I just love pastors; they amaze me. Watching a person who can skillfully interpret a message from the mouth of God invariably fills me with awe and a deep desire to worship. My calling is not to preach myself, but rather to support those who undergo the regular spiritual and emotional wrestling matches of producing sermons worthy of the great I Am.
For more than 10 years I served as staff research assistant to our preaching pastor. His job was to study the Word; mine was to support him with relevant illustrations, facts, data, and imagery to help him better articulate the Word. Since I can’t act as personal research assistant to every pastor in the SermonCentral community (although I admit I’d enjoy it!), please accept this gift of 20 website links that might help you in your sermon preparation. These sites have no specific intent to help in sermon preparation, but they do provide great imagery, illustration support, background data, how-tos, cultural applications, and just plain inspiration for better preaching.
1. NASA Gallery
A gorgeous gallery of royalty-free photos taken by NASA, including satellite imagery, historical moments, aeronautical aircraft, weather phenomena, planets, nebulae, and other amazing images of the cosmos. Perfect for topics like creation, perspective, humility, and God’s power and majesty.
2. Gallup Polls
Most are familiar with Gallup’s data-driven news and poll results on human behavior and popular culture. Its extensive database of results is constantly updated, and you can have regular updates on your topic of choice sent directly to your email address. Try the topics “Moral Issues” or “Religion” for church-relevant data. (George Gallup and George Gallup Jr., like George Barna, are committed followers of Christ.)
This site has comprehensive information for every film you can think of, whether high- or low-profile, big-league or independent producers, Christian or otherwise. My favorite information for sermon prep is their behind-the-scenes trivia on films, as well as their movie quotation database, which is searchable by keyword.
Have you ever considered using an object lesson outside of children’s or youth ministry? They really work well on adults, too. Some adults are highly visual and may not fully grasp a concept that’s only spoken to them. This blog contains Christian object lessons on a variety of topics, and most are very simple to prepare and execute. For more object lesson sites, try searching for “object lessons” using your favorite Internet search engine.
It’s hard to forget an illustration supported by a woman with 24-foot-long fingernails or a guy who stood on one foot for 3 solid days. This is my favorite site to use when researching commitment, loyalty, dedication, uniqueness or success.