21 December, 2008

From the Archive: Pastor Struggles with "Terrible Sermon Illustrations"

Note: I thought that during this time of hiatus that I'd go back and pick out some of my old favorites. These posts are not necessarily ones that were the most popular when they were originally posted, but they were ones that I liked doing.


The Reverend Steve Roman has been the pastor
of First Baptist Church St. Petersburg for almost ten years. While loved by his congregation for his charm, whit and devotion to his people, Roman has begun to struggle over the past few years with an inability to come up with sermon illustrations that remotely make sense.

"It all began about four years ago." Said Roman. "I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly I just couldn't come up with a sermon illustration anymore that was clear. It was as if I used up all my good ones during my first six years of ministry and just ran out of stories to tell. It seems that no matter how hard I try anymore everyone is just baffled by the point I'm trying to make."

In a recent sermon delivered by Roman on Joshua 6 and the defeat of Jericho by Israel, he stated,

"The fall of the walls of Jericho was like when you're eating a bag of chips on your couch. You're relaxed and calm, you're looking for the remote, and you don't want to be disturbed, and suddenly the dog just jumps into your lap or the phone rings and you have to get up. It bothers you because it shakes up your relaxation. And when Jericho's walls fell it really shook the wicked people of that city off of their couches. We really need to be shaking people's couches."

"I just can't seem to get my illustration sense back." Said Roman. "When I'm up there in the pulpit what I'm saying seems to make sense, but then after I say it I can see the utter confusion on everyone's faces. When I go back and listen to the recordings I just ask myself 'What were you thinking?'"

Unfortunately, the problem has extended beyond Roman's illustrations to his analogies also. Some recent excerpts from his sermons revealed the following comparisons,

"The flood came upon the land like a bucket of bloated whale blubber."
"The wickedness of Ahab was worse than all the cars in China."
"David looked upon Bathsheba with lust, like a cat in a hail storm."
"Noah's Ark was huge, like a big boat."

"We so want to support him." Said member Amber Lee. "We love him, and we know he means well, but I honestly haven't understood a single one of his sermons for months now. I don't know if he can read some books or something to get better, but something needs to be done."

In an effort to hopefully remedy the situation Roman plans to take a three month sabbatical this summer to spend time coming up with some new illustrations.

"I've just lost my touch, and I need to get it back." Said Roman. "Hopefully this summer I'll be able to get some thoughts organized, possible have some funny things happen to me so that I'll be able to communicate with my people again. Being this way is like falling out of a tree while eating an apple."