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preaching article All Pastors Plagiarize--Here's Why

All Pastors Plagiarize--Here's Why

based on 9 ratings
Feb 4, 2014


All the talk and controversy about plagiarism has made me somewhat uncomfortable. When I listened to the infamous interview between radio host Janet Mefford and pastor/author Mark Driscoll, I was haunted by a phrase. I don’t know if it is an exact quote or not, but it went like this, “You are stealing his ideas.”

I am a pastor. My whole life and ministry is about regurgitating someone else’s ideas.

I believe it was Charles Hodge who said that he never had an original thought or idea. We read, listen, talk, think, integrate, pray and listen. This is what we do.

In one very real sense, pastors don’t know what is original and what is not. Even our sermon outlines have a family tree.

After a recent sermon, someone asked me a question about where I got something that I said in the sermon. I told them that as far as I know the sentence was mine, but the idea, the concept, that’s John Owen. And John Owen got it from the Apostle Paul. This could happen every week as the preacher’s influence comes out in his preaching.

It’s impossible to escape.

It’s not just me. In one bizarre period of about 10 days last year, I heard a popular pastor say something profound. A few days later, I was reading a book by Tim Keller and found the same idea. Then I was reading a sermon by Jonathan Edwards and it was there. Shortly thereafter, my mind was drawn to a passage of Paul’s writing and it was there.

That thought was handed down the spiritual family line like broad shoulders and big ears. You can’t stop it.

Along these lines, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones recounts a story about Charles Spurgeon.

Lloyd-Jones describes the case of a young man, a student in Spurgeon’s college, whose preaching was drawing praises from some, but a criticism from others that he “was repeatedly preaching a sermon of Mr. Spurgeon’s.” When this was brought to the attention of the school principal, it was decided to take the young man to Spurgeon himself. After considerable questioning, Spurgeon became somewhat impatient.

Lloyd-Jones describes the conversation between CHS and the student.

Spurgeon asks: "Well, are you saying, then, that it is your sermon?"

"Oh, no, sir," said the young man.

"Well, then whose sermon is it?"

"It is a sermon of William Jay of Bath, sir," said the student ...

"Wait a minute," said Spurgeon, and turning to his library, he pulled out one of two volumes [Jay's sermons had been printed in two volumes], and there was the sermon, the exact sermon—the same text, the same headings, the same everything!

What had happened?

The fact was that Mr. Spurgeon had also preached William Jay’s sermon and had actually put it into print with other sermons of his [own]. Mr. Spurgeon’s only explanation was that it was many years since he had read the two volumes of Jay’s sermons and that he had forgotten all about it.

He could say quite honestly that he was not aware of the fact that when he had preached that sermon he was preaching one of the sermons of William Jay. (Preaching and Preachers, via Adrian Warnock)

I recently reread some books from a few years ago. I found phrases underlined and annotated that I did not remember reading, but know that I have repeated. I was amazed at what sunk in without my knowing. I have referenced these concepts on several occasions without citing it (my apologies to C.J. Mahaney, John Calvin and Octavius Winslow).

Can you imagine how many preachers have gone on to speak about the supremacy, beauty and infinite majesty of King Jesus? How many times do we say that we want to see and savor the glory of Christ?

Where do we get this? John Piper? Sure. But read Jonathan Edwards; you can hardly read an Edwards sermon and not say, “This sounds like John Piper.” You could also say, “This sounds a bit like John Owen” (as Edwards was doubtlessly influenced by the Oxford theologian). It’s exhausting to consider.

In one sense, we are all a bit “semi-plagiarius.”

I’m not sure where all of the plagiarism talk is going to go and how it will be policed. I can say that I know that we cannot steal people’s sermons, books or ideas and pass them off as our own. That’s obvious (should be anyway).

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the ministry of the gospel is made up of guys who read a lot of books and listen to a lot of sermons. Like Spurgeon, it will come out in surprising ways. And we should not be surprised when it does. We should, however, be gracious and thankful for the lineage of truth.

(I should say that some of these thoughts come directly from a discussion yesterday at lunch with a seasoned, faithful pastor and friend named Ron—by whom I continue to be influenced.)

Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.

Talk about it...

Pastor Jeff Hughes avatar
Pastor Jeff Hughes
0 days ago
This is so true! I have heard a lot of talk about this pastor or that speaker or another Bible teacher plagiarizing, but we all do to a degree if we are really teaching the Bible! What really annoys me is how much of an industry Bible teaching has become; if you buy a commentary, it's $20-40. If the content is from God, should it not be either free or at little cost? Not that I am anyone special at all, but all of the work that is produced from my pulpit ministry will be on SermonCentral because it's FREE. If a person preaches it word for word, SO WHAT. It's not mine, it's God's; the late pastor J. Vernon McGee said the same thing and you can find his works for free or really cheap everywhere and God has blessed his minstry. Great article, sir!
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Is $20-40 really that much to pay for a commentary? The people who write commentaries have worked extremely hard to produce a product that will be a blessing to the church. Should they not be compensated for their efforts? Doesn't Paul write to Timothy, "The laborer deserves his wages"? I'm not rich by any means. I'm a single father trying to raise two teenage boys on a public school teacher's salary. But seriously, paying $20-40 for a commentary is not going to break me. Don't most of us own MANY things for which we've paid at least that much, if not more?
Pastor Jeff Hughes avatar
Pastor Jeff Hughes
0 days ago
One more note: the late Keith Green had the notion, when he moved to Texas, that a person should give to his ministry what they were led to give. If a person could not afford an album, they were sent the album gratis. However, there were many that sent more than enough to cover the cost of the gratis copies...God was exalted in both cases. How about this: give it away for free, with the caveat that people can give as they are led by God, and leave the results up to God. It's His money, right?
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
There is a difference between a producer choosing of his own free will to distribute a product at no cost, on the one hand; and a consumer expecting to receive a product at no cost, and complaining when it isn't, on the other hand. The former displays a spirit of generosity on behalf of the producer. The latter displays a spirit of entitlement on behalf of the consumer. Generosity is a Biblical virtue. Entitlement isn't.
Maurice Mccarthy avatar
Maurice Mccarthy
0 days ago
While we may put our own unique spin on things, the tributaries of thought are many and varied. 1Co 4:7 For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
You make a very good point. The problem, of course, comes when a person puts their unique spin on something, and then someone else comes along and takes that "unique spin" and passes it off as if it were one's own. Most articles I've read on plagiarizing sermons deals specifically with this problem.
Maurice Mccarthy avatar
Maurice Mccarthy
0 days ago
My sermons on sermon central passed 1/2 million hits this week. I post them with the hope that others would find benefit. I care not for attribution, God keeps good records. I live by freely you have received freely give. As for other source material, books etc that is a different subject. Sermon central is a sermon sharing site if you want others to give you the credit you have your reward already, but you are cheating yourself, God pays better.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Congratulations, and I admire your generosity. For the record, if someone were ever to preach a sermon I had prepared, it wouldn't effect me either whether or not someone gave me the credit for it. And I also live by "freely you have received, freely give." I have no problem with any of that. But I'm not writing from that point of view. I'm writing from the point of view of the person preaching, say, one of your sermons--and here is the key phrase--as if they had prepared it themselves. Don't you think such an action has to potential to damage the integrity of that person? Don't you think the Biblical command of not bearing false witness is at least somewhat relevant in such a situation? On the surface, it sounds very "spiritual" to say, "Oh, go ahead and use my sermons as if they were your own, it doesn't matter to me." But when you really think about it, doesn't such an attitude actually display a lack of concern for the integrity of the other preacher? And wouldn't it be wise counsel to suggest a preacher take 30 seconds at the beginning of a sermon to be honest and say, "The sermon I'm going to share with you this morning was preached by So and So, and I would like to share it with you because I believe it will bless you as it has blessed me," in order to protect the integrity of the preacher?
Maurice Mccarthy avatar
Maurice Mccarthy
0 days ago
You make good points. An important question is, how much of the plagarized sermon is also the product of the work of others. In college 30 years ago a professor said, tongue in cheek, "originality is the art of concealing your sources."
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
