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preaching article 3 Tests of Plagiarism: Do Your Sermons Pass Them?

3 Tests of Plagiarism: Do Your Sermons Pass Them?

based on 2 ratings
Jul 16, 2014
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I reviewed a copy of Scott Gibson's book, Should We Use Someone Else's Sermon?, published by Zondervan. Scott's the Director of the Center for Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and co-founder of the Evangelical Homiletics Society.

His book squarely addresses the issue of plagiarism in the pulpit and has a lot of good insight into answering the question posed by the title of the book. The book is extensively researched and articulately written, including vivid examples of pastors who have gotten into deep water with their sermon preparation practices. Just the book's style and intellectual treatment of the topic makes it worth reading. It's a fairly brief book with just over 100 pages and carefully prepared with 324 endnotes. I recommend that preachers get a copy.

In my observation, the book is a fairly hard-hitting presentation, starting with words like "sermon-stealing" and ending by calling plagiarism "sin." There is a whole lot in between that examines different angles on sermon sharing, including historical examples down through the centuries. I'll share my reflections here, some in contrast to the book.

The book basically answers its own question with "We shouldn't use someone else's sermon," or at least we shouldn't plagiarize another's sermon. A better title to the book might be Should We Plagiarize Someone Else's Sermon? I think my article title leads to a bit more of a messy discussion and, perhaps, conclusion.

With a fascinating and extensive run up to defining the word "plagiarism," Scott cites two definitions of the term, one from Haddon Robinson:

In a world of preaching, a pastor who takes sermons from other preachers—word-for-word—without giving credit is guilty of plagiarism. That is stealing what is not yours.

I think the "giving credit" element is critical but also problematic. Dr. Robinson's definition raises other questions: If we quote 50 words from another pastor—word-for-word—and don't cite them, is that stealing? What about 100 words? 500 words? An entire sermon? What if we quote anything or anyone in as little as a sentence? Or two? Is that stealing? The definition can get blurry.

In another instance, Dr. Robinson is quoted as saying:

It's hard to footnote sermons. There's no way to make people in the pews understand all of the sources you are using, especially if they're highly academic sources. I don't think anyone expects preachers to stand up there and quote all of their reference books and commentaries by name.

Robinson's point is excellently made, though it seems to conflict with the earlier point. If we preach a sermon like a professor writes a textbook, the art of preaching will clearly be undone. We're faced with this tension, and it's not going to go away. Hopefully, pastors can develop a framework that can facilitate healthy decision-making in their sermon preparation process.

The other definition of "plagiarism" in the book is from a journalist:

Plagiarism is borrowing someone else's words and passing them off as one's own, whether in print, in speech or performance.

So here's another question: If we borrow someone else's words and don't pass them off as our own, are we okay then? For example, if I memorize and recite the Sermon on the Mount or the Declaration of Independence, is that plagiarism? No.The world knows the content is not mine. The same is true of a homily in Latin provided from the Vatican or Archdiocese. The audience understands from the context that the priest didn't write the sermon.

I could ask the same about Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. By the time I got to "the content of his character," my audience would know I didn't invent the speech. So I wouldn't be violating their trust. But I might be violating the law with a copyright infringement.

Another example: If I modify the language of a Charles Spurgeon sermon and preach it without citation, is that plagiarism? Maybe. My guess is Spurgeon would be thrilled—and disinterested in a royalty! But it might cause a breach of trust with my audience.

Still another example: If I find a great sermon from another pastor on Matthew 24 filled with crisp, current illustrations, and I recite it verbatim without citation, is that plagiarism? It's pretty hard to argue that it's not, even if he's given me permission to use the sermon. Using someone else's content extensively requires permission from both the source and from your audience.

In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Steve Sjogren emphatically stated, "Don't be original. Be effective!" He urged pastors to quit spending time striving for originality; they should instead recite the words of better sermonizers. "We need to get over the idea that we have to be completely original with our messages each and every week. The guys I draw encouragement from ... get 70 percent of their material from someone else." I think that Steve's on tenuous ground, as we must ask the question, "Just how is the 70 percent handled?" I do agree with his point that the expectation of originality can go too far.

Rick Warren is emphatic in the sermons he provides: "Use them!" He asks for no citation. However, a pastor using Rick's sermons must assess the expectation of his or her congregation. Most listeners expect a certain level of originality, and if it's not there, they probably expect a citation of some sort.

