What Is an Illustration?

You can illustrate your message with stories (personal or  otherwise), analogies, historical incidents, things you’ve read or observed in life, and more. An illustration is anything that casts light on the truth.

The Purpose of Illustrations.

We use illustrations in teaching for a number of reasons:

  • Establish rapport.
  • Stir the emotions.
  • Assist the memory.
  • Keep the audience engaged.

When it comes to the content of the sermon, illustrations serve three purposes:

  • Explain the truth.
  • Prove the truth.
  • Apply the truth.

Abuse of Illustrations.

Here are certain pitfalls you should avoid in using illustrations:

  • Don’t settle for a boring message.
  • Don’t use an illustration that’s not on target.
  • Don’t violate confidentiality.
  • Don’t deceive people.
  • Don’t make yourself the hero.
  • Don’t confuse the audience.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Describe a sermon illustration you heard recently. What purpose(s) did that illustration fulfill in that message?
  4. How do illustrations help convince people of the truth?
  5. What are some pitfalls to avoid in sharing a personal story as a sermon illustration?
  6. Talk about some ways that illustrations could be confusing rather than illuminating? Give examples if possible.
  7. Where do you find good illustrations? How do you remember them?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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