When I was getting my theology degree, one of the things I learned is that an illustration (in a sermon, for example) is like a window. It helps you see into the house (what you’re trying to communicate; getting your point across). But there is a limit. If you have a house of all windows, it’s like a greenhouse: The structure is not sound and cannot support itself. Your message gets lost and never reaches your audience.

Illustrations should help communicate the message within your content, but they cannot replace it. I suppose they are a lot like special effects in a movie. They help tell the story but they are not the story itself, at least not in a good movie. So the idea is to balance. Special effects should drive the story and illustrations drive the message.

Below is a church illustration gone amuck. It makes no sense and adds nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it is done very well. It is very high-budget and a lot of time was spent on it. But I think it distracts rather than adds. It’s a perfect example of an illustration gone bad–or, perhaps, taken too far. All it seems like is a bunch of Christians trying to be cool/hip/trendy/artsy–and it’s just is stupid. Maybe that’s harsh, but that’s what I really think.

Here it is. What do you think?