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Sermon Illustrations: Evangelism

Dr Alexander Duff was a great Scottish missionary to India. When he returned home to die, he gave a final appeal for more missionaries at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Part way through, he fainted and was carried off. When he was examined by a doctor, he asked, “Where am I?” The doctor said, “Lie still. Your heart is very weak.” “But I must finish my appeal,” said Duff. “Take me back. I haven’t finished my appeal yet.” “Lie still,” the doctor repeated. “You are too weak to go back. But Duff was determined and got to his feet. So with the doctor on one side and the moderator on the other, he made his way back to the platform and continued his appeal: “When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers for India, hundreds of young men respond; but when King Jesus calls, no one goes. Is it true that Scotland has no more sons to give for India? Very well, if Scotland has no more young men to send to India, then, old and decrepit though I am, I will go back, and even though I cannot preach, I can lie down on the shores of the Ganges and die in order to let the peoples of India know that there is at least one man in Scotland who cares enough for their souls to give his life for them.” Immediately, many of the young men present jumped to their feet and pledged their commitment to go.


One night, a man was out for stroll. As he sauntered down the street a few blocks away, he saw a family in their front room watching TV. They were laughing, relaxed, having good time. But what he saw, and they couldn't see, was that the back half of their house was on fire. He knew how quickly house fires spread and it would be no time at all till the fire reached the TV room. His first impulse was, "I should warn them, bang on their front door, let them know what's happening." But then he had second thoughts. "But what if they don't believe me? What if they're angry with me? What if they're annoyed that I've interrupted their family time?" Then he thought, "But this is serious. If I don't do anything, they'll lose their lives. They'll die." What would you advise that man to do? Warn them? Do you feel that he has some responsibility for what happens to that family?

A man and his family go to the beach for the day; just him, his wife, and their three little kids. And they're having such a great time. Then suddenly, he turns to his wife and says, "Where are the kids?" She says, "I don't know. I thought you were watching them." So they both jump to their feet, racing around madly. They find one and tie him to the beach chair, and say, "Don't move!" Then they find the second one. The man then turns to his wife and says, "Okay, let's go." She says, "But we've only got two. There's still one missing." "Numbers don't matter," he replies.

A man was walking down the street one night and came across an alarming sight. As he passed by a house, he noticed that the entire back half of the house was engulfed in flames. Looking into the front glass doors, he saw that a young family was eating and drinking and having a fun-filled family night, completely unaware of what was happening to their house. What should he do? They looked so happy. Should he interrupt their fun and warn them that their house is burning down? Or should he walk on by because they may not appreciate having their family night interrupted?

My Collection of Jokes, Quotes & Anecdotes

Robert Arthington was a 19th century English businessman from a wealthy family. As he was unable to go to the mission field himself, he enabled others to reach the lost by living on a shoestring and sacrificially giving over 500,000 pounds to foreign missions. He wrote, "Gladly would I make the floor my bed, a box my chair, and another box my table, rather than that men should perish for the want of knowledge of Christ."

The current population of the Soviet Union is 275 million. Only 5% of that number is registered as communist party members. How is it that only 5% of 275 million determine the destiny of so many? We read in the Scriptures how a few dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ turned their world upside down. In similar vein today, the communists, fired with dedication and fervour march on, encroaching systematically into all countries and every area of life. Who will win this power struggle? According to this letter written by a communist, the Red Army will. "The gospel of Jesus Christ is a much more powerful weapon for the renewal of society than is our Marxist doctrine. All the same it is we who will finally beat you. We are only a handful and you Christians are numbered by the millions. But if you remember the story of Gideon and his 300 companions you will understand why I am right. We communists do not play with words. Of our salaries and wages we keep only what is strictly necessary and we give the rest for propaganda purposes. To this propaganda we also consecrate all our free time and part of our holidays. You Christians, however, give only a little time and hardly any money for the spreading of the gospel of Christ. How can anyone believe in the supreme value of the gospel if you do not practise it? If you do not spread it? And if you sacrifice neither time nor money? Believe me, it is we who will win, for we believe in our communist message and we are ready to sacrifice everything, even our lives. But you, you Christians, are afraid to soil your hands." Source Unknown

A new twist on an old story imagines Jesus returned to Heaven and talking to T.V. interviewer (who has somehow got in) Interviewer: You suffered much and died for the whole world. What have you done about making known that love to all the people in the world? Jesus: I have asked Peter, John, Andrew, James and others down there to make it known, and for the people they tell to tell others, and so on. Interviewer: Yes, but suppose they don't? Jesus: I have no other plans.

