Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Killer Illustrations" A

This post (and a lot of silliness that has gone on recently) got me thinking about warning and best results labels for sermon illustrations.

    WARNING: Illustrations have been known to swallow entire sermons.
I first discovered this--but didn't see it as a problem--in the twelfth grade. Just after graduation, I had entered a "preaching competition" for our Fellowship. The sermon was [supposedly] on Philippians 3:13-14, and I used an illustration regarding a personal experience with drag racing. At our National Conference, I was given the opportunity to share the message in front of the entire conference. To this day, if I bump into someone who remembers the sermon, it is always called, "The race car sermon." I've never had someone refer to the Philippians passage, and most (if not all) can't even remember why I shared that illustration.

Like a well-fed pitbull puppy, the illustration can be contolled and led on a leash. However, if you are not careful, the illustration will not be led by your sermon but will be dominating over your sermon.

For Best Results: Consider the following when preaching:
    Consider the length of your illustration. How much time is it distracting from your exposition?
    Consider your title. Is it about your illustration or the text? How will your people remember the sermon?
    Consider your motivations. If the illustration must be cut, would you still be interested in preaching the message?
If you're not a preacher, your feedback can still play an influential role.

For Best Results: Consider the following when listening to a sermon:
    Consider your attention. What part do you look forward to the most? Do you listen anxiously for the illustrations, or for the text to be explained?
    Consider your compliments. Do you assess the pastor's sermons by entertainment value or by how they assist the text?
    Consider your summary. How would you describe the sermon to others? Would you focus more on the illustration than the text?

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