To all the sermon stealers: Milk many cows, but make your own butter
Ray Pritchard has some advice for pastors that steal sermons:
- The nature of the Internet makes it easy to steal someone else’s work and make it your own.
- But the Internet also makes it very easy to find out when a pastor has been using someone else’s work.
- What about using an outline verbatim? From my point of view, that’s fine because an outline is not a sermon. I don’t think you need to give credit for an outline unless it is amazingly unique. The same holds true for ideas and thoughts that you may find here and there. No one wants to hear a sermon that sounds like a pastiche of quotes: “As John Piper pointed out . . . John MacArthur suggested this application . . . Spurgeon used this illustration . . . To borrow a thought from Geoff Thomas . . .” Some of this is just a matter of common sense. When you borrow a big section or a very unique idea and certainly when there is a significant quote, give the attribution. But don’t go overboard either.
- What about the pastor who allegedly is using my sermons verbatim? Let me say again what I’ve said before. That’s just plan dumb.
- In earlier years I used to say that people could use my sermons any way they like, and I still mean that. But I never meant, “Use them word for word.” It never occurred to me that someone would do that.
- You’re bound to get caught sooner or later.
- So this is what I say nowadays: You are welcome to use my sermons in your own message preparation. Use them, amend them, revise them, by all means improve them, and make them your own.
- Don’t preach anyone else’s sermons verbatim.