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.
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.