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What role do Illustrations play in your preaching?


Nathan Eda: What role do illustrations play in a sermon, in your preaching? And how do you acquire illustrations? And are they helpful, not very helpful? Some examples of good illustrations maybe. So I know there's a lot of questions, but let's just think through illustrations a little bit. Are they helpful? Let me just ask that way. 

Harshit Singh: The short answer is yes. 

Nathan Eda: Okay. 

Harshit Singh: At times, no. 

Nathan Eda: Okay, do you want to nuance that a little bit moving forward, but you use illustrations, I'm sure. 

Mario: Oh yes, I love illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: Okay, and then how are they helpful? How are illustrations helpful?

Mario: I think it helps simplify something that the audience (your church members) want to understand, that you want to explain to them, use a medium that can be given to them in their language, in their understanding. So maybe something as a Mumbaikar, use an example from the city and it's something that connects with them and they get it faster. So that's one good way to use illustration. 

Nathan Eda: Okay. Right. 

Stephen: And I see that as a preacher and also I have observed a lot of preachers, they use illustrations to get the attention of the congregation. And I think that's not the reason we have to use illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: And why is that? 

Stephen: Because we are not there to get the attention of people. We are there to persuade people to believe in the truth and live accordingly. 

Harshit Singh: By getting the attention? 

Stephen David: Yeah! Definitely. We have to get attention. But that's not the goal. The goal is that we go beyond attention and create that persuasion in them so that they can believe in the truth and follow the truth. So the reason why we have to use illustrations is so that we can elevate the truth that we are preaching and we are just showing an example to help them understand what this truth means. So the point of illustration is to exalt the truths, not to divert the attention of people from the truth to the illustration. And what they only remember is fascinated by illustration, and they forget the truth.

So illustrations exist for the truth. Truth doesn't exist for the illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: Wow, it's a good one, liner. 

Harshit Singh: Very deep, very profound. 

Nathan Eda: How do you think illustrations are helpful? 

Harshit Singh: I think just helping people connect things to their life, to the world that they understand. So a lot of times, John Scott's book, Between Two Worlds, so just trying to bring the truths that were preached, and taught to the people.

Nathan Eda: Can you repeat the title of the book and the author just so that it's helpful for you? 

Harshit Singh: So John's Scott, Between Two Worlds. I mean, there are other books also. But the idea is that the truth that were taught or spoken to preach to people back then and then to us now. There's a big gap between us and them and just trying to kind of bring to life and to bear into our lives now here Illustrations help us to see how they're still relevant, the truth that is being taught, it's still relevant for us. 

I think that's then it simplifies it, it makes it easy, it gives a mental image to latch onto. It's a hook that helps them to latch on to, so that they can put some truth for them to learn and to hang on them, so to speak. It gives a breather, kind of like, when you're just preaching and just giving out a lot of truth, illustrations kind of like, allow the hearers, listeners kind of a breathing time. It's like you're swimming your head is down in the water and then you come out, take a big gasp, okay, yeah, this is what he's saying. 

I think there are different uses, but all what you said earlier, to extol, to bear into people, to just make the truth more clear. I think it's a supporting thing. It's there to help. It's not the main thing. When I said earlier, they're helpful and they're not helpful, what I meant by. 

Nathan Eda: So we'll talk about that, like, so how is it not helpful? Like, how are illustrations misused or abused? 

Harshit Singh: I think illustrations are not helpful when people forget the point that we are trying to make and they remember the illustration. 

Nathan Eda: So, just telling a joke for the sake of saying a joke in the beginning, probably not the best idea. 

Harshit Singh: Most of the time, yeah. 

Nathan Eda: Okay. 

Harshit Singh: Or an illustration. Sometimes illustrations are so emotive, so powerful that the people who are listening to your sermon are not going to listen to the sermon anymore because they're caught in that story now, that you spoke right in the beginning or in the middle and they're just thinking about that. You've kind of distracted them from the truth unintentionally. 

So I think those are when they, when people come back and say that story was powerful. But why was it powerful? They don't remember why it was powerful. The story was powerful because the story was powerful, not because it helped them understand the point of the passage that you were trying to communicate. I think that's where illustrations are not helpful and distracting and I think we must resist using those kinds of illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: So you've told us how they're unhelpful. Anything that you can think of that unhelpful illustrations? 

Mario: So I think, yeah, on the same line, so if illustrations are to be used rightly to point to the text, at the moment you use illustration in order to maybe manipulate the people to draw them towards you or to get their attention or maybe to even draw them to love your sermon or maybe get a response from them, anything such as that. 

Anything where illustration is not doing the main purpose, that is to help the text be highlighted in the life of the person. The moment it's happening that you're misusing the situation. 

Nathan Eda: All right. Someone might say, well, isn't the text enough? Why do you need to illustrate it? The truth is powerful enough. How do you respond to that? 

Stephen David: That's a good question. If the text is enough, then even explanation is not necessary because the text is there. Just read the Bible and just shut it down and go home. But we explain in order to bring sense and meaning to people about what the text is saying. And as explanation is necessary for people to understand the truth, Illustrations can be helpful as a support to understand the truth. 

Nathan Eda: Excellent. 

Stephen David: And there are people who say that, okay, no illustrations, only this. And some people go too much into illustrations. So we need to understand that illustrations are so important. Jesus used illustrations, but he did not just use illustrations. Some people only speak about, you know, Jesus spoke parables, but he was not teaching only parables. There are no parables in the Sermon on the Mount mostly except the last one. 

Nathan Eda: I hate to put you on the spot, but any kind of good uses of illustrations that have stuck with you that you can think of, you can remember, I guess I'll start and then you guys can jog your memory. I heard a preacher once on Mother's Day give an illustration of his mom and how impactful she was in his life and I think his text was Timothy. So I think that's a good illustration and that was Mother's Day too. So really connected, everything really connected and he exposed the text clearly through that. So anything like that where you thought an illustration was really helpful in understanding the text. 

Stephen David: Okay, I used a lot of illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: Maybe you think of one. 

Stephen David: But it's a long lengthy one. 

Nathan Eda: Okay, but you have some. Yeah, yeah, a lot of illustrations. 

Harshit Singh: I do not remember any illustrations. 

Nathan Eda: Alright, I mean at point viewers out to your channel because you do use really quick, really short illustrations that people can hang on to. So you might not remember any illustrations. Do you remember? 

Mario: No, I remember one from what I'm going to preach tomorrow. 

Nathan Eda: Okay, you don't want to give it away. 

Harshit Singh: “I remember one.” Tell us that one. 

Mario: Well, it's about the regulated principle of worship and how, for example, rules… Normally the argument is, well, let's just worship freely. Why do you need rules? Rules stop you from worshipping God. It removes the joy out of worship. But in cricket, you have rules and if you don't play by the rules, cricket is not fun to play. If you play cricket without the rules, it's gonna be a spoiled sport and everyone's gonna get upset. And no one is upset while they're playing cricket, rather if you connect with cricket, you're enjoying the game because it's played by the rules. 

Stephan David: Right, exactly, beautiful.

Nathan Eda: I think that is an excellent illustration. 

Harshit Singh: Did you come up with that one? 

Mario: I kind of modified it.

Harshit Singh: Well done. 
Nathan Eda: All right, well, thank you, brother. It was really helpful to think through illustrations.

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