Bad Form in Ministry?

CNN.com – Youth minister smites dodgeball opponent – Mar 31, 2006. I'm pretty sure that there must be something else going on in this guy's life for him to snap. Youth ministry can be pretty tough – you have to be ready for the ball that comes from nowhere to surprise you. More importantly, we need to remember that it is when surprised that our true inner character seems to be on display. See Matthew 12:33-37.

Preach Someone Else? Ripping off another Pastor's message is nothing new. A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I was travelling with John MacArthur in the midwest listening to a local pastor on Christian radio. After a few minutes John caught that it was his sermon being "re-preached." I appreciated John's humility … he was pleased that the Word was getting out. I also appreciated his reminder that there is great power in first hand study of the Scripture – power that is lost when merely repeating the words and work of another.

While he is not the only one, Rick Warren has a resource for Pastors in writing their Sermons: "When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors’ sermons fed my soul – and eased my preparation! I hope the sermons here will do the same for you. Whether you use the outlines and transcripts for sermon ideas or listen to the preaching to fine-tune your delivery, I’ll be thrilled if your ministry becomes more effective. 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. Let’s help each other out – and when we get to Heaven, we can rejoice together over the people who were saved as a result! "

I can't speak to the motives of Pastor Warren. I'm sure that they are pure. But I do find myself concerned with what he is encouraging. Skipping some of the hard work of sermon prep. Preaching is hard … good messages take time … and the week-in week-out routine has to be tough (I preach at Crossroads only a few times a year and know how much that takes!). This may be as large a pastoral character issue as kicking a kid in the groin … then again, maybe I'm in trouble.

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2 responses to “Bad Form in Ministry?

  • Mike Perrigoue

    Wow…

    I’m linking this to my blog.

  • “Sermons Here! Fresh, Hot Sermons!” « Musings of a Random Nature

    […] Tim Challies has an interesting and frustrating post today about plagiarism in the pulpit.   I wrote about this back in April, concerned with the impact Rick Warren’s sermon selling might have on the character of pastors and churches. Challies links to the latest Wall Street Journal article by Susan Sataline about this very topic and brings his typical wisdom to the conversation. I appreciated the paragraph about why pastors might choose to preach other men’s sermons: Of course we would be remiss to read about this issue and to neglect asking why pastors feel it necessary to preach other peoples’ sermons. I’m sure that in some cases pastors are simply lazy and are looking for a way to avoid what can be a long, tedious task. But in many cases I suspect pastors preach these sermons because they feel their congregations will demand a certain quality and a certain level of entertainment that they cannot provide. The spirit of pragmatism lives in the church today and I know of many pastors who have succumbed to it. They feel that their congregations will be better served by a sermon that is witty and contemporary than by a pastor who absorbs himself in a week-long study of the Bible. Some churches expect far too much of their pastors, demanding that they be leaders and entertainers more than preachers. Some pastors are not allowed sufficient time to adequately prepare their sermons. In many cases, the pressure for plagiarism may well originate in the pews and not in the pulpit. […]

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