Polishing the pulpit  For building sermons today 


Taking the time to find just the right illustration... could this
really be worth your time?

by Ed Thomason

Good sermon illustrations are powerful communication tools. Is it worth your time? Yes! Fitting just the right illustration to the sermon is time well spent. 

Once you have studied your text and developed the theme and purpose of your lesson, you should begin to ask what kind of illustration can be used to help get your audience focused on the thought(s) you wish to present. Is there something from your own life experience or from the headlines that can be used? Many illustration files on the internet allow you to use key words in your search. Suppose your looking for an illustration about being foolish. Perhaps that word can be used to do a search.

It is also highly recommended that you develop your own personal illustration file. It may be a shoebox at first with bulletin clippings but start one and keep it going. (See sermon tips on organizing an illustration file.) There is also software available that can help you build an illustration file if you wish to go that route. Whatever way you decide to do it... just start as soon as possible collecting illustrations.

Should you start with an illustration? I think so! Why not try to start your sermons with contemporary illustrations will get the audience to think with you about the general theme or thoughts to be presented in your lesson. No, your right, using an illustration as an introduction is not a firm "rule" but in my mind it ought to be! When it comes to grapping and holding the attention of your audience... nothing works better And when the illustration points the way that the sermon is going to head your audience will follow you better. 

An old but simple "rule of thumb" outline for a bible study that I heard a long time ago (I can't remember where I heard it) goes something like this:

Hook, Book, Look, Took.

The hook is the illustration, the book is the Bible text, the look is a discussion of what the text says, and the took is the application or lesson to be learned. This will work in any bible class and it will work in the pulpit also. 

But our point here is to start with a "hook." Use a good  illustration that gets attention and hooks them. 


2003 Thomason Enterprises