I think that there’s a huge pressure on pastors in America today to come up with a new thing for each sermon: for each sermon to be original, and drafted from the growing experience of the pastor. I respectfully disagree.
What’s wrong with preaching the same message if it still needs to be heard? What’s the biblical law that each sermon is drafted ONLY for a small group of people at a specific time, and USELESS afterwards?
Actually, the central themes of the bible are rather simple. Just about any spiritual problem can be solved with various applications of the Sunday school answers. ;P
Fix your eyes on Jesus. Learn from God. Love God with all your heart. Enjoy God. Do not gratify the desires of the flesh, but use your freedom to love and serve God. You’re dead to sin, and alive to God – therefore stop sinning and pursue righteousness and sanctification. Abide in the vine and you’ll bear fruit. And many more.
I dunno about you, but I need to be reminded of each and every one of these concepts MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY. My heart constantly seeks after idols, useless things, broken cisterns that hold no water. My constant temptation is to use my intelligence, logic, common sense, and statistics as reasons to not take God at his Word and believe him.
In fact, most of my sin struggles are in the same things: Selfishness, Temptation to believe that pure enjoyment comes from the world and not God, Temptation to gratify my own desires instead of picking up my cross and following Jesus, Cleanliness, Not denying myself for the sake of others – I struggle with the same stuff, day after day, again and again.
Now this is not to say that I will never get better. No, in fact, he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. The Spiritual battle belongs to the Lord and the Lord alone. Prayer is a greater power than decades of striving.
No, this is to say I often struggle with the SAME things and need to hear the SAME message to break me out of those struggles, over and over!
Hebrews 3:12-13 “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Encourage another daily. Who will fault me for using someone else’s words and ideas to encourage my brothers and sisters from turning to sin! Or even to use my own words twice! The needs of the church of Christ, the body of Christ, the very body of the savior we serve – are more important than cultural values and intellectual property laws!
And, well, if this is about recognition for the uniqueness of one’s ideas:
John 7:18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
Ouch. I think I just rebuked myself!
So here’s my stance on sermons. Should sermons from other people be used to build up and edify the church in different locations without the knowledge and consent of the author?
I will answer this question with another question.
Did we ask Paul for permission to use his ideas in the sermons we preach? Did we ask Peter? Or John? How about Jesus?
“Stop judging by external standards, instead judge from the heart.”
What’s the real reason the first question makes us uncomfortable and not the second? Well, no one ever thinks of intellectual property laws as applying to people who existed before they were created.
So, my very wording of that first question was intentional: I intended for it to give off “Intellectual Property Red Flags.” So, our heart’s answer to that first question is actually not biblically focused – it draws from our cultural values of individuality, uniqueness, novelty, and “Intellectual Property.”
But you know what God’s stance on property is?
Anything we own does not really belong to us – it belongs to Christ. We are merely stewards of God’s property. Our intelligence is not “our” intelligence. Our ideas are not “our” ideas. Our money is not “our” money. Our success is not “our” success.
Psalm 24:1 Of David. A psalm. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Everything in it. That includes intellectual property.
Now I would add a caveat. Do these things with the desire to build up the church, not to seek glory for yourself.
Yet, as Paul writes in prison:
Philippians 1:15-18 “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”
So, any sermon-writer should rejoice in his ideas, a good and enriching message, being preached, no matter who and for what reason. (As long as no sin is committed as a result of this, or through this).
I started out this post thinking that I would tell people politely that people could use my ideas, and that I would like the courtesy of a link back to here as the original site. I also intended to ask that people not impersonate me, stealing my ideas and putting them on a different site, under the same name. And, even if they did, to call their own blog something different so that they don’t steal views from me.
But you know what?
Let Christ be preached. Anywhere and Everywhere.
Acts 4:32-33 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrectionof the Lord Jesus.”
My ideas are yours.
I’m not here for the money. (This may change if I marry someone and have children. Maybe. Even then it would merely be supplemental income) I’m here to edify and build up the Church of Christ.
If you’d like to do me a nice courtesy, I would like if you linked back to my page as the original site. And I would honestly prefer that people not impersonate me, even if they create their own blogs and use all my articles. Call your blog a different name. And don’t sin in any way as a result of using my ideas with an unclean conscience.
I give my written permission for anyone else to use any of my articles they like in any medium (Sermon, bible study, blog, etc.) in order to build up the body of Christ.
Alright, peace out. Love you all!
Your brother in Christ,
PS: If any Christian wants to sue me for copyright infringement, take a look at this:
1 Cor 6:1-8 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.
Instead, if you feel strongly that I not use your content, send me a private message and we can work things out.
Eph 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This is my heart. I pray that it is yours as well. 🙂
2 thoughts on “The Case for Preaching Borrowed or Redundant Sermons”
Ive often wondered about plagiarism between pastors. And lawsuits thereof. It seems so silly. If any thoughts or expressions sound new and original, theyre probably not biblical any way. I would love to plagiarize God, saying nothing of my own.