Pastor, Don’t Be Stupid!

May 8, 2012

A few days ago I received a message alerting me that a certain pastor (whom I do not know) has been preaching my sermons word for word on Sunday morning. And he does so without attribution.

To make matters worse, he posts the audio files online.

Let me start by saying that I am a friend and supporter of preachers everywhere. I post my sermons precisely because I want people to use them in their own sermon preparation. I say that everywhere I go. Over 3 million of my words are online at our website, most of them in the 850 sermons we have posted. 

My sermons are copyrighted and thus protected by law, but I want other preachers to use my material, to amend it, improve it, and make it their own. It doesn’t matter to me if people mention my name or not. That’s not a big deal.

Okay, then, what about this preacher who has been using my sermons word for word, including my illustrations and my personal stories as if they were his own?

That’s just plain stupid.

You can’t take another man’s sermon as a whole and preach it as your own. That’s morally wrong, it’s stealing, it’s a mark of laziness, and mostly it’s just plain stupid.

These days it’s not that hard to check sermons. If someone consistently copies John Piper or Chuck Swindoll or Tim Keller, they will certainly be found out. The Internet makes that easy to do.

So I say this to the pastor who is using my sermons word for word:
Stop it!

Don’t be stupid.
You’ve already been found out.
Someone who knows you has been listening to your sermons and comparing them to mine. 

Do your own work, study the text, read the commentaries, pray over it, and in the process use any sermon you like from the Keep Believing website. 

But don’t preach my sermons word for word.
That’s just plain stupid.

Have I made myself clear?

I’m not angry about this. I’m mostly mystified that a pastor would do this and then put his sermons online. That’s like a man robbing a bank and leaving a note saying, “You can find me at the Dairy Queen on Highway 43.”

As for using the work of others, I defer to my good friend Erwin Lutzer from the Moody Church in Chicago who likes to say that preachers should “milk many cows but make their own butter.”

Sounds right to me.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?