Intersecting “Life Experiences”

Thanks to Sarah for commenting on the post about Illustration Saturation.  As I mentioned in the post, many of us struggle with finding and using “illustration” material.  Sarah asked how to improve at intersecting life experiences with the text.  Here are a few random thoughts to get us going.  Certainly this is no developed strategy, but it is a start:

Read Bible With Sensitivity to Humanity – When studying the Bible, it is right to be theocentric in our reading because the text itself is theocentric.  God is the main character of the Bible and should be the central focus of our preaching.  However, some preachers preach as if humans are irrelevant to the Biblical story and all we need to preach is God / Christ.  The reality is that the Bible is all about God as He interacts and engages with humanity.  Consequently, as we read any passage, we will also catch continual glimpses of human reality.  Bryan Chappell refers to the Fallen Condition Focus.  Are the characters doubting or trusting, in what, why?  Are they loving or hating, who, why?  What is the effect of the Fall in these people, what is God’s provision, what is their response?  These kinds of questions help us to look at people in the text and see that they are people like us.  Once we see them as real people rather than flannel-graph characters, then it is easier to highlight intersection between the characters in the text and our own life experiences.

Read Life with Biblical Sensitivity – As a preacher you are not always reading the Bible.  Once in a while you do other things too.  Whether it is watching the news or entertainment, people watching at work or in the store, enjoying the joys of parenting or whatever . . . try to read life with a sensitivity to what the Bible teaches.  Why are they acting this way?  What is this attitude called biblically?  What character in the Bible does this person remind me of?  We need to read the Bible as it is, real and living revelation of reality.  We need to observe life around us as it is, a living out of the Biblically described reality.

More thoughts tomorrow.  Feel free to comment, this issue could be addressed from many angles.

3 thoughts on “Intersecting “Life Experiences”

  1. It helps when your messages are planned far enough in advance to be able to take advantage of life experiences.

    If I know that I am preaching on relationships in the next couples of months, I am more attuned to relational experiences than if I’m trying to just “come up with an illustration” for this week’s message.

  2. I would also add a fairly practical note to finding illustration material: STUDY AHEAD. Allow His message to saturate your mind for weeks or months ahead of time and while it is on the brain you are going to see illustrations pop out that you never would have thought of or remembered if you prepared a “Saturday Night Special.” Work ahead!!

  3. One of the thing I know helps me too is prepare well in advance of the time you are speaking. I know this is basic, but I found that if I have prepared all the exegesis and application for a sermon, and I allow that text to work in me, I have time to look around life to see examples of those theological principles in real life. However, if I am staring at my computer screen at 10:00 pm Saturday evening, illustrations are hard to come by.

    One more point, I want to put out by way of illustration. If exegesis is the technical side of sermon preparation, then I would take illustrations to the creative side of sermon preparation. That would mean that you are utilizing a different part of your brain (I am not a brain expert but you know what I mean).

    On the one hand, that is cool because you use the entire mind God gave you in preparation of sharing His Word. But the other side of that is people tend to have a dominate side – technical or creative. This means we may need practice in working out the other side of our brain. I am more technical and I know there are times when I am “stumped” in building a sermon. So I stop and engage in some creative process, like singing song, doodling, or something else. It seems to help me engage that part of my brain.

    Again, not sure if any of that makes sense to anyone. I find it fascinating to see how God made us and how He uses every bit of us in the preaching of His Word.

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