Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons By R. Larry Moyer (Kregel, 2012).

Larry Moyer, founder and CEO of EvanTell, Inc., is a respected figure in the field of evangelism in the last several decades. This book is a companion to Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons (Kregel, 2010), also reviewed in this issue of the Journal.

The first five chapters deal with general topics: why illustrate, why humor, how illustrations help communicate, where one finds illustrations, and what topics one illustrates. As I read these chapters, I realized the need for a solid tome that helps preachers illustrate—not a book of illustrations, but one addressing the hows and whys of illustrations. I thought Moyer had hit a rich vein of pragmatic utility, but unfortunately these sections take up only 25 pages of his book, a tenth of the size, the rest being … a book of illustrations. The first five chapters could have also used some updating: the author recommends carrying around index cards to record ideas and thoughts about illustrations. I would have thought a smartphone would be a better implement. And he recommends Microsoft Access as his database of choice. Rather than a paid product (and it costs a pretty packet), I’d have recommended databases available for free, or even a clever app like Evernote. His exhortation to make illustration collection a habit is well taken, for every preacher, amateur and veteran.

In any case, this is a book on illustrating evangelistic sermons, and Moyer identifies three broad areas in such preaching endeavors that call for vivid illustrations: sin, substitution, and faith. A chapter is devoted to each of the three, and the author provides—and this is a rough estimate—about 900 illustrations.

The illustrations are all marked by standard bullet points, except for the humorous ones that have a smiley face as their bullets. A clever design stratagem, that helps the preacher easily identify the kind of story a particular entry is. To many of the illustrations provided, Moyer also suggests a “Possible Entrance” (an opening line/question) and a “Possible Exit” (a closing remark/question). I found those quite useful as well, since far too often, the potency of an illustration is contingent upon how well it is introduced and concluded.

Within each broad category—sin, substitution, and faith—the illustrations are categorized under topics sorted alphabetically. For instance, in the “Sin” chapter, his entries come under “Acceptance/Rejection,” “Achievements,” “Atheists,” “Blame,” “Confusion,” “Conscience,” “Consequences of Sin,” “Death,” etc. On the quality of the illustrations in the book, I’d give it a solid B+ overall. In short, the book is worth having (though $30 seems a tad too high).

My recommendation: get a copy, go through it, select illustrations you might find useful (about 65% of them, I’d guess), and copy them into your file/database/favorite organ of storage. And then go preach some evangelistic sermons!

Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society 13.2 (2013): 75–76

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