Several years ago I asked Max Lucado about his sermon preparation. With no apology (but with great humility), he shared that he has preached someone else's sermons before. It was during a very dry time in his life due to multiple book projects and a heavy pastoral load in his church. He was just wiped out. This is how he handled it: He called another pastor friend, told him he was in need, and asked if he could preach to his church the same series his friend had just preached at his church. 

The friend readily agreed. Max openly told his church the source of his material, he preached the messages, and all was well. He clearly borrowed someone else's work and words, but he did not pass them off as his own; so I sensed no violation of conscience. I, too, would have liberty of conscience under the same circumstances, properly handled.

I believe that conscience is one of three major issues here. "Am I guarding my own conscience in my sermon preparation and delivery?" I must add that my conscience has to guide me, and your conscience has to guide you. If the conscience of others dictates my own, then my conscience will incessantly be conflicted. We aren't wired to be driven by the conscience of another; each person's conscience must stand or fall on its own. The conscience of some preachers compels them to cite meticulously; others aren't so compelled. We must have faith before God that our sermon preparation is approved by him.

Why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? (1 Corinthians 10:29 NIV)

The second major issue is diligence. "Am I faithfully studying the Word that I am preaching?" If using the work of another is simply an excuse or temptation to neglect my solemn duty, I've strayed from my calling. Chuck Swindoll emphasized this to me over and over in an interview: "Sermon preparation is hard work." We are workers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15; NIV)

The third major issue is that of trust. Frankly, I think this issue brings the most clarity to Scott Gibson's question. If our mode of sermon preparation breaks trust with those to whom we preach, then the answer to the question posed by the book's title is a clear "No." How can a relationship proceed with broken trust? It cannot unless it is restored. And restoring trust is far more difficult than guarding trust in the first place. There are pastors who have paid with their jobs to demonstrate this.

So, in answer to the question, "Should we use someone else's sermon?" I would say that in many, many cases, the answer can legitimately be "Yes." We can use the sermons of Jesus, Paul, Peter, Stephen, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Sunday, Graham and many, many others. Anthologies of sermons have been valuable tools for preachers for hundreds of years. Now (as on SermonCentral.com) we have more than a hundred thousand sermons available online, including some of the great sermons of history as well as contemporary sermons of pastoral peers. I believe these, properly used, are a tremendous resource.

Should we deliver them verbatim while secretly concealing the source? Certainly not. But compare them, study them, glean from them, treat the online collection as a million-page commentary on virtually every verse in the Bible? I think so.

Think of the precious time and money that pastors have saved by learning directly from each other online. Pastors are among the busiest people on the planet. They must balance the demands of studying the Word and accomplishing much, much more with their congregations and communities (admittedly, often too much more). SermonCentral is about assisting pastors in more efficient, biblical sermon preparation, a highly time- and energy-consuming activity.

(Note: To guide what we consider to be the proper and improper use of the resources on our site, we recommend that users join more than 10,000 other preachers and teachers in affirming The Preacher's Pledge.)

I'd like to delineate among the three terms I've used in regards to the use of others' work. I'll also give some examples of how they play out in preaching (these are my own definitions):

a. Plagiarism: Taking the work of another and representing it as your own. (Actually, that one might be stolen! I honestly can't remember.)

b. Quotation: Taking a limited portion of the work of another and representing it as such.

c. Citation: Identifying the source of a quotation.

Are we required to always cite? Haddon Robinson has expressed that complete citation of all sources is very problematic. If I preach the sentence, "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty," do I have to reference John Donne? I think not. I may, but I don't have to. Everyone either knows that Donne wrote the sentence, or if not, they know that I didn't write it! Either way, it's obvious that it's not my original thought. Similarly, if I say, "We're not trying to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We're just trying to share Jesus with someone by the end of the week," must I necessarily cite John F. Kennedy? No.

Does this mean quotes need not be cited? Often they should, especially when a quickly mentioned name can get the job done. A preacher will constantly be faced with a stream of decisions about how to present materials and when or if to cite a source. Through intellect and conscience, each of us is equipped to regularly make those decisions. (Romans 14:22-23)

In terms of operating guidelines, the longer the quote, the more likely a citation is needed. Also, the less a quote is known, the more likely a citation is appropriate. JFK might not need a reference, but a little-known pithy summary of the Bible by Henry Johnson probably merits a citation.