"how much of the plagarized sermon is also the product of the work of others." That's a fair question, but the truth is that there's really not much one can do about that. Keep in mind, no one here is saying we have to be completely original in our preaching. Such an idea is unrealistic. Of course there are many sources that influence us, some of them ingrained in our minds so long ago that we can't remember exactly where a certain idea came from. I don't have a problem with that. But what I and others on here are saying is, just be honest about it. Really, it surprises me that the idea of honesty is getting such pushback from an audience of Christian pastors and leaders! If I got a specific quote, outline, even an entire sermon from a specific preacher directly, why not just say so? Is that really such a big deal? Now perhaps that specific preacher used the work of other preachers, as you pointed out. But that is irrelevant. I got that quote, that outline, etc. from that specific preacher, and I should be honest about it.
Frank Gant avatar
Frank Gant
0 days ago
I occasionally preach as a lay minister and have said things like, "I saw on the internet..." or "According to (very well-known person's name)"; but, and not to be offensive, who is Bill Williams? No one in my church will know you so why mention your name? I'm not trying to disrespect you at all, but I'm there preaching God's message for my listeners, not for your ego or uplifting. I believe that most parishioners are smart enough to know that their pastor doesn't start from a blank slate for every single sermon they preach. They are there to get blessed by God, not get read a list of footnotes.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
I get what the author is trying to say, and I agree that what he's talking about is not plagiarism. But there is a difference between what he describes and, for example, consciously taking someone else's sermon and preaching it as if it were yours. Most articles I've read on plagiarizing sermons deals with the latter idea. I'm glad that the author of this article recognizes that difference ("I can say that I know that we cannot steal people?s sermons, books or ideas and pass them off as our own. That?s obvious [should be anyway].") His perspective offers a needed balance to the discussion.
  avatar
0 days ago
I often say that I'm involved in "Spiritual Plagiairsm". I don't steal a sermon and read it, but I may take an idea or thought. Go study it and create my own sermon. But if someone wants to record me and go back and read that sermon becuase they feel it may help their flock, so be it. Who am I to stop them from presenting someone with the Word of God, no matter where it came from. The Holy Spirit is where I got it so it really doesn't belong to me anyway.
Chris Pollock avatar
Chris Pollock
0 days ago
Plagerize? No no no. Please be for calling it "research"! (Tom Lehrer)
Bill Stewart avatar
Bill Stewart
0 days ago
When we prepare to preach we spend much time studying, reading and thinking about what we will say. Also, hopefully, we spend much time in prayer asking for guidance from The Holy Spirit. While we are speaking we often will have a thought that comes, seemingly, from nowhere, that makes exactly the point that we are trying to get across. I may later find where I had read something that placed that idea in my mind, but I believe the idea came to me through the guidance that I asked for. My question is, if we are truly allowing God to use us according to His will; can any of us claim anything that we say as our own?
Bill Woods avatar
Bill Woods
0 days ago
Erik - I could not agree with you more. As a matter of fact, I have said these same words many times as a Pastor. I read and study all the time and have since entering the Ministry in 1985. How can I possibly know if any thought is original or barrowed from some memory in the corner of my mind? If I am intentionally quoting - I give credit. But many times I am probably barrowing thoughts that I could not directly remember the source. Hey - if we are preaching the Bible - then it all belongs to the original Author anyway.
Martin Everhart avatar
Martin Everhart
0 days ago
I subscribe to Sermon Central and I admit I use some of the sermons word for word on Sunday mornings. If a minister is not comfortable with letting other people use his sermons, then don't submit it to Sermon Central. I pay for the privilege of using it and as God is my witness and my guide I will and do.
Albert Jimenez avatar
Albert Jimenez
0 days ago
Blessings to all. I want to start off by saying that if we are preaching what the Holy Spirit wants to share with our congregations, then everything we preach doesn't have our signature as our sermon it belongs to God. So if I use a part of someone's message, I'm using Gods Word for His people. We need to stop the worldly mentality that every sermon belongs to us. It is Gods and His alone. With that said, if all belongs to Him then you and I have access through Jesus to use all available sermons because they belong to The Lord. If we start to put our stamp of ownership, we are stealing from The Lord.
Victor De Ocampo avatar
Victor De Ocampo
0 days ago
There is nothing new under the sun...! Just read Ecclesiates 1:1-18
James Bohrer avatar
James Bohrer
0 days ago
