Preaching that Connects

Communicators of God's Word are living in a golden age of illustration. Tons of uncut gems are scattered over the terrain of our media culture.

To cut and polish these raw jewels for use in sermon settings, we need three special skills.

1. Identify the potential topics. An anecdote in a Time article may give me that tingling sense that "there's an illustration there," but until I can name it with a topic, it usually goes unused.

So the first thing I do with a find, after noting the date and source, is brainstorm the subjects it could illustrate. Letting my imagination run free, I turn an illustration like a gem dealer examining a rough stone. I meditate on it, paying attention to prominent features and the words they trigger in my mind. I ask: Does it illustrate something about the person or work of God? About people, their virtues or sins? About a Christian doctrine such as final judgment or conversion? About some spiritual reality such as spiritual warfare?

As I select potential topics, ...

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