I went into this particular church for the first time. I had been interviewed to be on staff as a student minister and then I heard the preacher and his sermon convinced me not to take the position.
No the sermon wasn’t heretical
No the sermon wasn’t terrible
But the sermon was plagarized
I had heard this particular sermon a few months ago from another man who I know got it from a preacher in the states. When I confronted the Preacher who was interviewing me he didnt think preaching someone else’s sermon was a big deal. When I told the search committee why I wasn’t taking the position no one seemed to mind that this man had plagiarized the sermon.
With the advent of the internet and podcasting plagiarism in sermons is continuing to go through the roof. I have heard of more than my share of Pastors with theological degrees from great colleges plagiarizing sermons.
But is this such an issue?
I think it is and here is why:
1. The pastoral task it to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-5) so there is a biblical command that you preach. But it is the content of what you preach that matters. The content is meant to be the word. I think that implies you have spent good amounts of time studying the text of scripture yourself and have let it shape the sermon. You haven’t merely downloaded the sermon and become a human speaker for someone else.
2. The congregation is paying you to preach. So there is a sense in which you are taking money under false pretenses if you plagiarize sermons.
3. The sermon is meant to be from your heart to the congregations heart. Out of love for God and your congregation you are meant to preach.
4. The heart of a pastor is corrupt when he plagiarizes a sermon because he thinks that faithful preaching isn’t good enough. That is why he plagiarizes the sermon because he thinks that what the congregation needs to is a killer sermon replete with great illustrations, awesome applications and a few great jokes. But in the end faithfulness not flair makes a good preacher. It is love for your congregation not laughter from your congregation that matters.
If you are plagiarizing sermons you are robbing your church and yourself of great time in the word. Repent of this sin and take Paul’s words to Timothy to heart:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
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