What do you do when…

What do you do when you can’t seem to come up with an appropriate illustration to begin your morning sermon?

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?


13 responses to this post.

  1. Don’t start off with one…

    OK, i helped someone not have to say it. Any other ideas?

  2. I like to listen to/read other preacher’s treatments of the passage. Sometimes that sparks my thinking in a new way

  3. Posted by Greg Smith on August 1, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I hate it when that happens!

    But when it does, this is the only time I go to a book of illustrations for messages. This is because I don’t actually get illustrations from the book. But checking it almost always triggers something usable (and personal) in my mind.

    On rare occasions, I plunge directly into the material but I like to use an illustration to give people a hook to hang the material on.

  4. Posted by Rob Curington on August 1, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    My worst nightmare at times! I have found myself in the past spending more time finding the “right opening” than on the meat of the message itself! Now, I use several different online illustration sites or even the Reader’s Digest. I have finally gotten past the stage where I thought every sermon needed an opening joke, 3-4 points and a poem.

  5. I am starting First Thessalonians this Sunday. I will start right in with the purpose of the letter that Paul is going to address with the brethren. No jokes, no poems, no comments other than “”This letter is filled with the Apostles’ unbounding joy and satisfaction in the work accomplished at Thessaloica. Then pray.

  6. well, I still need to frame my listeners’ thoughts so I ask a question instead.
    Whether a question or an illustration, the task is still the same – work out what the central issue in the text is and then begin the sermon so that the issue is firmly embedded in the hearers’ mind so that it provides a context that filters everything they hear from me from that moment onwards.

    Tomorrow I preach on Exodus 3-4. I will begin with a question about the expectation of people keeping their promises and how someone’s reputation is bound up in their trustworthiness.

  7. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on August 1, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    This is the type of help i was looking for.

    Thanks to all-

  8. I’ve been in this position a number of times. Prayer always works Best. If nothing comes after that, I start without an opening illustration.

  9. Posted by Peter Bogert on August 5, 2008 at 6:37 am

    I begin my sermon with an illustration only about half the time. This past week, when preaching on 2 Samuel 11-12, I simply asked people to open their Bibles to the text, stated that we were going to look at one of the saddest moments in the OT story (the series I am doing this year), and began to read. It seemed – for this occasion – to highlight the story that would unfold.

  10. I decided to just do a very brief series overview before praying and getting into our text (Acts 20).

    Thanks for your wise words here

  11. This is an interesting question. To be honest I have gotten in the habit of moving to the text and setting the context of the text right off the bat. ?Some of this comes from a desire to emphasize the text as the foundation for the message and some of it comes from a weakness in finding really good opening illustrations.

    For the most part I expect this to remain my approach, but the question did cause me to give thought to my opening words this week. And this week I opened with a strong connecting illustration based on the Olympics. It went well.

    Thanks for helping this week’s message be a little stronger.


  12. Posted by Jim on August 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Perhaps a little break away from the ordinary, get some fresh air and maybe a classic work on the particular subject might inspire and provoke new thought on an old yet relevant subject. Hope this helps.

  13. Posted by Caleb on August 14, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I think the ET contributors would agree their is no mandate for a catchy opening illustration. It is nice when you have something to introduce the morning message/Text but a good opening story is not. necessary.

    Rick Holland, R Kent Hughes, and Allister Begg utilize illustrations very well. Kent Hughes book and other more devotional commentaries can be helpful resources.

    Sharing a story or a joke for a story or joke sake alone is typically counterproductive in preaching an expository message.

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