plagiarism in the pulpit

Joe Thorn put up the link to a disturbing piece of work by Steve Sjogren. He is a pastor in Cincinnati and the title of his article is Don’t be original – be effective!.*

The main point of the article is that pastors are spending too much time studying, praying and meditating in the production of crappy sermons. To be fair, he doesn't use the word crappy, but he does say,

Think about it for a second: If you really were giving a killer message each week, would your church be the size that it is right now? Maybe you need to be open to doing things a different way."

First of all, is giving a 'killer message' the ultimate goal in preaching? How do you give a killer message when teaching your people about suffering or the reality of what Jesus felt on the cross? Sermons on these subjects are not the kind of talks where people leave thinking 'Wow that preacher was amazing." And yet they must be taught.

In regards to a pastor's preparation to teach the Word of God Sjogren advises,

"First of all, stop all of this nonsense of spending 25 or 30 hours a week preparing to speak on the weekend."

Rather than spending time in prayer and asking God to reveal the truth of Biblical texts, a pastor should just search the web and find someone else's sermon on a topic or text. That cuts the message prep time way down.

But why would we not want to be original and speak God's fresh words to our people? Well, because, as Sjogren so intelligently tells us,

"[We need to get over the idea that we have to be completely original with our messages, each and every week.] In my mind there is a tremendous amount of pride (let's call it what it is) when we insist on being completely original as communicators."

We should steal, and copy and plagiarize other pastors material because if we think God would give us revelation and community/congregationally specific words we are flat out arrogant. To think that God would want me to say something other than what he has already given Rick Warren or Andy Stanley to say is prideful.

Come on you really buy what you're writing here, or maybe you bought this piece from someone else and you're just passing it off as your work? You wouldn't want to be prideful would you?

*For an opposing viewpoint read Ray Van Neste's response