Regarding packaging the Gospel and being contemporary - sometimes we're transmitting on channel 2 but they're receiving on channel 9.

It was atrocious weather. Preacher Bob Harrington was on his way somewhere, when a man appeared running along the bridge, shouting and waving his shirt in the air. Bob's first thought was to swerve and avoid him as there was a nearby mental prison. He stopped and locked his door. The man said, "The bridge is down!" One of the supports for the bridge had collapsed. Others ignored the man and plunged to their deaths. You cannot make a person believe - but you are responsible to tell them the bridge is down and they're on the path of destruction.

If you were walking past your neighbours' house, and you looked in and saw that they were watching TV, but you also saw that their house was on fire, you'd rush up and bang on the door yelling: "Your house is on fire!" You wouldn't stand there saying, "Aw, I don't know. They look so happy and they're having such a nice time. They're right in the middle of a movie. Maybe they'll be upset." If you told them, would you be considered a lunatic? No! You'd be a hero. But not till after they realised what you're saying was true.

Why does the church have a missions department? Does the hospital have a medical department? Or a law firm, a legal department?

Australia has the world's largest sheep population in the world, outnumbering the human population 10 to 1. There's one fact that every sheep breeder knows - a healthy sheep reproduces naturally.

A young man used to make deliveries to a night club run by a woman named Iris. She was an older woman, and was used to running places with gambling and prostitution. He used to regularly share the Gospel with her. Although she wouldn't respond, she used to like him. One day he said, "This is my last day. I want to give you one more opportunity to respond." She did. He explained that getting to know Jesus was like getting married. You give yourself to the Lord for life. He also told her she had to pray and give her heart to the Lord. When they prayed he said, "Lord, do you want this woman to be Yours?" Then he looked at Iris and said, "The Lord says yes." Then he said to her, "Iris, do you want Jesus to be your Lord?" She was a bit nervous, but she said, "Yes". Then he said to the Lord again, "Lord, are You sure you want this woman? She's got nothing to offer You." Then he looked at Iris again and said, "Iris, He really, really wants you."

A pastor related how his son was in a soccer team that lost every match. He was talking to another soccer Dad and asked him what he did. He was a transport worker. He asked the pastor what he did, so he told him. The man was complaining about their lack of success as a soccer team. The pastor said, "My wife's an intercessor." He said he'd get her to pray that they'd make the finals if John would come to church when they did. They not only made the finals but won the trophy. John came to church and he and his wife gave their lives to Christ.

Survey of 8000 people who got saved: 5% - walk-ins who stayed; 7% - came because of the pastor; 3% - came because the church had a programme they liked; 1% - came through door-to-door visitation; 4% - came through the Sunday School; .0001% - came through a Crusade or TV programme; 80% - came through invitations from friends or relative.

A young girl was walking home from church on Sunday and said to her mother, "Mummy, didn't you tell me that God was so big that the world can't contain, that the earth is like His footstool, and that you can't see the end of Him." "That's right sweetheart," said her mother. "Well today we learned that God lives inside of me," said the little girl. "That's right too honey," replied her mother. "I'm confused. If God is so big that He can't even fit in the world, and He also lives inside of me, shouldn't people see Him coming out of me?"

