Plagiarism Among Preachers and Swapping Sermons? Sermons For Sale and More Apostasy!!
Jeremiah 23:21-22 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
What a powerful verse! So many today who claim to be â€œcalledâ€� of the Lord to preach are not called. They run but God did not send them. They preach but God did not call them. They run to and fro but they are hirelings-- false prophets. They do not hear from God-- they do not hear the words of God. They are too busy running around looking for "purpose" and trying to "fill the empty space" of their existence! They sit in their office chair and search for another man's sermon that will deliver a powerful punch because they have no sermon of their own. There is no message from God. They sit and pray a little prayer but God does not give them any kind of message. Since they have no distinct message from the Lord, they meet with other pastors in their city and trade sermons on the latest "fad" in preaching. It is hard to believe but some preachers are actually swapping sermons. Some preachers are actually BUYING sermons online and deceiving their congregations.
In this article we will try, with God's help, to bring to light a very pertinent issue dealing with the subject of plagiarism and sermon trading in the "professing" church. Please understand that we are not saying that one cannot refer to another man's writings or commentaries for encouragement. Every Christian learns from the another:
Proverbs 27:17: Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
The Christian walk, itself, consists of sharing what the Lord has revealed to us and giving Him glory in all things. But it becomes an evil thing when one preacher steals another's writing and claims authorship and deceives his listeners and/or readers.
An article posted on a Christian blog sent me to a link on pastors.com. It really sent a chill down my spine. It is written by Steve Sjogren, entitled, "Don't be original --“ be effective!"http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=9230
Let's just examine a few quotes from the article:
"First of all, stop all of this nonsense of spending 25 or 30 hours a week preparing to speak on the weekend. The guys I draw encouragement from "the best communicators in the United States"confess they spend a total of about 15 hours preparing for their message. As I have already said, they get 70 percent of their material from someone else. Remember, Solomon wrote that "there is nothing new under the sun ..."
Since when does a pastor take another shepherd's staff and use it with his own congregation? Is it not the pastor's job to deliver GOD'S message to himself and the people? And then we wonder why so many people have become disinterested in attending church. Could it be that their pastor was just there mouthing the words of another man who preached in earnest for his own flock?
Have some within the clergy become so lazy that they care not to hear from God and care not to OPEN their bibles and read what the Lord would have them to read concerning their own flock? Every church is different and every church is on a different plateau. The needs of the local congregation must be met and a Billy Graham sermon is long past. God is in the here and now and will give His pastors the sermons He wants them to preach! It is the pastor's duty to be LED by God and to HEAR from God-- so that he might better SERVE the flock that God has given him. It's not just about reading sermons, articles, blogs, and good books but it should be about getting into THE BOOK and PRAYING and HEARING what the Lord would have them to hear. The problem is what the Lord is addressing in Jeremiah 23:21... many of these so-called pastors are not called. Many are not even saved.
Another quote from the article:
"At a seminar, Dr. Cho, pastor of the world's largest church in Korea, was asked during a question and answer time, "How do you put your weekly messages together? They are so powerful!" He said, "Honestly, I have never given an original message in all my years of ministry here at Yoido Church. Each week, I preach word-for-word messages from either Billy Graham or W.A. Criswell from Dallas First Baptist Church. I can't afford to not have a home run each weekend when we gather. I don't trust my own ability to give completely original messages."
Notice the "I can't afford..." And then such language as "a home run"? Where is the Holy Spirit's direction in the church? Folks might ask the question, "Why even go to such a church?"In all practicality, the congregation could save A LOT of time and energy staying home and buying Billy Graham's sermons and Dr. Criswell's as well. The sermons could be read in half the time and they could always review what they just read with one another in a church message forum. Why go and hear your pastor preach another man's sermon? Is that what the modern-day pastor is becoming? One who steals another man's prayerful work and simply mouths the words on a Sunday morning? Should cities have a "best preacher contest" on who can preach a Billy Graham sermon better? Or better yet-- should the modern church just invest in a large plasma screen and feature Billy Graham videos on a Sunday morning? Certainly Dr. Graham has a way in the pulpit...maybe even better than "pastor so and so." I am not trying to be humorous but rather using extremes to show the reality of such nonsense.
Pastors are to preach God's Word-- the bible-- not another preacher's words. Since when do preachers look to fellow man for infallible wisdom that only God can give? The only time a pastor should quote another is when it coincides with the message God has already given to the pastor and even then, it should be "Dr.__ once said, ___." Credit should be given to the source-- be legitimate. Giving credit will keep one humble.
(Pastors should not be concerned about "results." Preach God's Word and let the Lord bring in the increase. Realize that it takes YEARS for fruit to grow, once a tree is planted.)
