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Caught in the Act

2007 January 4
by Mike

I’ve heard a couple more stories recently of preachers “caught in the act.”

No — not THAT act. Not adultery, but plagiarism.

Just recently I heard the sad story of a beloved minister who, perhaps in his exhaustion, began lifting sermons in whole from a great Christian Church preacher. Word-for-word. He even told the man’s personal stories as if they were his own personal stories. Even more sadly, once he was confronted about it, he continued to do it.

There is no excuse for that. It’s wrong.

We all borrow from others. I’ve been impacted by the books of Wright, Brueggemann, Crabb, Willard, and Peterson — books that have seeped into my bones. I’m sure there are times that their words come out — not verbatim, but in essence — without my even knowing it. We’ve heard good stories and illustrations that we’ve retold. We’ve retold humorous quips. We’ve gotten sermon thoughts that proved fruitful later in our own planning.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Who, after all, has a truly original thought?

But that must not be an excuse for the stealing involved in lifting sermons. When you cut-and-paste someone else’s message while pretending it’s yours, that’s wrong. When you tell another’s story as if it happened to you, that’s wrong.

I remember as a young man hearing about an older minister in the South who was confronted because he was just buying Swindoll books and preaching his sermons — without even bothering to disguise it. His sermon series carried the title of the book and the individual sermons had the titles of the chapters. When challenged about it, he simply replied: “I bought the book. It’s my material.”

That is grounds for dismissal.

Here’s the thing: a story doesn’t lose any power by giving the source. It doesn’t have to be YOUR story. It never diminishes the impact to say that you were deeply impacted by a book you read or a sermon you heard.

When we were first married, I went through my Jim McGuiggan stage. (I’m still sort of in that stage — I just don’t get to hear him often enough.) I listened to his tapes . . . until Diane cut me off. She said I was developing an Irish accent.

Some need to be cut off from sermons. They need to quit listening to the tapes, quit downloading the MP3s, and unsubscribe to the podcasts. They’re not wrong in themselves; but if they become your shortcut that takes the place of arduous, prayerful preparation, then drop them!

Perhaps part of the blame lies with the pressure that some churches put on their ministers. They expect them to be pastoral, to be witty, to be insightful, to be humorous, and to be deep. Part David Letterman, part N. T. Wright.

If you’re a church leader, affirm the leadership and teaching of your ministers that is solid, biblical, and congregationally pastoral. Make sure the ones preaching and teaching are given time to prepare. Consider giving them an allowance so they have resources to buy good books and journals. Think about offering them sabbatical time each year just for study and prayer–time that is added to their regular vacation time. These resources and this time are not only for the benefit of the minister; they’re also for the good of the church! (By the way, these are things I’m generously offered at Highland. I’d just like to see others follow that practice.)

But, having said that, the blame can’t be placed primarily at the feet of the church. What I’m talking about is unethical. It is a red flag — just as an affair is — that something is deeply wrong.

If I hear you preach, I don’t want to hear a Bob Russell sermon. I’m sure it would be solid and biblical. But if I want to hear a BR sermon, I’ll listen to BR. If I hear you preach, I want to hear YOU. Maybe it’ll include a point or an illustration you first heard from Bob Russell. But the sermon — the heart of what you’re saying — is what you’ve agonized over. It’s what the good news of Christ has said to you on behalf of the church that week. It is passionate, prayerful, and gospel-formed. That’s what I want — and need! — to hear. For me it doesn’t have to be funny; it doesn’t have to be a home run.

In reality, it may include a LOT of things you’ve heard and read from others. But it is YOUR message. It bears your sweat; it is birthed from your confrontation with text and gospel; it is geared toward your community of faith. It is God pouring through you the gift of preaching.

98 Responses leave one →
  1. January 4, 2007

    I suspect there are a LOT preachers “borrowing” their sermons from the web without their congregation being aware of it. When people visit my blog, I can see the the referrer that sent them to me. About half the time the referrer is a search engine. The search terms used give me an idea of what these people are looking for. Often the search terms make it obvious that they are searching for a sermon to preach.

