This is the third post on sermon illustrations that I had the opportunity to write for The Gospel Coalition. (The other two are here and here.) I hope it helps you to write impactful illustrations for your sermon this Sunday!
Many pastors find illustrations to be the most challenging part of preaching. Challenges can seem hard when you don’t know how to meet them. But when you get the hang of something you discover it’s not so bad after all.
We experienced this when mom or dad unscrewed the training wheels. We experienced this as we fumbled through changing our firstborn’s diaper the day she was born. But it wasn’t not long before we were popping wheelies and changing diapers in our sleep (literally).
Perhaps illustrations seem impossible to you. Your failed attempts end up with a trash can overflowing with crumpled pieces of paper. Your basketball shot has dramatically improved, but your sermon? Not so much.
While illustrations will rarely come easy, there is a way to make them easier: using a sermon illustration template.
“A template?” you ask. Isn’t that formulaic? Isn’t that inauthentic? Isn’t that uncreative?
Before you go Muhammad Ali on templates, let me point out that you already use templates for your worship service: welcome, singing, sermon, and benediction/closing. Your sermon has a template, too: introduction, body, and conclusion.
Far from suffocating preachers, the constraints of templates focus creativity. And with focused creativity you will write illustrations faster and better.
This template lays out six steps of an illustration. Each step starts with “C,” which hopefully makes it memorable.