So everyone says at some level,”Hey Ed, cut that stuff out” even though he (a) obtained prior permission, and (b) apologized. The number of heroic virtue signalers are legion in this matter.
A few of my favorites:
- Don’t do anything your homiletics prof would not approve of. Good luck with that. Can we note the difference between the classroom and the real world? Good profs recognize that some weeks the typical single staff pastor will not have 20 hours for sermon prep. And if you re-preach a sermon to the same audience, isn’t that called something? Laziness? Phoning it in?
- I’m fervently praying for Ed and his church. And that followed by an endless stream of hypercritical slaps and condemnations. Shall we call those who cry crocodile tears reptilian? Sounds good to me.
- The Patristic Fathers, Spurgeon, Luther, Adrian et al did it this way. Thanks for the history lesson. Now I lay me down to sleep…
- I’m not bringing this up for any SBC political purpose. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
- Thief! Fraudster! Liar! Shouted to the steeple tops. Spare me. The distance between using with permission and being a liar and thief seems to be quite short if you are of the losing political party.
I’m all for ‘whattabouts,’ so can we give some small consideration to the massive, lucrative religious/church industrial complex? There’s a lot of money in this stuff.
- The selling of sermons is a huge industry with considerable dollars flowing from the hack in the hinterlands to some celeb preacher that sells his stuff. Is there a reason for a sermon marketer NOT to presume that his material will be used? Does it give anyone pause to see a guy shilling his stuff with discounts, BOGOs, and promotions? The sacred proclamation of God’s word? Do any of these people or sites require usage only according to certain guidelines, provisos and protocols? No. They bank the money and move on to the next sap that will buy their digital material.
- Exactly what are the ethics of selling what, supposedly, God has told you?
- Christian music people have been on this for a long time. Sell your ministry for top dollar. Get some sap pastor to host you and charge admission to God’s House to hear you play and sing. We don’t even raise an eyebrow about this kind of stuff now.
- Evangelists hawking all kinds of merchandise. Yeah dudes, I know it’s tough to make it on love offerings alone; thus, T-shirts, CDs, jewelry, any and all kinds of Jesus junk. Not in my church, but my day is past.
- Throwaway celebrity books. Like eating egg whites, nothing there except the pic of the celeb. These are churned out with the compliance of publishers but you can brand yourself, self-publish and make a go of it alone. Does anyone find original thoughts in these materials? Seldom. It’s recycled fluff from others.
- The average hack pastor is modestly paid but if you can achieve celebrity pastor status the pay is almost unlimited. If you can find great material and put your personality in it, you could go far. That’s called incentive, capitalism, brethren.
- Then there are those who hawk their ministry like carnival barkers by consulting, coaching, and influencing. Whatever happened to mentoring?
I’ll admit that many, perhaps most, among us maintain that there are some standards but the most thoughtful, analytical writing on the present case all speculate about where the lines are, where the boundaries are. Many conclude that the lines are heavily blurred on the ground, however clear they may be in the seminary classroom. Apologize, learn, and let’s move on.
Lest any low IQ SBC preacher take too much from this article, you can get fired for preaching sermons not your own. Borrow as much as you want. Be sensible about attribution. You can be fired for preaching your own sermons too, so maybe study the Word, analyze the text, supplement with helps, and do your best. Congregations understand sincerity. They also have an innate ability to recognize fraud and laziness.
Ed Litton has some important work to do, starting in a few days with his appointment of the independent abuse review committee. After that and until next spring, not so much. He’s in my prayers.
I suppose most of us take some time to develop one’s own style and delivery. Early on for me, it was a mix of Adrian for delivery and Spurgeon for vocabulary and content. But, nah, neither worked for me. I stopped using the exaggerated alliteration that Adrian used (and quite effectively) and I gave my multi-volume set of Spurgeon’s sermons away (to a dedicated follower of John Calvin). Sermon illustrations may be more difficult than sermons. Without a body of pastoral work, one is almost forced to rely on others. Develop your people watching skills and you’ll have an endless supply.
BTW, today is the anniversary of the death of Paul Broca. Your cranial shortage in his area might account for some of your homiletic deficiencies.