Stuck? (Craft the Best Illustrations)

I ask preachers what they struggle with most in sermon prep and I hear the same thing from many different people: “I struggle with illustrations” Whether that is figuring out how to balance illustrations, where to put illustrations, or how to find illustrations, this is a common problem.


Illustrations are an integral part of a sermon. A message with no illustrations is not going to drive home any points because no one will be awake to figure out what the point was. On the other side of the coin a message too saturated with illustration might downplay the Biblical principle or become a wandering mess of disconnected riffs.

The message you convey in your sermon will never be complete without vivid, compelling, and effective illustrations. This is just a fact of life.

People have all kinds of ways to get entertainment. So if on Sunday morning the preaching consists of droning on about insights into the text without a personal or cultural touch people will either drone you out with technology (phones, tablets), sleep (Yes. I know), or not show up (Ugh).

So today, we are going to look at some principles which if you root your sermon illustrating in will be good for your preaching. See there is no “correct” or “best” way to craft illustrations for your preaching but if you are grounded in the Biblical text and your illustrations follow these simple principles than you can see your preaching kick into high gear.

Incorporate Story

We talk a lot about this here, because it is important. As we look at the Bible, we see it is a big story supported by a bunch of other stories. So when we are looking at how to do this we must always:

Add a Personal Touch

This is vitally important in your communication. I have seen so many sermons that had no personal touch whatsoever. These sermons are filled with removed anecdotes about someone else. Add some personal insights, some personal stories, some personal challenges, some personality into your illustrations. Believe me, your audience will appreciate it.

Show Some Humor

I know not everyone believes that you should be telling jokes or sharing humorous stories from the pulpit. But here at RookiePreacher we say you definitely should be. A simple way to add some effectiveness to your message is to add funny illustrations. Be that personal or not. Although try to stay personal, some good ol’ self-deprecating humor is always good.

Engage Culture

Please avoid rambling on with illustrations that would have spoken well to an audience in New England in 1703. Or, illustrations that spoke in a great way to the rural church you were in last year but no so much now that you are in an urban context.

Have Fun

This is important. Preaching is something to take very seriously, no doubt about that. But, try and have some fun. It will loosen you up as well as your audience. It will also help you connect with your audience. In particular, when we are talking about illustration go out on a limb sometimes and stretch yourself-you will enjoy the results.


When talking about preaching, I know, illustrations are one of the most important aspects. Many times illustrations can cause us to be stuck in our preparation or lose sleep over the fact that we cannot find any or we do not know where to put them in our sermon.

But, take these principles and you will see improvement in your illustrations.

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Written by Joe Hoagland

Joe is a pastor at Rise Church in Marion, Oh. He is married to his awesome wife Jenna and they have one daughter Aryella.

He loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God's word.

You can often times find Joe hiking, camping, writing, reading, or enjoying technology.


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