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And this should be so for pastors, who have an extra reason to behave ethically — their calling from God. If you preach a sermon verbatim and act like it was your own work, then that is stealing and a lie. Stealing and lying is sin. Many lay leaders teach small groups with prepackaged study guides like in Sunday School classes. We generally call these leaders facilitators. At least we know where they get most if not all of their material. The pastor of the church and any person who regularly preaches should be studying the Bible and not spending precious time on copying sermons from others.

I am not a pastor, Andrew. Does being a pastor or simply being a member of the body of Christ matter in this regard?

Preaching from the Prophets

I have been a Sunday School teacher and have led small groups. I have preached a few sermons as a lay leader in the church. When I used material that was written by someone else, I would give them credit. Remember the message you can preach is not your message. I believe every meeting service at church has its purpose and as a Pastor if am found at someones Church I know that it is GODs intention for me to get another information to spread it to others.

Yes we have to acknowledge that you got the message according to what you heard but lets not sound as if we generate messages on our own. Moreover we required to spread the Good news. Unless the message is not Good. If you feel like you cannot preach a sermon that is original, then go to the Bible and read it word for word out loud to your audience.

Check out Jeremiah and Romans Instead of copying and pasting, I recommend you open your Bibles and diligently study. Thank you for your post. You hit the nail right on the head. Sorry I guess I should not say that because I know that I have heard that somewhere before.


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It is hard work to come up with your own sermons but the benefits outweigh the work. But when you take illustrations as if they are your own, that is a real integrity issue. I usually put hours of straight research into my sermons. I print that off and using voice recognition software, I look it over and speak my sermon into a text. Then I reformat it and I preach from my laptop. To say anything else would be a lie, and how would the Holy Spirit bless a lie? Twenty years ago, I worked at a megachurch with a pastor most of us would know.

I personally looked over his preaching notes many times. True, he was brilliant, but I can tell you he never plagiarized. I thought we all more-or-less followed a similar process. No wonder why the American church is in such tatters. What if the Holy Spirit gives the same idea to 30 different pastors who have prayed listening to His leading? Maybe not verbatim, but inspiration, theme, or anointing. Who is going to copyright that? The Holy Spirit is the author.

Are you going to look to see the first peron in the chain to hear this from the Lord every time? I think many are forgetting the original author.

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This is a danger, in my view, of building up man and not the One you serve. I am a librarian and believe very much in Open Sources. The Holy Spirit is the most open sourced database anyone could have? Jesus gave you all free material to use and duplicate. He is the Word. Duplicate until the gospel is proclaimed in every tongue, in every nation. Great article, Carey! I wish more pastors would understand this. Unfortunately integrity is becoming a lost art in ministry.

Love it. Original content becomes more and more taxing. Integrity, credit, and Holy Spirit are so important. Thanks for the post Carey. The more I think about this, the more this question keeps coming back up into my mind. Not one time during my time as a worship pastor did I ever before singing a song give credit to the writer of the lyrics or the music. I just came back from a conference where worship was a major part of it and one of the worship leaders announced they were going to do a new song.

I loved the song and try to look it up — I found it and the worship leader that lead it was not one of the writers of that song.

Preaching as Prophetic Calling (Sermons That Work XII) (Sermons That Work, 12)

Maybe there are a number of small churches, or churches without live streaming, or web available broadcast that do not, but any church who puts there services online is risking big fines if they do not pay CCLI. Further, whether you broadcast or not it is illegal to play music in your church in any other context than the actual church service unless you pay CCLI fees this includes VBS, church coffee shop, music in the lobby, music on your telephone hold, etc.

Thanks Carey, I hope there is no problem to quote someones sentences and mention that to congregation. We have a same fellow in our church. As someone accused of plagiarizing even when citing the source I do see how important this is to people. For one intro to a message I used multiple sources. So what do you suggest? Or is that a different topic? So attribute the major ones…be generous and humble with your sourcing and that should cover it. Let people know up front that you consulted several sources, and that they can find a list of those somewhere, perhaps in a text version of your sermon with the citations, or, at the very least, tag concepts, e.

No citing is necessary. So I would use verbal citations for his or other authors thoughts, ideas, quotes, etc. A few years ago I realized that there are times where I quote someone but in the process I may forget to cite them, or may misattribute the quote. So at the end of my sermon notes, I have a Bibliography. I do this because I want my people to have good sources they can go to as well.

I just finished sharing this with my team. For years I have been railing against use of other pastors sermons. I know of a former pastor who constantly justified his plagiarism of Craig Groeshel and Louie Giglio. Yes even right down to the personal stories about family members including wives. When people approached me about it I talked to another local pastor who was my coach.

We approached him and he rebuffed our loving attempt to correct his behavior. His reasoning was the Spirit can work through the any preacher because the Word was from God and he like the pastors he plagiarized were mouthpieces for God. Unfortunately he continued, his church leaders were okay with it.

With regard to leading to other things creeping in. This pastor is now in jail for some not so good things. I will always strive to correctly represent myself because our integrity is the only thing man cannot take from us…we have to give it away. About five years ago, there were several web sites where pastors could purchase sermon outlines with complete references.

One particular pastors stands out in my memory. As a pastor, I find your assumption 3 things — 1 Presumptuous, 2 Arrogant and, 3 Ignorant. Perhaps you should spend more time working on being a little more truthful and a lot less self-righteous. I used to attend a megachurch where the nationally recognized and admired Senior Pastor had a full time staff person that did a lot of his sermon research. It would be impossible for me to spend that much time on my sermon.

I understand intellectual property and plagerism but nothing is new under the son. The new commentaries are other pastors sermons. It would almost be impossible to preach something new. Also, why do we feel this need to reinvent the wheel?

Why is that message only for the people in Georgia, Canada, Montana, or wherever? God just might have wanted me to hear so I could tell my people too. Right on Carey! I find it very aggravating in my circle the amount of re-preaches I hears. I have read all the comments so far posted and I was fascinated with some of the thoughts presented. As for those who are bi-vocational, I feel your pain very much. I just know that the best messages I have given have often come from moments of my greatest pain and thus often when there was little time to prepare the way I would like.

I also have a church dynamic where I am often called to cover the pulpit with little or no notice.