EVERYDAY LIFE ILLUSTRATION - The best illustrations are from everyday life. We just have to be looking for them.
My daughter Emily is a great kid--but of course! :)--but is nervous about trying out new situations. But she decided to try out soccer, and it turns out that she loves it so far. So this week I went out to a soccer practice. And while I was out watching my daughter, her coach said, "Come on, keep trying. None of us was born knowing how to walk." Now, that could just be a throwaway comment. But you could take an everyday moment like that that many people have experienced--themselves or their kids being coached--and use it as an illustration.
Something like this. Describe how my daughter made the decision to try out soccer. Say how proud I was of her. Then tell of going out to her practice to watch her. Then say . . .
"It was a Friday night, and the sky was overcast, and it kept trying to starting raining, but it never quite did. And I sat down on the sideline as they were running drills. And one of the drills was kind of tough for them. But I heard the coach say, ;Come on, keep trying. None of us was born knowing how to walk.' And it STRUCK me. That's so obvious, but it's so true. We have to LEARN to walk, someone has to hold our hands, put on our training wheels, or teach us how to kick a ball."
When sharing everyday illustrations, really try to describe the scene. This does not have to be real long, but use a few phrases, words, and adjectives that cause the audience to really visualize the scene and be able to imagine themselves in that situation. The time of day. The color of the sky (or whatever you are talking about). What you were feeling and thinking in descriptive terms. Let them walk through the scene with you.
Now, where could you use this illustration? A lot of different places. If you were talking about discipleship, that would fit (you need a teacher). If you were talking about facing an unknown situation (God or the Holy Spirit could be the one who shows you what to do). Or if you are talking about taking risks for God, as I am this Sunday from the book of Esther, it could fit this as well (putting yourself in an unknown situation is risky; but we can trust that God will be with us in this and show us how to walk through it).
Now, if this were the main point of the sermon, you could use a repeating phrase such as, "Keep trying--You HAVE to LEARN to WALK!" throughout. And when you use this repetition repeatedly, you will find that the audience will repeat it with you.
Where do you find everyday illustrations? How do you seek to make these come to life?
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Dr. James Nored (Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a preacher, evangelist, church consultant, writer, and missional leader located in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
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