Sermon Illustrations are different than sermon graphics but one of the best tools to help teach the Bible. A well-placed story or a striking analogy can drive home a point like nothing else. Illustrations have the power to make dense theological concepts relatable and vague precepts accessible.
Jesus used illustrations in many of his teachings, from stories of loving enemies to examples of unforgiving servants and much, much more. Some of these were current and had significant cultural or political undertones. Others were historical or even completely fictional in nature. All of them helped to underline the vision and message of His ministry.
In the modern era, the practice of using illustrations while teaching has endured. Pastors around the world are perpetually using examples drawn from both their own and other’s experiences.
Now, I should point out that sermon illustrations can certainly be both overused and abused. After all, many sermon illustrations can lend unnecessary amounts of emotion or misdirection to teaching. However, when used thoughtfully and with prayer, I genuinely believe that the Holy Spirit can use good sermon illustrations to speak directly to a listener’s heart.
All that said, sometimes after the church welcome speech it can be hard to come up with sermon illustrations that match with a point or a theme of a sermon. When that happens, you’re either left shoehorning an illustration in or simply leaving it out entirely.
There’s a third option, though. Finding inspiration from a sermon illustrations website. There are countless sites out there that offer a myriad of ideas for teachers to use in their lessons as well as stories for preachers to utilize in sermons.
Again, these should always be used thoughtfully and without plagiarism. Nevertheless, the next time you’re in need of a solid illustration, heading to one of these sites can be the perfect way to find a good story or example that suits your purpose.
With that in mind, I’ve gone ahead and rounded up twenty-five of the best websites for sermon illustrations that I’m aware of. Some of these are literally sites designed for pastors. Others are news outlets, movie review platforms, collections of quotes, and even a stock photo site or two.
My goal in making my selections was to equip you with a plethora of different sources of inspiration. That way you can come away with exactly what you need each and every time, no matter what topic is on the docket for the next Sunday morning service or Wednesday night Bible study.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
The first resource on the list is Bible.org. This massive domain is a huge, nondenominational website intended for Christians across the interweb. It’s chock full of resources, one of which is an absolutely enormous bank of sermon illustrations and ideas.
The list is organized in alphabetical order, with topics that cover everything from “absent-minded” to “zealots.” This makes it very easy to search for specific terms or concepts that you might be teaching about.
Each word can be selected and it will take you to a page specifically devoted to that topic. On that page, you’ll see a list of the various illustrations that the site has available. Some of these provide quotes or resources that can be investigated further. Others offer quick stories that can easily be slipped into a sermon.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
The tag line for this next one is “a source of high-quality stories for use in sermons, talks and newsletters” — and you know what? That just about sums it up. Stories for Preaching is an Australian site that aims to equip Christian teachers with the tools that they need to execute their craft.
The site is highly curated, with only genuinely engaging stories making the cut. Once again, they’re organized in a giant bank of hyperlinked words. These have been placed in alphabetical order and each link takes you to a neatly organized page that lists out the related story in order.
SFP doesn’t leave anything out, either. From abortion to war and even pornography, this site has an illustration for even the toughest sermon topics.
SermonCentral.com is another gigantic website specifically set up to empower preaching the Word. This site is the Cadillac of sermon illustrations and sermon resources — and with good reason, too, as it’s the first one on the list to come with a price tag.
If you’re only in need of sermon illustrations, you can unlock SermonCentral’s illustrious catalog of analogies and examples with its basic membership level. This costs $119 per year or just under $10 a month.
This gives you access to an Encylopedia-Britannica-esque archive of over 150,000 sermons, dramas ...and illustrations. With hundreds of new illustrations and sermon ideas being added every week, it’s no wonder the site has found its membership base north of the quarter of a million mark.
If you’re looking for more of a crowdsourced vibe for your illustration resources, consider visiting moreillustrations.com. This website sports a similarly monstrous list of alphabetized categories — this time coming in at over 2,000 classifications in total.
