Sermons


20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

Toni Ridgaway
SermonCentral.com Content Editor

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.)

  • 3. IMdB: The Internet Movie Database

    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.

  • 4. Creativebiblestudy.com/christianobjectlessons.html

    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.

  • 5. Guinness Book of World Records

    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.

20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

Toni Ridgaway
SermonCentral.com Content Editor

  • 6. Timeanddate.com

    Here you can find calculators for time zones, sunrise and sunset, the distance between major cities, a countdown to any date, and the duration of time between any two dates. (For example, do you know how many days it’s been since Jesus was born? Or since his death?) Such stats can be useful in comparing time and eternity as well as exhortations to make one’s life count. (“The average person with a lifespan of 70 years has 613,200 hours or 36,792,000 minutes to live out God’s purpose for their life.”) You might even find yourself playing around on this site when you need a break!

  • 7. U.S. Census Bureau

    With so much demographic information, this site will make your head spin. Try the “QuickFacts” tool, which provides quick, easy access to facts about people, geography, and business.

  • 8. CIA World Factbook

    This site, produced by the Central Intelligence Agency, provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world nations and states. The site also provides tools for making comparisons between countries and physical and political maps. This is an essential reference when speaking on missions ministry, the under-resourced, and service to those in need.

  • 9. FedStats.gov

    A government website providing access to statistics from over 100 government agencies, including those involved in crime, health, education, income, and safety. The site includes a comprehensive topic list.

  • 10. Freeimages.co.uk

    Between creating slides for announcements, worship, sermon support, Scripture references and backgrounds for special events, a pastor can spend an inordinate amount of time searching for digital imagery. This site provides free, fairly high-resolution digital photos in thirteen topic indices.

  • 11. Freedigitalphotos.net

    Another site for free digital imagery. Free images are lower-resolution, but appropriate for projection use. Images for print or graphic design can be purchased.

  • 12. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

    A service of the University of Albany and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, this site is an easy-to-use source for statistics relating to crime, crime victims, prisons, arrests, background checks, and prosecution activities. A very complete (albeit depressing) illustration of fallen humanity.

  • 13. Trivia-library.com

    The subheading on this website reads, “Useless & Fun Trivia on Movies, Music, TV, Sports, Science & more.” There’s almost 50 topics listed on the first page, which are narrowed to 4 to 10 subtopics each after you click on them.

  • 14. Usefultrivia.com

    Another trivia site with topics such as art, geography, science, history, movies, holidays, celebrities, and much more.

20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

20 Non-Preaching Websites for Better Preaching

Toni Ridgaway
SermonCentral.com Content Editor

  • 15. Sporcle.com

    This site offers trivia quizzes on every topic imaginable. At first, this might seem like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon after preaching a sermon, but trivia quizzes can allow a pastor to interact with the audience. For example, can your congregation name the top-ten most common words used in the English language? Looking them over might have something to say about what people feel is important: work, time, I, make, people, good, first. Another example: How many of a series of brand logos can your audience name? What does that have to say about their world focus? It’s also a great sermon-starter for topics like culture, knowledge, and wisdom.

  • 16. Howstuffworks.com

    Ever want to illustrate a point using a certain process as an example, but you just couldn’t find the words to bring the idea home? This site allows you to search and find myriads of processes or how-tos, from cyclones to computers to criminal investigation. Once you get started, you might find more process illustrations than you can use in a single sermon!

  • 17. Toptenz.net

    Top-10 lists are quite popular these days with the advent of social networking. Add a bit of cultural relevance to your sermons by offering your listeners the top-10 mysteries of the universe, the top-10 innocents that were executed, the top-10 cults, or the top-10 suspected locations for the Garden of Eden.

  • 18. Billboard

    Music captures the heart and minds of people around the world. Billboard Magazine collects diverse statistics on music popularity, commerce, and culture. You could even take the application beyond simple recordkeeping to an analysis of secular philosophy: What titles and topics are most popular at what date in history? Does the culture seem angry, in love, troubled, confused? What does this have to say about the people’s values and what they think they need vs. what they really need?

  • 19. Cleanjoke.com

    Need some new jokes? Here’s a great site to glean them from. And, if nothing else, it might make you smile in the midst of the ministry battle. But use them at your own risk.

  • 20. Columbia Journalism Review Research Page

    Still can’t find what you want? The Columbia Journalism Review has compiled a list of even more great websites for research, including news sources, online periodicals, and sources on science, politics, psychology, music, education, children, governments, foreign language issues, and writing helps.

As you scour the Internet for mesmerizing material to penetrate your audience, remember your fellow pastors by sharing what you find in the SermonCentral illustration database.

Happy preaching!

Toni Ridgaway serves as content editor for SermonCentral.com, PastorFinder.com, and the Church Leaders Intelligence Report. She holds a degree in Literature/Writing from UC San Diego and volunteers her time helping those with mental and emotional illnesses find hope and healing in Christ.