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In a preaching or teaching ministry, you’re bound to hear (or offer) some poorly constructed, cringe-worthy illustrations. Fortunately, we can look back and laugh most of the time. I wanted to hear about some “best worst” illustrations from people on Twitter, so I asked for some feedback:

What’s your best worst sermon illustration?

In seminary I was talking to a group at least 30 years my seniors and I used an illustration from South Park. The more I tried to explain, the worse it was for everyone.

Not surprisingly, I got plenty of responses from pastors, teachers, and congregation members. Here are a few best-of-the-worst sermon illustrations people shared.

At a late night college service which rarely had families in attendance…I made a passing comment about how there’s no such thing as Santa Clause…I broke the heart of a 4-year-old that night, and his mom never brought him back.

— Daniel Carpenter (@D4nielC4rpenter) August 12, 2019

Seemingly, college students often hear the most awkward illustrations.

Speaking to a group of college students, I was in the middle of a long and elaborate story about a father who creates an imitation version of Disneyland in his backyard when someone burst out laughing. I suddenly realized my illustration was ridiculous

— Steven Crawford (@stevencauthor) August 12, 2019

youth preaching class In college a guy used the old preachers tale of throwing goldfish on the floor in hopes people would rush to save them. Trying to parallel our need to be moved to save souls.. none of us moved towards the fish and he had to stop and sheepishly pick them up

— Chris price (@Chrisprice81) August 12, 2019

I was illustrating hell by describing what it’s like to ski in a lake. How when you are immersed in the water is what it will be like to be immersed in fire. Then I said, “But you can’t ski your way out of hell!” My wife has never let me live that one down.

— Brad Newbold (@Chrisprice81) August 12, 2019

Topic was selfishness. I used the example of how when a family sits down with a casserole, everybody starts trying to pick out “the best portion for themselves…even though all the portions are the same.” That second bit is tantamount to blasphemy in the South. Apparently.

— D Bryan Rhodes (@DBryanRhodes) August 12, 2019

Russ Meek

Author, editor, and lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Ohio Theological Institute