While less flashy than many other options, the content here is still great. Think of it as a Christian-curated version of Wikipedia. At the time of this writing, the site claims to have “over 20,000 illustrations, anecdotes, stories, jokes, sayings, maxims, and quotations.” In other words, in many cases, this can be your first and only stop if you’re looking for something to liven up an otherwise-dull teaching.
The best part, in my opinion, is that the site owners welcome contributions. So, as you prepare to use other’s examples and experiences, you can also equip future teachers with your own stories, as well. Needless to say, it’s the well-stocked, crowdsourced vibe that really sticks out with this one.
This next resource boldly goes where no site has gone before. News of the Weird is an online publication that specializes in delivering examples of “human eccentricity without embellishment.”
The goal is to provide a menagerie of funny and factual stories that have been hand-picked to make your jaw drop or get your skin crawling. In just a few minutes of perusing you can find stories about coping with COVID-19, eccentric real-estate listings, and even trendy cannibalism.
Why is this weird-as-all-get-out site on my list? Because it’s a great source for the odd and unusual. If you’re in need of a story that will hold your audience’s attention, this is the place you want to look. The best part is, it isn’t full of nonsense or poetical exaggeration. It has real-life stories that can often be neatly fitted into a sermon without fear of over-dramatization.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
Sermon Illustrator is another great resource with a real community perspective. The tag line here is “a place of rest from this hectic world,” and it feels like it. The site is an offshoot of the online ministry Answers2Prayer, which is once again focused on providing encouragement and prayer for those in need. Sermon Illustrator also uses Hebrews 3:13-14 — a great verse about encouragement and confidence in the Christian community — as a key part of its ministry message.
When it comes to using the site for illustrations, all you need for this one is the user-friendly search bar located on every page. By typing in a term like “guilt” or “life,” you’re presented with a vertical list of results. These consist of inspirational stories and personal experiences. All of these are lovingly written out and provided for pastors and teachers alike to use as they spread hope, peace, and love. If you can’t already tell from the tone of my write-up here, I really like the warm, encouragement-focused attitude of this site, even on a list filled with similar beacons of light.
Illustration Exchange is a really cool concept. It factors in multiple aspects of many of the other sites on the list. For starters, this is another site that comes with a membership and a subscription. Before you clutch your wallet tighter and move on to the next option, though, hear me out.
It’s the way that IE is set up that I really like. For one thing, once signed up, you naturally gain access to a huge library of sermon illustrations that are “fresh, relevant, and practical.” How fresh, you ask? The site is literally updated with new submissions every day.
On top of that, you yourself can become a contributor. You can upload illustrations of your own and wait to see if they’re approved. If they are? Well, you get 30 days of your membership covered for each illustration you provide.
As a cherry on top, they do indeed have a free trial as well as a month-to-month subscription of just $7.49 per month. This streaming service format means you can try it out for free and only keep your subscription going for as long as you see fit.
This next one is a popular online Christian resource for all and sundry. In other words, it isn’t specifically devoted to illustrations or examples. Nevertheless, Crosswalk.com is a great place to pick up a bonafide story or two for your next sermon.
The site is a Christian living magazine that is filled with a variety of different content. Some of it is educational while other articles focus on entertainment. In either case, much of the content is story-driven. You can use the search function to find illustrations for a variety of different topics, such as Thanksgiving, compassion, interruptions, and so on.
Another way to search Crosswalk (along with any other non-illustration-focused sites on this list) is to simply type “site:[NAME OF SITE] sermon illustrations” into the address bar on a Chrome browser. This effectively provides you with a Google search of just that website so that you can see what content they’ve created in relation to sermon illustrations, in particular.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
Both fanciful and real-life stories are wonderful illustration tools. However, there’s another option that can often be as dramatic as even the best-delivered tale: statistics. We live in a scientific era, where facts and figures can have as big of an impact on a listener as the most moving story.
