Saturday, April 10, 2010

I is for Illustrations

I is for Illustrations

In my line of work I deal with theological concepts. It is my job to take theological ideas and concepts from the pages of Scripture and deliver them to the folks of my flock as accurately and with the most applicability as possible. It is not my job to invent or reinvent these biblical truths. I am, as in the words of Dr. John MacArthur, Jr., "merely the waiter who brings the feast of Gods’ word to the table without messing it up."

Sermon illustrations have been around for a long time. Illustrations have been called the “window to let light in” to many of these complex concepts. The Free Encyclopedia defines illustrations in this manner:

An illustration is a visualization such as a drawing, painting,
photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form.
The aim of an illustration is to elucidate or decorate textual information
(such as a story, poem or newspaper article) by providing a visual

Unfortunately, many pastors utilize their wives and children as sermon illustrations. No matter how many times they have been told that this practice often leads to the extreme embarrassment of their families, many pastors persist. Irregardless of how plentiful and readily available the “illustrations” may be, it is insensitive, at least without advance permission to include a wife or child’s latest gaff, sin, failure, or personal struggle in a Sunday sermon.

So agree the ladies from a Florida church. They put together a parody of a Carrie Underwood song called Before He Cheats. Their parody is called Before He Speaks and I think is an apt example of a work of “art that stresses the subject and decorates textual information with a visual representation in order to serve as a window letting light in on this touchy subject." Don’t you agree?



A wonderful write and video, most enjoyable,


Lloyd said...

This is so cute, and so true. I know that when the pastor of the church I go to uses is wife in his sermon I can always see her shaking her head, just like in this video. Good point. God bless, Lloyd

Linda said...

Awesome! I am passing this on to my minister son-in-law. Love it.

Trevor Peck said...

That was a good one! And a good reminder for us who preach.

Love in the Truth.

Shannon said...

I love it, and agree! It is never okay to embarrass your family! Don't remember if my dad ever did that but hope not! Thanks for sharing this and showing you have a funny side to ya, I remember that

melodygreen said...

Cute video! I completely agree that permission should be asked before using *anyone* as an illustration... and whoever is speaking should say at the time that permission was asked lest people get the wrong idea. I'm feeling lucky now that I know at least the last few preachers at churches I have attended do ask before using personal illustrations -- otherwise how could they inspire trust? Some good lessons for us writers too, but that is a whole other blog post.

Mike Andrews said...

Great post!Thanks Gregg for the heads up when it comes to making illustrations about my wife.....To funny brother!

RCUBEs said...

So true! I'm glad you posted about this and the video is great! Not only about the pastors' wives, Paul reminded us that whatever comes out of our mouths should be for building others up. Blessings.

Wanda said...

Great post Greg.


At times, using the family members as points of illustrations when preaching is relevant and tasteful. It shows the pastor's family is human and the congregation identifies with them. But there are times when it is totally inappropriate. The responsibility lies with the pastor to pray for discernment and wisdom. Very insightful blog. God bless.

Lisa said...

Haha! I agree! Great post and something I never really gave a lot of thought to until now.

Have a great Sunday!