Sermon illustrations


Bad News

A man went in for his annual checkup and received a phone call from his physician a couple of days later.

The doctor said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”

“What’s the news?” the man asked. “Well, you have only 48 hours to live.”

“That is bad news!” said the shocked patient.

” I’m afraid I have even worse news,” the doctor continued.

“What could be worse than what you’ve already told me?” the patient stammered.

“I’ve been trying to call you since yesterday.”

Source unknown

The Biggest Problem in Communication 

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Don’t Forget What Your Body Communicates

Nonverbal communication can make a huge difference in how a question is received. Only 7 percent of what we say is conveyed through words, 38 percent through vocal element (tone), and the remainder through nonverbal indicators like eye contact, body posture, and so on. Though these exact numbers are often disputed, it’s generally agreed that body language and tone of voice matter in communication.

So it seems we should pay attention to them. Leaning your body in toward the other person, making eye contact, even touching someone on the arm if appropriate, can convey care when asking a question. Uncrossing arms and legs gives a sense of openness, while crossed arms can project hostility. Facial expression will be determined in part by the question being asked, but generally smiling and relaxing the face offers a countenance that encourages conversation.

Alexandra Kuykendall, Loving My Actual Neighbor, Baker Publishing Group, 2019, pp.57-58.

The Great Scourge of Modern Communication

E-mail is the great scourge of modem communication. It facilitates the passing on of simple information, yet it forces complex matters to be presented In a fashion that makes what is difficult appear easy and, in many cases, what is peripheral seem central. E-mail distorts. It allows thoughtful and reasonable communication to appear deranged and toy laden. And if you read e-mail with only half of your synapses firing, you are doomed. Coffee helps, but e-mail still adds to the darkness of the looking glass.

Dan Allender, Leading with a Limp: Turning Your Struggles into Strengths, Waterbrook Press, 2006, 79.


How To Express Authenticity

How is genuineness expressed?  Not in words.  What you say to your partner is far less important than how you say it—with a smile, a shrug, a frown, or a glare.  Consider this: nonverbal communication accounts for 58 percent of the total message.  Tone of voice makes up 35 percent of the message.  The actual words you say account for only 7 percent of the total message.

Taken from Les & Leslie Parrott, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry, expanded and updated ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006).

Tappers and Listeners

In 1990, Elizabeth Newton earned a Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford by studying a simple game in which she assigned people to one of two roles: “tappers” or “listeners.” Tappers received a list of twenty-five well-known songs, such as “Happy Birthday to You”…Each tapper was asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to a listener (by knocking on a table). The listener’s job was to guess the song, based on the rhythm being tapped…The listener’s job in this game is quite difficult.

Over the course of Newton’s experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 2.5 percent of the songs: 3 out of 120…Before the listeners guessed the name of the song, Newton asked the tappers to predict the odds that the listeners would guess correctly. They predicted that the odds were 50 percent. The tappers got their message across 1 time in 40, but they thought they were getting their message across 1 time in 2. Why? When a tapper taps, she is hearing the song in her head…Meanwhile, the listeners can’t hear that tune—all they can hear is a bunch of disconnected taps, like a kind of bizarre Morse Code.

In the experiment, tappers are flabbergasted at how hard the listeners seem to be working…Isn’t the song obvious?…The problem is that tappers have been given knowledge (the song title) that makes it impossible for them to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge…This is the Curse of Knowledge.

Chip and Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Random House.

“It Said One Word”

A man walks into a pet store and says, “I want a talking parrot.” The clerk says, “Yes sir, I have two birds that talk. This large green parrot here is quite a talker.” He taps on the cage, and the bird says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” “It knows the entire Bible by heart. This red one here is young but he’s learning.” He prompts, “Polly want a cracker.” The bird repeats, “Polly want a cracker.” The man says, “I’ll take the younger one if you can teach me how to make it talk.” “Sure I can teach you,” says the pet store owner. He sits down with the man and spends hours teaching him how to train the parrot. Then he puts the bird in the cage, takes the man’s money, and sends him home to start the training regimen.

After a week, the man comes back into the store very irritated. “That bird you sold me doesn’t talk.” “It doesn’t? Did you follow my instructions?” asks the clerk. “Yep, to the letter,” replies the man. “Well, maybe that bird is lonely. Tell you what. I’ll sell you this little mirror here and you put it in the cage. That bird will see its reflection and start talking right away.” The man does as he was told. Three days later, he was back. “I’m thinking of asking for my money back. That bird won’t talk.” The shop owner ponders a bit and says, “I’ll bet that bird is bored. He needs some toys. Here, take this bell. No charge.