In summary, if we are guarding our conscience, working hard to study a passage, and maintaining trust with our hearers, we should enjoy full freedom to utilize the sermons of others. I agree with Scott Gibson that we should not plagiarize someone else's sermon. In the framework I've presented here, I think he'll probably agree that there can be real value in using someone's sermon, so long as it does not violate conscience, diligence and trust. I'll email him a copy of this article with an opportunity to share further in our article forum.

It's remarkable that we have the privilege of holding in our hands the very words of God, to preach those words and with them to shepherd God's people. Thankfully we have a community of peers to learn from, to challenge us, and to encourage us along the way.

Ron Forseth is Editor-at-Large for SermonCentral.com, ChurchLeaders.com, and FaithIt.com. He studied for two years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and has a passion to share Christ and see all people groups of the world reached with the Gospel. He served for several years as a college pastor in Colorado and in Christian service for most of the 1990s in China and Mongolia. He is General Manager of Outreach Media Group and Vice President of Outreach, Inc., an organization dedicated to inviting and connecting every person in America to a Bible-believing church so that they might have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Ron lives with his wife, Carol, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Talk about it...

Denn Guptill avatar
Denn Guptill
0 days ago
Recently a preacher contacted me to ask my forgiveness for preaching my material without Citation, my response was that he didn't need my forgiveness but might well need the forgiveness of those he preached them to
Troy Heald avatar
Troy Heald
0 days ago
Very practical thoughts..Thanks.
Jeff Riedel avatar
Jeff Riedel
0 days ago
Ron, I really enjoyed your take on this subject. I had someone use my sermon before. They don't know that I know. No matter, I don't care. I'm ok with it. Maybe we could start a new thing. It work like this. Anyone who puts out anything (writings or audio) into the public, then at the end it is given a symbol by the writer. Just like ratings for movies. Example: DNU = Do Not Use..... UWPO= use with permission only.......NPR = No permission required.....UIA= Use it all ......This is just brainstorming. I've never had an original thought in my life....except maybe this one.
Pastor C. D. Jennings avatar
Pastor C. D. Jennings
0 days ago
I think that's a healthy attitude. II do know ministers who simply tease sermons regularly among themselves. I suppose it's their work. Geography favors their arrangement. I work from script, infrequently, outlines often abd bullet points most.
Minister Sanders avatar
Minister Sanders
0 days ago
Great Article! I agree we as preachers and teachers of God's Word should not take someone else's sermon and use it ourselves. We can read hear and listen to their sermons and learn something from them. I always feed myself from the Word of God and watching other preachers sermons on video as well as articles such as these posted on Sermon Central to keep me diligent in my studies. I feel that if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you are able to prepare the sermon you receive from God only laziness and distractions are the reason why we don't and in a rush we end up plagiarizing somebody else's sermon and not giving the congregation what God has given us through prayer, through the Holy Spirit, and through study and preparation......but what we have taken from somebody else
Sheldon Boyd avatar
Sheldon Boyd
0 days ago
It doesn't happen very often but I am honored when people chose to use my messages. I don't have a lot of them on SermonCentral but it is encouraging to see when they are reviewed by other pastors.
Pastor C. D. Jennings avatar
Pastor C. D. Jennings
0 days ago
Interesting perspective. Recently, the COGIC won litigation with a slightly different twist. A church leader, prior to his death, had a very lucrative goal television ministry. His widow continued the broadcast and monies kept pouring in. The church organization sued on the argument that the sermons preached as a credentialed preacher were the property of the church and any revenues from sales were owed the church rather than the widow. In either instance, I struggle with ownership of something inspired by and based on the word of God. Perhaps I'm guilty of wrongfully assigning a quotable comment. Fortunately, I have two flaws. One, I only use a paragraph or two of something in print and two, I go off script often.
Curtis E. Nester avatar
Curtis E. Nester
0 days ago
Remember the old saying, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter." If you are preaching God's Word then why wouldn't you want others to use it. It doesn't belong to you, it belongs to God as a sacrifice of love. I have a problem with the sites that want people to pay to access sermons!
Grace Syongoh avatar
Grace Syongoh
0 days ago
