Primary producers

I’ve been thinking a bit about preaching lately. Mostly in the course of producing my own sermons – but also as I listen to others.

One of the principles of journalism is trying to get as close to the primary source on a story as possible – a story is much more convincing if you’re dealing with someone with authority.

I think preachers need to be more careful to be pursuing the primary source – and not necessarily acknowledging sources for anything else. I guess I’m particularly referring to quoting other ministers, preachers, commentaries or texts that aren’t written with scriptural authority. For example, John Piper might have some important things to say about an issue – and it’s fine to use his thoughts and understandings of a passage to shape your message – but attributing quotes to him will only carry weight if everybody in your audience knows who he is. And ultimately your best bet is to just say what the person has said without mentioning it. At least from a communication and persuasion standpoint. If you’re really keen to give the author of the quote appropriate attribution and credit then introduce them properly as someone noteworthy to give their statement the appropriate gravitas. Fleeting name drops don’t serve anybody adequately.


I think you’re onto something here.

Incessant referencing affects the ‘flow’ of a sermon and seems to weaken the rhetorical affect. I suppose though for some there is a question of honesty and passing off someone else’s work as your own.

But then there’s often the case of preaching copying personal anecdotes and passing them off as their own. There’s one I read on the ‘net about a Philip Jensen illustration about his niece’s first words being a lie, where that niece heard another preacher retelling the exact same story as if it was his own. Or to the extreme