This sermon structure uses two or more images in the sermon to signal movement or development to the hearers during the course of the sermon. Each image is associated with a particular thought or experience for the hearers and the sermon moves from one section to another by moving from one image to another.
In working with more than one image, the preacher needs to determine how the images hold together as a set of images. Do they have a thematic or stylistic coherence? Working with images that are too widely varied in style or subject matter can create confusion for the hearers, as the images work to break apart the sermon rather than hold the experience together as one intentional meditation upon God’s Word.
Also, the preacher will want a coherent movement between images during the sermon. That is, as the preacher moves from one image to another, there should be a logical or experiential appropriateness to such movement. This could involve movement within a metaphorical field (from parched desert to a seasonal stream to an ever-flowing river and a tree of life), typological movement (from the bronze snake in the wilderness to the Son of God lifted up on the cross), a dynamic reversal (from the stone of stumbling to the rock of ages), the development of a theme (the word becoming flesh to offer us a living word), or the contextualization of God’s mission (the rule of the risen Christ is manifest among his people today).
Finally, as the preacher integrates the images into the sermon, he can choose to work inductively leading from an image to the statement of an idea (that connects to the text, to the theological confession, to evangelical proclamation, or to the lives of the hearers) or deductively, beginning first with a statement of the idea and then entering into the image as a way of developing it for the hearers. A variety of inductive and deductive movements can generate a continuing interest in the flow of the sermon.
A Multiple Image sermon by Scott Sommerfeld preached in Chapel at Concordia Seminary on October 29, 2014: [audio: http://concordiatheology.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Col-3-12.MP3]
A Multiple Image sermon by Paul Robinson preached in Chapel at Concordia Seminary on October 7, 2015: [audio: http://concordiatheology.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Mark-10_17-22.mp3]
© 2011 David Schmitt. All rights reserved.