While there is nothing new under the sun, we should make sure we reflect the rays from our God given personality and gifting. While our influences will be varied, I want to remain true to my core values, commitments and doctrinal understanding. Dr. Adrian Rogers once commented to me after I told him how much one of his sermons impacted me. He said, "son, if you can shoot my billets out of your gun, feel free to use them. But make sure it's your gun." When I take another's sermon, thoughts, or commentary and examine them in light of Scripture, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, my core convictions as well as my context, then I am "researching." When I just parrot, then I lose something and do a disservice to the power of the Holy Spirit poured through me. If someone turns a phrase or thought better than I can, why reinvent the wheel? But why not just play a DVD of the greatest sermons if we don't take time to understand the passage and pour that message through our unique situation and experience?
Paul Creese avatar
Paul Creese
0 days ago
James, Have you ever heard the same poem presented by two different poets. It is the same word presented with different impact or effect. God words are the same message presented by different persons. The question is how do the words of God impact us and how does that impact affect the delivery of His message. If we read a sermon message and we believe that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. If we believe that He moves us to deliver that message to others with the gifting that He has given us, then what exactly is the issue here? This is never about us and our personal gifts. It is about using our gifts to benefit the body of Christ. So, I will never judge anyone who use the sermon of others to benefit God's people. That I leave to God.
Raymond Leach avatar
Raymond Leach
0 days ago
Can anyone tell me how can we plagiarize God's word? He wants us to spread the gospel and for some people the only way they can is by hearing and receiving it from someone else. Did we not receive it from Paul, Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, Mark, etc.. God wants us to be just like Jesus. Follow His example. Is this plagiarizing; or following man's example?
Raymond Leach avatar
Raymond Leach
0 days ago
Can anyone tell me how can we plagiarize God's word? He wants us to spread the gospel and for some people the only way they can is by hearing and receiving it from someone else. Did we not receive it from Paul, Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, Mark, etc.. God wants us to be just like Jesus. Follow His example. Is this plagiarizing; or following man's example?
Tyrone Pickett avatar
Tyrone Pickett
0 days ago
I believe that as we preach the Bible, we are preaching Sermons inspired by God according to 2 Timothy 3:16. We have different preachers from Moses to the Apostle Paul who preached God's Word. And it was all a different experience but all from God's Word. We must understand that we are not to preach of ourselves anyway, so as we all preach Gods word, he is universal so the same messages one might preach in Arkansas, the same message is being preach in North Carolina. Remember the word is useful to teach us what is true.
Ted Baker avatar
Ted Baker
0 days ago
It is totally appropriate to NOT pass off as mine that which I heard or read from someone else. It is very true that someone has said what I want to say much more effectively than I can. Thanks to those who are willing to share.
Raymond Leach avatar
Raymond Leach
0 days ago
How can God's word be plagiarized? Did we not receive it from others that He anointed to give to us so that we can be equip to give also? Is following Jesus example considered to be plagiarizing? Jesus said and did what He saw and heard the Father do. Is that plagiarizing? Could it be that if we follow man's example and man's ideas, that could be plagiarizing.
Samantha Sandys avatar
Samantha Sandys
0 days ago
Thank you for the article...
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
I agree with most of the comments. You simply cannot plagiarize a sermon. We are preaching the Word of God, not the word of man. If I am preaching my word, the people in my church are in trouble. This idea of it's my sermon, you can't have it must make God sad. I have some sermons that I've preached on this site. I am sure that as the author points out, I've heard whatever I preached somewhere before. I've said this when at times people have emailed me to ask if they could preach one of "my" sermons, "You don't need to ask me, I got it from God so it's His. Use it for His glory, and you do not need to say you got it from me, because I got it from Him and others He has spoken through."
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
"This idea of it's my sermon, you can't have it must make God sad." I would agree, but that's a straw man argument that I've never seen anyone actually make. Let me ask you this: if I decided to preach one of your sermons from this site, and I took a minute at the beginning to say something like: "An online friend of mine preached a sermon that really blessed me, and I would like to share it with you this morning because I feel it will be a blessing to you as well, and it speaks to something that we as a congregation are facing," would there be something wrong with doing that? I can pass on the blessing I have received from you, and in less than sixty seconds I have protected my integrity towards my listeners by being honest with them that the word I am sharing that morning I received from someone else.
