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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Generating Sermon Ideas

You know how it is. It's Wednesday. Prime day for panicking about Sunday. You're a preacher struggling with a sermon. We all do it. And you need an illustration but you're out of inspiration. How are you gonna enlighten, educate and entertain without at least one enlivening anecdote?

Fear not, little ones. Follow any of the steps below and your sermon will be improved. And lengthened by anything up to five minutes.

- Go for a journey with the bare minimum of fuel. NB this journey must be on God's Work. Otherwise your just limping home with a teaspoon in the tank will be a mere coincidence.

- Feel a bit sad. And then feel a bit better again.

- Develop an illness. Bear it bravely.

- Be rude about UKIP. You're vanishingly unlikely to be complained about at hustings. Next time.

- Go down to your local car park. Drive around praying for a space. Eventually your prayer will be answered. NB for best results, do not close your eyes while praying.

- Have lots of friends who don't mind you sharing their personal situations.

- Find a random word in the passage. Doesn't matter which. Wring every possible meaning and ambiguity out of the word's meaning in the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek; its usage in Middle English; that odd little second meaning of its translation into Latin; the way that in the Tagalog they had a bit of a problem with translation; the way the King James Version translates it as something totally different and is clearly correct.

- Recount the one time you were both witty and holy. Again.

- Walk up to 1,000 people and ask if they want to be saved. One may well say "yes".  They may have said the same to those Mormons yesterday, as they just like pleasing people. That doesn't matter. If you're really lucky the police will stop you for causing a disturbance. And now you've got a sermon illustration and you're a news story.

- Remember that time you went to a Billy Graham mission.

- It must be some kind of anniversary of Princess Diana? Mention how great she was.

- Explain why God is a bit like something God really isn't much like.

- Explain a difficult concept  (eg the Trinity) by analogy with a concept you don't really understand  (e.g. the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics). Pray there are no physicists in the congregation.

- Have a child so you have a source of amusing stories. If you're in more of a hurry, borrow a pet. Pets are less likely to hate you for it when they grow up.

- Throw in a hideously heretical analogy for the Trinity. Thus distracting attention from the thin-ness of the rest of the sermon.

- Complain how everyone on trains is looking at their phones and avoiding human interaction these days. Neglect to mention what the Evening Standard* was basically  invented for.

- Go for a walk in the countryside but forget to take your map. Thus enabling you to explain how you trusted God and got home safely. Ideally do this somewhere safe, like Buckinghamshire or Suffolk. Not Yorkshire where you could fall off a cliff in the dark And people would instead use you as a sermon illustration to needing a light unto your feet.

* Metro, Telegraph, Beano according to local conditions. Your mileage may vary.


  1. Never thought that I'd resort to that, But I have resorted to Brad Pitt and Toyah in different sermons.

  2. So you've never preached on making marmalade as an analogy of the Holy Spirit, or the wedding at Cana as a first-rate example of a project-management dry run?

  3. Us Yorkshire folk would never be so foolish as to wander around in the dark! Unless it is on the way back from the pub but not much chance of that around here with the local Sammy Smith's closed until someone from down south can be convinced that selling unbranded beer to middle class wine drinkers is a good career move, sigh.


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