I remember sitting on my couch when it hit me. It was one of those rare moments of clarity amid the dense fog of dejection. I was fretting a bit about my sermon a few hours earlier. I felt like the wife or mom who kept on cooking up the same meals, the same way each week. The balance of spiritual proteins, carbs, and vegetables were not out of whack, but the flavor was. My homiletical seasoning had become flavorless and predictable. In short: my illustrations and word pictures were becoming bland and boring.
It hit me as I sat rubbing my head like I was attempting to coerse a migraine to leave. Jesus commented that “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Lk. 6.45). What was coming out of my mouth in my sermons was precisely what was filling my mind and heart throughout the week.
Think about it for a second. In sermon prep the preacher works hard to get the text into his soul. He pounds it in via reading, meditation, prayer, study, and thinking. What comes out is how the text has been received, processed, integrated, and applied personally. To put it another way, it is like the preacher drops a fishing line into his mind. Attached to it is the meat of the text. As he drags the line through the water of the mind he attracts some objects. You only pull out what is in there. If you go fishing and your hook gets caught on old boots, tires, coke bottles and weeds, it is because that is what is in the water. If your sermons consistently pull out illustrations about sports, your family, running or blowing things up it is because that is what is in there. In my case I was constantly referring to sports, my family, and (strangely) things that detonate. This works for awhile but eventually it becomes a tired old boot on the line.
So how do you spice up bland sermons? If we may apply Jesus’ logic here, then we need to fill our hearts and minds with more stuff. In particular we need to fill it with more homiletically helpful stuff.
Here are my suggestions that I have found personally helpful: