The Relentless Pain of the Weekly Sermon

We don’t have jobs for geeks. We have jobs for geeks who desire to make profound truths accessible to people who are not intellectually inclined. Docent link 

man-studying-cartoon

link

Deb and I hold MBA's. We believe, in general, in the free market and have confidence that businesses will arise to meet a particular demand. Therefore, it is our purpose, with this post, not to critique the existence of this business but to look at those who have created the demand for such a service. We will look at some of the marketing techniques in order to fully understand what this company perceives to be the needs in today's megachurch machine.

I remember a conversation that I held with my now husband, Bill, late one night when we were dating. He told me that he was interested in high intensity medicine like cardiology. He liked the pace and enjoyed focusing on one particular system as opposed to being  generalist. As the daughter of a family doctor, I suggested he look at something like dermatology since the lifestyle was a bit less demanding. But that was not his interest. Throughout the years, as he got the inevitable 3 AM emergency calls, requiring his immediate presence, I would often express my sympathy. But, he always replied, "This is what I signed up for." He would never think about complaining about the "relentless frequency" of heart attacks. This job is what he wanted to do.

How much time does sermon preparation take?

We have read that most pastors believe that the sermon part of their job takes priority. Here is something that Ed Stetzer said link

At Grace Church, there are three things and ONLY three things that I do: I meet with the staff/apprentices, I preach about 70% of the time, and I lead a small group in my home.

Ed doesn't do funerals, hospital visits, etc., because his priority is preparing for the Sunday service.

Thom Rainer did an informal survey of pastors on how much time some pastors spend in preparation for their sermons.

  • 1 to 3 hours — 1%
  • 4 to 6 hours — 9%
  • 7 to 9 hours — 15%
  • 10 to 12 hours — 22%
  • 13 to 15 hours — 24%
  • 16 to 18 hours — 23%
  • 19 to 21 hours — 2%
  • 22 to 24 hours — 0%
  • 25 to 27 hours — 1%
  • 28 to 30 hours — 2%
  • 31 to 33 hours — 1%

Furthermore, in the same post, he says:

70% of pastors’ sermon preparation time is the narrow range of 10 to 18 hours per sermon.

The median time for sermon preparation in this study is 13 hours

This does not appear onerous if the sermon is considered the highlight of the week. When we talk about megachurch pastors, we know they get great salaries. Many of them live in expensive homes and travel frequently and well. I would say that this leaves about 27-37 hours a week (big salaries usually result in work schedules that are in excess of 40 hours.)

Digression: Are pastors expected to volunteer at church?

Most people in the congregation work in excess of 40 hours a week and then are expected to give time to the church by ushering, leading groups, etc. Some elders are known to spend 20 hours a week on church business. This is addition to their work outside the church. Do pastors also give that volunteer time or are they exempt from the expectations for non-pastors? Thoughts? Also, why are there rarely any blue collar workers who are elders? Off topic-I know.

Is book writing and conference speaking considered part of the pastor's duties?

I would not expect that pastors will write books or speak at conferences on church time. Both of these activities are usually reimbursed by the outside business entity.

Now back to the topic of the post. A reader, Peter, let us know that there is a group used by high powered pastors to "help" with sermon preparation. We had not heard of this and were a bit surprised.

Docent Research Group

This is a not-for-profit group which earns its keep by doing research for pastors. Here is an overview of what they do.

  1. Research briefs which are primarily geared to sermon preparation. They offer everything from stories with a hook, statistics, to exegetical analysis of Scripture.
  2. Book summaries. Docent says that this is to help the pastor to understand the contents of the books when the pastor doesn't have time to read them. Is this how these guys get through their vaunted "What I am reading" lists?
  3. Book projects which involve research and collaboration. Hmmm.
     

Did you know that the weekly sermon is relentless and that Sunday, which occurs on a weekly basis, is akin to tyranny link?

The pressure from high expectations, combined with the relentless frequency of weekly services, creates for many pastors "the tyranny of the coming Sunday." Add the countless, diverse demands on a pastor, and too many weeks there simply isn't time to get it all done. Let Docent help.

Is this the way pastors view their chosen profession? Relentless? The tyranny of the coming Sunday? What in the world did these pastors sign up to do? Sit around Starbucks and write books? Thirteen hours of preparation is considered rigorous?

Do they not understand that every single person in their congregation must deal with the unbending expectations of their jobs? The bank teller, the nurse, the sanitation worker, the construction worker, the mother, etc. all have to work hard, often doing backbreaking labor. I have a question. If the pastorate is so relentless and Sunday is so tyrannical than why do they do it? Could it be that they are mixing conferences, book deals, and speaking engagements into their church responsibilities? 

It take a team to raise a sermon. 

Better yet, have pastors raised the expectations of their congregation that he is a super star who is able to hit home runs every Sunday? Maybe, just maybe, they are just like us and that is something that they do not want us to discover?

I was absolutely shocked by this statement at Docent's website. Pastors need a team of dedicated researcher to write research the weekly sermon.  A TEAM!

Our Approach

Because preaching is highly personal, Docent’s approach is relational. We start by forming a relationship with pastors to determine their research needs.  Then dedicate a team of seminary-trained researchers to provide weekly research briefs according to a pastor’s specific instructions.

As I watch one megachurch involved with this group spread its tentacles around a metropolitan area, I wonder how the average pastor can compete with a team of scriptwriters who churn out awesomely cool sermons week after week? No wonder the average church pastor's sermons can't compete. That is why he is losing to the predatory church satellite planter. Hollywood professionalism has invaded the pulpit.

Who utilizes the service?

I bet you think that the most frequent user of this service is some poor pastor, killing himself, maintaining an outside job and also being a pastor? If you do, you are wrong. It is the pastors of the wealthy megachurches who have tons of staff to help them. Go to the home page here and see who does endorsement videos at the Home Page. It reads like a Who's Who of the au courant megachurch pastors.

  • Mark Driscoll
  • Matt Chandler
  • Jon Ortberg

Look to the bottom right of the home page to the section called Pastor's Stories link.

Have you ever wondered why Mark Driscoll can prepare his sermon in two hours while watching the sports channel? Could this be the answer?

Docent has been invaluable to me. I think I have had them do nearly everything but cut my grass. They have saved me hundreds of hours of work and multiplied my effectiveness. I have recommended them to lots of friends because any ministry that serves leaders who serve God’s people is a great gift. 

Mark Driscoll, Founding and Preaching Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle

Driscoll was so excited he contacted his good buddy Craig Groesche.

Mark Driscoll first contacted me about Docent Research. After his glowing recommendations of how Docent had improved his sermon preparation, I decided to give them a try.

Mark was right. Docent proved to be exceptional at scholarly research. I was especially impressed at the speed at which they could gather information. I've found their work most useful when I give them specific requests to help in my preparation for sermons.

Craig Groeschel, Lead Pastor, LifeChurch.tv, Edmond, OK

Who pays for this service?

Is the pastor, who uses this service for his sermons, also expecting his church to pay for the research help? If so, the pastor has truly become a talking head. You get to pay him a great salary, let him do his book and conference thing and pay for his scriptwriters. Then you can pretend you have a pastor. You may as well go to a satellite where they beam in the pastor's well groomed visage since church increasingly appears to be in the process of becoming the latest released movie.

Is this process honest?

Craig Groeschel, utilizer of the sermon for hire, says the following

It isn’t plagiarizing if you’re given permission.

I think it is time for pastors who use these services, including websites which reprint sermons, to tell the folks that they use them. Be honest. Let them know that you really aren't who you pretend to be.

It is OK to plagiarize because it all belongs to God excuse.

A commenter, Blake Wingo, on Groeschel's site, said the following. 

I think we put to much value in whether something is “ours” or not. It seems to me that everything we know is something we’ve learned from somebody either through their verbal instruction or their writings. Isn’t this true? No matter how original and creative something might sound, it’s still just a regurgitation of the collective knowledge that a person has accumulated. All we’re doing is coming up with more ways to say what God has already said. I don’t think a message belongs to anyone, I think we are stewards of the message “all things were created by him and for him”. Having said that, I agree 100% with Craig, giving credit is a great thing. Especially when it introduces people to great communicators that will have an impact on their lives.

I have heard this excuse over and over again. There are copyright and trademark laws. The Bible tells us to follow the law of our land, even if we don't like them. Remember, even Mark Driscoll utilized these laws and got himself a pack of attorneys who went after a church whose trademark resembled his vaunted enterprise. 

Carl Trueman thinks something is wrong with utilizing services such as Docent link.

I think I have agreed with Carl Trueman several times in the past week which is pretty astonishing.

Speaking of wealthy churches, this brings me to my next point.  Third, seeing the names who endorse this product, I was perplexed.  The ones I recognize are pastors of large, wealthy churches with big ministry teams to support them.  So why is their time being so squeezed that they find this service helpful?  

the nature of some of the commendations disturbs me.  Just a little too much about how 'my' time is saved by this ('saved' from what exactly?  Carefully preparing to preach God's word to those whom He has entrusted to me?) and how 'I' am improved and made to look good.  Perhaps they were ironic comments.  I do hope so.

Jared Wilson who used to be a Docent employee disagrees with Trueman link.

I agree with Trueman and Wilson does not. Things are indeed strange.