Chris Gb avatar
Chris Gb
0 days ago
I think that each person will have to be true to himself/herself. The one who preaches another person's sermon with the intent (known to God) of impressing others that the work is his own has much to worry about. On the other hand a person who genuinely believes that all materials belong to God and he never has a feeling of achievement even after presenting his own work should not be saddled with this thought of taking credit for another's work. To me it is much like the issue of eating meat in 1 Cor. 8. Those with very tender conscience who know they are prone to pride (like myself) should be careful to acknowledge their sources. Those who never think much of it all should be given the liberty to pass on what they believe is common property from God. All the other caveat you have are sound and I believe must be adhered to.
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
Chris, very good insight! I think you have hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your input.
Leandre Marshall avatar
Leandre Marshall
0 days ago
Erik you are not alone , as a Seminarian, I am always concerned about giving credit to others. I discovered the way to avoid plagiarism is to be honest and admit to our congregations that we are not that profound. It's okay to admit that we borrowed others material to complement our own.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
For me, that is the crux of the issue: being honest with our listeners. This has nothing to do with believing a sermon belongs to us or wanting to take credit or being original or whatever. The issue is about the personal integrity of the preacher. Do we as preachers have the integrity to be honest with our listeners? Do we have the humility to admit that we have been blessed by the insights of others, and we are passing it on them in complement with the specific word God has given to us for that congregation on that occasion? Thank you for sharing!
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Two things to bear in mind in this conversation. First, we need to be very careful in affirming that our sermons are based on the word of God, that we neither imply, nor actually believe, that our sermons ARE the word of God. They're not. Three times Raymond Leach asked how can God's word be plagiarized. But that is a straw man argument, because no one is talking about plagiarizing God's word. The discussion is about plagiarizing SERMONS. The two are not the same, and we need to remember that very important distinction. Second, we seem to be losing in this discussion the fact that there is no such thing as a "generic" sermon. Read the Scriptures again, and one will see that every sermon recorded in Scripture was given by a specific person to a specific people in a specific context. I don't understand how a person can take a sermon prepared by another person and preach it word for word to their own congregation. I'm not saying it's wrong, necessarily, unless the person is passing off the other's sermon as their own. I just don't understand how someone could do it in the first place, whether or not they credit the person they got the sermon from. You're a different preacher, with different skills, different education, different life experiences. And the congregation you're speaking to is also different, facing different challenges, living in a different context. Preaching someone else's sermon word for word ignores that very important characteristic of a sermon being localized and context-specific. God has called YOU to preach to that congregation on that occasion in that context, not someone else. That doesn't mean we can't be blessed by the insights of other preachers. We should. But if we share those insights with our own congregation, we should at least translate those insights for our specific circumstances.
Jeff Strite avatar
Jeff Strite
0 days ago
A few thoughts: 1) We all internalize ideas from our teachers and textbooks. We mix these thoughts together, put them through our thought machine and share them with an audience. Sorry... that's not quite the same as plagiarization. To cheapen the term makes us feel good about the really bad side of this, which is quoting someone or appropriating the stories of another as if those quotes or stories were ours. That kind of behavior is demeans our ministries and opens us up to serious side effects (like being fired).
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Excellent point, and I agree whole-heartedly! What the author describes is not plagiarism by any means, and it's unfortunate that he uses that term in its defense. What the author clearly condemns-- "I can say that I know that we cannot steal people?s sermons, books or ideas and pass them off as our own. That?s obvious (should be anyway)"--IS plagiarism.
Jeff Strite avatar
Jeff Strite
0 days ago
