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Illustrating: Examples of Excellent Illustrating

How can I help hearers understand abstract biblical truths?

One of the best ways to improve your own sermon illustrations is to hear other preachers practice the skill well. Below is a collection of hand-picked audio sermons for you to listen to, each sermon having its own illustrative strength.

As you listen to these sermons, make note of what stands out to you in each one. Pay attention to the use of story development and details, threads of analogy, personal stories, and other adapted illustrations.

With each sermon, do your own evaluation of illustration effectiveness. Do the illustrations serve to enhance the hearer's understanding of the biblical message? If yes, what factors in the illustration content, placement, and development enable this? If not, in what ways do you think the illustration might detract from the message? How could the illustration be improved to better serve the message?

Click on the links below to hear the audio examples.

Max Lucado: Love in Spite of Differences

Max Lucado is a master storyteller. Notice the effective metaphorical story with which he opens this sermon. In addition, the examples he provides to illustrate his main points paint powerful pictures of the truths he conveys.

John Ortberg: What Christmas Love Always Does

John Ortberg is known for his abundant and accessible illustrations. He demonstrates well how to engage his congregation through humor and audience participation. It is clear from this sermon that Ortberg practices the discipline of seeing the events of his world as potential demonstrations of divine truth.

Bryan Chapell: Killing the Red Lizard

Bryan Chapell begins this sermon with a poignant excerpt from C. S. Lewis' book The Great Divorce. He effectively carries the metaphor from the book throughout his sermon. This is a prime example of a well-chosen illustration from another source.

Hershael York: The Dark Side of Grace

Hershael York incorporates a balance of personal and outside stories to illustrate the truths in this sermon. His analogies are well-developed and strong. Notice how Scripture and the communication of biblical truth hold preeminence.

Mark Buchanan: Unprovoked Love

Mark Buchanan takes time to develop his illustrations with strong yet concise descriptive language. In this sermon, he provides two poignant stories that illustrate, at a very human, emotional level, the more abstract idea of love.

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