Wilson used to work for Docent and claims that Docent does not write sermons for pastors. He says that they would be fired if they did so. He says that they save the pastor the "grunt" work. We now have three adjectives for the weekly sermon: relentless, tyrannical, and grunt work. Good night! How awful it all sounds!

Docent serves much like an on-site research assistant would — gathering resources, summarizing them, paraphrasing them, etc — so that a pastor is saved this “grunt work” and may spend more of his time doing the actual “wrestling.”

Wilson claims that some of the employees of Docent get hired away by the pastors. I bet they do! It saves the phone call and email.

No, client-pastors and team captains talk regularly and develop friendships. There are some researchers and captains who have actually eventually been hired by pastors full-time to their church staffs as research assistants or even associate pastors.

Thoughts and Suggestions for Pastors

  • Consider listing all sources used for each sermon and have it available for the congregation.This would be a wonderful way to share your materials with those who listen to you. They could learn along with you and could consult the same books, commentaries, etc.
  • Tell your congregation if you use Docent Research Group or any other group. 
  • Make sure the amount of money that is spent on this resource is reported to the members of your church and not hidden under some subcategory.
  • If you consider your job relentless and look at the coming of each Sunday as somehow tyrannical, get some counseling. Maybe you shouldn't be a pastor.
  • Examine yourself. If you rely on such groups to make you seem awesome, theologically heavy, incredible, etc. ask why? Do you really need to build your church so that it has tens of thousands of members? 
  • Examine why you need to expand satellites which beam your visage into localities that already have good churches. Is it about the gospel or you?
  • Do you really read those books on your "list of books your pastor is reading" or do you read a synopsis of the books? If you use a synopsis, stop the pretense. Better yet, give out the paid for synopsis to your congregation.

I understand that these groups claim not to write sermons. However, with a "team" and "team captain" assigned to the pastor's sermon each and every week, it sure sounds like the bulk of the pastor's preparation work is done. No wonder Mark Driscoll can write his sermons in 1-2 hours. The secret is out and frankly, I am not impressed.

If you attend a megachurch in which the pastor must buy services(and charge the congregation) in order to preach a knockout sermon, stop giving money to that church. Give it to a homeless shelter. And why get out of bed? Watch it on TV. Isn't it all a show anyway?

********

Update 6:23 PM An alert reader "just watching" saw this quote on the Docent website about joining the team It says:

We don’t have jobs for geeks. We have jobs for geeks who desire to make profound truths accessible to people who are not intellectually inclined. Docent link

Dee wants to know. To whom are they referring: the pastor who hires them or the members of the pastor's congregation?  Ask your pastor if he uses this service. If he does, get him to tell you just who they think is dumb.

Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 8:1-9:21 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Psalm 55:1-23 Proverbs 23:4-5

Comments

The Relentless Pain of the Weekly Sermon — 256 Comments

  1. Deebs!!!!

    First one to comment!! Must be some kind of mental telepathy between Raleigh and DC to see the fresh posts so regularly!!!

  2. My favorite part of the post:

    “Docent has been invaluable to me. I think I have had them do nearly everything but cut my grass. – Mark Driscoll”

  3. @ dee:

    I did…I’m going to see if I can outsource my work and then take credit for the final product. 😛 Its not plagarism Dee!

  4. Eagle wrote:

    Its not plagarism Dee!

    Every word belongs to God. I wonder if he would apply that to his house. Doesn’t God own that as well? Time to move in?

  5. You really must love this quote lifted off of the Docent website:

    “We don’t have jobs for geeks. We have jobs for geeks who desire to make profound truths accessible to people who are not intellectually inclined.”

    Does anyone read this as I did? “…make profound truths accessible to people (pastors?) who are not intellectually inclined.”

    Perhaps this is where the recycled “profound truths” originate in these tedious and vanilla-flavored books written by so many big name characters seen headlining the next “big” conference.

  6. I would have taken it one step further and ask what many have asked, namely, how did a 45 minute weekly monologue from a big chief become the essential requirement of the role of leadership? It undoubtedly contributes to the greater problem of what is constantly featured on this site – authoritarian leadership and dumb sheep syndrome. Take away the monologue and you take away the infatuation with the preacher, and put it on Christ and his bride’s conversation where it belongs.

    Problem solved: no need for organizations like Docent, more need for pastors to step down out of the spotlight.

  7. Is this Dosent service abused? Probably. Can it be used for good? I believe yes. If you were trying to provide this information in a fair and balanced manner I think you missed the mark. Readers should review the video testimonies and decide for themselves.

  8. John A wrote:

    Readers should review the video testimonies and decide for themselves.

    John, there is a reason I put the links. Do you really think you need to lecture the people on this site to read and decide for themselves? Can you take it up a notch, please?

  9. I was absolutely shocked by this statement at Docen website. Pastors need a team of dedicated researcher to write research the weekly sermon. A TEAM!

    Our Approach

    Because preaching is highly personal, Docent’s approach is relational. We start by forming a relationship with pastors to determine their research needs. Then dedicate a team of seminary-trained researchers to provide weekly research briefs according to a pastor’s specific instructions.

    o/~ Ghost Writers… Ghost Writers in the sky… o/~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlvc8qdGS3I

  10. To our readers

    Just Watching found a fascinating quote on the Docent website. I just updated the quote at the top of the page and added a comment at the end of the post. It is well worth reading it.

  11. Well, my big question is this: Is all the stuff about beating people up and the dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus a product of Mark Driscoll or Docent?

  12. Yeah, it is a bit shocking when you find this stuff out and you realize what a fraud it all is. I can remember being astonished to find out most mega church pastors have sites they go to and download outlines, illustrations and even media to show.

    I can remember thinking…what about the Holy Spirit?

    They are, for the most part, literally talking heads. Most mega church pastors I have been familiar with (quite a few) used these services. Kind of weird because they were not busy making hospital visits or even doing weddings or funerals. And mega church pastors for the most part do not do counseling unless it is some sort of celebrity. So my experience is they had quite a bit of free time for speaking gigs and books/. At least that was my experience. Not going to lie here, I have very little respect for mega church pastors. They are rarley in the trenches, so to speak. They have very little real world experience their adoring fans have, ironically. They are usually very isolated and surrounded by yes men. But they are adored by the pew sitters, sadly.

  13. and now we can guess the origin of the machete story… it was the Docent employee who was told to cut Driscoll’s grass! 😉

  14. as for hiring a crew of underpaid kids (likely students who need cash) to do all the work, I think it’s pathetic and shows the Big Names for what they really are. not surprising in the leasst, though the ringing endorsements sound like parodies.

  15. John A wrote:

    Is this Dosent service abused? Probably. Can it be used for good? I believe yes. If you were trying to provide this information in a fair and balanced manner I think you missed the mark. Readers should review the video testimonies and decide for themselves.

    I hope our readers will do as you suggest. The website is quite eye-opening.

  16. Deebs!!!!

    So instead of drooling to Matt Chandler and his “Explicit Gospel” talks…are you saying that a person should instead drool to some ghost writer who is a 22 year old nerd who is 5″2″ with a wirey frame, a whinney voice indicative of a late puberty who wears a “Jonathan Edwards is my homie” t-shirt while he drinks a $15.00 Moca Latte from Starbucks?

    Damn…how could I be wrong for all those years? 😛 Who is John Pipers ghost writer I wonder?

    So given CJ Mahaney’s educational limitations…the ghost writer is a boon for him! 😛

  17. numo wrote:

    and now we can guess the origin of the machete story… it was the Docent employee who was told to cut Driscoll’s grass!

    Best comment of the year!!!

  18. John A wrote:

    Is this Dosent service abused? Probably. Can it be used for good? I believe yes. If you were trying to provide this information in a fair and balanced manner I think you missed the mark. Readers should review the video testimonies and decide for themselves.

    I think there could be real value in some form of user(i.e. pastor)-generated database of helpful books, resources, etc, suggestions about which passages work well for which topics, suggestions of which passages they think complement (or challenge) each other, even general ideas about what sort of approach works for different topics and audiences. But it should be suggestions that an individual pastor then needs to investigate for themselves, not a, ‘I want to write a sermon on 1 John 2, give me the cliff notes version’ which is what Docent appears to be.
    A website that is a place for pastors to exchange ideas about preaching is a great concept. A website that does all but write the sermon for them is, to my academic-research-experienced mind, unethical. It is certainly not something that any professional researcher could get away with, and even a first-year undergrad would face some reprimand. We shouldn’t demand less rigour from pastors than we demand from 17 year old kids.

  19. I’m sick of living in the Washington, D.C. area damn it!! I went ahead and applied for the job. Think I stand a chance? I was just baptized last Sunday!! Here is my write up on additional information that was submitted.

    I just think this job would be fascinating. I’ve had it with DC living, the 495 traffic rush, getting up at 5:00 AM to get to work. I really want to live in Austin!! Plus I’ve had too many friends who drool over Matt Chandler’s, John Piper’s, and Mark Driscoll’s sermons. They can’t live without them..and how would funagelicalism survive without Matt Chandler?!? Darn it I want people to drool to me and my sermons being written behind the scenes!!

  20. Wait now. Men and women researchers? So the boys accept research (and maybe sermon prep?) from women?

    Everyday Joe and Everyday Mary? They who are intellectually gifted and well trained are going to find stories that connect God’s Word with poor dumb ole me? In a pig’s eye, bubba.

    And the way I read it those who “are not intellectually inclined” could be the guys purchasing their product or could me those of us sitting on the pew, or both. In other words, everybody but Docent.”

    On a less hostile note, this continues the theme of the worship service as entertainment by placing the role of the pastor like that of an actor. In addition to how he looks and what he wears and how his stage/pulpit presence affects the viewers and how he maintains eye contact with the camera now all he has to do is memorize his lines.

  21. Whatevet happened to, “study to show yourself approved”. As a pastor, i actually take great joy in my own study, prayet and meditation. H

  22. @ Deb: he is very concerned that readers on this site will only listen to us and never, ever check things out for themselves. he takes the Docent approach. Everyone else is really stupid.

  23. Nancy wrote:

    Wait now. Men and women researchers? So the boys accept research (and maybe sermon prep?) from women?

    Great pickup. Yep-women can’t preach but they can write the preacher’s notes. How very interesting. Can you imagine? Driscoll may have been presenting the research of a woman! ROFL.

  24. The old style version of this was the books of sermon illustrations. Although the books in and of themselves did not provide much in the way of sermon research, they did, however, provide cheesy sermon illustrations. ” A Priest, Pastor and a Rabbi walk into a bar…”

    Nothing really changes under the sun. (Docent was not invloved in the research, writing or creation of this post.”

  25. Hmmm…sounds a lot like what the organist has to do. Except we can’t have someone learn our fingering and pedaling for us and then just sit down and play everything perfectly on Sunday. 😉 Sure we’re all tired after Holy Week, after preparing 16-25 hymns plus liturgy, preludes, postludes, offertories and any hymn introductions/interludes we may have chosen to use. And then sometimes we have to stay up till 1AM Christmas Eve and still play again at 10 Christmas morning. But we, too, know what we signed up for. You don’t ask for that job if you don’t want to be there for every service. (And then on top of that some of us direct multiple choirs too and pick ALL the music.)

    Pay no attention to that woman behind the console.

    The pressure from high expectations, combined with the relentless frequency of weekly services, creates for many organists “the tyranny of the coming Sunday.” Add the countless, diverse demands on an organist, and too many weeks there simply isn’t time to get it all done.

    …NOT.

  26. Well. Hmm….this has me thinking. One of the things TWW's detractors like to say is that none of us here "have done the research" etc., etc., ….well, apparently, neither do their idols. 😉

    Actually, I would suspect that most of the readers here have studied the bible sufficiently that any one of us could, if asked, take a topic given, research it, and provide notes worthy of a pastor's sermon props….it might be a fun exercise (though probably impractical) to present Docent and your readers with the criteria and see how closely the research matches.

    Seriously, though…this seems to me just another example of the celebrity mindset that has flooded the church in America. Sadly, it is not just the pew sitters who are worshipping their celebs that are the problem (they are, after all taught to worship their leaders), it is the pastors themselves who believe themselves to be entitled to the same treatment that they see entertainment/sports/political celebs getting. And they have become good at finding Biblical(TM) methods of justifying their entitlement mentality…..sadly, I used to be one of the behind-the-scenes-volunteer-kool-aid-drinkg-believers in this BS. Sigh….

  27. Hmmm. Now I am wondering about their blog articles such as we see on TGC, etc. Not only that but what do they really believe if they are fed research on such matters. Guess we cannot really know. Perhaps they don’t either.

  28. Deb wrote:

    I hope our readers will do as you suggest. The website is quite eye-opening.

    Yes, I especially liked Matt Chandler’s video testimonial where he addresses some of the concerns that have been expressed in this comment section.

  29. To our readers
    I am beginning to think that John is not playing straight. As you an see from his comment, he is asking us to consider a different point of view which he is providing. However, the post not only linked to this exact post by Wilson but quoted from it as well.

    I am concerned that we are being taken for a ride. Therefore, all further comments from John will take a really, really long time to get through the approval process.

    His comment:

    Here is a different perspective on this issue from a former Docent researcher.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2012/06/04/what-does-docent-research-group-do/

  30. Hmm… I have to write all my lesson plans every week as a teacher – and carry them out. I’m tired just writing that!

    And Eagle, I get up at 5 a.m. for work too. Maybe I should apply for the job. Except I have no desire to live in Texas.

  31.   __

    Sermon Prep: “Tool Time?”

    hmmm…

    Thanks Wartburg Watch, 

    Whooooa,

    …yeah, guess I’ve been snookered, all along I was under the favorable impression that these 501(c)3 professional Bible ‘pros’ were utilizing many of the more than 36,000 Bible-study resources available @ logos.com.

    huh?

    …now we know, …these 501(c)3 professional Bible ‘pros simply hire out sermons like pizza, huh?

    30 minutes or less?

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    Sopy
    ___
    Notes:
    Logos 5 “Sermon Starter Guide”?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JQBY3woe98&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    Logos 5 Bible Software?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os0CS1DF-Dw&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    Using Logos 5 with Proclaim Church Presentation Software?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lkFEAeGUV8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  32. @ dee: why thank you [/blushes and looks at feet]

    I was a lowly grad student once, and my adviser wanted some of us (in a required seminar that he taught) to write “extra” research papers that were, in effect, exactly what the Docent employees are paid to do – but of course, we weren’t paid, and we didn’t get credit lines in his book.

    am afraid that this kind of abuse is all too common in academia, even now.

  33. I worked six days a week during my last pastorate:
    Monday, day off, usually spent seeing folks in hospitals, dealing with grief, problems, etc.
    Tuesday, at the church, studying and praying for Wednesday evening service (quick “light” clean of the church – vacuumed, cleaned front windows, swept entry way).
    Wednesday, study, counceling appointments, prepare study notes, lead bible study. After evening study, more counceling.
    Thursday, during building addition, worked on building all day. Before and after building addition, helped store hay, home remodeling, help build homes (volunteer).
    Friday, studied, read, home visits to elderly, shut ins, hospital visitation, purchase food for men’s prayer breakfast.
    Saturday, men’s prayer breakfast (helped cook), studied, wrote out bible study for Sunday.
    Sunday, arrived at church @ 7 am, prayed, reviewed study notes (cleaned church if volunteers forgot), led bible study, counseled afterward, hospital visitations, finally, home to eat and nap.
    Worked 55 hours a week as a “full time” pastor initially for $2,000 @ month. (Left $80,000 a year job to pastor). After 7-1/2 years, made $2,750 @ month.
    Considered it one of the greatest privilages of my life. Also, one of the most demanding. Never begged for money, never asked for a raise, refused a raise 3 times due to size of the church (60) never saw God fail. Never. Never any scandal, sexual or otherwise. Left as elders wanted a hireling who would “parrot” their demands. Broke my heart. That was 5-1/2 years ago, and still having a difficult time dealing with it.
    I am one of the blessed. My wife stayed by my side faithfully (perhaps the strongest person I know, male or female). God has provided an excellent job and home in Texas.
    I made my share of mistakes – lost my temper (with selfish elders whose greatest concern was their own comfort), failed to spend enough time with my wife, among other things.
    The ministry has been prostituted by many men whose god is their belly and serve Mamon. Are there faithful men out there? Perhaps. But they are getting harder and harder to find.

  34. Wow. Just wow. This is a LOT more than I expected. I mean, yeah, I knew about the books of sermon illustrations, that pastors put their sermons up on the Web, that churches can buy “packages” of successful sermon series that include all you need to make a big splash, including the teaser billboards, but this…this is so much more.

    So, I’ve got a zillion questions, like:

    * How much do pastors pay for this research information?
    * Who owns the copyright on the work product–the researcher, Docent or the pastor? (Or maybe even the church that pays the pastor?)
    * How much is the researcher paid for his/her work? (I was amused to see that apparently even women are employed by this outfit.)
    * Has anyone seen a legal agreement between Docent and the pastor who utilizes Docent’s services? I’d be curious to look that over, especially on the reuse of information found during research that later turns up in books, sermon series, etc., etc.

    So many questions, I’m sure I could think of more, but one thing I know for sure: This revelation isn’t going to change a thing. Mark Driscoll’s fanbois will gather and defend their man, after all, he’s a busy guy, of course he can have research help to churn out his latest masterpieces. If ghostwriting hasn’t embarrassed Christian book writers before now, finding out that your pastor is preaching from research cranked out by “Docent Research Group” won’t do the trick either. It’s just upping the ante for the pastors lower down on the totem pole, and putting them under more pressure.

  35. Randall Slack wrote:

    Left as elders wanted a hireling who would “parrot” their demands. Broke my heart. That was 5-1/2 years ago, and still having a difficult time dealing with it.

    Iam so sorry for the pain. I wish you had been my pastor. I bet a lot of people wish the same.

  36. @ Former CLC’er:

    Isn’t the commute a bear? I miss Milwaukee and Montana soooooooooooooooo much! Lot of it has do with the insane traffic here and the quietness there.

  37. I don’t have time to read the post and the comments this evening, however, there is a solution. That is to have a church in the NT model in which the elders (all those in the church who have been a Christian for more than a year or two) pass around the teaching/preaching responsibilities so no one is overwhelmed and claims to deserve hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits for preaching for less than an hour a week.

  38. I wonder what a lot of Matt Chandler groupies would think if they suddenly realized that their esteemed untouchable leader has ghost writers doing his sermon. Puts a whole new slant on his ministry. In addition to CJ Mahaney I’d suggest that Matt Chandler is the other sacred cow.

  39. Speaking of mega churches I’ve heard one too many stories of stuff that happens in mega churches. When I was going through my faith crisis someone I knew told me a story that dealt with McLean Bible. For those of you who don’t know McLean Bible is the mega church here in the Washington, D.C. area. It has about 13,000 people who attend and is linked to The Gospel Coalition, which it doesn’t advertise by the way. It is in the process of launching a number of campuses to encircle the DC area. Its led by Lon Solomon whose ego is bigger than many of the people in the US Congress combined.

    Getting back to the story, I used to rant about churches and corruption and someone I knew told me a story that blew my mind. This person’s mother was dying of breast cancer and was bedridden. She couldn’t move or leave the house. She goes to McLean Bible currently and asked if the Elders can anoint her mother with oil. McLean Bible’s response? They don’t do house calls…put this person in despair.

    When I heard that I was livid, plus as I already ranted and raged about how Christianity was a cancer at the time…and here I am hearing a story that confirms that fact. What good is a church if they don’t take care of the sick?!? Isn’t a woman dying of breast cancer one of the least of these?

    When I read about Docent it made me wonder about many mega churches that I had been involved in my past. Ughh….

  40. @ Eagle:

    The reason why McLean Bible would not visit this person’s mother is that her mother was not a member of the church. Could you imagine Jesus doing or saying that? Incredible…. the corruption in some of these places is just stunning.

  41. This is an awesome post – what a revelation. Really liked your thoughts and suggestions for pastors. I listened to all the video testimonies and 2 or 3 of the pastors mentioned that initially they were hesitant to use Docent because it felt like cheating, or the ethics of it, etc. My thoughts are if their radar set a warning off it was probably for good reason. They should have listened to that little voice. I feel this is totally unethical.

    Kudos to Randall Slack. He is an example of what pastoring is really all about. Unfortunately he was underpaid and overworked; I know that is a problem with many non-mega churches.

    Finally, I would recommend your post on Matt Chandler and Narcissistic Zero’s. Knowing what I know now the post is even more stunning.
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2010/09/21/an-open-letter-to-matt-chandler-from-a-narcissistic-zero/

  42. Thank you, Dee and Deb, for this post! I first heard about Docent a few years ago from a seminary friend, and it blew me away. It’s nice to be able to discuss it with others who are equally concerned!

    A few thoughts re: the post and some of the comments so far:

    – not all pastors are comfortable broadcasting that they use Docent. My friend was held to confidentiality agreements about a few of his clients. This, to me, suggests that in many cases it is a shady enterprise.

    – the claim that docent simply streamlines the research component of the sermon preparation process is sketchy. There already are “cliffs notes” for the Bible: numerous excellent commentaries like Word Biblical Commentary, Hermeneia, Anchor Bible Commentary, NICOT, NICNT, etc. All a pastor has to do is flip to the right place in a given commentary and he/she has everything broken down: history, language, grammar, syntax, rhetoric, etc. It’s actually not that difficult from a research POV. And software like Logos and Accordance make it even easier and faster. In short, most pastors should have little or no trouble “researching” their sermons.

    – my friend who worked for Docent said that indeed much of their work was doing the “little things” – like finding a funny hook for a particular sermon, or finding “facts & stats” the preacher can cite in the sermon to make his/her point and also to appear to be a knowledgeable authority (i.e. “As of 2011, 73% of Arminians aren’t really saved…”).

    In short, pastors who use Docent end up delivering sermons that include content that is not their own. It’s like ghostwriting, essentially. Politicians do this quite a bit. Pastors should not.

    Incidentally, doesn’t it seem logical that a pastor who uses Docent should have the cost subtracted from his pastor’s salary, since he isn’t doing that work? I don’t think “get paid while others do your work” is what Paul meant when he cited the “muzzle-less ox principal.”

  43. @ Jeannette Altes, Deb:

    What can i say? the thought just jumped into my mind while I was reading the post, and if I hadn’t gotten it down then and there, I’d have forgotten it completely.

  44. @ Eagle:
    Wow…it reminds me of an incident with my former pastor. My mother, who was not a formal member, but had attended semi-regularly for years, wrote my pastor a letter asking for prayer – for pastoral care. Now, I know my mother well enough to know that this letter was probably pretty bad as far as making her situation seem dire and inplying that he was her last hope (she sort of told me as much later). But when he got the letter, he never contacted my mother. No…he called me in his office (always felt like the principal’s office)and was angry – chastised me for not praying for my mother (I told him that I was) and then he said…”Those who have family that can take care of their needs should not be bothering us with that.” He was really put out. And I ended up feeling guilty because my mother wrote him asking for prayer….. O.o

  45. Too bad this service wasn’t around when I was taking my preaching class in college. I had to do all of the work, work, work. Reading commentaries, reading lexicons to understand the Greek words, thinking of interesting comparisons to engage my audience. No wonder preaching wasn’t my favorite subject.

  46. In this day and age where people can go online and access to hundreds of journals, books, and so on, why would a preacher have to rely on a sermon- writing / research service for help?

    I was a college student in the early/mid 1990s, before the internet. I had to drive to libraries and use a card catalog to look up books.

    Sometimes, preachers get free sermons / sermon outlines from movie companies.
    I’m not joking. Here is one example:

    Man of Steel [Superman movie] Ministry Resource Site
    manofsteelresources.com/‎

    For some time, Rick Warren had (or still has) a site where preachers can copy sermons or sermon illustrations or something. I forget the exact URL, maybe “pastor.com” or something?

    A few years ago, I also found a few sites run by companies that provide movie clips and stuff for preachers, for use in their sermons.

    There was one site like this that, for example, had a clip from the Spiderman 2 movie.

    If you paid them so much money, you could get access to a Spiderman movie clip that you could show at your church, and sermon notes, or whatever. I found that so weird.

    I had to do more leg work and effort writing research papers in my college days than preachers today do on writing sermons (and again, that was pre-internet days).

  47. Nancy wrote:

    On a less hostile note, this continues the theme of the worship service as entertainment by placing the role of the pastor like that of an actor. In addition to how he looks and what he wears and how his stage/pulpit presence affects the viewers and how he maintains eye contact with the camera now all he has to do is memorize his lines.

    Koine Greek word for actor: HYPOKRITOI.

  48. Dee:

    Most people in the congregation work in excess of 40 hours a week and then are expected to give time to the church by ushering, leading groups, etc.

    AND they are expected to turn over at least 10 percent or more of their income.

  49. Anon wrote:

    Dee:
    Most people in the congregation work in excess of 40 hours a week and then are expected to give time to the church by ushering, leading groups, etc.
    AND they are expected to turn over at least 10 percent or more of their income.

    ____________________________________________________

    And not complain, be thankful…..definitely don’t expect the Pastor to show up in the sheeps hospital room. (Unless they are a big wig in the town) Yup, bust your hump teaching SS to children, organize endless church potlucks, sing in the touring choir group, take your turn in the nursery but by golly……do not utter an opinion on changing church polity, especially if you are an aging sick ewe who can no longer produce good wool.

  50.   __

    “Order Out:  ???..To Show Yourself Approved, Unto Whom?”

    “Whatevet happened to, ‘study to show yourself approved unto God’ ; as a devoted pastor, actually taking great joy in doing one’s own study, prayer and meditation?” ~PP (ed. n’ adapted)

    hmmm…

    A steady ‘disciplined’ diet of :

    study, 
    prayer,
    and meditation? 

    huh? 

    hold da blog, bub! 

    (- you’ze gotz ta be kidding right, dat takes ‘vork’ )

     -snicker-  

    These proverbial church ‘actors’,
    it would appear, 
    are watching sports games, 
    and ordering out? 

    Ding… Dong!

    Sermon’s ready!!!

    (grin)

    *

      …In your hearts revering Christ as Lord; always being ‘prepared’ to give an appropriate and timely answer to everyone who asks of you – giving the reason for the ‘hope’ that dwells deep within?

    hmmm…

    Sopy

  51.   __

    @ Randall Slack

    …rest assured, thou good and faithful one, that what you did for the ‘least of these’ you did unto Jesus,

    hmmm…

    He does not soon forget.

    (let this be your healing…)

    *

    Hopeful & grateful before the throne of grace…

    ATB

    Sopy

  52. Mr.H wrote:

    I don’t think “get paid while others do your work” is what Paul meant when he cited the “muzzle-less ox principal.”

    I don’t know to what extent the average church CEO or main speaker uses a service like this. But in general, getting paid while others do your work is one of the vital ingredients for getting rich.

  53. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    getting paid while others do your work is one of the vital ingredients for getting rich.

    And it all starts when you plant your own church!
    Yes, my friend, sign up today.
    Get in on the action.

  54. @ Anon:

    You’ve hit the nail by the horns there. It’s instructive, surely, that when Paul went to Jerusalem and first met Peter and the gang, they affirmed Paul’s gospel, with one particular reminder:

    All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

    One of my favourite mavericks (and I like mavericks) is Tony Campolo. For those of you who haven’t come across this one, here is a paraphrased sermon introduction that has been, I believe accurately, attributed to him:

    I want to talk to you today about three tragedies.

    The first tragedy is that last night, while you slept, thirty thousand children around the world died from starvation or poverty-related disease.

    The second tragedy is that many of you don’t give a sh*t.

    The third tragedy is that you were more shocked and outraged when I said “sh*t” than you were when I told you thirty thousand children died last night.

  55. __

    “A Workman Ashamed, Perhaps?”

    These distinguished pastoral hands are thus spared that very labour in which they are un-willing to endure?

    What?

    (…handling the word of truth? )

    huh?

    Q: How shall we ‘endure’ these same distinguished pastoral individuals, as well?

    (sadface)

    Studying to show yourself approved unto God; a workman that need not be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth?

    hmmm…

    Sopy

  56. My point in writing was, these “pastors” do not know the first thing about being a servant. Thousands of small church pastors minister without any desire to be seen. Their desire to serve Christ costs them, yet they quietly serve the flock of God, knowing their reward is in Heaven.
    Those who seek earthly reward and fame aren’t worthy to be named among them.
    I have never shared my “story” in writing. A sign on the wall in my study reminds my daily of our motivation: “for the love of Christ compels us.” Any other motivation is form Hell. I need to be reminded of that, as none of us are above temptation and failure. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John the Baptist. May God help us all to decrease, so the life of Christ May be magnified in our lives.

  57. The leg in TX got all upset about public school teachers having a website, provided by the state education agency, with prepared lesson plans keyed to all of the topics required to be taught so children would learn everything needed to pass the standardized test in the Spring, and as a result, the materials were modified and made less available. Not a script mind you.

    BTW, lawyers can hire research and big law firms have junior associates and legal assistants to do the research and draft the documents. Are pastors competing to be thought of as most people think of attorneys? (kind of like congresspeople, the bunch is bad, but mine is OK?)

    So is Docent really the author of all of the books these guys publish, or do they take the Docent material and “personalize” it a little. Perhaps that explains the plagiarism charges against Driscoll. Did he and others use the same Docent material and just fail to modify it enough?

  58. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    One of my favourite mavericks (and I like mavericks) is Tony Campolo. For those of you who haven’t come across this one, here is a paraphrased sermon introduction that has been, I believe accurately, attributed to him

    Thanks for this, Nick! Added to my list of favorite quotes.

  59. Eagle wrote:

    Isn’t the commute a bear?

    Ask your bosses for some money to hire a chauffeur just like some pastors hire script writers. The relentless drive….

  60. Randall I read your post last night before bed and was disturbed by it. That is the one thing that drives me nuts about all this…the little guy gets hurt. Kind of ironic isn’t it? For all the talk some pastors have about doing things for the glory of God their actions not only create ethical dilemmas but they stomp on the little guy in the process. This is why mega churches can be so destructive…not only that when they plant and grow studies have shown that they juts cannibalize people from other churches.

  61. Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    Mark Driscoll’s fanbois will gather and defend their man, after all, he’s a busy guy, of course he can have research help to churn out his latest masterpieces

    They should no longer be thought of as *his* masterpieces. I think Docent should claim part ownership in the Queen Esther the Trollop story and I See Things discussion.

    Speaking of women…so women help to write Driscoll’s sermon? ROFL.

  62. Old joke:

    Lecture (n): a device for transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without its passing through the brains of either.

    Replace “lecture” with “sermon”… and I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by spelling out where I’m going with this one.

  63. An Attorney wrote:

    here is a solution. That is to have a church in the NT model in which the elders (all those in the church who have been a Christian for more than a year or two) pass around the teaching/preaching responsibilities so no one is overwhelmed and claims to deserve hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits for preaching for less than an hour a week.

    Shhhh…there are some pastors who do not want the world to know that decent elders and church members could actually preach a good sermon.

  64. McLean Bible Church members/pastors
    Anyone want to respond to this story?

    Eagle wrote:

    his person’s mother was dying of breast cancer and was bedridden. She couldn’t move or leave the house. She goes to McLean Bible currently and asked if the Elders can anoint her mother with oil. McLean Bible’s response? They don’t do house calls…put this person in despair.

  65. @ TW: I really think that these pastors who get on the circuit-conferences, books, etc get into a vicious cycle in which they feel that that other stuff is as important as being a pastor.

    A very nice man who is an elder in Chandler’s church corresponded with me saying they have no trouble with Chandler always traveling since they hired him merely to be a teaching pastor. They like sharing him with the world as a sort of pastor to the pastors. I told him that they had hired a speaker, not a pastor.

    What I didn’t say is that Chandler attends conferences in which every guy in the room thinks he is the most successful pastor since Billy Graham. These places are merely one ego telling another ego where to find dough. Oh yeah, and given the opportunity, they would put a satellite church in their rival’s backyard.

  66. Mr.H wrote:

    not all pastors are comfortable broadcasting that they use Docent. My friend was held to confidentiality agreements about a few of his clients. This, to me, suggests that in many cases it is a shady enterprise

    This is an excellent comment. It helps me to understand some things. I love it. They want to keep it secret from the congregation. My son attends a mega pastors church who uses this service. He was extolling the sermons so I dropped this info on him. It really, really bothered him. He joked “At least this company has found a way to keep me awake during sermons!)

    Mr.H wrote:

    It’s actually not that difficult from a research POV

    The internet has made information easy to obtain. We could not have done this blog a decade ago. In fact, sometimes I have too much info to process and streamlining is a problem.Mr.H wrote:

    In short, pastors who use Docent end up delivering sermons that include content that is not their own.

    But they sure pretend that they are the masters behind the sermon which, instead, they are using others to achieve their stature of the great sermonizers. Its all a bit of a game, isn’t it.These guys featured on the website have money rolling in and have no qualms using money donated to the church to buy their prestige.

  67. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    ”Those who have family that can take care of their needs should not be bothering us with that.” He was really put out. And I ended up feeling guilty because my mother wrote him asking for prayer

    He isn’t a pastor. Period.

  68. Daisy wrote:

    If you paid them so much money, you could get access to a Spiderman movie clip that you could show at your church, and sermon notes, or whatever. I found that so weird.

    Change this to “If you gave them some of the tithe money given to the church then you could get access.”

  69. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Koine Greek word for actor: HYPOKRITOI.

    I remember learning this in a history class. Hypocrite derives from the masks that actors used to hold over their faces to change characters. They were not who they seemed.

  70. Lin wrote:

    Yup, bust your hump teaching SS to children, organize endless church potlucks, sing in the touring choir group, take your turn in the nursery but by golly……do not utter an opinion on changing church polity,

    Shut up and work. And give money so the pastor can buy more help.

  71. Sopwith wrote:

    These proverbial church ‘actors’,
    it would appear, 
    are watching sports games, 
    and ordering out? 
    Ding… Dong!
    Sermon’s ready!!!
    (grin)

    And that’s it in a nutshell.

  72. An Attorney wrote:

    Perhaps that explains the plagiarism charges against Driscoll. Did he and others use the same Docent material and just fail to modify it enough?

    Fascinating thought!

  73. First I agree with Carl Truemen twice. Now I agree with Kevin DeYoung. Please read his post. Here is an excerpt.

    “On the other hand, pastors must be honest that some of their writing (and all that is associated with the release of a book) is bound to take place on church time. More than that, they may sell their books to parishioners, use office staff for book related projects, and devote no small amount of their energies to a task that is not essential to the church’s ministry.”

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/12/03/seven-thoughts-on-pastors-writing-books/?comments#comments

  74. I wouldn’t care so much about Docent except these pastors are the same ones who, when discussing women, suddenly say preaching a sermon is the grandest, weightiest, most authoritatively big deal EVER. Tell me, if you’re outsourcing the work of finding a way to explain a subject to someone else then how are you a teacher? You are just an orator, and I don’t recall that being a spiritual gift.

  75. Pastor Steven Furtick regularly preaches TD Jake’s sermons and they really rock!

    He has told us before that “this message has been inspired by the greatest preacher in America, TD Jakes!”

    Look…When my mom cooked a good meal and it nourished me, I never asked where she got the recipe…I did not care if she ‘borrowed it from someone else’…I just loved the food!

    Pastor Steven serves us gourmet gospel every weekend..I don’t care if he downloaded it, uploaded it, or its pre-packaged from Joel Osteen…I just love the groceries he brings to the table!

    Our Sunday School teachers when I was a little boy used a transcript handed to them…why not the preacher???

    Speaking of great preaching, go to http://www.elevationchurch.org and listen to the amazing message entitled “How to hug a Vampire”, I promise you it sounded like the Apostle Paul himself was in the House!

    Hallelujah…What a Savior!!!!

  76. An Attorney wrote:

    I don’t have time to read the post and the comments this evening, however, there is a solution. That is to have a church in the NT model in which the elders (all those in the church who have been a Christian for more than a year or two) pass around the teaching/preaching responsibilities so no one is overwhelmed and claims to deserve hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits for preaching for less than an hour a week.