  2. January 4, 2007

    i really like your partner in crime that you get to tag team with in teaching freshman bible with at acu. randy has an amazing way of using humor to get his point across. i have taken his mantras and put them on blog, and i have taken his version of the Lord’s prayer and typed it up and laminated it and put it in my wallet to read every once in awhile.

    i was in panama city, fl, (btw, i didn’t see a papasitos anywhere. you probably wouldn’t like it.) and he did a great job with those youths at the last hour experience. i even got some stuff enforced again that i had forgotten, or not thought about for awhile concerning the temple.

    all this to say if i were to steal a sermon it would be one of his. i wouldn’t ask him to lead singing, but …

  3. January 4, 2007


    I was so naive when I began preaching. I heard a fabulous sermon delivered in Colorado and preached it both at home and as I traveled. It was awesome. People needed the good news! Down the road the original deliverer of that sermon confronted me as I stayed in his home overnight. I was so honored to be near him. He was not so honored.

    He chastised me pretty severely about stealing his sermon. I still feel funny about that meeting. His sermon was good…but not that good. It came off as His, His, His. I never preached it again.

    I have developed over time the ability to see God’s messages to be delivered on my own. But I must say, if there’s a guy out there who would think any of my sermons good enough to repeat, I’d be thrilled. So would my mom!

  4. January 4, 2007

    I remember a campus ministry intern in college that did just this. He took a tape and swiped its contents lock, stock and barrel without citing his source. The reason I knew this is because I also owned a copy of the tape (no, he did not borrow the tape from me). It was two-thirds of the way into the lesson that he said something about “the guy on the tape”.

    It’s always bothered me that he didn’t say up front, I borrowed this lesson from the following tape.

  5. Jody Vickery permalink
    January 4, 2007

    Thanks Mike. We all needed to be reminded of this application of integrity. Actually, isn’t plagerism rhetorical adultery? Or perhaps audutery is more like relational plagerism. JV

  6. January 4, 2007

    Gotta love the guy stealing even the personal stories. Maybe he could be taught a lesson if someone went forward after a sermon with a plagiarized confessional.

  7. January 4, 2007

    Terry – I’m guessing there are LOTS of people out there preaching Rush sermons. But hopefully, they’ve done their own study and found their own voices as they’ve passed along insights they learned from you!

  8. January 4, 2007

    Speaking of adultery, have I told you about the time I threw a birthday party for a prostitute in a diner at midnight? Good times, good times…

  9. January 4, 2007

    Let me guess: were you in Honolulu?

  10. Lisa Shields permalink
    January 4, 2007

    It seems silly to me the minister went to that degree,c’mon have a little imagination. But your talented Mike as is Terry. However I would rather hear a preacher preach one of your all’s sermons than sit while he bored me to death and learn nothing. I’ve read in some of Lacado’s books where he actually encouraged ministers to use his stories. I’m with Terry I’d consider it a compliment. I do get what your saying though. But there are some very Godly preachers who are dull. Look how long Noah preached with little success outside his own family. Sounds like he could of used a little help.

  11. Richard permalink
    January 4, 2007

    This is a real sore spot with me. I consider myself a general practitioner when it comes to preaching. My experience is that the more I borrow from others the less inspiring the sermon becomes. I love Fred Craddock, but even when you borrow one of his illustrations, and give full credit, it just looses somethig in translation. I compare it to retelling a Bill Cosby joke. There is so much more that just the word for word story that makes him funny just as there is much more to Craddock than the story itself. I will never forget when I was in my twenties getting a church bulletin from a very well known Alabama preacher. In the bulletin he was announcing his next quarter long sermon series. The moment I looked at it I knew I had seen it somewhere before. In a moment I knew exactly where he got it. He had taken a book by the late Adrian Rogers, pastor for Bellevue Baptist in Memphis. The title of the sermon series was the title of Roger’s book, and the title of each sermon was the title, word for word, of each chapter of Roger’s book. I wrote the preacher a letter and photo copied the table of contents of Roger’s book. I got back the basic reply that he bought the book and was at liberty to use the material however he saw fit. We all use other people’s material. What this guy was doing was so clearly wrong I was amazed that he just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. I remember years ago an article you wrote about anxious secretaries contacting your office wondering where the tape of your last weeks sermon was. I guess the preacher was preaching your sermons every week. In a way I fell sorry for people who do this because I know the well can run dry, but I never have understood why at the very least the preacher can’t just tell the church what he is doing. Giving credit to others will only build respect from the congregation. Great post.

