Sam Rainer on Why Pastors Should Use More Historical Illustrations in Their Sermons

I once attempted to use an example from accounting in my sermon. No one understood me, and the accountants in the church said I mixed up my terms. Apparently, debits and credits are not as straightforward as I thought, which is why—I guess—accountants have jobs.

Sermon illustrations are tricky. You try to be funny, but it falls flat. You try to be inspirational, but you’re cheesy. You try to be serious, and you have a booger in your nose. Sermon illustrations are the flavoring to the meat of the text. Without them, you’re bland. But too much, and you’re overbearing.

Most of us preachers tend to use real-life examples, current news, pop culture, or biblical examples more than historical illustrations. Likely, you need more historical illustrations in your sermons, not less. Here’s why:

People are not as familiar with the past. Frankly, we don’t know our history like we once did—biblical history, family history, and our nation’s history. Preaching always has elements of teaching. Good teaching should include regular doses of history.

History connects generations. When Millennials understand the attack on Pearl Harbor, they can better relate to the remaining members of the Builder generation. When Builders get to know Millennials, they can help put the 9/11 attack into perspective. When used properly, history is a bridge, not a wall.

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SOURCE: Church Answers, Sam Rainer