I was catching a taxi to pick up our car from the panel beaters. As I got in, I said, "How are you?" "I don't want to beep jinx you. I'm beep awful, I've had a beep beep day," replied the driver. I said, "You can't jinx me." "Why not?" he asked. "I'm a pastor, and I'm a Christian. So what's happened that you think your life is jinxed?" He described his father's death, his younger brother's relationship problems and subsequent suicide, the five times he'd had to have his bumper bar fixed in the last two weeks. I thought it really did sound like his life was cursed. All the time I was praying, "Lord, show me how to reach this guy." The only thing that kept coming to me was: how would you like to break this curse over your life? So I asked him and he said, "How can I do that?" I said, "What do you think is your biggest problem?" He said, "This jinx on my life." I said, "No, your biggest problem is between you and God." "How'd you mean?" "Would you agree with me that you've probably broken all of God's laws?" "Yeah, many times over." "That puts a barrier between you and God." So I explained the Gospel to him. "So how can I do this?" [He was asking all the right questions and it would have been tempting to look around and ask: Am I on Candid Camera?] I explained the sinner's prayer to him. He didn't give his life to Jesus right then, but at least it sowed a seed.

Risk-taking for the gospel: When the Titanic was sinking there were three ships in the region. The nearest was the Sampson whose crew was involved in illegal hunting. Not wanting to get caught, they turned away from those who needed rescuing. The next ship was the Californian whose crew were so afraid of sharing the Titanic's fate they proceeded very cautiously. Perhaps they were annoyed because they had tried to warn the Titanic. The third ship was the Carpathia which came as quickly as possible. They risked their own lives and were able to rescue more than 700 people.

Late one night, John Wesley was riding across Hounslow Heath singing a hymn, when someone grabbed his horse's bridle and shouted, "Halt!". The man then demanded, "Your money or your life." Wesley emptied his pockets of the small amount of money he had, then showed the robber his saddlebags which were filled with books. The robber was about to leave when Wesley said, "Stop! I have something more to give you." The highwayman turned back towards Wesley and Wesley said, "My friend, you may live to regret this sort of a life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this, 'The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin.'" The robber hurried away. Many years later, people were gathered round to greet the aged Wesley who had just preached at their evening church service. One man in particular wanted to speak with him. Wesley discovered that it was the highwayman of Hounslow Heath many years before. He had become a Christian and was now a successful tradesman. He raised Wesley's hand to his lips, kissed it, and said, "To you, dear sir, I owe it all." "No, no, my friend," replied Wesley. "Not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin."

People understand our message by 48% tone of voice, 45% body language and only 7% speech.

Being ambassadors for the gospel: A clothing salesman who doesn't wear the products he sells is hardly a good advertisement for them.

A highwayman had been caught and was convicted of his crime. Waiting to be hanged, he was told by a priest that he was going to go to hell but that it was still not too late to repent. The highwayman looked at him and replied, "You live such comfortable lives, you could not possibly believe in what you believe. If I believed in the hell that you preach, I would crawl the length of England on broken glass just to make one convert."

Preparation of the gospel of peace: A number of years ago, I used to work as a groundsman. I remember we were digging out a tree stump. We'd been hacking away with our mattocks and axes, and digging into the surrounding ground with our spades. Anyone knows that sometimes you need to put your weight behind your spade to get it in. So I slammed it into the soil, then jumped on with my feet either side of the blade. But I discovered I had a problem - my boots were old and the soles had split. The lip on the blade of the spade hooked into the bottom of my boots, and when I went to get back off, I found that I was stuck. I just fell flat on my back. How important is our footwear! And how much more important is it to have our feet shod with the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace.

You can only take one thing with you when you die - souls.

A north Queensland fisherman had a reputation for bringing back huge catches all the time. One day, the ranger went with him to see how he was doing it. The fisherman lit a stick of dynamite and threw it into the lake, sending dead fish to the surface. "You can't do that," said the ranger, starting to write out ticket. The fisherman lit another stick, threw it into his lap and said, "Now, are you going to write out that ticket? Or are you going to join me fishing?" I want to invite you to join me fishing - for souls.