  12. January 4, 2007

    No fair, Mike … you’ve heard me tell this story, haven’t you … ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. January 4, 2007

    In all seriousness, though, isn’t the function of preaching/teaching to edify and “send out” those in a specific faith community? There certainly are more general lessons that may apply to a broader audience, but Terry Rush’s sermons to his congregation likely has little relevance (in its full form) to any other church but his. It’d be like Bill Cosby lifting Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech word-for-word and using it at Cornell the next year — it’s basically irrelevant. Preachers/teachers ought to begin seeing their gift as just that — a spiritual gift, in the vein of Ephesians 4 — given to edify their specific group of believers and spur it on to mission and deeper spirituality.

    This plagiarism thing among preachers is a symptom of two greater problems: 1) Detachment from the spiritual realities at work in their specific body of believers; and 2) A deficiency of spiritual formation in their own lives.

    [side note … in my opinion, churches don’t need a sermon every week. Sermons should be a part of the assembly only when the preacher/teacher has received a word for the congregation. a sermon for sermon’s sake is a waste of time and pressures preachers to plagiarize and such. we got off track when we made the sermon the central focus of our assemblies … that place should be reserved for the table. i digress…]

  14. January 4, 2007

    Lisa – I’m all for reading widely. There are great stories to be found on the last page of Sports Illustrated and the first page of the NY Times.

    What Max and Terry are encouraging is not, i think, what I’m talking about. I’m talking about plagiarism, not just finding creative ideas and stories.

    Someone told me recently he started a sermon by saying, “Folks, I’ve been deeply moved by a message I heard by _____. At this point, I don’t know where his words end and mine begin. But I want you to hear what has impacted me so much.” He gave credit, and he didn’t try to insert himself into another person’s stories. That only gains credibility.

  15. happy permalink
    January 4, 2007

    wait steve you were at the same party as Tony C and the other guy ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. January 4, 2007

    I really appreciate the post. I think this is something that needs to be addressed far more often than it is.

    A few years back I was at a church where the preacher was out of town for two weeks. Two Sundays in a row we had guest speakers. The first told a joke that he said, “happened to a preacher some time back…” The very next week the second preacher told the same joke as, “The last time I was asked to speak at a church you wouldn’t believe what happened to me…” and told the exact same story as a personal story. Now unless this second preacher was actually the hypothetical preacher the first man referred to, something was not right about that one.

    I think it is best to: give credit where it is due. When it didn’t happen to you, don’t act like it did. Don’t worry that people will think you aren’t a good preacher just because it isn’t “your” story. It isn’t about you anyway.

  17. January 4, 2007

    Campolo stole that story from me, happy. He’s even put it in several of his books! The nerve! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. January 4, 2007

    “Make sure the ones preaching and teaching are given time to prepare. Consider giving them an allowance so they have resources to buy good books and journals. Think about offering them sabbatical time each year just for study and prayerโ€“time that is added to their regular vacation time. These resources and this time are not only for the benefit of the minister; theyโ€™re also for the good of the church! (By the way, these are things Iโ€™m generously offered at Highland. Iโ€™d just like to see others follow that practice.)”

    ROFLOL! I got a big kick out of that. I guess I am jealous, but of course, you realize how it is for smaller churches, which is the majority of them.

    Members have told me that the last preacher got some of his sermons off the internet, and they judged him for that. After seeing what they expect of their minister, I don’t condone him but can definitely understand why he did it.

