Preaching is the art and skill of helping people to embrace God’s best for their lives. Preaching is NOT just TEACHING. Teaching is the transfer of information, preaching is helping people experience transformation based on what God’s Word. Preaching is God’s Word through our own personality. That is why good exegesis and fill in the blanks is not enough in your preaching. You also have to help people see and feel. Intellect doesn’t move people to action, but emotion does. And sermon illustrations can move people to action.
My favorite part of writing a sermon is picking out ways to make the message come alive for people through illustrations. Illustrations are ways for people to see what you are trying to communicate. ILLUSTRATIONS help ILLUMINATE Truth.
While there are websites, books, and blogs with examples of illustrations, the best are the ones that you can get discover on your own. Here are a few types of illustrations to include in your message.
The best illustrations are personal stories. Show people how the Truth you are preaching intersects with your own life. Personal stories help people see how you’ve wrestled with the truth and let it transform your life. Or even better, how you FAILED to apply the truth. Showing how you’ve struggled and missed the mark makes you relatable to those that you are preaching to. Craig Groeschel says that people will follow a REAL leader over a PERFECT leader. Don’t be afraid to show where you’ve made mistakes because people will connect with you, because everyone knows what it is like to fail.
Real Life Examples.
The next level of illustration is real life examples. These can be stories of people you know who are showing aspects of the truth you are wrestling with. You can use people in the news or media. Real life examples show that the truth you are talking about is relevant and you can actually point to people, places and cultural examples.
Audience participation may seem cheesy, but it actually can be a fun way to have people connect with your preaching point and respond. Sunday morning can be tough, especially for new people. So if you can break up your content and ask questions, or have them repeat words or phrases that are important for your message it will keep people engaged in your message.
These examples are usually the stuff of that preaching books are full of. These are events in history, famous works of literature and art. These examples can be interesting and informative and help people connect with the truth you’re preaching, but they can also bore people who may not be interested in those topics or issues.
Quotes from people in a variety of disciplines can add a sense of authority to the point you are making. Quoting a scientist, politician, or celebrity can appeal to an authority that can actually give you credibility. Usually quotes should be from authorities that are recognizable to the majority of people, or should have a specific specialty that people will instantly know about.