of us have fallen into the trap of preaching messages devoid of imagination and pictures. Instead of presenting vivid Word Picture examples of the truths we are trying to proclaim, we sometimes just present facts. The nice thing about thinking in images, is that it forces us to place the truths we proclaim into real life. Instead of simply saying something is true, we are forced to ask “what does this truth look like in real life? Is there anything in nature or something that we know that can help us understand and teach this truth.”
In some ways, I am just calling for effective examples and illustrations. But more than that, I am calling for the pictures to take center stage in your sermons. You will be surprised how often people will remember the picture. And then with the picture, they will often remember the facts that you were attempting to teach them.