As I was working on a message for our campus ministry meeting yesterday and I began thinking about the similarity between preaching and cooking.
When cooking, as I understand it, the goal is to accent or bring out the flavor of whatever the main item is that you are cooking (ie. the chicken, the steak, or the green beans). The main source of taste (as well as the main source of nourishment) comes from the chicken, steak or green beans, not from the oregano, salt, basil or pepper that you use to season it.
On occasion I have had food that had too much seasoning (not food cooked by my wife). I had to scrape off seasoning from my piece of meat because the seasoning was so overpowering that it actually eliminated any taste that the steak itself may have had, and basically ruined the meal.
I think preaching is similar in that Scripture is the main dish and, anecdotal stories and illustrations are like the seasoning. Illustrations can help hearers quite a bit to understand what the text is addressing, but too many anecdotes, stories, and jokes can really take away focus from the text itself and even ruin a sermon altogether.
Seasoning is good, but when overused can ruin the meal. Anecdotes are good, but when overused can ruin the sermon.
Do you agree or disagree that it is possible to use too many illustrations in a sermon? Have you effectively employed the use of illustrations or overused them? Why?
[Disclaimer: I have more experience in preaching than in actual cooking, though now that I am married I do have closer exposure to actual cooking. Prior to wedlock, “cooking” for me meant whipping up some scrambled eggs and toast. Hopefully all statements and analogies made referring to cooking are accurate, but I can’t guarantee it.]