I agree with you Retired Pastor Curtis. I think the principle of sharing or not sharing your sermon with other pastors is simple. If you don?t want other pastors to benefit from what the Spirit of God, though His Word revealed to you, then simply don?t share on the internet or elsewhere. Keep it to yourself and your congregation! I think we servants of God are increasingly moving into the age of utter selfishness and obsessive possessiveness of things we think we own, including the message of God revealed to us through His Word by His Spirit. I am a pastor in one of the churches (Anglican or what could be Episcopal church in the US) in Nairobi, Kenya, and we freely share our sermons with fellow pastors including members of the congregation who ask for them. The idea is to spread the message as widely as possible so that it can reach as many souls, and strengthen as many believers as can be. The issue of plagiarism does not arise because we see it as God?s message revealed through His Word by His Spirit, to be shared as widely as possible. I do share my sermons with fellow pastors and members of the congregation who ask for them. This normally makes me feel blessed that the message God revealed to me by the Holy Spirit is being shared far and wide, and that it has not just ended with my congregation. I have often wondered as I read the rising concern about the possibility of readers or fellow servants plagiarizing the message, and ask myself: ?What would it have been like if servants of God like Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, John, Luke, etc, got selfish with and were obsessed about owning what God revealed to them, and kept them, or warned that no one should use them to preach without their permission, etc?. I think the answer is obvious. I would have a problem if the sermon I shared is being used for commercial gains by someone, whether by a fellow servant or someone else. But just to share the word revealed to me by God by preaching it, for the salvation of souls and for strengthening of His saints? No problem at all! One can preach it in whole without worrying about plagiarism and without permission from me.
Rev. Phyllis Pottorff-Albrecht, United Brethren Communi avatar
Rev. Phyllis Pottorff-Albrecht, United Brethren Communi
0 days ago
The primary reasons why Christians need to be concerned about copyright issues is because copyright prevents someone who despises Christianity from misusing information which has been diligently researched by a person who felt led by the Holy Spirit to do the original research. An example might be the editor of a risqu? magazine taking portions of a pastor's sermon out of context in order to attempt to convince his/her readers that the pastor was OK with some sort of ribald or risqu? behavior. In other instances, there have been cases in the past of self-proclaimed gurus who have copied substantial portions of Scripture - but adding their own twist to it - in order to attempt to convince readers that Scripture is OK with whatever nefarious action the self-proclaimed guru wanted to advocate. I am sure that no one minds when someone else understands what the originator has said - and has quoted from the sermon or book or series in order to convey appreciation or agreement with the pastor's thoughts. But we all know that there are many elements in our modern society who are eager to attempt to create the impression that both Christian pastors and Scripture itself is "OK" with a lot of questionable practices. For example, I remember hearing a sermon a year or two ago by a pastor who seemed to believe that, because Jesus had healed the servant of the Roman Centurion, as recorded in Matthew 8 - and the Centurion MIGHT have been involved in a sinful relationship with the servant - that Jesus was thereby endorsing the sinful relationship because Jesus chose to heal the servant! The pastor in question was using both Scripture AND quotations from well-known Christian leaders in an attempt to "prove" his point! In this day and age, it doesn't take much for determined people to misuse Scripture - or even ordinary sermons - in order to appear to have spiritual blessings for an often nefarious point of view. Copyright gives a pastor at least one way to attempt to prevent original thought from being misused by those who are determined to misuse both Scripture and the prayerful thoughts of those who are truly dedicated to the Lord.
Joe Mckeever avatar
Joe Mckeever
0 days ago
Very helpful, Ron. Thanks. -- Couple of thoughts. 1) I get a kick out of pastors who will say, usually in print, something like "As Karl Barth said, 'God is love.'" Well, hello, Karl Barth may have said it, but who hasn't! Leave him out of it. 2) My preaching prof at New Orleans Seminary a full half-century ago said, "When you serve the meal, the family does not care to know which pots and pans you used to prepare it. Just make sure it's delicious and nourishing."
Samuel Asumwa avatar
Samuel Asumwa
0 days ago
That is true.When we know our audience and what they need and if someones sermon can benefit them why not give them. we have to work on what is relevant to them. In life we are impacted with a lot of words that we may not always remember the source.
Richard Scotland avatar
Richard Scotland
0 days ago
A wise prof indeed!
Steve Fish avatar
Steve Fish
0 days ago