  19. January 4, 2007

    Thanks for addressing this issue, Mike. It seems to me that the purpose of preaching is skewed in many Christian environments. The link below is an article in which teachers of preaching like Tom Long at Emory address how it’s easy to miss why we even preach in the first place. Steve, you’re right – this is a spiritual formation issue. I like you’re thinking, by the way, when you talk about preaching being better suited for the table. I tend to agree (at least today I do).

  20. January 4, 2007

    52 weeks a year, 2 services a Sunday [in a great many churches], then there’s Wednesday nights and many of these same churches require their pastor/preacher/teacher lead THE Adult Sunday class – that equals about 208 different sermons a year, plus weddings, funerals, special events and dinners. For goodness sakes, no wonder preachers fall into this trap.

    Preachers preach because they can’t not do it – but give ’em a break! If I recall, Elders are supposed to be able to teach and defend the faith, can’t they rotate out the preacher now and then, thereby allowing the Elders to fulfill their obligations to teach, giving the preacher a much needed rest.

    I giggle at the CofC’s premise that the congregations are led by elders, as they scoff at Evangelicals being “led” by pastors. What do we think we’ve imposed on our preachers if not the pastorship of the congregations.
    IMHO and I agree as has been said, we really need to get back to what was the center of worship in the beginning, the Table – remembering our LORD’s sacrifice. And we need to lift the burden we’ve placed on our preachers. We can indict ourselves for the temptations they often fall into by the onus of perfection we load on them. [and I speak as a PB – preacher’s brat]

    However, the plagiarizing preachers maybe should also study copyright laws. Just because you buy a book doesn’t make you the owner of the content, it still belongs to the author and publisher – not to be used without their permission.

    I will continue to brag about Highland and other such congregations that realize the preacher, like any other professional, needs R&R – time away ‘from the desk’. They also need the time and opportunity to visit other churches, hear other voices, be fed by and stimulated by others. But enough from me. Sorry to be so overly long-winded, Mike.

  21. January 4, 2007

    I get a lot of enjoyment out of saying, “as Barbara Brown Taylor says, …” knowing at that point a woman is preaching in Churches of Christ.

  22. January 4, 2007

    Hey, Mike, I didn’t mean to mess with your good point with my earlier true story. Plagiarism is a legit issue. It is a signal of a deeper rooted problem. If the preacher doesn’t listen for the Holy Spirit involvement and conviction throughout his week of study, whether he robbed one of Swindoll’s books or made it all up out of his own creativity, it will most likely die in mid-air. He could be convinced it lived only to find it not very sharp by the time it reached its intended target….the heart of the hearer.

    This issue separates those who have a message from God from those who have to fill up the time with something. If I haven’t heard from God, I have not one thing worthwhile to preach.

  23. January 4, 2007

    Mike…I wish you would comment on preaching more. This post is absolutely awesome… in fact, I’m going to preach it Sunday… just kidding…

    Those who read a lot, or listen to the sermons of others a lot put themselves in a position to grow…but also to fall victim to difficult temptations. Thanks for the admonition.

  24. Bonnie Anderson permalink
    January 4, 2007

    Thanks for bringing this up. We had an incident not long ago with a youth minister who copied all of his articles for the church bulletin word for word without giving credit to the author. When someone tried to explain to him about copyright laws, he just blew it off. We couldn’t get him to understand…needless to say there were bigger problems later. Somewhere along the way, the line between right and wrong gets blurred for some.
    As the daughter of a long time preacher, I have heard alot of stories and illustrations ๐Ÿ™‚ and that is okay (in moderation) as long as the individual gives credit where credit is due….and is not using them in place of the word of God. It does tend to make you think that they just haven’t taken the time to get into the Word on a regular basis and don’t take seriously the personal time needed to study and prepare a lesson.

