Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Stealing sermons

I hope your pastor hasn't done this.

1 comment:

  1. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. It is obvious to all, I believe, that if a pastor is stealing sermons verbatim due to laziness, then we have a major problem. However, when the mimicry comes from study and influence then I think that we have something different.

    What I mean is that a great deal of preaching is spontaneous. At least, most of the preachers I know are extemporaneous. That means that, despite a general outline, most of the words are being pulled instantaneously out of the head as a result of one's reading the previous weeks, months, and even years.

    Here's what I mean. You grew up with your parents, and unbeknownst to you, and often much to your dismay, you have grown up to inherit their mannerisms. How many boys and girls have grown up to look in the mirror and say, "Oh my goodness, I've turned into my father!" This is especially true the first time you tell your kid, "Because I said so."

    The longer you linger over certain teachers and mentors, and the more deeply you are affected by their life and doctrine, the more and more you will sound like them. And that, I believe, is the entire point of discipleship. So if a pastor starts sounding a lot like Charles Swindoll, it may have more to do with influence and admiration than some nefarious intent to steal a cool outline. If I stopped my sermon every time I spoke a sentence to tell who had influenced that statement, it wouldn't only be boring, we would never get to hear preaching.

    I am not excusing laziness or blatant rip-offs; I am trying to defend those who are being molded by the teaching of others to the extent that they begin to sound like them. Pastors shouldn't peddle sermons for profit, they preach to mold lives. If that means a young man in my church uses one of my favorite phrases to drive a point home, I do not see that as thievery. Quite the contrary, I feel I have passed something along.