As I’ve been going down this road of substitute preaching, there’s one thing that’s become obvious:
I’m not good with illustrations.
I know that there are some, like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who are staunchly anti-illustration. Then there are others who are of the opinion that illustrations will, to a limited degree, make or break your sermon. Personally, I really appreciate good illustrations, but don’t find it terribly interesting when a message is basically a long series of them that don’t really have a lot to do with the text being preached.
Probably one of the best illustrations I’ve heard is one that Mark Driscoll used a while back to talk about the power of forgiveness. My paraphrase of the story is this:
Just before a couple from Mars Hill got married, the wife committed adultery. She kept it hidden from her husband for years until finally she couldn’t any longer. When she told him, he left the house, got in the car and left; she wasn’t sure if she’d ever see him again.
A while later, he came home. He asked her to undress and he put on her a white nightgown that he’d gone out to buy for her. And all he said to her was, “I choose to see you the way Jesus does.”
That was an extremely moving example; in my mind it’s one of the best that Driscoll’s come out with.
Matt Chandler’s “Debt is Dumb” illustration is genius:
as is “Jesus Wants the Rose”:
While I’m sure a lot of it is just that I need practice, a problem for me is I’m not always sure where to look. Despite writing a blog filled with my opinions on theology, I don’t actually like talking about myself (I’m not all that interesting), and I’m not always comfortable talking about work (particularly since I wouldn’t want to say something that could be misconstrued). Plus, my wife has mentioned how much she dislikes it when preachers talk about their wives in sermons excessively, so out of respect for her, I am cautious about family remarks.
So I’ve got a couple of questions:
What’s an illustration you heard in this weekend’s sermon that brought the message home for you?
Do you have a “favorite” sermon illustration?
And for the preachers out there:
Do you find it challenging to find appropriate illustrations? Where do you look first?
How do you use an event or conversation involving another person without it coming across as defaming or dishonoring of the person talked about?
How are you doing on mastering the art of the illustration?