  25. January 4, 2007

    Having now read the stream of thought from colleagues… I guess I’m with Rush on this one. I would feel honored…but wouldn’t like the fact that whoever was plagiarizing wasn’t growing as a disciple or preacher. Lying is always wrong, as well.

    I’ve never preached another’s sermon (even giving credit), because it always seems stale to do so. If I ever did, I would give credit. It’s important that a church knows who it is that’s preaching that day.

  26. January 4, 2007

    The closest I came to straight up stealing material was about five years ago. I went to an NCYM conference and heard Randy Harris talk about Mark 8 and the healing of the blind man. I took vicious notes. I came back home (CA) and the next time I preached, I spoke on Mark 8. It wasn’t word for word and I wasn’t going to use his illustrations (I never fell back in my chair when I was sitting at the head table and being honored – I think that was it) but I never gave him credit.

    I felt sick about it and sensed in my spirit that I had not only done Randy dirty, but more importantly, I had short-changed the Spirit.

    When I moved back to Abilene to begin my Masters, Randy preached that fall at Highland. I had never formally met him. I went right up to him (this is how I best remember it) after his message and confessed that I had basically repreached his message from my notes and memory and never given him credit. He was gracious and not condeming but he also never said, “Ah, it’s okay…” either.

    I still felt sheepish, but forgiven.

    As a point of clarification – I did not dress in a “Dr. Evil” all black suit while reserving up Randy’s stuff.

    As a result of this experience I now:

    Never preach other people’s material.

    Always say something really stupid that I regret while walking down from the pulpit. I do this as a favor to other ministers who might be tempted to steal my stuff.

    Thanks for the post Mike.

  27. January 4, 2007

    Hey guys, did everyone read my blog post from this morning at 5:19am?

    Looks like someone did!

  28. Lisa Shields permalink
    January 4, 2007

    I gotcha Mike. Do you remember that time at Jubilee when Rick Atchley started telling a story and then stopped and said(something along this line) Now this is a true story. It’s a bad thing when a preacher has to say this is a true story. – I believe it was the story about the christian college about to go under and the prayer about the cattle on a thousand hills belong to you Lord, now we need you to sale some of those cattle and send us the money, and sure enough during the prayer the secretary buzzes in and said there was a cattle rancher out in the foyer and he had just sold a truckload of cattle and felt led by the Lord to donate the money to the school. I always did find that story hard to believe. LOL.

  29. January 4, 2007

    Preaching is both art and exhaustive work. The shortcuts hurt both the preacher and the audience in the long run. Let’s just get back to the cross and stay there. Nothing else really matters anyway, does it?

  30. January 4, 2007

    What do you think of guys like Hybels, Rick Warren and others sells transcripts or offer free transcripts to be used and preached and websites like sermoncentral are they not to blame for alot of the problem?
    I believe Preachers should use the gifts and talents that they have been given. Give credit for sources, quotes, references, etc. Like You said, when I go to Highland I want to hear Mike Cope not Wade Hodges or Terry Rush. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. January 4, 2007

    I wouldn’t mind hearing Wade Hodges or Terry Rush at Highland every once in a while… I think Mike would, too!

    But I see what you mean, preacher man. ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. January 4, 2007

    Chemistry has everything to do with preaching. That’s why so many preachers in local churches are not received as well when they speak “on the road” because the visited church does not know the life and times of the preacher.

    That’s why being yourself and speaking from your heart is so important. I am confident that every preacher at one time or another has given in to the temptation to take short cuts or regurgitate someone else’s material.

    One of the preachers that preceded me here used to take a tape recorder into the pulpit with him along with an earpiece. He would play a tape of someone’s sermon and preach his sermon from the other preacher’s sermon. I admit that takes some talent, but it also requires a lot of gall!

    When you preach from your soul, they will come!


