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Plagiarism vs Research

     With the advent of the digital age, what has long been a “hush-hush” topic of pastor world has come into the forefront-the issue of pastors taking other pastor’s sermons and speaking it as though God gave it to them fresh for that moment. With the onset of the internet, there are more sources and greater availability of many sermons, but this is not a new issue. From the time I began preaching at a very young age, pastors were buying books of outlines and subscribing to famous preacher’s newsletters to get ideas.

     One of the funnier stories among preachers involves R. G. Lee, the longtime pastor of Bellevue Church in Memphis, Tennessee. One of his most famous sermons was called “Payday Someday.” It is told that he and his wife attended a small church while on vacation and the young preacher preached his sermon. He was grumbling about it as they returned to their hotel room and his wife reportedly responded, “you are just upset because he did it better than you.”

     I have two thoughts about plagiarism. First, to use someone else’s material without crediting them is always wrong. Second, for God to give someone a great lesson for his people and not allow anyone else to use it seems a lot like God only allowing Bill Gaither to sing “Because He Lives” since he was the one who wrote it.

     Here is a link to an article from www.sermoncentral.com that came to me this morning. Sermon Central is a site used by many pastors to research and share sermons. I appreciate the way they address an issue that hits them so close to home. Click on the picture to view the article.

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