Before I dive into IF I BLOGGED THEN week, allow me to direct you towards this Wall Street Journal article on plagiarism in the pulpit. Found it interesting because of the local connections mentioned in the article. Steve Sjogren, founding pastor of the Vineyard in Tri-County stated that pastors he looks to for encouragement get 70% of their sermon content from someone else. They also noted the case of Liberty Heights Church in West Chester; the church was close to CCM and I knew a couple of guys on their staff. Apparently they fired the pastor who had grown their church over charges of plagiarism.
How do I feel about it? It's only a big deal because pastors don't do it right. There's nothing wrong with using someone else's work AS LONG AS you cite your source. Remember back in school that you could always use other people's research as long as you include it in your bibliography? It's the same thing in preaching. I don't use a lot of stuff from other people but if I do, I will make reference to it.
Both Sjogren and Rick Warren think it's unnecessary to attribute materials to other preachers and [listen closely] they're wrong. We're living in an age of authenticity, and it means even if you're a member of clergy; your integrity is everything. If I were to tell a story in first person that never happened to me, I'd be called out as a liar. Why should it be any different if people think I ripped the majority of my sermon from a guy in Texas and claim it as my own?
The real problem here is that ministers are forsaking their number one duty: the teaching of the Word of God. I know there's a lot of networking and pastoring that needs to happen in a given week but Sunday's message is the most important task I have each week. If I haven't fully invested myself in it, then I've failed. Coming up with 45 minutes of material each week ain't always easy, but that's my job. Try getting sympathy from someone who works 60 hours each week doing manual labor for your struggles in finding a text to preach on. If you don't like it, then perhaps you're in the wrong profession. I'm not complaining.
In Paul's challenge to Timothy, he tells him not only to preach the Word but to "be prepared in season and out of season." We pastors must always be in preparation for our next message.