I remember the summer of 1990. I was listening to a youth speaker at a Christian youth conference share the message of God’s Word with over 700 other young people. God transformed my life that week in some unforgettable ways. Funny thing is, that was over 22 years ago and I still remember the stories that the youth speaker shared that week.
If you communicate/preach/speak/teach the Word of God to students, it is vital that you use memorable illustrations. Hopefully, you have a system in place for saving and filing the illustrations that you come across. Personally, I use Evernote. Find what works best for you and USE IT. Most youth pastors hamper their effectiveness by under-utilizing an illustration filing system. What are the secrets to finding these illustrations in the first place? Here are five:
1. Examine your own life.
Personal life stories tend give the most bang for your buck in terms of impact. Take time out once per week to examine your life and think through humorous, sad, disappointing, fun, adventurous, or life-changing moments. As they come to mind, WRITE THEM DOWN.
2. Utilize Media.
Television shows or movie scenes can act as a great opener to your message. The internet itself is full of an endless supply of great quotes, news stories, and anecdotes. Be sure to save these as you come across them in your daily life. An extra ten seconds of work to save and file an illustration or thought can save you hours of research and preparation months later.
3. Remember the Bible.
It’s God’s Word. It’s 100% true and infallible. You can never go wrong illustrating biblical truth with stories from the Bible.
4. Borrow from others.
One of the best secrets to finding great illustrations is to borrow/steal/abscond the great ones you hear from other speakers. I’m not condoning using an entire message; however if you hear an illustration or story from another speaker that you think you could use in the future… Save it and file it. Word of caution… Do not reuse illustrations with your students that both you and your students heard at an event. You will lose all sorts of credibility.
5. Read books.
It may sound archaic, but reading books is still one of the best ways to find great stories and quotes. I do most if my reading on the Kindle application. Any passages that I highlight get saved in the cloud; then, I copy, paste, and tag it in Evernote for future use.
What are your secrets to finding, saving, and filing great illustrations?
Matt Maiberger is the High School Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Parker, CO, Matt gets to live out his passion by helping students know Jesus Christ and grow into the leaders that God has called them to be. www.youthspeakerscoach.com