2) With regard to the comment of the preacher who said he used sermoncentral and felt totally justified in preaching sermons word for word... speaking as one who puts his sermons on that site - it's ok by me. You don't even have to credit me with anything if you don't want to (I've never thought they were "my" sermons anyway -they always belonged to God and I share them to help his servants with the research I've done). HOWEVER I've heard of at least 2 preachers who've lost their pulpits because of that kind of preaching. If you tell your congregation ahead of time what you're doing and they're ok with, you can preach my sermons word for word and I'll be pleased those sermons helped your church. I'm always honored to mentioned as the author of such a sermon (or illustration or quote) but you'll not hurt my feelings if you don't
Jeff Strite avatar
Jeff Strite
0 days ago
Just by way of full disclosure: I'm sure I've quoted someone without giving credit (lapse of due diligence) but I TRY to give credit where credit is due. I've never really understood why anyone wouldn't do so. I know of one famous preacher who became infamous for telling other's stories as if those situations happened to him personally. He lost a great deal of respect in the religious community and I'm very careful when I quote him
Tim Callahan avatar
Tim Callahan
0 days ago
I would that all preachers were so scripturally aligned there would be constant charges of plagiarism. Can't remember if that is an original thought. :-)
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
this is a good one.... I believe that i saw( maybe on here) some preacher say that he preach a month of other's sermon. under the heading "sermon i wish i wrote..." and if the Lord would let me I would do the same... oh BTW Brother Bill Williams i know i ask are you a pastor, so now let me ask are you a preacher???
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
I am not a pastor, but yes, I am a preacher. The pastor at our church generally preaches between 22 to 24 weeks a year. He has trained another four of us laymen to share in the preaching ministry the other weeks; and currently he and I are training a fifth preacher, a very gifted and spiritually mature teenager. This system works very well for us. None of us, including the pastor, faces the stress of having to prepare a new sermon every single week. We have plenty of time to study, pray, think, discuss with others, and really flesh out the sermon over a period of weeks, not days. In addition, we each bring different perspectives; and collectively, we compensate for each other's blind spots. The end result, I believe, has been a much stronger preaching ministry. I wouldn't go back to the same person preaching every week for anything, and I know that feeling is shared by most in our congregation. The preaching ministry in a local church was never intended to be limited to one person.
David Jennys avatar
David Jennys
0 days ago
My preaching professor at A.M.B.S. wanted to publish a book under the tile, "Don't Do Your Own Work," but her publisher didn't like the title! The gist of the book was to encourage preachers to delve as deeply and gather as widely as possible to enrich the content of our sermons. Much the point of this article.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
It has struck me as ironic that some of the people here writing in support of the article are trying to justify something the author himself has said we obviously should not do! For all the support of this article--and I believe the article merits much support--many of those comments lack the nuance and balance of the article itself! Another thought that has come to my mind for your consideration: I recall the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. They sold a piece of land and donated part of the profit to the church, but they claimed that they had donated the entire profit. As a result, they were both struck dead by God. Now, their sin was not that they didn't donate the entire profit. They were under no obligation to sell their land in the first place, and having sold it, they were under no obligation to donate any of the profit to the church. And having decided to donate the profit, they could've very easily have just said they were going to donate whatever percentage they ended up donating. They could've been honest, and there would've been no problem. But they weren't honest. They deliberately misrepresented what they had done, for whatever reason. I think a lot of people here are focusing on the wrong issue by focusing on the question of whether or not you should get credit. That is not the primary issue. The primary issue is not about credit, but rather about integrity. The issue of credit is only important as it relates to the issue about integrity. As a preacher, are you deliberately going to misrepresent to your listeners that you prepared a sermon that you actually didn't prepare?
Bryan Thompson avatar
Bryan Thompson
0 days ago