    On the right track, imo. Monologue is analogous to the TV dinner – it’s a purchased, pre-packaged meal that is prepared by someone other than the consumer. It’s quick, easy and convenient. No doubt they can keep people alive as some are more nutritious than others. Kids can even grow up on them (but at what cost?).

    Why would one be satisfied with the TV dinner when there is a much better solution: learn how to grow your own organic food and prepare your own lavish meals. Thanksgiving meal every time you eat!

    I’ve been in/out/around American evangelicalism for over 40 years and remember hearing over and over: “a pastor’s job is to work himself out of his job”. But, when has this ever been applied to the idea of preaching as monologue? One man is to prepare the meal again, and again, and again, so that the rest would grow up in Christ? Wouldn’t it be better if the elders train those in the body to grow their own food and bring Christ to each other as a meal on the days they gather corporately? Much more tasty and nutritious!

    It would take the infatuated focus, unwarranted expectation off a single (or dual) person(s). People would grow up faster and be more healthy long-term because they are eating food (Christ) from various sources (His entire body). Ego’s less likely fed. Celebrity status less likely obtained. Less opportunities to make Christ into a business. Less opportunities for the need of companies like Docent.

    One could go on as the list of benefits is huge (but sadly unpopular).

  77. @eagle. This makes me so sad. I attended McLean Bible staring in 1979-1983 as a high school freshman. In fact, I was introduced to Christ thanks to the faithful service of the youth pastor, Mike Baumgardner. His brainchild was a com 3@ Eagle:

  78. @ Tim Lawing:
    Welcome back, Tim! Steven Furtick and TD jakes seem to fit quite well together. That comment made me laugh so hard that I fell it deserves a post of its own. Have you and Mr. Rogers considered a book deal?

  79. Kristin wrote:

    Tell me, if you’re outsourcing the work of finding a way to explain a subject to someone else then how are you a teacher?

    Better yet, they use a service that employs women to do the writing! Delicious irony, that!

  80. Pletely student run club (similar to Young Life of long ago) because my high school had ejected all “pro” missionaries from the campus. Mike taught from the Bible week in and week out , and I still remember many of his Sunday school (that’s a throw-back!) lessons. If not for him and his years of faithful was at MB (where I was an orphan — my parents were not interesred) i cannot imagine my life. My entire family and inlaws may never have come to know The Lord if not for what I learned from Mike, a humble Godly man. To hear how it has morphed into a mega monster is heart breaking!! <@ Lisa:

  81. dee wrote:

    @ Tim Lawing:
    That comment made me laugh so hard that I fell it deserves a post of its own.

    Definitely a classic!

  82. Sorry if this has already been addressed…do any women work at Docent? And shouldn’t Mark D’s disciples know that are being taught (even secondarily) by a woman or women?

  83. Wow – Plagerism – Christian Ghost Writing – Sermon Research Teams
    What won’t Todays – pastor/leader/reverends – do in the name of Gawd – Or for Celebrity?
    (Note – NOT original content – This info, cut and pasted, from a previous blog comment.)

    Christian Ghost Writing??? – Yup…
    And that ain’t “the Holy Ghost” doing the writing.

    Who Would have Thunk it. – Seems there are “Pastors” Today…
    Who “Do NOT” write their own books. 🙁

    Here’s a post from Jared Wilson mentioned in the article – Now of “The Gospel Coalition”
    Who calls himself a Pastor, and does Ghost Writing. It’s an interesting post.

    Jared says…
    “What I typically do is turn a pastor’s already-written sermon transcripts or extensive notes into a book-quality manuscript.”

    Well – He thinks that’s okay – and admits to “some level of additional writing”
    But says – What he does doesn’t violate “his conscience.” You be the judge.

    http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.com/2010/12/randy-alcorn-said-it.html

    Randy Alcorn – an Author – said…
    “I believe Christian ghostwriting is a scandal waiting to explode. If we in the Christian community don’t clean up our act soon, we’re going to face widespread loss of credibility.”

    ————–

    Maybe some of the wonderful commenters here can figure out how we can know…

    1 – Who the Ghost Writers are?

    2 – Who is having their books written for them?

    3 – Who is having – “already-written sermon transcripts
    or extensive notes into a book-quality manuscript.” ???

    Wow – Plagerism – Christian Ghost Writing – Sermon Research Teams
    What won’t Todays – pastor/leader/reverends – do in the name of Gawd – Or for Celebrity?

  84. Here’s some info – About Jonny Mac – Phil Johnson – and Jonny Mac’s books.

    Phil says…
    “Sometimes I rearrange material or borrow bits and pieces from multiple sermons—which necessitates lots of new transitions.”

    http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2006/07/update-on-where-i-am-right-now.html

    “People often ask about the process. I start with sermon transcripts—verbatim records of what John said in a sermon (or a series of sermons, or a collection of various sermons that are topically cross-linked). I translate that material from spoken English to written English. This involves a rather exhaustive process of rewriting—mainly to shorten sentences, simplify and clarify sermonic expressions, make the logic and readability as smooth as possible, and remove the kind of redundancies that are fine (and even crucial for proper stress) in a sermon but bad form in writing. **Sometimes I rearrange material or borrow bits and pieces from multiple sermons—which necessitates lots of new transitions.**”

    Hmmm? Christian Ghost Writing???

    Jer 17:5
    Thus saith the LORD;
    Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm,

  85. And this reviewer says…
    “ Second, MacArthur graciously acknowledges that he used a ghost writer, Phil Johnson, who “carefully, skillfully pulls my voice out of the air and transforms it into ink” (p.8).”

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1993ii/faith-works.html

    Oh well – Maybe Jesus was correct after all…

    Luke 21:8
    And he said, Take heed that ye be NOT deceived:
    for “many” shall come “in my *name,” (Names Jesus is called – shepherd/leader/reverend.)
    saying, I am Christ; (I am Annointed , and I am a shepherd/leader/reverend.)
    and the time draweth near: go ye NOT therefore after them.

    *Name – Strongs #3686. – onoma – a “name” (literally or figuratively) [authority, character]

    Are Today’s – pastor/leader/reverends – taking the Name of the Lord our God?
    And taking that Name – in Vain? Exodus 20:7.

  86. The great “a-ha” moment I had about church was to learn that the alter (which was front and center for 1,500+ years) was replaced with the pulpit during the protestant reformation. The preacher became the centerpiece of church. You no longer go to partake of the Eucharist, but to be entertained and inspired by a preacher’s golden tongue. When I reset what I believed worship consisted of, the sermon takes such a back seat. When the preacher is the center, you get the foolishness of Ed Young and his type.

  87. This is part of a much larger problem, namely that too many large churches are following a business model (and often a bad one at that) rather than a model that would help their church be a community of believers. The sermon is a product and the churchgoers are consumers. That’s all. It’s the opposite of what it should be.

    One thing I learned in seminary and from missionaries with decades of experience is that if you are speaking or preaching you have to exegete not only scripture, but also your audience/congregation. In other words, you have to know your fellow believers whom you are serving and create a message that is relevant to their situation and needs in some way while always of course being faithful to God’s word. Believing that this is possible as we serve God and seek the guidance and help of His word and the Holy Spirit is part of the journey of faith.

    A distant research group and a pastor isolated by celebrity simply won’t be able to do this.

    The sad thing is that probably most of the people in the megachurch pews have no idea what they are missing.

  88. @ dee:

    “A very nice man who is an elder in Chandler’s church corresponded with me saying they have no trouble with Chandler always traveling since they hired him merely to be a teaching pastor. They like sharing him with the world as a sort of pastor to the pastors. I told him that they had hired a speaker, not a pastor.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    makes me think of a producer hiring a big name lead actor for a film for the purposes of clout. Effort & time don’t necessarily factor in to the hefty paycheck the actor can command. Film=making redefined away from art form.

  89. And Today. Kevin De Young at TGC
    has a post about Book Writing, Ghost Writing and Plagerism

    “Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books”
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/12/03/seven-thoughts-on-pastors-writing-books/?comments#comments

    6. Writing should be done by the person whose name is on the cover.

    “…And the same goes for **ghostwriting** and some *research services.* Again, I realize there is a place for people to help authors with editing, with research, with tracking down footnotes, with providing information and ideas. Every book is, in some degree, a collaborative process. But the simple fact is that for 99% of the reading public they assume that if your name is on the cover of a book that you wrote the book.”

    “…And if research companies are writing whole chunks of our sermons and our written materials without any attribution, well, this is plain unacceptable. Writers gotta write their own stuff.”

  90. @ John:

    But John, there’s no need to “exegete your congregation” when you have the divine gift of Sin Vision! Those elite few so gifted are always aware of what to accuse their congregations of.

    Seriously, I agree with you. Instead of getting to really know their congregations, they travel around like celebrity speakers. When they do preach, they just harp on whatever sins they think everyone struggles with (but which, most likely, they personally struggle with).

  91. Lin wrote:

    Yup, bust your hump teaching SS to children, organize endless church potlucks, sing in the touring choir group, take your turn in the nursery but by golly……do not utter an opinion on changing church polity, especially if you are an aging sick ewe who can no longer produce good wool.

    At which point, you’re only good for mutton. SLICE!!!!

  92. The Calvinist version of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7

    Then Jesus told them this parable:

    “Suppose a shepherd has a hundred sheep and he loses all of them. Doesn’t he go out into the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds one? And when he finds one, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. And having rescued one sheep he leaves the ninety-nine sheep lost in the wild. He calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I have found one of my lost sheep.’

