Sermon Illustration: “It’s What You Do”

My approach to opening illustrations is to provide a smooth runway. I want there to be an easy and smooth and gripping take off, so a good opening is critical. If the take off is bad, the rest of the message can include a lot of turbulence. The preacher wants something to grab the attention of the congregation, leading them to want more. Recently, in order to help the congregation see the gravity of Luke’s nonchalant statement about all of Asia Minor hearing the message of the Lord (from Acts 19), I started the message with the following reference to...

Continue Reading

What Should I Preach Next? 5 Questions to Ask

Full disclosure: I am not the best person to help you figure out what to preach next. One, I am not very good at it. Two, I don’t know your people nor the needs of your church. Ideally, you would have planned out your preaching well enough in advance to the point that you aren’t stressed about what’s next. But even in ideal situations, there will be times when you will be faced with the task of coming up with a new series of messages or at least a “stand alone” sermon. How does the preacher decide what to preach...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Doctor Making Uninvited Home Visits

In order to challenge the congregation to build a relationship with the lost and searching for the purpose of disciple-making, I began a recent sermon with a hypothetical illustration about a doctor making a home visit. You can listen to the entire message here. Below is how I began . . .   What would you think of a doctor who made house calls? Not at your request, however . . . at his. He knocked on your door, told you he was a doctor, and wanted to talk to you for a few minutes. He asks if you have...

Continue Reading

5 Proven Ways To Make Funeral Sermons Personal

Pastors, let’s be honest. Church members, nor their loved ones, ever die at a convenient time. Sunday is always coming. Staff meetings are always scheduled. Appointments are on the calendar. Our children’s ball games and practices happen ’round the clock. Funerals don’t happen every week, but they seem to happen during the craziest of weeks. Am I right? But let’s also be honest about something else. Before, during, and after a funeral are when we have opportunities to be MOST pastoral. We won’t find a more ideal time when people we serve are leaning into the things of God than...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Sent Church vs. Sent Culture

Below is an opening illustration I used to communicate the difference of doing something just to say you do it, and doing something because it is a part of who you are. You can listen to the sermon here.   Tuesday of this week, I went to the dentist for my bi-annual cleaning. I am happy to report that I had zero cavities and have been cavity free for several years now. I was not worried and had solid confidence this would be the case. As a matter of fact, I practically strut my way into the dentist office. I...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Why Saying, “I Will Just Let My Life Be My Testimony” is Ridiculous

I hear many well-meaning, well-intentioned people say things like, “I don’t have to share theĀ gospel, I will just let my life speak for me.” I have heard an ancient preacher (I have no idea who actually said this) quoted as saying, “Wherever you go, preach the gospel. When necessary, use words.” If you think about it, this one of the most absurd claims ever made. We don’t do that with anything else, do we? With anything else that excites us and is changing us, we joyfully talk about what that thing is. Think about it this way. You find a...

Continue Reading

Extending the Invitation

Hopefully, you don’t preach just to hear yourself talk. You want to influence those who listen to you. You preach because you’re called, and you’re called in order to make an eternal impact. Therefore, you don’t want to give a nice “talk” that people aren’t challenged to do anything with and forget about on their way to lunch at the Cracker Barrel. You want to invite them to respond. You want to give an opportunity for your hearers to react to what the Spirit of God is doing in their hearts as a result of the preached Word. Let me...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Doing For (Duty) vs. Being With (Delight)

Flowers

In effort to explain the difference between doing things for God (in order to get Him to like us) and doing things with Him (because He is with us and for us and loves us already), I talked about planning for a wedding anniversary. [Full disclosure: I got the idea from a different version of this shared by John Piper years ago. I have no idea which sermon or I would link to it here.] It went something like this…

Continue Reading

Don’t Forget Bubba

Sure. You want to exegete and explain the text. Sure. You want the people in the pew to know and trust that you have done your homework. Sure. You want to put to good use the tools you learned at seminary. Sure. There are big theological words that you want to make sure your congregation understands. Sure. You want to communicate what a phrase means “in the original.” Sure. You want an eloquent four-pointer that alliterates. I get it. I do too. But don’t forget Bubba.

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Identity-Security-Purpose

Recently, I preached through a series of messages entitled “Living Sent.” One of the messages had to do with the reality that we do or don’t live to make disciples of Jesus based on our identity, security and purpose. Another way to say it is that believing in who we are and resting in whose we are compels us to risk everything so that others know the incredible love of God for us in Jesus. You can listen to the message here. I closed the sermon by using an illustration from the Bible. My main text was Ephesians 3:14-21, but...

Continue Reading