I have seen the question posed over and over: How can you plagiarize the word of God? That isn't the question. Every preacher I know announces book, chapter and verse before they read. We don't even try to pretend that we are responsible for the words. So why would we take a quote from a Christian author or another source and pretend like they are our words? If I hear another preacher tell a story about their kids do I just plug in my children's names and pretend it happened to me? Of course not. The issue is one of integrity. I a Christian poet writes a poem or song should I quote it and pretend the words cam from God me me? Why would I do that? Pride probably. Yes, I believe there is such and thing as plagiarism if dishonesty is involved. Can honest mistakes happen? Sure. But never substitute another man' swords for you being alone with God and his word. With that said, we would all be silly not to read, listen and be inspired by great books, great songs, great poems and great preaching.
Tristan H Harvey avatar
Tristan H Harvey
0 days ago
As a Pastor I feel The Lord impresses upon me a thought or sometimes even one word. My method is then to research every scripture or passage I can find on the subject. It seems to have worked for the last 30 years having people tell me that's just like someone else has said. But then the scripture says its of itself that it is of no private interpretation. When I quote someone or someone's work I tend to use it as an illustration. Even in trying to use someone's outline I feel they are so much more articulate than I the best I can do is plagiarize a though go and re-study then deliver what I feel the Holy Spirit has spoken to me. As for me I don't care where someone else has got their information if it's truth accurate an Biblical I'm sure I can get something out of it.
Tristan H Harvey avatar
Tristan H Harvey
0 days ago
As a Pastor I feel The Lord impresses upon me a thought or sometimes even one word. My method is then to research every scripture or passage I can find on the subject. It seems to have worked for the last 30 years having people tell me that's just like someone else has said. But then the scripture says its of itself that it is of no private interpretation. When I quote someone or someone's work I tend to use it as an illustration. Even in trying to use someone's outline I feel they are so much more articulate than I the best I can do is plagiarize a thought I then go and re-study and deliver what I feel the Holy Spirit has spoken to me. As for me I don't care where someone else has got their information if it's truth accurate an Biblical I'm sure I can get something out of it.
  avatar
0 days ago
As a busy lay preacher, I am expected to regularly prepare meaningful sermons relevant to the local 15 congregations. Firstly I seek God's guidance for the particular congregation, pray and then begin reading devotionals, etc. Usually, a word or a turn of phrase or even part of a scripture verse takes hold of me and I feel the need to develop a sermon along that line. The origin of the sermon as described above will sometimes arise from what another preacher or christian writer says. But I will never as a matter of integrity preach another person's sermon. In my other life i was lawyer(attorney) and they are required to state and reference sources. We have an original Saviour and I cannot imagine Him being satisfied with us merely parroting someone else's experience of Christ
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0 days ago
ID fir busy lay preacher: Sorry forgot to identify myself. I am Lyall Phillips of Port Vincent Uniting (Methodist) Church, South Australia, Thank you all for your comments on Plagiarism Lyall Phillips
Suresh Manoharan avatar
Suresh Manoharan
0 days ago
All said and done, Gospel has no copyright issues' and no one holds a patent on it except the Almighty. Without feeling proud and without the air of "I have discovered it myself", some Biblical insights/creative comments of other Servants of the vineyard can be taken and shared by Pastors' in their respective congregations for the edification of the "Body of Christ". If they are able to remember the original authors' of the same at the time of preaching and give due credit to them, all the more better.
Lewis Bruce avatar
Lewis Bruce
0 days ago
2 TIMOTHY 2:2 Timothy, I want you to now take the things I?ve taught you and pass them on to other faithful men who will be able to pass them on to others. Pastor lets just obey The Word!!! BE BLESSED
Maria Khaleel avatar
Maria Khaleel
0 days ago
In reading an article recently concerning the Mark Driscoll incident, it was explained that plagairism applies to the copying of a person's words, but it does not extend to ideas or concepts, expressed in your own words of course.
Steve Orr avatar
Steve Orr
0 days ago
As a college professor once said, "Plagiarism is the sincerest form of endorsement." :-)
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0 days ago
im writing to all of you because i have to applaude something i see in all these comments and its spiritual maturity and respect for each others opinions and insight i am currently a backslider and was a preacher of the gospel and me and my pastor would share each others sermons but in no way used them in a way to take credit and we usually would kind of preach it the way the holyspirit would guide us and surprisingly it would come out being a totally new sermon and we would always be amazed on how great and wonderful God ministered and moved through that powerful word and always made sure to give the glory and honor to who merits and deserves it God at the end i didnt care about who got credit as long as God was glorified and people were impacted by the mighty word of God ,God bless yous all and continue the good work of preaching the gospel of Jesus christ and pray for me and my family thxs God bless all your ministries.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Thank you so much for sharing. You will be in my prayers!
