Sermon illustrations clarify the meaning with images that appeal to the imagination (see Index of Topics below). The word illustration is from Latin, lustrare, “to illuminate.” It means “to throw light on an idea, to illuminate it.” A sermon illustration is a word picture that gives the biblical truth a familiar image that the listener can see it in his mind.
Sermon Illustrations can be a glorious bridge between the text of God’s Word and the congregation. A good illustration can open up a passage of Scripture, bring understanding to God’s people, and touch their hearts with application. They paint a picture upon the listener’s imagination to bring clarity and ways to implement the spiritual truths being set before them.
WHY USE SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS?
They Open Windows.
Charles Spurgeon was fond of referring to sermon illustrations with the metaphor of a window. He said in his book Lectures to My Students:
Our Saviour, who is the light of the world, took care to fill his speech with similitudes, so that the common people heard him gladly: his example stamps with high authority the practice of illuminating heavenly instruction with comparisons and similes. To every preacher of righteousness as well as to Noah, wisdom gives the command, “A window shalt thou make in the ark.” You may build up laborious definitions and explanations and yet leave your hearers in the dark as to your meaning; but a thoroughly suitable metaphor will wonderfully clear the sense.
Like a window in an unfamiliar room, the right illustration lets in some natural light to help them see.
They Let in Fresh Air.
A church recently purchased a building that was more than one hundred years old. Many of the rooms in this old church building had not been used in decades. As you might imagine, there was a lot of stale air. How do you solve this problem? You open some windows, turn on some fans, and get the air moving around. This works in preaching, too. As you are laboring to make a point, particularly weighty points, an illustration can help move the air around a bit.
They Decorate Life with Doctrine.
As preachers and teachers we have only a limited amount of time with our audience. We so little time, preachers have to pack some doctrine in their backpacks, briefcases, or on their dashboards. Why? Quite simply, if we can adorn a part of our community with doctrinal truth.
Below is a list of topics of sermon illustrations. Find your topic, click the topic link, and search for the illustration.
- I make no claim of originality. These illustrations are the result of years of collecting stories and illustrations. Any semblance to printed works is accidental.
- A Bad Day
- Broken Things
- Building Character
- Lesson from Golf Balls
- Overcoming Irritation
- Prospects for the Future
- Ship’s Challenge
- Skilled Blows of God
- Surrogate Feeling
- Testing the Stability