Rhetoric & Homiletics: The #1 Reason For Illustrations!

Larry Moyer states . . .

“There is no way to be a good communicator in 2022 without the effective use of good illustrations. When you tell people something they hear it. When you illustrate it, they see it. I love Spurgeon’s comment. “The sermon is the house. The illustrations are the windows that let in the light.”  [1]

A Great Illustration by Larry Moyer:

“HOW DO YOU FIND a wedding ring on a 30,000-acre ranch? That was my dilemma.

My wife and I love the outdoors. While enjoying an outing on a large ranch in Texas, we had covered a considerable amount of acreage. Returning to our SUV, I suddenly realized my wedding ring was gone. Sure, it could be replaced, but that one represented more than thirty years of the greatest love I’ve ever felt toward and from anyone.

I knew it was gone. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “Maybe not.” I remembered clearing some brush from a spot so we could sit and relax for a moment. Perhaps the perspiration had caused the ring to slide off my hand. Still, even if we searched that location, how would we find it? One wrong step could press the ring into the dusty ‘1`exas soil.

Then an idea hit me. Gold sparkles in the dark when exposed to light. After dark we could take our brightest lantern and cover the same ground. That night, with light and eyes focused downward and prayers directed upward, we began the search. Close to the spot where wed cleared the brush, something gleamed in the darkness. To our amazement, it was the ring. It was level with the ground, but the top edge of it had caught the light. Picking it up, I returned it to the only place it was helpful to me – the ring finger of my left hand.

Today’s Illustration:  That is why we have posted over 300 (and counting) detailed potential illustrations?

 ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Excerpts From Moyer’s Book [1]:

“Reading is the biggest source of illustrations. . . . Consume books. I read at least two a month. Rarely do I read a book without finding one and often dozens of illustrations. . . .
Speakers who use illustrations in their messages also use them when they write. So read what those speakers have authored. I’ve been privileged to sit under the ministry of Dr. Chuck Swindoll on numerous occasions. He averages twelve illustrations per message. When he writes he also uses illustrations.

“Approximately one-third of Christ’s teaching was through parables. Jesus knew that stories communicate. Truth from the mouth of the speaker becomes understanding in the mind of the listener. ‘the Master Communicator knew the importance of illustrations.”

“Spurgeon captured the thought in seven words: “Illustrations make a sermon pleasurable and interesting.”

Haddon Robinson notes, “Ordinary people responded to Iesus’ parables with such interest that they walked miles to be in His audience. Stories are inductive; they resemble stealth bombers slipping in under people’s defenses to deliver their load.”

Why Are Illustrations Effective?

Illustrations use something people do understand to explain what they don’t understand. Non-Christians understand newspapers, magazines, bumper stickers, and billboards. They see these daily. Illustrations from such sources help drive home the truth from God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon viewed the sermon as the house, and the illustrations as the windows that let in the light. Listeners hear the truth you proclaim; through an illustration they see it. So when you use an illustration, you turn an ear into an eye. Seeing a sermon is always better than just hearing one.

Keep in mind, though, that understanding happens only through the power of the Holy Spirit. First Corinthians 2:14 reminds us, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” But illustrations are what the Holy Spirit often uses to cause people to understand truth, not just hear it.

Another reason illustrations are effective is they add interest. What happens when you hear a speaker make one of the following comments?

. You won’t believe what happened to me just two days ago.
. Did you see the article in the newspaper this morning?
. A friend e-mailed this story to me last night
. The evening news last night reported an interesting event.
. You’re going to laugh when I tell you what happened to a good friend last week.


1.  “Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons: A Guide for Pastors and Speakers,” by R. Larry Moyer, Founder and CEO at EvanTell, Inc

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