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John Ortberg: Illustrating with Slices of Life

Finding powerful sermon illustrations in the storytelling and scenes of the everyday.

John Ortberg: Illustrating with Slices of LifeSee theme

PreachingToday.com: John, your books and sermons reflect a knack for finding just the right illustration to fit the message. Where do you find material for your illustrations?

John Ortberg: I want the illustrations to communicate to people that I live in the same world they live in. The single largest source, then, is the people themselves—staying immersed in the lives of people and telling stories about people, because story communicates deeply.

In part, that means watching for things in the spheres of government, business, and the arts. I also look at things like USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and Time. Especially for the people who are outside the church, I want to communicate that I live in the real world, their world.

But the best method I've found came from a great homiletics professor in seminary, Ian Pitt-Watson. He taught us the preacher has two tasks: exegesis of the text and exegesis of life. The idea is if Christ really is present in all of space and time, then there ...

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