Could it be that modern preachers do NOT hear from God and that is why it is so hard for them to preach "originals?" It really makes one wonder. God meets the pastor in the prayer room and lays the message upon his heart to preach. Usually the sermon will not only address the congregation's spiritual need but the pastor's as well.
Yet today, the modern pastor does not have to get into the prayer closet-- he has been "liberated"-- ¦ the sermon is already provided online. The prayer closet has been completely remodeled to accomodate the "computer desk." Internet sermon selling is BIG business. Who needs to hear from God when one can just go online and get a "proven" sermon that will "deliver results?" Sounds like an infomercial for the latest diet pill. "Prayer-free sermons...yes, you too can get great results in just half the time. Try us out-- ¦you will be a popular preacher in no time."
Yet the heart of the pastor is what God is after. It is the heart of the humble pastor that God can reach-- the one who gets on his face before a mighty God and prays from the fervency of his being, "Lord, please show me what you want me to preach this week. Help me to deliver your Word so that You may be glorified and You alone. May the Holy Spirit work in your congregation to hear what You want them to hear and for me to preach the words You want me to say."
Where is the Holy Spirit's role in the life ofthe pastor who steals and preaches another's sermon? How can the HolySpirit work through a man by dishonest means?
E.M Bounds wrote, "Preachers are God's leaders. They are divinely called to their holy office and high purpose and, primarily, are responsible for the condition of the Church. Just as Moses was called of God to lead Israel out of Egypt through the wilderness into the Promised Land, so, also, does God call His ministers to lead His spiritual Israel through this world unto the heavenly land. They are divinely commissioned to leadership, and are by precept and example to teach God's people what God would have them be. "
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "Of course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian, else he were a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary Christians else he were disqualified for the office he has undertaken. If you as ministers are not very prayerful you are to be pitied. If you become lax in sacred devotion, not only will you need to be pitied but your people also, and the day cometh in which you will be ashamed and confounded. Our seasons of fastings and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven's gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory."
LACK OF CREATIVE ABILITY?
One pastor said, "We're bombarded by ideas for sermons all week long." And the question should be asked, "Why?" God has but one message at a time and He gives His message to the servant who seeks His face!
Again, the problem is not with sermon ideas but with the "calling." Many who "preach" are not called by God to do so.
One pastor, of Charlotte, N.C., admitted to plagiarism and said that he felt "tired and discouraged,"and "devoid of any creative ability." When one is truly in tune with God, creative ability is NOT needed. Creative ability-- God cannot use. The Holy Spirit will LEAD the pastor to preach THE message and preach it in HIS POWER. We are HIS Instruments.
Do you see the picture of the modern church? No oil in their lamps (signifying the Holy Spirit) and they justify their thievery (making a mockery out of God's Word) and are poor, blind, miserable and naked for THEY DO NOT HAVE GOD'S POWER and they have yet to KNOW the Savior. In weakness, HE is strong.
One person comes to mind concerning this topic. Many years ago, when I was just a teenager, in the small church we used to attend, there was an associate pastor that was never allowed to preach unless the pastor was absent. Most of the congregation, sadly, never showed up for his preaching because the man was quite meek and soft-spoken but yet those who did show up received the greatest blessing. God would touch our hearts in the audience and folks would cry and lives were changed. The blessing was from God-- because although this young man was not the greatest speaker in the world, nor was his sermon the greatest ever heard, nor was he a man of charisma, it was a heart-felt message that he believed the Lord gave to him for the congregation. God would always meet the saints in that sanctuary when he preached and it wasn't through glitz, showmanship, or creative ideas but rather because he humbled himself before God, allowing the Lord to work through him. The Lord can ONLY use a willing, humble vessel. It should never be about "creative ability" but rather Throne-room accessibility. Has your pastor been to God's throne room this week? Has he taken time to spend with the Master?
While researching this article, we found one pastor's quote that sums up the general consensus among those who use another preacher's sermons:
"Very few of us have the luxury of 25-40 hours a week to invest solely in teaching preparation. Very few of us have multiple staff members, secretaries, or "research interns" to find us clever ideas and illustrations for use in our sermons."http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/08/word_for_word_w.html
After reading his statement one cannot help but think, "Where does the Holy Spirit fit into the picture?" Clever ideas? Does one need clever ideas or Spirit- led conviction? Here is the danger of the modern church. They have left God out of the picture. It is no wonder that Jesus says to the church of Laodicea:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
The modern Apostate church is buying lots of things-- new stained glass windows, new buildings and land, new carpets and new pews, new sermon topic books, new commentaries, new "Christian anecdotes", and even the sermons themselves but they are not going to the LORD, Whom they claim to serve!
