Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Preacher's Pledge

I have blogged on pulpit plagiarism before (here and here). It still amazes me that some preachers are not above plagiarism and use the Internet frequently and regularly for sermon preparation. I admit, the Internet is a useful tool, but for a pastor to download and preach verbatim a sermon is theft and at worst just sheer laziness. However, I am just simply flabbergasted by the need of pastor's to sign a pledge not to base their sermons off the labors of others.

And, the pledge affirms that a preacher should preach from, of all things, the Bible (insert sarcasm)!

In a new campaign aimed at putting the centrality of the Bible back into a preacher's message, "The Preacher's Pledge," introduced by SermonCentral.com, has been signed by pastors from over 50 nations so far.

"We introduced The Pledge because we think preachers must engage the Bible in their sermon preparation and not simply short circuit the process with someone else's study," says Ron Forseth, general editor for SermonCentral.com. "Our site is a valuable supplement but not the primary source for a sermon. God's Word is."

Preachers then make their commitment to the following:
• I will make the Bible my primary resource in sermon preparation and preaching.
• I may use other resources such as commentaries and web sites to enhance, not replace, my personal interaction with Scripture.
• As I study I will strive to accurately understand and honestly apply God's Word, allowing Him to uniquely proclaim His truth in a relevant way through me.
Maybe it is just me. I hope it is. Why this need? Is Sermon Central so naive? I'm going to be bold: if a pastor needs to sign this pledge, does he need to be in the ministry anyway? It seems a commitment to the Bible would be a non-issue and that without reservation the Bible would be central. Perhaps as preachers graduate from seminary they can just sign a little pledge card akin to True Love Waits.


Steve Sensenig said...

I don't even know where to begin to comment on this. I'm as baffled as you are, and very disheartened to see this type of state in evangelicalism.

Cameron Cloud said...

Can we believe a pastor who steals will be honest? If he will plagiarize, will he not also break his pledge?

Tony said...

I couldn't agree more, Cameron. I still find this mind-boggling; as Steve said, baffling.

Cyle said...

Using what others have said cannot be the focus of the issue of integrity for a pastor. There is nothing new under the sun. If I am preaching Biblically, preaching from the text of Scripture, and what I am preaching has never been said before, there is a good chance that I have erred. Every preacher is influenced by others, and by himself. The issues to me are these: (1) when using other sources, is the pastor giving credit or taking credit, and (2) is the preacher asking others to digest the Scripture for him, or is he using others as he digests Scripture? I have a pastor friend who used a sermon he got from the internet. He didn't preach it verbatim, but he also didn't give credit and he was very close. He was justified, in that his week was horrendous and he didn't have time to study as he should. He was unjustified in that he didn't tell the congregation what he did. He could have stood up and said, "I have been so busy this week that I have not had time to prepare as I should. I apologize, so let's just open the word and talk about it for awhile." We should start with the Scripture, use sources, and then end with the Scripture. I read commentaries and the sermons of others every week. If I am reading expositional sermons, and both I and the other preacher are exegeting Scripture correctly, our outlines will be similar. However, they will seldom be identical, because the preacher is different. Ok, now I'm getting verbose. Sorry :)

Tony said...


Thanks for dropping in and commenting. I agree with your commentary on the post. The issues are clear, that if the preacher is using the sermon verbatim without giving credit then there is an integrity issue.

I have heard several preachers use illustrations over and over yet never give credit from where they originate, or use stories big-name preachers have told and then tell them as if they happened to themselves. That is wrong, too.

And I agree as well that if I have studied a passage, I am not going to be off base but by a millimeter or two and I should line up with what other good expositors have said about the passage.

I know about those busy weeks, but God has always given me a special grace to get the weekly exposition done, even at the expense of lack of sleep.

And don't worry about verbosity. What's a few extra words between preachers? I don't know about you, but the only time I really get to "go long" is on the blogs. :)

Blessings, bro. Again, thanks for dropping in.

fightingpreacher said...

Tony 100% agree with you as much as it pains me to say so :)

The title was Theology and something...where are your theological topics.

Tony said...

I feel your pain, FP. Heh. :)

This blog I have dedicated to theology and ministry concerns, though I do post sermon snippets and family stuff sometimes as well. Its a pretty mixed bag over here. Plus, I don't post as regularly here as i do at the other blog; once a week maybe as opposed to about every day at the other one.

I dedicated the other blog, where you found me, to faith and its intersection with the broader culture. This blog I keep primarily "in" the church wherein the other one I "get out".

fightingpreacher said...

Tony I was rereading this and thinking about it. The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun. I would assume that to mean knowledge as well. I dont always quote people in my sermons, but I also dont preach others materials verbatim...for example I quote from movies alot but dont use the title of the movie everytime (mostly cause they know the movie)...so in your estimation is that alright?

Tony said...


Absolutely! The concern of this post is the tendency of some to preach an entire sermon that another preacher prepared and then present it as his very own material. As Cyle noted above, if we have soundly exegeted the source text, then the apple won't fall too far from the tree.

I like what Cyle said, If I am preaching Biblically, preaching from the text of Scripture, and what I am preaching has never been said before, there is a good chance that I have erred.

I linked in the original posts to two previous posts I had written. One post was simply a link to a post written by another individual when she realized that her pastor was preaching verbatim messages found on the Internet. Now that ain't alright!

fightingpreacher said...

This entire subject leads to really the heart of the issue that every single denomination and non-denomination organization deals with. The selection of those called to lead. One organization I was part of (before I left egypt) simply did and interview and had you take a 150 question test.

The Bibles way of selecting leaders is very different than the American way.

Check out teh Chinese and Sudanise way of selecting leaders...we wouldnt have near the problems if we took their approach.