  33. January 4, 2007

    Along with these three brothers [Cope, Hodges, Rush] we also hear a sermon now and then from Jerry Taylor. How blessed can one congregation be?? ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Lisa Shields permalink
    January 4, 2007

    on a more serious note, I really understand what u r saying Mike. when I first began to fall in love with God. i read alot of christian lit, listened to many sermons , went to seminars and most importantly prayed and poured over scripture. In time I began to learn. The more I put into it the more illuminated scripture became. Sometimes I don’t know how I know what I know. Sure I realise A.W. Tozer taught me alot and I definetly can credit Lynn Anderson for much of my understanding about worship, but sometimes the lines blurr. Mainly what I’ve come to understand is the more I learn the more I come to realize how little I know. The Bible what a wonderful thing!

  35. January 4, 2007

    Part Letterman?!? How about Part Conan O’Brien, Part N.T. Wright?

    By the way, Mike, I really liked the post. You know Dr. Martin Luther King was indicted with Plagiarism. However, it turned out not to be as big a deal as everyone thought because in the end, they argued that it did not compromise his own originality and ingenuity.

  36. January 4, 2007

    Quile – Ha! Ha!

  37. January 4, 2007

    I had the uncomfortable experience of sitting in the audience while a preacher friend of mine told–as a first person experience–an event from my life that I had related to him several years earlier. The details were too specific for it to have been anyone else’s experience. He obviously had forgotten the source.

    Preachers need to guard the credibility of their speech like gold. When it’s gone, they are truly bankrupt. I for one am always amused when I hear a preacher say, “Now let me tell you a true story…”, implying that their other stories are not true.

  38. Jordan Hubbard permalink
    January 4, 2007

    Great thoughts, Mike. But if the story you are sharing is the same one I am aware of, the whistleblower was the one who bore the brunt of shame from the leadership and was labelled as “not a team player” (brand of death in mega-church staffs.) and was gone a year from that place (at least) before the preacher left. As a matter of fact, I don’t know that the leaders ever confronted this person on his character issues before he retired. It seems to me that one of the underlying issues is that church leaderships often don’t seem to feel like they can challenge preachers and correct their ethical behavior unless there is some kind of sexual sin invovled. What about racist pulpit ministers, or materialistic pulpit ministers, or (and this is actually big to me because I hunt) poachers who preach, or other ethical issues that I have seen and are never confronted? What can preachers do to make themselves approachable so that we can be corrected?

  39. January 4, 2007

    Good thoughts Mike. I remember hearing Keith Keeran address this issue at the Preaching Summit many years ago. The internet was in its infancy, and people were still getting/copying sermon tapes. Apparently a lot of guys were ripping off B.R. Dr. Keeran said, “I’m worried about what’s going to happen to the brotherhood when B.R. dies.” Ouch.

    But to give some balance, later Wayne Smith said (as only Wayne can), “Hey, if we’re not supposed to use those sermons, then why do they put ’em in those books. Har har har.” Wayne is also fond of telling the story about when a woman remarked, “Oh, brother Smith, that sermon ought to be in print.” He replied, “It is!” (wink)

  40. January 4, 2007

    For more than twenty years Pulpit Helps has been publishing my sermon outlines. I am happy that thousands of evangelical preachers have been able to take these outlines and use them as a framework for crafting their sermons. (BTW, PH has never edited out any of my Restoration theology.)
    For the life of me (and that is 61 and counting) I cannot understand why pulpit ministers would ever have to resort to “cut and paste” or outright plagarism of full manuscripts. Anyone who is deep into the Word of God each day and involved in people’s lives should never have to go scrounging elsewhere. The best illustrations are biblical or personal ones. I have a sneaking suspicion that too many of our pulpiteers (in both churches of Christ and Christian churches) are more familiar with Lucado than Luke, with Russell than Romans – and, please, that is not a putdown of either Max or Bob. They have a right (really it is a passion) to write their stuff, and even copyright it, but no man of God has the right to purloin it and pass it off as their own. The Word of God is brimming over with rich material. My mentor in Bible college once told me, “Preach the great texts of the Bible. In a lifetime of preaching you can never exhaust them.” He was right. And we are wrong, dead wrong, when we feel compelled to get our sermons from someone’s book, tape, or CD. Sorry for the long post, Mike, but I do feel strongly about this.

