When we come to the preaching event a critical aspect of what the preacher should be longing for is that the people are fed. This feeding of the people comes through the Word of God being brought to them. Peter when he was commissioned by the Lord was told to Feed my sheep (John 21:17c).
This therefore conjures up the analogy of a preacher being a chef. So what do we think of when we think of how a preacher is analogous to a chef:
- You need the right ingredients. You will never produce any meals that are nourishing and enjoyable without having the right ingredients. Every true preacher will be getting his ingredients from the Word of God.
- You need to mix the appropriate ingredients. To put tomato sauce on ice cream may tickle someone’s fancy, but generally people will be revolted. To show joy when you are preaching about judgement is revolting.
- The right food for the right occasion. Providing a fish and chip supper at a posh dinner is likely not to be well received. Similarly a message on obeying the authorities at a funeral is not best chosen.
- The right order of courses. Offering people jelly and ice cream as a starter is not well thought through. So in preaching we have to be thoughtful about the best introduction, main course and conclusion to our message.
- The surrounding circumstances are important. You may produce the best meal, but dirty cutlery and a smelly restaurant will put people off. We need to be careful about our manner and dress so that we do not hinder people from consuming the Word.
- Everything needs to be cooked properly. The Word needs to have been cooked in our hearts so we can bring it appropriately to the people. It should not be too raw or overcooked.
- The right atmosphere. There is often something “je ne said quois” about having a great meal. It is prayer that creates the “je ne sais quois” of preaching. If there is no prayer then there is likely to be something missing.
- Don’t fill people up with the starter. The starter is meant to be leading people into enjoying the meal. If you fill them with stodge in the starter you will put them off the rest. And so an over stodgy start to the sermon is likely to put people off.
- Spices and condiments need to be used well. And so with preaching, illustrations need to be used well so as to enhance the message. A dish which is overloaded with pepper will be spoiled.
- The meal should be memorable. We need to work at this in preaching so that the benefit of the meal lasts.
- Don’t poison your guests. The worst thing a chef can do is to give food poisoning to his customers. And so for us similarly we should avoid this. Dependence on bringing the Word will mitigate against this.
- Digestible. The food should be presented so as to make sure that it is digestible. If the Word cannot be digested then it will not benefit the people.
- Digestion. If the meal is rushed then people are likely to get indigestion. We need to make sure that we do not rush too quickly. This particularly applies with allowing people’s emotions to catch up with the logical presentation of the message.
- Time between courses. This leads on to the thought of giving people time between courses to digest what has been said to them.
- Leaving stuff out. If you are cooking a meal you might to start to think about all the wonderful things you could put in your meal, but to actually produce a good meal you need to put in only the necessary ingredients. And so it is with preaching we must put in all that is necessary.
- Hoping for good reviews. A chef no doubt is pleased when people on TripAdvisor give high-rated reviews of his cuisine. For us preachers we do not look for the reviews of this day we look for the review of the ultimate day. Oh to hear from our Lord “well done good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21a). And if that is heard then all will have been worth it.
Oh that we might see people being well fed and strengthened in the Word.