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
Ok..Preacher... I consider any person that is part of the preaching ministry a ?pastor? if you come to my church and you are a preacher, I will assign you over something ex men?s ministry and you would be the ?Pastor of the men?s ministry?
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Is this comment for me?
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
yes i had ask were you a pastor and you said no...
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Thanks, I just wanted to make sure. In the future I believe it would be helpful to keep a related discussion on a single thread, so as to minimize confusion. Regarding your comment, biblically speaking, being a pastor and being a preacher are not necessarily the same thing. Of course, preaching is an important task of a pastor (although not the most important task). But the Bible never limits preaching to pastors only. That is a point I made in an earlier conversation. Since you never answered this question, I would like to ask you again, as I'm still not quite clear on it: is it your belief that only pastors should preach? To be honest, I'm finding it difficult to have a conversation with you here. You don't answer questions directly, you're kind of vague, you disappear from a conversation all of a sudden, and then just as suddenly you write to me, but even then you never really engage with what I've been writing. I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to continue to interact with me, I'm going to need you to help me understand you more clearly.
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
Also, to answer your question, first I stated ?to me if you preach you are a pastor because at my church I would assign a ministry to you?; you would be the pastor of that ministry. Further the church (my church) would refer to you as Pastor Williams. To answer your question ?directly? if is my belief that any one God called to preach should preach. A laymen may come and said ?the Lord is calling me to preach? and I would give him a date to bring the message. I am not disappearing form the conversation, but I have a limited amount of time to spend here. I come in when I can, and I don?t believe that I am vague ( not sure what response I have made that you believe to be vague), but if I am just tell me and I will clean it up Having said that I am not sure ?Of course, preaching is an important task of a pastor (although not the most important task)? is on topic, but if not preaching than what? And for the record I hope I am engage with what you have been writing
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
Bill Williams do you argue everything... Bill Williams do you argue everything... that is a rhetorical question. Although I am sure you will not resist and write an argumentative response
Dilseng M. Sangma avatar
Dilseng M. Sangma
0 days ago
I am preaching the Word of God for the last 15 years. For me the issue of plagiarism do not arise. I am proud to say, I learnt a lot by reading, listening, hearing to the preachers of great servants of God, past and present. I always try to acknowledge the source of ideas and thoughts and give due credit to theme. I do not consider it a sin to share other's ideas and thoughts. The bottom line is God's word is for sharing not for keeping. This is how we edified the church of God. Thank you pastor for your article.
Michael In England avatar
Michael In England
0 days ago
It seems to me that people forget that we are no longer our own, we belong to God through Christ. What we bring is not our own, it belongs to God... when we start calling things ours we are already wrong. The Church, the people, the thoughts, the skills, the words... all belong to God.
Sara Brown avatar
Sara Brown
0 days ago
I think that if a pastor has studied it would be impossible for him site every source he used. I also dont think that the congregation would expect him to do that IF indeed he is studying. It is one thing to barrow or quote a trusted source. It is another thing when a church member can come to a website and read sermons word for word, including illustrations, as if they had been actual experiences their pastor had himself. That kind of "barrowing" would likely make those who found out about it question a lot of things. I still believe God would use something like this for those who want to learn. If the Holy Spirit gave the message to someone else then God is the Author and He will use it for the good of those that love Him; however, at the risk of someone finding out I don't think it should be done because of the damage it would cause. We are all sinners though and if we all knew everything God knows about those we love, self included along with those I love and am loved by, then we would be a lot more disappoint in some people than we ever thought we could be. We should be careful to remember our own faults and speak to each other, even our pastor if we need to, in love.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.