PREACHING & #SundayChurchHacks – Many preachers use #SermonSeries by famous preachers. These series are insightful, but be careful not to make it appear that you wrote them. #FactChecking means many listeners will eventually discover the original author. Implying (even subtly) authorship can undermine your credibility.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I regularly visit and coach churches that are growing and/or have multiple venues. I’ve noticed that the same sermon content, same visuals and even the same promotional artwork is used by various church preachers. I can’t help but believe that churchgoers also notice this similarity. This will cause suspicion of plagiarism.

But these are helpful and powerful sermon series. And they are available from gifted communicators such as Craig Groeschel. I interviewed Craig Groeschel for my book “Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How Not to Kill a Growing Congregation” (Abingdon Press).

These series make sermon preparation easier. Craig Groeschel offers “thousands of free video-based sermon series along with corresponding artwork, notes, transcripts, mailers, social media assets, and promo trailers.” This means a smaller church or a busy leader can give a sermon series attractive promotion and more importantly life-changing content; but the potential the listener will misperceive the author will increase.

I believe such sermon series have great insights that other preachers can learn and teach.

But as a communicator, you must ensure that you don’t take credit, saying things such as, “When I wrote this…” or “Here is my sermon for today.” Taking, even informally, credit for content can undermine your authority when listeners Google the topic.

Sermons series by Craig Groeschel

Consider the Paul’s words in Romans 13:7 (NASB).

Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

PREACHING & A Pastor Talks about the Pressures to Plagiarize

by John Frye, Pathos, 9/23/16.

Recently Scot McKnight had an excellent post about pastors plagiarizing. I read the post and followed the comment thread. Many good (and bad) things were pointed out about pastors preaching sermons of other pastors. Almost all thought it was deceptive to preach another pastor’s anecdote or experience or sermon as if it were their own. That is outright lying.

What in the US American evangelical culture would tempt pastors to plagiarize?

The unwise set-up of many pastors’ conferences. I have been a pastor for 40 years now. I’ve attended countless pastors conferences. When well-known, celebrity-status pastors are trotted out to be the main speakers, the message to the home-town pastor in middle Iowa gets the message: I am nothing compared to this guy (or lady)…

The book market for super pastors. Many Christian books by well-known pastors are marketed with built-in sermons that the pastor can preach to get his/her congregation interested in the book. Small group discussions can be spawned around the topics of the books. Yes, this is a way to market books through the local church…

The ubiquitous presence of Christian radio (and TV and podcasts). So many church attenders are able to hear very capable and charismatic preachers on their favorite Christian radio stations. By contrast, their pastor seems so bland compared to the dynamic, nationally known preachers. Yet, who buried Grandma Smith? Who prayed over the cancer survivor? Who was there at the birth of little Susie? Who did the wedding of Bill and Marta?..

Isolating the sermon as a thing unto itself. This really bugs me. I do not call communicators of the Bible in megachurches “pastors.” They are not. “My sheep hear my voice. I call them by name. They follow Me.” The sermon in US American mega-churchism has been horribly divorced from relationships. This is not a good thing. Some mega-church pastors are even protected from the riff-raff of the church. They let the lower rungs of church staff deal with the real pastoral issues. There is a spiritual elitism at work here. Sad. Sermons are made not just from Bible texts but from lived and known local stories. We have dis-incarnated the sermon.

Plagiarism is a collapse of faith. This collapse of faith knocks down three dominoes. First, a belief in the Creator God’s ability to grant creative, original thought to the local church pastor (stuck in the cornfields of Iowa)… The sin of comparison has sent too many pastors into depression. It has to stop. Stop now. Let the small town pastor meditate through the Book of Ruth. No kings. No priests. No mighty warriors. No prophets. What? An alien, a bitter widow, and a farmer. Second, a collapse in the dignity of the local, local, local church! A collapse in the dignity of the very local church is a collapse of a biblically-informed vision of the church… Third, a collapse of wisdom and discernment. Media-driven comparisons, ability to be known through marketed books or TV exposure, ability to coin a catchy phrase or two are drivel in comparison to that one old widow pouring her life into young mothers in the “hollers” of West Virginia…

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