A few thoughts from Warren Wiersbe.
“The purpose of preaching is not to explain a subject, but to achieve an object.” (Fosdick)
‘We have forgotten that the Bible is an imaginative book. It contains every kind of literature, from funeral dirges and pastoral poems to epigrams, parables, allegories, and creative symbols that have captured poets, artists, and composers for centuries. For some reason, our views of inspiration and inerrancy have robbed us of a living book, a book that throbs with excitement and enrichment. Instead of entering into the literary genre of the passage, we treat all passages alike. David’s poems sound, to our ears, like Paul’s arguments, and our Lord’s parables like Moses’ genealogies. Shame on us!’
‘While preparing a message on Hosea 14, I decided to read the entire book again and especially note the similes. I was amazed to find the brokenhearted prophet painting one picture after another. “Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer” (Hos 4:16, NASB). “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim” (Hos 5:14). “And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hos 6:3). “For your loyalty is like a morning cloud, and like the dew which goes away early” (Hos 6:4). Simile is piled upon simile!’
‘Many preachers try to use their imagination only in reconstructing Bible scenes, and this has its place when done with accuracy and insight. The better the preacher’s imagination, the shorter the description and the more vivid the strokes in the picture. But I am not encouraging reconstruction so much as identification: entering into the spirit of the passage, the mind and heart of the writer, and being true to the literary genre. It would be difficult to conceive of an interpreter understanding Ezekiel 1 or Isaiah 40 without the use of sanctified imagination.’
‘Imagination also helps us identify with people and apply the Word to their lives. (If all you want to do is explain a subject, you need not worry about meeting needs.) Halford Luccock wrote, “Nothing is more central to a genuine ministry than the faculty of feeling one’s way into the lives of others.… It is more than sympathy; it is empathy, the imaginative projection of our consciousness into another’s being.”’
‘Imagination helps you anticipate people’s questions and objections. As you put yourself in their place, you discover mental obstacles that must be removed, prejudices that must be exposed, and objections that will need answers if the listener is to receive your material. Again, Harry Emerson Fosdick was the master of answering the listener’s questions before they were even voiced. As you read his sermons, you note such phrases as “Some may be saying …” “Do not misunderstand me …” “Now, when somebody says …” “ ‘True enough,’ you reply, ‘but what about …’ ” Phrases like these indicate preparation with the congregation in mind.’
‘Your imagination can help you present the truth in ways that encourage reception. “Don’t just throw the seed at the people!” Spurgeon said. “Grind it into flour, bake it into bread, and slice it for them. And it wouldn’t hurt to put a little honey on it.”’
‘It amazes me how some preachers can make Bible doctrine so dull! Each of the key doctrinal words in our New Testament is part of an exciting picture. Justification belonged to the courtroom before it moved to the seminary. Redemption was born out of Greek and Roman slavery. The phrase born again was familiar to the Greeks and carried meanings that would illumine any sermon today. The preacher who does not study words—including English words—is robbing himself or herself of an effective tool for communicating truth.’
‘The ivory tower bookworm will never meet the needs of people. Education is important, but so is experience. The preacher must live! He must mix learning and living, the library and the marketplace. He must be among his people, with the publicans and sinners as well as the preachers and saints.’
‘Most of all I recommend a childlike sense of wonder at life. Spend your days with your eyes and ears open, your mind constantly inquiring. Beware of coming to a place in life where you feel you have learned it all and done it all. When you come to that place, you are entering a dead-end street.’
‘Imagination is the preacher’s neglected ally, waiting to serve if we will let it.’
In Larson and Robinson (eds) The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching, chapter 155. Emphasis added.