That’s why Pew Research Center makes my list. The organization is a well-trusted source of information that sheds statistical light on numerous modern subjects. From capital crime rates to teenage digital device usage, you can get an endless quantity of compelling numbers with a percentage sign attached by visiting this site.
What I particularly like about Pew Research is the fact that it provides a sense of irrefutability when drawing a contemporary analogy within a sermon. For instance, consider a sermon illustration involving the above-mentioned usage of digital devices by teenagers.
Rather than simply declaring that screentime is an issue, you can point out that in 2019 Pew Research Center reported that 95% of U.S. teens have access to a smartphone and 45% of them claim that they are “almost constantly” online. This can do wonders in safeguarding your illustrations against a tidal wave of pushback from congregants the second the service is finished.
In the same vein as Pew Research Center, Statista is another great source of concrete numbers. As a heads up, you can’t always see the visual graphs that the site offers without investing in a rather pricey membership. However, you can still access plenty of highly-applicable information on each page.
Take, for instance, a sermon where you’re discussing stewardship — particularly when it comes to caring for your body. This includes the need to eat healthy foods and avoid unhealthy alternatives. A quick query of the subject in Stastista’s search engine yields a page titled “Per capita consumption of soft drinks in the United States from 2010 to 2018.”
The resource reveals that the annual amount of liquid confectionary refreshment consumed in 2018, while lower, still stood at a kind-of disgusting 38.87 gallons per person. How’s that for a sweet take on a modern health concern?
Again, the simple act of hunting down a few statistics to back up a sermon is a great way to add an ironclad layer of protection to any more important faith-based claims that you may be making. It’s also a splashy, way to get everyone to sit up and pay attention as you throw down the statistical gauntlet from the pulpit like you’re in an 11th-grade debate class.
If you’re a fan of a pre-designed sermon template, Sermon Search is the site for you. For a monthly fee, you can gain access to a very large number of sermon templates and ideas.
However, as far as our interests are concerned here, the value of Sermon Search really comes from its large illustrations section on its website. This is a free portion of the service that delivers a huge number of quotes, stories, and even jokes. Many of the illustrations include Biblical references and even accompanying questions.
While the primary sermon service may not be of value to many pastors and teachers, this site is still worth a gander, if only because of the bank of illustrations that they keep available to the public.
Our next tool on the list of sermon illustrations is Faith Life. This resource comes from a tech company that has been serving the church since the early 90s. In other words, they have a good amount of tech experience under their belt.
One of the best products that they have available at the moment is their sermon illustrations tool. After entering a keyword, you can include other filters such as Bible passages and additional topics. From there, you’ll get a results list filled with various stories and anecdotes.
Most of the sermon illustration tools on this list are cloud-based, online resources — and that’s one area where Faith Life stands out. While the aforementioned Faith Life illustrations tool is housed online, the brand’s arsenal of tech tools also includes a library of 10,000 sermon illustrations that can be purchased for a reasonable fee. This can then be downloaded and kept locally on your computer. If you’re a fan of unplugging at times, and you still want your trusty illustration library accessible when you do so, this can be a great solution.
I really like when Christianity can be reasonably applied to popular culture. This isn’t a knock against using things like personal examples and historical analogies. Those rank high in my esteem as well. However, there’s something about the applicability of pop culture references that can make a spiritual lesson really hit home.
That’s why this next resource, Christ and Pop Culture, is so important. This site is dedicated to talking about all walks of life from a distinctly Christian perspective. Many of the articles feel like a well-informed discussion you might see at a youth group or even while hanging out with friends and family after church.
From highlighting Ebenezer Scrooge’s negative take on individualism to comparing Marvel Studio’s WandaVision to C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, the site is chock full of amazing breakdowns and connections. I’ve found that merely wandering through the latest posts is a great way to spark creativity. And then, of course, if you’re in search of a more specific illustration, there’s always the search bar at the top of the page, as well.
