Monday, March 8, 2021

Pulpit Plagiarism

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Perhaps some of us, pastors, are guilty of borrowing sermon ideas, quotations, outlines or the entire sermon without acknowledging where we got them from.

So this is just a little reminder to my fellow pastors. If you borrow a sermon from someone give the credit to whom credit is due. It’s called “plagiarism”, if you don’t.

The thing about this age of technology is that people can just google the topic you are preaching and they’ll find out if you borrow your sermon. I was teaching a class on Hermenuetics one time and I told my listeners to find the sites where commentaries are from. Right in the middle of my class, the people are looking at the interpretation of some certain verses available on line. That can happen while we are preaching. People can simply google your topic or your text and immediately find out about your sermon. So it is best to mention if your outline or sermon is from someone else.
Few weeks ago I was listening to a mega church pastor on YouTube and I was intrigued by his alliterative 3-point outline. Then a few days later, I stumbled with a sermon preached by Rick Warren. As I listen to the message, I realized I heard it once before. Someone is borrowing from either one. So I checked the date of the video and found out that Rick’s message was posted 4 years earlier than the other pastor. This means the other preacher just borrowed the sermon from Rick Warren, without giving a credit. While the other pastor changed the title, the outline is exactly the same. Even the illustration Rick used, he also used it. Well, I heard Rick Warren said before that you can use his sermon without giving him credit. But this does not excuse preachers from not mentioning their sources.
Just this morning, I heard a pastor on Facebook, borrowing an entire sermon, without acknowledging where he got the message from. How did i know? I googled his topic. And sure enough, it is available online. He pretended the message was entirely his, but he got it from somewhere else. It would not hurt if he simply said, this message is not mine but... Or you can find this sermon from this site...