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Illustration Submission Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in providing sermon illustrations for Preachingtoday.com. If you're familiar with our site, you know that we include contributions from a wide spectrum of preachers. So feel free to send us your ideas. But before you do, please read these guidelines:

Categories of Illustrations We Use on Our Site

All of our illustrations fall into one or more of seven categories:

  • Stories
  • Everyday Disciples
  • Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Humor
  • Props & Visuals
  • Movie/TV/Commercial

We're always on the look-out for Everyday Disciples, stories about ordinary Christians who are making a difference or growing in Christ. We also enjoy quality Humor illustrations. Just remember to keep them clean and above reproach—and, of course, funny. We only use one quote a week, but if you find a quote that's tremendously insightful or from an interesting source, feel free to send it in. High-quality Props & Visual Illustrations are like rare jewels, so if you have a Prop or a Visual that's worked for you, let us know about it.

Qualities of Our Illustrations

We're looking for illustrations that meet the following criteria:

  • Is it fresh? Does it provide a new, interesting or unique perspective on a familiar topic? Does the illustration smell like fresh-baked bread or does it feel like a crusty, stale bagel?
  • Is it believable? Does the illustration ring true? Or does it set off your cheese detector? If it's not believable, we won't use it.
  • Is it biblical? Does it square with the Bible? All of our illustrations are tied to specific Scripture passages, so if it won't match up with a Scripture, it's not preachable and won't fit our needs.
  • Is it tellable? Does the style of the illustration suit oral communication? Word choices and sentence styles that are long and complex are difficult to retell in a sermon. Some of this can be fixed through the editing process, but the illustration must have potential.
  • Is it useable? Does the illustration relate to an important preaching topic or theme? Or is it an illustration that could only be used on rare occasions?
  • Is it already in our database? Preachingtoday.com has thousands of illustrations. You may have a fantastic idea, but the illustration (or something very similar) may already be in our database.

We can also tell you that we are not looking for the following submissions:

  • Illustrations that are too negative or cynical about church life or Christians.
  • Illustrations that sound archaic, "churchy," simplistic, or moralistic.
  • Illustrations that have made the rounds. For instance, we didn't need new stories about the rescue of the Chilean miners; most of them were already plastered on other sites.

How to Cite Your Sources

Before you send us an illustration, please cite the appropriate sources. We're sticklers about citations, so be accurate and thorough. Here are a few examples of how to cite sources:

Newspaper article: Bret Stephens, "The Great Wall," The Wall Street Journal (3-9-07)

Book: Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? (Zondervan, 2006), p.20

Website: Associated Press, "Sold! One Declaration of Independence copy," MSNBC.com (posted 3-23-07)

Also, make sure you tell us your full name and where you live (city and state).

The Sweet, Safe Spot of Usage

For copyright and integrity purposes, we generally use no more than 15 percent of a given article; that fits within the Fair Use guidelines of copyright law. That's the "sweet, safe spot." For example, if a story on CNN.com is roughly 200 words, we'd like to excerpt about 30 words. Regarding quotes from books, we aim to stay below 300 words. We can excerpt longer portions, but for that we need to request permission from the book publisher, and if we pay the publisher we probably won't be able to pay you. There is some give and take, but we want to be above reproach when it comes to issues of Fair Usage and potential plagiarism.

When your illustration is based on a magazine article or book, we need a note at the end of your submission that tells us how much of the article or book excerpt you used directly. Based on your answer, we may accept, reject, or modify the illustration.

After You Send Us an Illustration

We will try our best to reach a decision concerning your submission in a month or less. For each illustration we use, we pay $15—$35, depending on the type of illustration.

Again, thank you for your interest in helping us out at PreachingToday.com. We have such a unique, wonderful opportunity to equip and edify thousands of ministers of the Word and the multiplied thousands who listen to them. May we all work together for the good of establishing God's kingdom!

To submit an illustration click here.

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