I find this topic interesting on a website that makes money from providing pastors with other's sermons. That said, I have benefited from Sermon Central for years. I never come to this site for ideas on what to preach. I pray, read my text, listen to God, and create an outline. Only then do look at how others have preached the text. If someone else has said it better, I will use it. It's not about me its about communicating God's word in the best way possible. Often times I will rework the order of my points or add point that I had missed or use an illustration, which I always cite in my manuscript. If a use something verbatim from some else sermon I will just say something like "I read this sermon this week..." Just to let the audience know that it is not an original thought. In the end I believe hear from God first is the most important part of preaching... everything else is about communicating that in the best way possible, and sometimes someone else can help me do that!
Steve Fish avatar
Steve Fish
0 days ago
One more thought... I never quote true stories or facts from this site with out personally verifying if they are true. I have found many "true" stories and stats that have been used in sermons that are absolutely false. So check your sources and make sure what you are preaching is true!
Larry Easton avatar
Larry Easton
0 days ago
Thank you, Ron. I am pleasantly surprised to see we are very much in agreement. If any of my messages (and I trust all of them are provided by the Holy Spirit) can be used by other pastors, by all means....use them. I don't want credit, I want souls to come to Christ.
Maurice Mccarthy avatar
Maurice Mccarthy
0 days ago
To cite, or not to cite, that is the question. I prefer most of the time by simply saying I got this from someone else. If on the other hand I think some in the congregation would like to read more of the source I provide them with a full citation.
Jesse Roland avatar
Jesse Roland
0 days ago
There is probably not a preacher who has not benefited from other preachers mightily. To be sure, if someone is using something verbatim then the problem is not so much plagiarism as it is their ability to preach to begin with. That is the issue to me.
Andrew Benedict avatar
Andrew Benedict
0 days ago
I prefer quoting someone when I use their sentences,ideas or even if the framework of the sermon is based on someone else's idea ,that way I conscience is clear and don't feel guilty of stealing from someone ,and by this I'm not saying that I do it always ,there could be times I could be sub-consciously using it without knowing but the moment I realize I'm using his/her idea,material I would give them due credit ,this way we honor each other as God's people,nobody is going to sue me for not citing them but aren't we God's people and citing the author is one of the way we encourage and honor each other.Moreover when we borrow an idea it's not just a few words but a whole lot of research and hard word that has gone into making it!Let's give due credit to each other for by doing so we avoid any resentment or bitterness that might arise,and above this it establishes the intergrity of a preacher,for people will know that if he doesn't cite someone ,it indeed must be from his own preparation.
Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia avatar
Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia
0 days ago
At the Lay Preachers AGM last year this question of copyright was raised and whether and how we could give citation. We all use a lot of resources to prepare a message and I have told the congregations I lead that "I have utilised other resources and that I acknowledge this use." Yes I have used other peoples sermons in their entirety BUT ONLY when I have an email that I can print out to say that I have their permission to use the sermon in its entirety. This has never been refused. Sermon Central says that their sermons are there for other pastors to utilise and if someone can say what you were going to say in a much better way, then the original author should be pleased that someone else is learning from them. The 8th commandment keeps us on the strait and narrow. Yes, admit to the use of other resources. Seek permission when it is more than a quote and praise the Lord for his guidance when it all comes together. If someone else has said it better, I will use it. It's not about me its about communicating God's word in the best way possible.
Wayne Lawson avatar
Wayne Lawson
0 days ago
Alexander, Enjoyed reading your comments. I try to keep this thought in front of me at all times "It's not about me..."
Samuel Asumwa avatar
Samuel Asumwa
0 days ago
Perhaps we may ask ourselves this question," what is the purpose of preaching?" We preach to see changed lives. If someones sermon has brought a transformation in my life then am free to give it out to my audience. We have to let the sermon to work in us so that we may dish it out in our own way as God allows using the scriptures.
Marticia Banks-Booker avatar
Marticia Banks-Booker
0 days ago
Once my pastor told another visiting minister: "I might just have to use your stuff". The minister replied, "You can't use MY STUFF, NAH NAW." I listened with disappointment in the exchange, because both were taking credit for the "preached word" to come from the limited mind and heart of "man". Either sermons are from HIM, the Holy Spirit or they are not... Everyone is using someone else's sermons, because they come from the Bible... I seldom hear credit given to GOD, or Paul or Timothy... or Moses or David...
