Is it ever okay to use other people’s stuff?
Pastor’s opinion vary on topic of shared sermons. Some believe for a pastor to use someone else’s work is plagiarism. They charge them with stealing and being lazy servants.
They further indicate that a pastor’s sermon is his or her own “intellectual property.”
Other pastors believe the message of God is for everyone and if the kingdom is advancing what is the real problem.
Although, I don’t advise pastors to re-preach another pastor’s sermon verbatim, many pastors base their sermons on the work of others. In fact, on many occasions I have stumbled across web sites where pastors make their sermons available to others.
For example: www.sermoncentral.com, www.pastors.com, www.sermonsharingservice.com and www.sermon.net.
Not only do pastors offer their own sermon scripts, they also offer program suggestions such as music, skit scripts, and even video presentations. Some of these packages are for free while others are for sale for a nominal fee.
Why do some pastors offer these services?
A simple answer is to share in order to help their colleagues. It’s their part in demonstrating another way in advancing the kingdom. Many pastors do not mind if other pastors use their stuff. Some even find it to be the ultimate compliment.
Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church was quoted –
“If my bullet fits your gun, then shoot it!” …and if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it! As pastors, we’re all on the same team.
Who are the pastors that use these services?
- Pastors who respect the writing and teaching of their colleagues.
- Pastors who acknowledge that this pastor is exceptionally gifted in teaching on a particular subject. For example: Finance, stewardship, tongues, Revelations,etc.
- Pastors who may have had a stressful week and were not able to allot adequate time to build a sermon from scratch.
- Pastors who are in a spiritual rut often benefit from the teaching material of other pastors.
- Pastors have to prepare sermons for every week of the year, yet there are times we get sick, have marital or family issues and or just stretched because we have overloaded plates. Gleaning from other pastor’s work can serve as a useful aid in assisting us with putting together a sermon just in time for our Sunday service.
Proceed with caution
Of course using published prepackaged or canned sermons is not to be used as a permanent full-time solution. Why not? Because we have been called into the ministry, so we need to be confident that on a norm, the Spirit will guides us in our sermon preparation.
Using someone else’s unpublished material and preaching it verbatim (word for word) while pretending or citing that you came up with the sermon is just downright wrong. This is especially wrong if you tape your services and load it up on the Internet for the public to view.
If we are going to use someone’s material, citing the author’s work is always appropriate. For example, Rev. Warren cited this example, or Pastor Bob shared this personal story.
All That to Say This
If you elect to use someone else’s material, use published sermons where the author is authorizing the use of his or her material. If you hear a message where you want to use some of their stuff, be sure you are not preaching their material word for word for this is plagiarism, but be sure to disclose the author.
What are your thoughts about using other pastor’s sermons?