By Russell Meek
In a preaching or teaching ministry, you’re bound to hear (or offer) some poorly constructed, cringe-worthy illustrations. Fortunately, we can look back and laugh most of the time. I wanted to hear about some “best worst” illustrations from people on Twitter, so I asked for some feedback:
What's your best worst sermon illustration?
In seminary I was talking to a group at least 30 years my seniors and I used an illustration from South Park. The more I tried to explain, the worse it was for everyone.
— Russell L Meek (@russ_meek) August 11, 2019
Not surprisingly, I got plenty of responses from pastors, teachers, and congregation members. Here are a few best-of-the-worst sermon illustrations people shared.
At a late night college service which rarely had families in attendance…I made a passing comment about how there's no such thing as Santa Clause…I broke the heart of a 4-year-old that night, and his mom never brought him back.
— Daniel Carpenter (@D4nielC4rpenter) August 12, 2019
Seemingly, college students often hear the most awkward illustrations.
Mine came during a talk at the college fellowship I was part of. The illustration was about how a dirty jar set under a running faucet will gradually be cleaned by the running water. Not a terrible illustration, but I forgot where I'd heard it: from the speaker the week prior!
— Joshua This Is Just To Ray (@joshuaray) August 12, 2019
Speaking to a group of college students, I was in the middle of a long and elaborate story about a father who creates an imitation version of Disneyland in his backyard when someone burst out laughing. I suddenly realized my illustration was ridiculous.
— Steven Crawford (@stevencauthor) August 12, 2019
youth preaching class In college a guy used the old preachers tale of throwing goldfish on the floor in hopes people would rush to save them. Trying to parallel our need to be moved to save souls.. none of us moved towards the fish and he had to stop and sheepishly pick them up
— Chris price (@Chrisprice81) August 12, 2019
Preaching to a youth conference on "the sins that so easily beset us" the preacher spoke of old sail ships being fouled and needing to have barnacles scraped from the underside of the ship. His punchline was: "Young people let me ask you, have you got barnacles on your bottom?"
— David George (@daviddaigeorge) August 13, 2019
I was illustrating hell by describing what it’s like to ski in a lake. How when you are immersed in the water is what it will be like to be immersed in fire. Then I said, “But you can’t ski your way out of hell!” My wife has never let me live that one down.
— Brad Newbold (@BradNewbold) August 12, 2019
Not mine, but I once sat in a whole sermon on how the Holy Trinity was just like poutine… you can’t split up the fries, gravy, or squeaky cheese, great as they are individually. (This was in Quebec, if you haven’t already guessed 😂)
— Jadie (@JadieOnTheRoad) August 11, 2019
Topic was selfishness. I used the example of how when a family sits down with a casserole, everybody starts trying to pick out “the best portion for themselves…even though all the portions are the same.” That second bit is tantamount to blasphemy in the South. Apparently.
— D. Bryan Rhodes (@DBryanRhodes) August 12, 2019
Which one of these is your favorite? Do you have any of your own stories to share? Tell us in the comments.
RUSSELL L. MEEK (@russ_meek) is a freelance writer, editor, and professor, and earned a Ph.D. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. When he isn’t freelancing, you can find him spending time with his (much) better half, Brittany, and their three sons.