Also many Christians look to their commentaries before the prayer closet. A commentary should simply reinforce what the Lord has already shown you in His Word. It does NOT take the place of the Holy Spirit in preparing the sermon or Sunday School lesson. Bible opened, prayer, and then one may refer to a commentary-- ¦not the other way around.
Getting back to the subject of plagiarism, much of what is written by many modern prophecy "experts" has all been written before â€” by expositors who are now deceased. Sometimes, the words are identical to the books of yesteryear. Is that what Christian authorship is becoming? The idea that, "This book is out of print...let's just write the same book under a different title and hope no one will notice." Just because a book is in public domain does not give one the license to take it and claim authorship.
Whether it is an article or book one is writing or a sermon one is preaching, that work is the result of prayer and diligent bible study. To steal another man's work and claim authorship for any reason is appauling. It's not called "liberty"-- ¦it is called sin. It is up to each Christian to "Study to shew thyself approved." We can all learn from one another and we DO learn from one another (that is why books and articles are written in the first place) but in the end, God should get the final say of what is preached by each individual. Preach and write what God has laid upon your own heart to say-- HE WILL GIVE YOU THE WORDS. Don't steal all the words that God has given to another man for another congregation. Hear from God-- learn His Word, spend time in prayer.
Quit writing your new book and spend time in THE BOOK. Quit trying to cram 48 hours into a 24-hour day. Rest in the Lord! Wait PATIENTLY for Him! Let Him empower you! For a minister to take another preacher's prayerful study and preach it as one's own without careful examination of what the Lord would have him to do for his own particular congregation is a travesty!
E.M. Bounds wrote, "God's great works are to be done as Christ did them; are to be done, indeed, with increased power received from the ascended and exalted Christ. These works are to be done by prayer. Men must do God's work in God's way, and to God's glory, and prayer is a necessity to its successful accomplishment. The thing far above all other things in the equipment of the preacher is prayer. Before everything else, he must be a man who makes a specially of prayer. A prayerless preacher is a misnomer. He has either missed his calling, or has grievously failed God who called him into the ministry. God wants men who are not ignoramuses, who "study to show themselves approved." Preaching the Word is essential; social qualities are not to be underestimated, and education is good; but under and above all else, prayer must be the main plank in the platform of the man who goes forth to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to a lost and hungry world. The one weak spot in our Church institutions lies just here. Prayer is not regarded as being the primary factor in church life and activity, and other things, good in their places, are made primary. First things need to be put first, and the first thing in the equipment of a minister is prayer."
Preachers of the present age excel those of the past in many, possibly in all, human elements of success. They are well abreast of the age in learning, research, and intellectual vigour. But these things neither insure "power from on high" nor guarantee a live, thriving religious experience, or righteous life. These purely human gifts do not bring with them an insight into the deep things of God, or strong faith in the Scriptures, or an intense loyalty to God's divine revelation. The presence of these earthly talents even in the most commanding and impressive form, and richest measure do not in the least abate the necessity for the added endowment of the Holy Spirit. Herein lies the great danger menacing the pulpit of to-day. All around us we see a tendency to substitute human gifts and worldly attainments for that supernatural, inward power which comes from on high in answer to earnest prayer. In many instances modern preaching seems to fail in the very thing which should create and distinguish true preaching, which is essential to its being, and which alone can make of it a divine and powerfully aggressive agency. It lacks in short, "the power from on high" which alone can make it a living thing. It fails to become the channel through which God's saving power can be made to appeal to men's consciences and hearts. [See "The Weapon of Prayer" by E.M. Bounds]
Where Is The Modern Church Heading?
Plagiarism is truly out of hand. It is sin-- plain and simple. It is dishonest and exemplary of pride among the ministers who steal from another and pass it off as their own. It is equally sinful when a preacher is not lead by the Holy Spirit in the pulpit and simply buys or swaps a sermon online. The words one preaches from the pulpit should be the words that God has given him to preach to his own flock. This only comes by prayer and diligent study of God's Word.
"All ability to talk to men is measured by the ability with which a preacher can talk to God for men. He "who ploughs not in his closet, will never reap in his pulpit." The fact must ever be kept in the forefront and emphasized that Jesus Christ trained His disciples to pray." ~ E.M. Bounds
In the end, the preacher has but one message-- the message the Lord has laid on his heart to preach -- God's words, not someone else's. To take a man's sermon and preach it as your own and make your congregation think it is your sermon especially delivered to them is dishonesty.
Politicians hire speech writers. Shall we one day open our newspaper to the employment section to find the ad: "SERMON WRITERS NEEDED FOR A VERY BUSY PASTOR..."?
Whatever your occupation, find time to spend with God and read His Word and the rest will follow.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Luke 18:8 Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?