Marticia Banks-Booker avatar
Marticia Banks-Booker
0 days ago
Very Good Article
Wayne Lawson avatar
Wayne Lawson
0 days ago
Very interesting topic indeed. The debate will continue for years I am sure. I don't have as many sermons on Sermon Central as others (around 98 I believe). If I were concerned about others using my sermons without giving credit, perhaps I should not have my full manuscripts on Sermon Central. Other medias offer sermons for a cost. I submit my sermons with the hope they are helping the body of Christ especially my fellow carriers of the Gospel. I don't want the credit, I just want to hear "Well done" when all is said and done.
Bramwell  Hayes avatar
Bramwell Hayes
0 days ago
There have often been times when a thought or quotation comes to me and I have not been sure if it is a memory of something I have heard or read somewhere or been an original thought of mine.
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
If I preach a sermon verbatim and 20 souls come to Christ, do you really think God cares that I shared "someone else's sermon?" Isn't it God's Word we are preaching anyway? Didn't Paul once say he didn't care how the Word was being preached as long as it was being preached? As long as people are growing in their walk with the Lord, as long as lives are being changed, as long as souls are being saved, WHO IN THE WORLD SHOULD CARE WHO PREACHED OR WHO USED WHAT!!!!!
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
If I preach a sermon verbatim and 20 souls come to Christ, do you really think God cares that I shared "someone else's sermon?" Isn't it God's Word we are preaching anyway? Didn't Paul once say he didn't care how the Word was being preached as long as it was being preached? As long as people are growing in their walk with the Lord, as long as lives are being changed, as long as souls are being saved, WHO IN THE WORLD SHOULD CARE WHO PREACHED OR WHO USED WHAT!!!!!
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
If I preach a sermon verbatim and 20 souls come to Christ, do you really think God cares that I shared "someone else's sermon?" Isn't it God's Word we are preaching anyway? Didn't Paul once say he didn't care how the Word was being preached as long as it was being preached? As long as people are growing in their walk with the Lord, as long as lives are being changed, as long as souls are being saved, WHO IN THE WORLD SHOULD CARE WHO PREACHED OR WHO USED WHAT!!!!!
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
Sorry, my computer was acting up, thus the multiple postings. They should have a delete button you can use for your postings.
Doug Bower avatar
Doug Bower
0 days ago
With the Synoptic Gospels presenting large chunks of exactly the same information word for word, it is hard to make a theological case against plagiarism. However, I remember in my early years, in almost desperation, seeing or at least feeling there was little response to my messages, that I turned to presenting a couple of John Wesley sermons. Got the same thud. I have never preached another person's sermon since. I give credit to all quotes. I don't quote many long sections for others as reading material runs the risk of losing listeners anyway. I don't even read my own though it is well known that preachers are encouraged to write sermon manuscripts. I have done so in years figuring that if I don't know the material well enough to work from an outline and look the congregations in the eye which I have found increases listening. I did see a couple posts above that had the flavor of this is preaching and if there is obvious results use the material verbatim. The trouble is we are living in a time where people are sensitive to such intrusion and also that one cannot predict the response. I cannot know if I will get the same results of so and so. I don't even have so and so's personality, nor did I do the work under the direction of the inspiration that so and so did. I thus cannot assume it is God's message for this new congregation. It all likelihood delivering the message so more about a lack of confidence that the preacher's own work will be heard or grasped. Bottom line though is credit where credit is due. I see know need to set one's self up for contemporary martyrdom over violating copyright protocols when God has given us the wherewith-all to be preachers. Now the issue of whether we are good or not is another issue. Being original and not engaging in overt plagiarism is within our abilities.
Richard Scotland avatar
Richard Scotland
0 days ago
But how do you give credit? Something like " as Doug Bower of Oglethorpe County Circuit said in a sermon dated 10 July 2005..."? Or is that noted in our manuscript but we just say "...as Doug Bower once said..."?
Pierre-Paul Legault avatar
Pierre-Paul Legault
0 days ago
A preacher should be preaching the Word, not his own original ideas in the first place. If a particular preacher claims that he "owns" his sermon or that he has intellectual property rights in a sermon he preached, that is evidence that this particular preacher is not preaching the Word, but his own private interpretation. Stay away from such preachers.
Sara Brown avatar
Sara Brown
0 days ago
I think that if a pastor has studied it would be impossible for him to wuote ever 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.