  41. January 4, 2007


    I remember Randy Harris sharing that he did not save any of his own sermons because he did not want the temptation of re-using one of them. While preachers and teachers are formed by and influenced by what they have heard, lifting something from another context and plopping it into one’s current context shows an incredible lack of love for and understanding of the preacher’s audience.

    I have finally been blessed to begin preaching again on a fill in basis. My next turns come in February. I have five years of sermons I could use, but that would show the congregation now that I do not care enough to listen to them and ask God what they need to hear today.

    The lesson I learned from Randy is that if I need to be this guarded and disciplined about using my OWN stuff, I better be careful when using someone else’s.

  42. Joe Beam permalink
    January 4, 2007


    Many years ago at a youth rally, I told a story that had happened to my brother and me. Afterwards a young lady chastised me intently because of my “theft” of the story. Her minister had told it the week before as if it had happened to his brother and him. No matter how much I protested that it indeed was my story, she refused to believe that in fact he had stolen from me, and concluded that I obviously had no integrity. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it…

    What really bothers me, though, is that no one ever steals my sermons, just my stories! Now what do you think that says about my preaching?? Wait, I don’t think I want to know…

  43. January 4, 2007

    Hi mike,

    Question: What do you think is the line that people shouldn’t cross. I agree telling stories like they are your own is a big no no cause that is straight up a lie. For instance I am not a minister or teach for a church. I write a blog that no one reads lol. I have lessons on there that I have learned from MANY different people, you included even though you don’t know me heh. I agree with you that originality is essential but what is the line? For instance is sharing a story that a preacher shared to highlight a point to far assuming you tell people that this is not your story. When is crossing the line.

    Thanks, I am naive and have never preached a day in my life so I would just like to know your stance.

    Blessing Brother,

  44. January 4, 2007

    I have two books in my library, which were written by well-respected individuals. Interestingly, each begins by recounting an identical, personal. The experience is common enough. Admittedly, each could have had the same experience. But, it is beyond belief that they would report them to the world using exactly the same language.

    If my guess re: the preacher you mention early on is correct, I think he’s the same person who “jokingly” said, “The key to originality is forgetting the source.” If he isn’t the same individual, he was of the same mind. Tragically, he was a brilliant man. He could have written circles around many of his published contemporaries.

    Hopefully, your 2007 is getting off to a fantastic start. My prayer is that you will be blessed by God with many opportunities for fruitful service in the Lord’s kingdom in the new year.

    I wanted to let you know that I’ve listed your blog on my blogroll at The Spiritual Oasis’ web site. If you have additional blogs that you would like to see listed or would like to recommend others, please send word to:

    To view The Spiritual Oasis’ blogroll click the following link:

    The Spiritual Oasis Blogroll

  45. Michelle permalink
    January 4, 2007

    Hi Richard,

    I believe I know who that well-known Alabama pastor was. I think I attend his church. Would you email me at I want to know if I am right.

  46. Richard permalink
    January 4, 2007


    I would be glad to help you check out your hunch, but when I tried to email you it came back. Try me at

  47. January 4, 2007

    I heard two preachers tell a Garrisson Keiler story. One gave credit, the other did not. The one who didn’t, got the story from the one who gave credit, not from the original source.

    The few years that I preached, I would always give credit to everyone. One of the problems I had was using sources that were not from “the brotherhood.” Also, one of the elders felt that I was using sources to prove to the congregation that I was well read. I wonder if any other past or present preachers has similar experiences.

  48. January 4, 2007

    I often wonder how often NB Hardeman’s “Tabrinacle Sermons” have been preached. I don’t think preachers bought those leather-bound, hardback editions to just read for reference.

  49. Michelle permalink
    January 4, 2007

    Hi again Richard,

    Sorry I cannot type. My email address is, but nevermind because I just emailed you. Thanks!

  50. Michelle permalink
    January 4, 2007

    What does anyone think of a pastor using a ghost writer for his sermons?

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