Finding Illustrations Useful for Preaching

Finding Illustrations Useful for Preaching

We’ve been considering the art of illustration your sermons.  You’ll find the first post in the series here.  In this post we look at how to go about finding illustrations useful for preaching impact through your sermons.

You Are Your Best Resource


Remember this as you are looking for illustrations: you are your best resource.  As you prepare your message and feel that it is a good time to hook people and make an impact, consider your own story.  As we saw in considering the various levels of illustrations as described by Haddon Robinson, the best kind of illustration, the kind that connects with your audience and makes an impact, is where your lived experience connects with that of your audience.

I was thinking of this as I am preparing to preach this coming Sunday.   The theme for the message is, “God is Making All Things New”.   One of my questions as I prepared this message is this:  Where have I lived this experience?  In other words, where have I felt God making all things new?  I immediately thought of the time when I was out of ministry for almost a year.  I wondered whether I would ever preach again.  Yet, during that year, I saw God work in marvelous ways, with the resulting call to Covenant Life Church in Grand Haven, MI.  He not only restored my ministry, He changed me.

Think about your lived experience with whatever theme your message will present. This will help you as you plan on finding illustrations useful for preaching impact through your sermons.

Look For Internet Resources

Where else can you find illustrations of things being made new?  One of the places I looked was examples from other peoples’ sermons.  I put in my search engine,

Magnifying glass on computer keyboard with web page address and cursor arrow, internet search, marketing and global communications concept

“Sermons about God Making All Things New.”  Several sermons came up.  One resource listed people who had failed in history, but then became successes.  So, I’m going to use that.

I’m going to begin the message with a history lesson about people who have failed in their lives.  Pictures will come up on the screen through powerpoint of:

Walt Disney: Prior to his success, he was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked ideas.   He also went bankrupt several time before finding success with Disneyland.

Leo Tolstoy, the author of War and Peace, flunked out of college.  He was described as “both unable and unwilling to learn.”

Michael Jordan, often cited as the Greatest of All Time basketball player.  He did not make his high school basketball team in his sophomore year.

Winston Churchill, considered by many to be the greatest man of the 20th century, failed the 6th grade, and did not become prime minister until he was 62 years old.

Beethoven: one of his teachers called him hopeless as a composer.

Henry Ford went bankrupt five times before he succeeded with making the Model T.

Finding illustrations for preaching impact like these will keep peoples’ attention.

Read Illustrations for Preaching Impact

Another thing I do is read across a broad spectrum of interests.  I usually am reading a novel, something from history, and Time magazine.   I then think back about things I’ve read recently as I come to a point in my message that I feel needs an illustration.  Many times, something will come to mind.

For instance, recently in Time magazine there was an article about an area that decided to fight climate change.  This area was hot, dry, and the quality of soil was deteriorating.   With the help of funds received from a foundation, trees were identified that could thrive there, they were purchased and planted.  Over a ten year period, the temperature overall went down, animals and birds returned, and eventually, the soil became more productive so that people could live in that area again.  This became an illustration of Creation Care.

The point of finding illustrations for preaching impact is just that, to make an impact with your message.  This last illustration is something I have learned, and it may, or may not coincide with what the audience has learned.  However, I know that the audience is keen on creation care, so I think it will work.


Illustrations are one of the most powerful tools for making an impact.  Find them and use them.  People will connect, and you will make a greater impact.