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Using Illustrations To Preach With Power
by Bryan Chapell
Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1992
First and foremost, I valued the author’s apologetic for the use of illustrations in preaching sermons. Though it is stating the obvious, a consistent theme runs throughout his work for the necessity of illustrations. Many preachers have looked down upon the use of mixing stories with the sermon, but as Chapell explained, most of the Bible is narrative!!! Stories do enhance the listeners ability to grasp the truths of the content one is delivering, therefore illustrations are invaluable. Jesus taught complex truths in simple, story-like fashion, and this gives us a super foundation for the use of the illustration.
Chapell encourages illustrations to be from the midst of life. I agree that the best illustrations are able to draw a connection with our faith and the world we live in. As Chapell said, illustrations convey truth, and shed light on the truths of God. These truths that are lived out each day help us see just how relevant the Scriptures are to our current lives.
One regret I have about this work is its lack of practical, nuts and bolts type crafting of "how to" illustrate with power.
Chapell moves through the book basically making the case that illustrations certainly enhance sermons, and states that they should be used. It’s more of an argument on an academic level. However, those of us who are not preaching professors really want a book to help us actually be better preachers.
This is not to say that his book cannot aid in that process ... it can and did. In defense of the book, I did think that his chapter on “Cautions for Effective Illustrations” was in fact practical. He walks you through the use of humor, the importance of getting your facts straight, and so on. More of this kind of material would have been welcomed.
Overall I think the aim of the book was well intended. Illustrations, in my opinion, are an absolute necessity for effective preaching. Chapell certainly holds this view. They tie the Word to life, and therefore must be used to bridge a lost world to a loving Savior.
Preach On ... Jason Cruise