    Got to give credit where it is due….

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2012/03/parable-of-lost-sheep-calvinist-version.html

  93. @ John:

    Since I am feeling better, and since I am by nature a piece of work, and since I am not a religious professional, let me state one view from the pew.

    In my experience, the pastor(s) et al live in a different world from my world. How on earth could one expect that they would or should try to “create a message that is relevant” to my situation?” Why assume that the scripture is not “relevant” until they monkey around with it. Why assume that the Holy Spirit is confined to the quiet of their “study” and not present in the messiness of the world I live in? Who appointed the preacher as some kind of mediator between God and the rest of us? These people will never come live in my world because in my world you get your hands dirty and you get hurt. When we all face the final evaluation (I am not talking about salvation) and some of these preachers are waiting for the multiple choice quiz on doctrine to be passed out, what are they going to do when the first question is “show me your scars?” But Lord, the may say, I was busy trying to be verbally relevant, and I spent a lot of money paying people to show me how.

    In scripture Peter at Pentecost, Stephen at his trial and Paul as he was passing through certainly were awesome at preaching. But how did the idea develop that this sort of preaching was the daily heart and life and “bread” of the church? Maybe these guys with the buying of research and the ghost writers and the plagiarism resort to these extremes because it never was intended for us to be sitting around waiting to be bottle fed with an endless supply of verbiage.

  94. @ A. Amos Love:

    Wow

    I posted my first comment here @ Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 11:34 AM
    ON Kevin De Youngs site – mentioning Jared Wilson…

    Jared answered quickly – He said…

    “**Ghostwriting is dishonest.** I’ve never done ghostwriting (written a book and let someone else put their name on it) or used ghostwriting, but I admit it’s kinda funny being accused of it by a guy using a pen name.”

    ———

    I quickly answered Jared

    ———

    Jared

    Sorry for mis-understanding you.

    I thought you called yourself a Ghost Writer on your site…
    http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.com/2010/12/randy-alcorn-said-it.html

    “Many of my readers know that I do (a level of) ghostwriting and book doctoring
    for some Christian leaders.”

    And – Today you say – “Ghostwriting is dishonest.” Thank you for that clareification…
    Sorry again for mis-understanding you.

    I thought, on your site, you were giveing advice to those who desire to be Ghost Writers…
    “If you’re a ghostwriter or aspiring ghostwriter, determine up front how much writing you will be fine handing over for no credit.”

  95. @ Eagle:

    Love that. That is so well said. And then, I suppose, he pens it up in the sheepfold while he endlessly lectures it about its nutrition and how to keep its wool clean and its love live and relationship with the other sheep in the next sheepfold and its dental hygiene etc etc etc ad nauseum while the rest perish…

  96. And Jared answered back again

    “Yes, 3 years ago I was misusing the term. I used the word “ghostwriting” then to refer to any and all editing/ms.-assistance but I don’t think that’s correct terminology. (I have edited that word out of the old post — leaving in the description of the work I’ve done — in order to avoid confusion.) I believe that ghostwriting is writing a book or a substantive portion of a book while a non-writer takes the authorial credit. I’ve never done that nor would I commend it.”

    ———-

    And – sur-nough – The wording is now changed on Jareds site. 😉

    ———-

    “Many of my readers know that I have done “book doctoring” for some Christian leaders.”

    ———-

    You can’t make this stuff- up…. These guys just change the words ad the meaning of words.

    It’s probably now known as – Gospel – Biblical – “book doctoring” 😉 😉

  97. Oh Yeah…

    A while back – Jared C Wilson – Banned me – From his site… 🙂

    He did NOT like the questions I asked about pastors.

    ———-

    Jared

    I’m in agreement when promoting the Bible and – “do whatever God’s word says.”

    “Back to *my church.*
    I have been very blessed that these folks have a willingness to do whatever God’s word says.”

    Was wondering – In “Your” church…
    Do you call your self – Pastor? – Does anyone call you – Pastor?

    Can “You” or anyone, produce – One Example…

    In the Bible – Where one of His Disciples – Are “Called” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – Where one of His Disciples – “Call themself” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – Where one of His Disciples – Have the “Title” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – Where one of His Disciples – Are Hired or Fired – as a – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – One congregation – “Led” by a – Pastor/Leader?

    And every “Pastor/Leader” I’ve met – has the “Title” – Reverend.

    In the Bible – Does any one of His Disciples – Have the “Title” – Reverend?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them **to go astray,**

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as “sheep going astray;”
    but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    ————

    And yet we get a chance to talk again… 😉

  98. @Eagle – yes, the commute is crazy. Especially if you go by metro and bus as I do. I want to write a book about all the people I see on public transportation.

    @Dee – yes, Eagle and I could provide some good stories. I could add in illustrations from my special ed experiences and working with families in the poorer side of town. My stories always make heads roll.

  99. @ Kristin:

    Those are all very good points.

    People who advocate for gender roles aren’t even consistent about following them.

    This is akin to Piper saying he’s fine using a book written by a woman in doing biblical research, but he would not be okay with that same woman standing in front of him period (or in a church service) and reading it aloud, or reading anything aloud.

  100. Daisy wrote:

    This is akin to Piper saying he’s fine using a book written by a woman in doing biblical research, but he would not be okay with that same woman standing in front of him period (or in a church service) and reading it aloud, or reading anything aloud.

    Women are neither to be seen up front nor heard from, but reading their books is OK. I think that’s in Proverbs somewhere.

  101. Mark wrote:

    was replaced with the pulpit during the protestant reformation. The preacher became the centerpiece of church.

    Someone wrote a book describing that. I wish I could remember the title.

    It’s sold on Amazon. I looked for it and don’t see it, but I did find this 19th century title listed:

    The “Idolatry” of the pulpit; or, Strictures on the relations subsisting between clergy and laity in Scotland
    Unknown Binding – January 1, 1859

    And this:
    The Priesthood of Every Believer: Resolving the Clergy/Laity Distinction by Davild L. Dawson (2008)

    In the process of looking for that one book, I found this kind of creepy sounding one, about how to bilk more money out of church goers:

    Whose Offering Plate Is It?: New Strategies for Financial Stewardship Paperback
    by J. Clif Christopher (Author)

    He offers simple, strategic advice on such difficult questions as:

    “Exactly how do I go about gaining access to the donor records when my church has prohibited it for a hundred years?”

    “How do I explain a meeting with just those who are strong givers without alienating those who are not?”

    “How can we advocate online giving without encouraging some to abuse their credit cards?”

    Another creepy sounding volume:

    Selling your church in the ’90s: A public relations guide for clergy and laity by Boyce A Bowdon (1992)

    I found this while looking for the book, this looks interesting (especially the part that discusses how Calvinism and Arminianism have impacted lay preaching):
    What Is the Biblical View of the Laity

    Anyway, I can’t find the book I was thinking of. 🙁

  102. A. Amos Love wrote:

    You can’t make this stuff- up…. These guys just change the words ad the meaning of words.
    It’s probably now known as – Gospel – Biblical – “book doctoring

    Just like ChEKA changed its name to OGPU which changed its name to NKVD which changed its name to KGB which changed its name to FSB.

  103. John wrote:

    In other words, you have to know your fellow believers whom you are serving and create a message that is relevant to their situation and needs in some way while always of course being faithful to God’s word.

    Most preachers continue to be unaware or disinterested in the fact that 44% of adults in America are single; most sermons I hear deal with marriage.

    From what I’ve seen on the internet, some of churches have as much as 40% – 60% of single adults making up their congregation, but the preachers never minister to them, the sermons are still about marriage.

  104. Daisy wrote:

    From what I’ve seen on the internet, some of churches have as much as 40% – 60% of single adults making up their congregation, but the preachers never minister to them, the sermons are still about marriage.

    P.S. that is what I’ve read in regards to big mega churches, at least. In many other churches and many denominations, married couples out number single people.

    If you’re a single woman expecting to meet a single man at most churches (rather than using a dating site), good luck, it’ not likely to happen.

  105. @ elastigirl:

    You could go further with the analogy.

    If preachers are going to refuse to do their own research or visit the sick, they need to hire the equivalent of an actor’s “stunt double” who will do those things!

  106. Mr.H wrote:

    When they do preach, they just harp on whatever sins they think everyone struggles with (but which, most likely, they personally struggle with).

    Oh yeah, you know it. HUG and I have chatted about this before.

    I notice a lot of preachers harp on sexual sin. It makes me wonder what is going on with them.

    I’m single and celibate. It weirds me out that married preachers (who I assume most likely are having regular ‘relations’ with their spouses) go on about sex as much as they do.

  107. Nancy wrote:

    resort to these extremes because it never was intended for us to be sitting around waiting to be bottle fed with an endless supply of verbiage.

    I’m not opposed to self study, but I don’t know if I can totally agree.

    Many of the seeker-friendly preachers alienate mature Christians by refusing to give deep sermons.

    (Not that I like very dry, boring sermons myself, but something more than the jokey, self help, pep talks that passes for sermons today would be nice.)

    These seeker friendly preachers respond that church is for attracting Non believers only, not for feeding the sheep (people who are already Christians), which I don’t see as being biblical.