Voicing Sermon Illustrations is another site with a solid bank of illustration options. Coming in at over 16,000 sermon illustrations and counting, the site has got your back no matter what topic you’re talking about.
That said, this is another subscription-only site. While the membership options are all under $10 per month, you can’t access much without putting in that credit card information. Once you’ve done so, though, you gain access to a deep treasure trove of ideas that can help you drive home any point in virtually any teaching situation.
Alright, thus far I’ve made a few very specific references to secular sites. Each of these was due to a unique factor, such as statistics or strange-yet-true stories. This next one takes the opposite approach. Instead of giving you a niche perspective, this extremely valuable resource serves as a catch-all for practically every single secular sermon illustration in existence. I’m talking, of course, about Google News.
This is a source that can take literally any keyword or phrase and give you an overwhelmingly massive number of results. I say that to emphasize the fact that, if you want to use Google News effectively, it’s wise to get specific with your searches.
For instance, if you’re preaching about dealing with fear during the coronavirus pandemic, don’t simply type in “fear.” Try searching “fear from pandemic.” The extra keywords help to bring up more relevant results. At the time I’m writing this, the longer search term brings up articles about a 95-year-old senior maintaining perspective, people with OCD struggling with therapy, and fears of poverty outweighing fears of the virus itself — and that’s just in the top three results. Yeah, this is the resource that just keeps on giving.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
“What if we stopped consuming the Internet and started using it for Kingdom good?” That’s one of the first questions you run into on Faithit’s website. This is a resource that isn’t organized into neat sermon illustrations or bite-sized stories. It’s real, raw content about Christians living their lives.
The mission of the organization is to utilize the internet for more than just silly memes or two-dimensional takes on pop culture entertainment. Instead, they’re looking for real, faith-based inspirational stories that speak to the heart of living the Christian life.
The last time I went on there, the first article was about a 14-year-old rape victim that was refusing an abortion and claiming her baby as a gift from God. These are the kind of stories that will draw gasps and invoke tears from your congregation, so use them sparingly and with great respect. As always, there’s a search function at the top of the page so that you can line up your results with your current sermon topic to see how God is demonstrating his Word in actions and deeds throughout the world.
Access 20,000 Free Church Media Assets
I already mentioned my respect for historical analogies, and I wasn’t just shooting the breeze. This next site is precisely what I had in mind when it comes to using the past to illustrate the Word of God.
Christianity Today is already a popular magazine, but the history portion of their website is particularly pertinent to the subject of sermon illustrations. This subsite features an endless stream of relevant data from the history of the church. From a “Today in Christian History” section to articles on famous theologians, historical examples of giving thanks in the midst of fear, and even what Christianity looked like during past pandemics, the site provides a lot of food for thought.
If you’re a fan of using the lessons of the past to teach, this is a great way to do so in a thought-provoking manner.
In my zealous commitment to find quality sermon illustration sites, I couldn’t stand to leave out Sermons.com. This website is another gargantuan databank that delivers a countless number of sermon illustrations for all and sundry.
As in so many other cases, you can find what you need by simply using the search bar located directly in the upper-middle of the home page. All you need to do is select “illustrations” in the filter field and then type in a keyword, scripture, or whatever else you’re looking for. From there, you’ll get your results.
This site does require you to sign up, though it doesn’t charge a fee. Exchanging a little information for such a huge reservoir of illustrations is a win-win in my book.
So far on this list, we’ve touched on stories, analogies, statistics, pop culture, and history. One area that I haven’t covered yet, though, is quotes. When you hear the word “illustration” it typically invokes the idea of a drawn-out analogy or a peppy story woven into a deeper message of a sermon.
However, sometimes the best way to make a teaching sink in is to simply lean on the profound wisdom and verbiage of those who have come before you. That’s where Grace Quotes comes in.