I had been asking God for opportunities to share the gospel. It was Monday morning and the front doorbell rang, and I answered it. A couple stood there who introduced themselves as Gavin and Afena. They were Jehovah's Witnesses and would love to share with me about the future life. "Okay", I said, and listened politely to what they had to say. I've talked to lots of Jehovah's Witnesses, so I was asking the Holy Spirit to help me say what they needed most to hear. When I told them I was a Christian, the conversation continued harmlessly enough. Then I got an idea. I pointed at Gavin and said, "Are you a son of God?" "Well, er, you see, there's, I mean, if we obey God's commandments we might..." "What about you?" I asked Afena. "Well, that depends on your definition of son and..." Then I asked Gavin the name of his father. "Jim," he said. "Are you his son?" I asked. "Yes," he replied. "That's right," I said. "When you're a son, you know it." It was a great opportunity to share about Jesus. Are you ready to give a defence of your faith? The Holy Spirit can help you.

"Dear church: This is My commission to you - in fact, you might even call it a great commission. You are to go to all people everywhere and call them to become My disciples. You are to baptise them and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you. Don't forget, I will be with you always to help you, even to the end of the world. I will never leave you nor forsake you, because I love you. Please don't forsake Me. With all My love, Jesus Christ." "Dear Jesus Christ: We acknowledge the receipt of Your recent communication. Your proposal is both interesting and challenging; however, due to a shortage of personnel, as well as several other financial and personal considerations, we do not feel that we can give proper emphasis to Your challenge at this time. A committee has been appointed to study the feasibility of the plan. We should have a report to bring to our congregation sometime in the future. You may rest assured that we will give this our careful consideration, and our board will be praying for You and Your efforts to find additional disciples. We do appreciate Your offer to serve as a resource person, and should we decide to undertake this project at some point in the future, we'll get back to You. Cordially, The Christians."

John Wesley said that he wished he could train every one of his ministers by dangling them over hell for 24 hours.

They say that a person's last words are a good indicator of what's important to that person. If you're on your deathbed, you're not going to be saying, "What have you done with my blue socks Mildred? I've got to have those socks. Where are they? Mildred, don't tell me the washing machine ate another pair of my socks. Aw, man!" No, when you're about to leave this world, you want your last words to count. You want your last words to count. So when Jesus is about to leave this planet, what's on His mind? His last words are recorded in Acts 1:6-9 - those were His last words on planet Earth. It was His promise of the power of the Holy Spirit and a reminder that they were to be His witnesses.

Jesus has spent 30 years in preparation for His public ministry. And when He embarks on that public ministry, what does He do? Does He give a seminar on how to build a better marriage? Does He plant a church? Does He start a Bible college? No! He begins to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Mark 1:14-15

William was a dairy farmer and a committed Christian in the Presbyterian church in North Carolina. He had a real desire to see his family and friends saved. So he and a number of others invited evangelist Mordecai Ham to town. At the time William's son was 17 years old. William's son went along to the meetings and Mordecai preached up a storm. The boy was so convicted of sin that he received Christ and was born again. I wonder how many people looked at that young man in church that day, got excited, and thought, "Nice to see a farm boy become a Christian." I wonder if anybody looked at him and thought of what God could do with a life that's yielded to Him. I wonder if anyone saw the potential in that life - because God did. At one stage in his life, that boy was to become the most recognisable face on the planet - Billy Graham. In 40 years in 40 Gallup Poll surveys in America, he has been selected - easily more than anyone else - as one of the 10 men in the world they admire most. His five nights in Hong Kong were beamed around the world to over 100 million people in more than 30 countries. He has been consulted by numerous American presidents, British royalty and prime ministers, and political authorities of many nations. Add to this his books, magazines and radio programmes and we can see a man of unparalleled influence. But let's go back to Mordecai Ham who led him to Christ. There's no way he could have known all this. I wonder if he especially noticed the 17 year old. I'm saying all this to make this point: you can never tell who you're leading to Jesus. Who knows what impact the person you lead to Jesus can have for the Kingdom of God?

Sinners are not our enemies, they're our targets. Mark T. Barclay

Fritz Kreisler (1875 - 1962) was a world-famous violinist. Although he had earned a fortune, he had given most of it away, so that when he found a beautiful violin, he could not afford it. When he had raised enough money, he returned to the seller, but the violin had been sold to a collector. He approached the new owner and offered to buy it. Unfortunately, the collector wasn't interested. Kreisler asked if he could play it just one more time and the collector agreed. He played so beautifully that the owner said, "I have no right to keep that to myself. It's yours, Mr Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."