Put it in the bird’s cage. It’ll start talking once it has something to do.” In a week, the man comes back angrier than ever. He storms in carrying a shoebox. “That bird you sold me died.” He opens the shoebox, and there is his poor little dead parrot. “I demand my money back.” The shop owner is horrified! “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened. But tell me … did the bird ever even try to talk?” “Well,” says the man, “it did say one word, right before it died.” “What did it say?” the clerk inquires. The man replies, “It said: ‘Fo-o-o-o-od.’

Annette Simmons, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact (pp. 9-11). AMACOM.  

The Principle to Persuasive Christian Communication

In a statement created by Christian leaders across the world, the Lausanne Willowbank Report calls for church leaders to return to the humility and servanthood that Jesus manifested in His earthly ministry:

We believe that the principal key to persuasive Christian communication is to be found in the communicators themselves and what kind of people they are. . . . We desire to see . . . “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). . . . There is the humility to take the trouble to understand and appreciate the culture of those to whom we go.

It is the desire which leads naturally into that true dialogue “whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand.” . . . We repent of the ignorance which assumes that we have all the answers and that our only role is to teach. We have very much to learn. We repent also of judgmental attitudes.

We know that we should never condemn or despise another culture, but rather respect it. We advocate neither the arrogance which imposes our culture on others, nor the syncretism which mixes the gospel with cultural elements incompatible with it, but rather a humble sharing of the good news—made possible by the mutual respect of a genuine friendship.

“Willowbank Report: Gospel and Culture,” Lausanne Occasional Papers 2 (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 1978), pp. 15-16.

What Hath God Wrought?

In the crypt of the Capitol, there hangs a bronze plaque commemorating the inventor of telegraphy, Samuel Morse…In 1825, Morse returned to Washington to paint a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, the leading French supporter of the American Revolution. While Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a one-line letter form his father:

“Your dear wife is convalescent.” By the time Morse arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken by the fact that he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and lonely death for more than a week, Morse stopped painting and started pursuing a means of rapid long-distance communication.

The painter-turned-inventor actually set up shop in the Capitol. Morse tested his telegraph prototype by sending messages between the House and Senate wings. According to the Senate doorkeeper, Isaac Bassett, many senators were skeptical, but Morse was able to secure a $30,000 congressional appropriation to build a thirty-eight-mile telegraph line along the Baltimore and Ohio Railway from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.

On May 24, 1844, a large crowd gathered inside the capitol to witness Morse tap a message in the language he created, Morse Code. The message itself was chosen by Annie Ellsworth, daughter of the US Patent Commissioner Henry Leavitt Ellsworth. And while many can recall those infamous [sic] words from a high school history class, few know that is a sacred verse of Scripture. Annie aptly chose Numbers 23:23 in the King James Version, and it did not return null and void. Moments after the four-word message was received at a railroad depot near Baltimore, the same message was relayed back to the Capitol: “What Hath God wrought?”

Mark Batterson, The Grave Robber, Baker Books, 2015.

24 Honest Brand Slogans By Cliff Dickens

Ikea: We throw in extra parts just to mess with you.

Lays: Flavored Air

Maybelline: Maybe it’s Photoshop

Wikipedia: You’re Welcome, College Students

Perrier: Rich People Water

Bic: You Probably Didn’t buy it.

Candy Crush: The Game Version of Pure Cocaine

Urban Outfitters: Pay Money to Look Homeless

Lego: The Bane of Your Foot’s Existence

Starbucks: We’ll Serve You Decaf if you’re Rude

Gillette: We’re just Going to Keep Adding more Blades

WebMD: Convince Yourself that you have a Terminal Illness

Monopoly: A Great Way to Ruin Friendships

Netflix: Spend More Time Searching than Actually Watching

Old Spice: Smell Like Grandpa

Google: Just Try Using Another Search Engine

McDonalds: Because You Only Have $4

iTunes: I have not read the Terms and Conditions

Pepsi: When there’s no Coke

Linked In: Connect with People for No Reason at All

Crayola: The White One is Useless

Found on Bored Panda 

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Communication. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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