The site is dedicated to collecting and organizing quotes from famous Christians. There are over 10,000 quotes already on the site with hundreds of topics to choose from. If you find that you’re pulling together a sermon and all you need is a punchy, bite-sized bit of information to make sure your point sticks, this is the place to go.
Have you ever heard the old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words? The advice can be applied to sermon illustrations as much as anything else. Now, I’m going to cheat with this one and include a few sites all at once so that I have enough room for my last few recommendations.
There are many free media sites that offer a variety of different, inspiring visual content. Some of these are secular, like Pexels and Pixabay. Others are directly faith-based in nature, such as the Ministry Designs free church graphics page.
Regardless of which site you’re on, perusing visuals associated with a sermon topic is a great way to spark your creativity. It can also help you come up with your own illustrations, to boot.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what can you say about a video? After all, sometimes the best way to illustrate a point in your sermon is by popping a visual up on the projection screen.
If you’re a preacher or teacher that’s willing to use videos to elaborate on a teaching point, then you may want to visit WingClips. The subscription site does require you to sign up, but once you’ve done so, you’ll gain access to a large library of clips. Some of these are from Christian classics like Ben Hur while others are from Pop Culture blockbusters like Shindler’s List or even Shrek.
Now, I should point out that some of these are free and others do require a payment in the form of “Clip Credits.” However, you can initially sign up and peruse the service at no cost apart from your email address.
PluggedIn.com is an online resource put together by Focus on the Family. Its goal is to shine a light on popular entertainment. In pursuit of that goal, the editors consistently churn out content that breaks down “detailed information about what’s really in popular movies, videos, television episodes, songs and games.”
This makes PluggedIn.com a great source for parents and even adults that are looking to maintain their Christian walk. What it also does is provides a stellar resource for sermon illustrations.
As you peruse the various articles, it’s a great way to get a feel for how popular culture and Christian culture are overlapping at the current moment. This can provide great fodder to help flesh out a sermon and make it both accessible and relatable to your intended audience.
Hillcrest Baptist Church’s subsidiary site Hillcrestaustin.info is another great sermon illustration resource. The website offers a simple search option and delivers streamlined results. It operates almost like a sermon illustration version of google, pulling up a variety of different topical answers that relate to the original query.
For instance, if you search for “sin,” you’ll get results centered on disobedience, humanity, and original sin. This site can be an ideal solution if you’re in a hurry and are looking for a quick bank of straight-forward illustration ideas.
If you’re a fan of inserting stories into your sermons, there’s one more story-driven option that I’ve got to throw out there.
I Am Second is an ultra-inspiring website dedicated to creating videos about people’s challenging experiences. These highlight the life stories of many who have gone through “earth-shattering personal experiences” and have come out with an even stronger faith.
The site includes a number of impressive stories told by “actors, athletes, musicians, business leaders, addicts, survivors, your next-door neighbors.” In other words, it provides motivational content from all walks of life. I Am Second is extremely popular and can be a great resource for those looking to spice up a deep Biblical principle with some real-life contextualization.
Last but not least, we have PreachingToday.com. This is the second time that a Christianity Today resource is popping up on the list. This time, though, the resource isn’t based on Christian history. It’s straight-up designed for pastors.
This is another paid subscription site, with your membership giving you access to 14,000 illustrations that you can use to add color to your sermons for decades to come. The variety within the illustration options is impressive, from encouraging words from Holocaust survivors to pop culture applications found in Marvel films. You can get an annual plan for around $100, though you can try the entire site for a month for just $4.
And there you have it, friends. Twenty-five online resources with hundreds of thousands of illustrations. These include analogies, personal stories, quotes, movie clips, graphics, historical comparisons — the list goes on and on.
So the next time you’re struggling to pull together a sermon or some other teaching, pull up this resource and use it as your hub. Try out different recommendations from the list until you find the sites that really resonate with your own teaching style. Then select a good illustration, plug it into your message, and have fun driving home your point with a poignant, exciting, and applicable example when the time comes.