A businessman went to a Billy Graham evangelistic event. And when Billy Graham gave the altar call, he went forward and gave his heart to Jesus. He was so excited, that when he got back to work he couldn't wait to tell his co-workers. Then he told his business partner who was elated and said, "Yes, I'm a Christian." The new believer hadn't realised this, and said, "You know, you're one reason I resisted becoming a Christian for several years. I figured that if someone like you could live a good life and not be a Christian, there was no need for me to become one."

2 Kings 7: 1-10 There was a famine in Samaria. The attacking Syrians fled when God caused them to hear the sound of a great army, leaving all their belongings. Four leprous men went to the Syrian camp and found it deserted. They ate and drank and took some of the silver, gold and clothing. Finally, they realised that it was a day of rejoicing and they couldn't keep the blessing to themselves. With a sense of urgency, they told the gatekeepers of the city.

Imagine there's a great cliff, and there are thousands and thousands of blind people who are all headed towards the cliff. Suddenly, just as one is about to step over the cliff, someone reaches out, grabs him by the hand, and pulls him aside. Then his rescuer lays hands on him, says, "be healed", and amazingly the blind man is healed. It's a miracle. The person who saved his life then says, "Just rest there a little". And then the rescuer goes back out to try and save another life. Soon he returns to the former blind man and says, "I need your help. I can't do this by myself." But the ex-blind man says, "No, I'm not ready." Or: "It's not my ministry". Or: "I don't know enough to answer all their questions." But the reason he's not going over that precipice is because someone had the courage to reach out to him and rescue him.

Instead of catching fish, we're trying to build fish tanks.

Your mother-in-law is not your enemy; she's your mission field.


Beloved, there are two big days in the life of a believer: the day on which he believes in the Lord, and every day after that when he leads someone to Christ. Watchman Nee

We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first. No one has the right to hear the Gospel twice while there remains someone who has not heard it once. Oswald J. Smith

We need labourers, not loiterers. We need men on fire, and I beseech you, pray to God to send them. The harvest can never be reaped by men who will not labour. C.H. Spurgeon

Laziness and frivolity are bad enough in any profession but worst of all in that of a watchman for souls. J.C. Ryle

The harvest will not self-reap, but it will self-destruct if not reaped. Wayne Cordeiro

We aren't called to be keepers of an aquarium; we?re called to be fishers of men.

Miracles don't follow people, miracles follow the gospel. Peter Youngren

Some subscribe to fishing magazines, but never go to where the fish are. Peter Youngren

What would you say should become of an alarm clock that doesn't wake you up in time for work? (Some have answered that its owner would rise up and call it blessed!) In reality, an alarm clock that fails to sound the alarm is useless. The church is God's alarm clock. R. Brownworth

Most churches - the people of the church come and they are far more interested in seeing their friends that they haven't seen for a week that they are about reaching their hand to the stranger. Bob Orr

The Great Commission isn't what you pay the real estate agent when he sells your house.

If you develop a relationship with a non-Christian and learn to listen, they'll tell you how to win them to Christ. Bob Orr

Salt is no good in a salt shaker.

The man who shoots above the target does not prove thereby that he has superior ammunition. He just proves that he cannot shoot. James Denney (Scottish preacher on keeping the gospel simple)

W.E. Sangster: "How shall I feel at the judgment, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?"

We can look at the cross of Jesus from the crowd. Jesus wants us to see the crowd from the cross, to see with His eyes. Reinhard Bonnke

I prefer my method of evangelism to your method of not evangelising. D. L. Moody

All the darkness in the world cannot snuff out the light of a candle. Confucius.

As we shook hands and bade each other farewell at the end of the seminar, he looked me straight in the eyes, gripped my hand firmly, and said, "Andrew, when they kill me, it will be for speaking, not for being silent." When, not if.1

Once a person's been going to church for five years, 90% of their friends are Christian. Mark Ashton

I need partners who aren't on the beach drinking lattes while I'm working my tail off trying to catch fish. Shaun Hansen

You catch more fish with a net than you can with a pole.

1 Brother Andrew The Muslim Challenge p10

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