Using Supporting Texts in Preaching

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nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm interested to hear some thoughts from others on the matter of how we use supporting texts in our preaching (as opposed to the primary text).

Specifically, it frustrates me when a preacher has the congregation flipping back and forth from passage to passage during the sermon. It's not the use of supporting or secondary texts that bothers; it's the request to "turn here" or "turn back there", etc. that gets on my nerves. I personally find it very distracting from the main point at hand and the main text at hand when the preacher asks us to 'turn'. I lose my focus, I lose his point, and I perceive that others do as well.

It is my preference that the preacher quote the passage and state the reference if a supporting text is necessary, as I do in my own practice as well. But even then, I try to limit the number of references because of the importance of nailing down the thesis from the primary text alone.

What are your thoughts? Am I off-base here?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I will reference other Scriptures occasionally, but very rarely do I have the congregation turn to more than one other passage. I think it interrupts the flow of preaching.
 

Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
I really enjoy moving around the word when listening to a sermon. What frustrates me is when it is done too quickly and the Preacher Does Not give one time to turn to the texts. It's is curious as to how God's people respond differently to this. Perhaps it is just preference or differing ways of learning? I like to read the text and it helps me to keep focus when driven back to the word no matter where it is.
 

Frank

Puritan Board Freshman
In using supporting verses, I had a nice elderly lady tell me that she had trouble keeping up during the message. By the time she found the reference we were a little further down the road. I started putting the verses on a PowerPoint screen and as I mention them during the message, my trusty sound man advances to the next slide. Every once in while inspiration strikes and I quote something that was not prepared when I wrote out my message, but not very often.. :2cents:
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I tend to use supporting texts when I preach. Usually it is not too many, and I announce them by saying something like, "if you're following along with me turn to XXXXX." Then I watch to make sure I give them enough time. On those occasions when there will be a few scripture texts, I will print them in the sermon outline in the bulletin.
 

nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
I think most parishioners, me included, become lazy. The minister is to preach the whole counsel of God, and it's important to bring in a good amount of supporting texts to show what the whole of Scripture teaches in that regard. That's good systematic theology. It also encourages diligence in listening. Hearing the Word of God with our whole beings is hard work, but it is necessary and good work. Instead of allowing yourself to be frustrated, press on in following the under shepherd's direction during the sermon and be a good Berean by keeping in step with the passages. You will only be better because of it. :2cents:

I agree - laziness is probably an issue here. But to expound further, I really like the speaker having us turn to a number of passages in a more informal setting such as a bible study. It's more relaxed and, as you say, it brings in the importance of listening to the whole counsel of God.

But in preaching, I don't even take notes when hearing, and when I preach I don't want my listeners to either. It's not laziness --for I took careful notes for years. Instead, I found that the note-taking was softening the 'impact' of the preached word hitting me as the Word of God, and it distracted me to the point where I often became more focused on my notes than I did upon what the preacher was saying.

Perhaps I suffer from ADD, :D
 

Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
But in preaching, I don't even take notes when hearing, and when I preach I don't want my listeners to either.
I hope you don't require that of your listeners just because you have a problem with it yourself. I can't focus unless I'm taking notes. My mind races so quickly that if I listen without writing down the main thoughts of the sermon, I can't remember what has been said from one minute to the next. The act of writing makes my mind stop and pay attention, and I remember more of the sermon even if I never look at my notes again.
 

SolaSaint

Puritan Board Sophomore
I find the use of supporting texts of great importance, and want to be able to read along with the preacher the texts he's referring to. This helps my growth in biblical studies.
 

paculina

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it's a good thing for the laity to turn to the various passages with the pastor and follow along. This way they can see the context of the verse and make sure it's not being pulled out of context or twisted or whatever. Bereans, indeed.
 

TomVols

Puritan Board Freshman
I use these, but with extreme caution. One one hand, I want people to see the text I'm reading (Here I'm thankful for PowerPoint). And I have to admit I love the sound of rustling Bible pages :) On the other hand, if their translation is different than mine, it may not carry the same force (that's another issue altogether). And some people are quicker on the draw at getting to other books, so they get frustrated and some mentally check out on you.

I have listened to some sermons that were little more than Bible drills with commentary. That gets tedious. So my point would be this: have people turn in a text when necessary, but try to make the necessary a rare thing. Quote the text (and re-quote if necessary). If you have to use a lot of supporting Scripture, then is your primary text really primary? And don't forget context of your people. Some groups can handle this, while others are not as adept.
 

nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
I hope you don't require that of your listeners just because you have a problem with it yourself. I can't focus unless I'm taking notes. My mind races so quickly that if I listen without writing down the main thoughts of the sermon, I can't remember what has been said from one minute to the next. The act of writing makes my mind stop and pay attention, and I remember more of the sermon even if I never look at my notes again.

I would never *require* it, but encourage it even among doubters, yes. The point of the sermon, in my opinion, is not to simply gather information or store up our memory. Teaching, reading and Bible study can serve that purpose. There is a reason God has ordained the preached word, as opposed to the read word or taught word, as the chief means of conversion. And I believe that looking the preacher in the eye, focusing all of your attention upon him, letting his words hit you head-on as the very word of God, is one reason why preaching is preeminent.
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
My sermons are usually filled with supporting texts to help verify my points from the primary text or shed a deeper understanding. I usually just quote them but on occasion have the congregation turn to a passage if it is more than a few verses. I rarely do this and when I do it is usually just once.
 

nasa30

Puritan Board Sophomore
I do use supporting texts but if I have the congregation turn there, I go there as well to make sure ample but not too much time is given. I usually am talking while we turn as well to smooth out the wait. The two other pastors do not have them turn as much when they preach and I have had folks tell me that they love it when we do and appreciate me doing it. I am sure that I must aggravate some by turning while others like it. It really is just a preference.
 
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