    But they tell the mature believers to go home and read the Bible alone, or join a small Bible study group, but don’t expect the preacher to go more than an inch deep in a sermon during a Sunday service.

    For Whom Do Pastors Exist?

  108. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not opposed to self study, but I don’t know if I can totally agree.

    Kind of with you on that one, Daisy (I’m on a slight tangent here, because I don’t think I’m necessarily disagreeing with Nancy). The roles of “leading elder”, “lead pastor”, or pastor-as-CEO are not biblical. But “teacher” is, and although there are surprisingly few references to it, it obviously exists for a reason.

  109. Tim Lawing wrote:

    Pastor Steven Furtick regularly preaches TD Jake’s sermons and they really rock!

    He has told us before that “this message has been inspired by the greatest preacher in America, TD Jakes!”

    Look…When my mom cooked a good meal and it nourished me, I never asked where she got the recipe…I did not care if she ‘borrowed it from someone else’…I just loved the food!

    Pastor Steven serves us gourmet gospel every weekend..I don’t care if he downloaded it, uploaded it, or its pre-packaged from Joel Osteen…I just love the groceries he brings to the table!

    Our Sunday School teachers when I was a little boy used a transcript handed to them…why not the preacher???

    Speaking of great preaching, go to http://www.elevationchurch.org and listen to the amazing message entitled “How to hug a Vampire”, I promise you it sounded like the Apostle Paul himself was in the House!

    Hallelujah…What a Savior!!!!

    How is it that every comment from an Elevation church person sounds exactly the same? Gourmet gospel, blah blah blah. I find your comments utterly hysterical & yet slightly scary Tim.

  110. Half the sermons I’ve been subjected to as a Christian are primarily composed of whimsical stories about the pastor’s children, silly allegorical stories, and basic summary of passages that anyone with a basic level of reading comprehension could come up with on their own. I neither see why this requires 10-18 hrs nor why a service like this would be helpful. Also, I have to give talks for my work that require actual research and I don’t gripe about it.

    The pastor at my old church told us we have “no idea” what it is like to prepare a sermon. He said it is like giving birth on Sunday only to wake up on Monday morning and find out you are pregnant again. Week after week.

    Barf.

  111. @ Moxie: Yep. Even the people who think they’re great at “expository preaching” go off on tons of tangents and have a hard time making the point – and take over an hour each Sunday to do it. (In my experience, at least.)

    I think this is all about showtime, not about actually teaching anything at all. and it’s also entirely possible – happens often enough – for a person who really is gifted at pastoral ministry to not be good at public speaking, plain and simple. I can’t see how that disqualifies them for pastoral ministry, nor why the public speaking aspect should be SO all-fired important given what Jesus said (and did) re. being the least of all and servant of all.

    Am convinced that many people come to church wanting the minister to entertain them from the pulpit. *So* much better to put some effort into something like Sunday school and not demand that the person who has to get into the pulpit be responsible… instead of us.

  112. Hmmm? Pastors Preparing for Preaching – The tyranny of the coming Sunday?

    The Persisting Problem Preaching Pastors Perceive Points to the **Pulpit.** 🙂
    It’s because of – The Pulpit – and – The Pulpiteers…

    Yes – It’s the “Pulpit.” See, Pul… Pit… Puuuullll…. Piiiitttt…. A funny word. Yes? 😉
    See, The “Pulpit” is really from the “Pit.” And the Pull-Pits job is to “Pull” Pastors into the Pit.

    Just get rid of the “Pulpit” – and “The Pulpiteers” – and the Problem – is Prevented. 😉

    And – Today – It seems – The whole Sunday Service revolves around the “Pastor – in a Pulpit”

    Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees (The Religious Leaders) The Woe People – He says…
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, “Hypocrites” – Seven times in just Mat 23 alone.

    Hypocrite – is Strongs – #5273 – hupokrites –
    And – It means – an actor under an assumed character (stage-player)

    Is NOT todays Pastor – required by our tradition to be – a Stage Player?
    The Poor Pastor is Praised or Pummeled on their Performance in a Pulpit – as a Stage Player.

    Here is this Poor Person – with the “Title” “Pastor/Reverend” – NOT found in the Bible
    Required by tradition – to Perform – Every Sunday morning – Par excellence…
    And nothing less – by the Patrons – who are Paying him – to Perfect them. 😉

    Hasn’t anyone ever wondered…Why – In the Bible – There is NOT one
    Paid – Professional – Pastor – in a Pulpit – Preaching – to People – in Pews?

    That certainly was NOT the way Jesus taught “His Disciples.” Seems He hit the streets. 😉
    And took His Disciples with Him – and they learned by example…
    To Preach the Kingdom of God and Heal the sick… Luke 9:2

    And – Paul recommends in 1 Cor 14:26, That each one has a teaching, a revelation…
    And ALL believers can, and are expected to participate. – I like Paul – a lot.

    How is it then, brethren? when ye come together,
    **every one of you** hath a psalm, hath a *doctrine, (A *Teaching.)
    hath a tongue, hath a *revelation, (*Concerning things before unknown.)
    hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

    After experiencing many different kinds of “the church of man” – “Corrupt Religious Systems”
    It becomes evident that…

    Paid – Professional – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews…
    Prevent – Public – Participation – and – Promote – Passive – Pew – Potatoes….
    Procuring – Power – Profit – Prestige – for the Prevailing – Parsing – Pastor…

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Voice – One Shepherd

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  113. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lin wrote:
    Yup, bust your hump teaching SS to children, organize endless church potlucks, sing in the touring choir group, take your turn in the nursery but by golly……do not utter an opinion on changing church polity, especially if you are an aging sick ewe who can no longer produce good wool.
    At which point, you’re only good for mutton. SLICE!!!!

    ——————-
    Woo – hoo I escaped the chopping block! Off to another fold where all the sheep actually worship in pretty good harmony.

  114. Mark wrote:

    The great “a-ha” moment I had about church was to learn that the alter (which was front and center for 1,500+ years) was replaced with the pulpit during the protestant reformation. The preacher became the centerpiece of church. You no longer go to partake of the Eucharist, but to be entertained and inspired by a preacher’s golden tongue. When I reset what I believed worship consisted of, the sermon takes such a back seat. When the preacher is the center, you get the foolishness of Ed Young and his type.

    —————
    Can appreciate that sentiment.
    Christ said to remember Him with the bread/wine until he comes. Unfortunately, many churches come to the table once a month at best. Leaves lots of time /space in the service, for the emphasis to be placed upon the pastors’ sermon, rather then upon the supper for the saints.

  115. A. Amos Love wrote:

    Paid – Professional – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews…
    Prevent – Public – Participation – and – Promote – Passive – Pew – Potatoes….
    Procuring – Power – Profit – Prestige – for the Prevailing – Parsing – Pastor…

    You’ve got some talent – Docent could use you! Seriously though, I hear what you’re saying and share your concerns.

  116. @ Moxie:

    “The pastor at my old church told us we have “no idea” what it is like to prepare a sermon. He said it is like giving birth on Sunday only to wake up on Monday morning and find out you are pregnant again. Week after week.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i differ with said ignoramus on who it is who actually has “no idea”.

  117. @ Daisy:

    Well, Piper did say that if he feels a woman’s authority coming at him through the book, he won’t read it. Or something to that effect.

  118. @ numo:

    “I can’t see how…why the public speaking aspect should be SO all-fired important”
    +++++++++++++++

    especially since i can only take in about a half of what is said as my day dreaming motor simply runs (perpetual motion achieved right here, folks).

    10 minutes afterwards i couldn’t tell you what any of it was. but it was nice to sit still & relax in a social setting for 30 or so minutes.

  119. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    I’d much rather be with a small group of people in a teaching context where one can actually communicate (as in others besides the teacher can speak). I can hardly sit through a sermon any longer. Semons have become a man sharing the text he is teaching from and then at least 30 minutes of the time is spent telling us, sometimes loudly, what he thinks we need to hear. As if several hundred people are in the same place.

    I believe the Church should be different than this when we come together.

    I’m with you, Numo 🙁

  120. @ TW:

    TW

    Thanks for the link…

    Tried to post there – but comments are now closed…

    PS – Where is that flag from – And you… 😉

  121. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    HUG

    I was thinking about you when I wrote how they change the words and change meanings of words.

    Thanks to your persistence – In how the bad guys constantly reframe there junk…

  122. Daisy wrote:

    If you’re a single woman expecting to meet a single man at most churches (rather than using a dating site), good luck, it’ not likely to happen.

    Daisy, may I suggest you get a copy of “Quitting Church” by Julia Duin. Your experience is not unique. It’s repeated many times by the singles she interviewed in her book. A lot of churches actually try to keep people single. They have pat answers such as if God hasn’t brought someone into your life by age “X”, then you have the gift of singleness and stop complaining about your situation in life.

  123. @ Nancy:

    I understand, and I agree. Finding pastors who are willing to get their hands dirty and live as we all do is rare at best. I’ve only had one or two, and neither lasted long. For the record, I’ve never been a professional pastor. Seminary degree, yes. Teacher, yes, but never ordained or official pastor. So I do know the view from the pew. Peace.

  124. There is, of course, a general lack of understanding about the fact that a sermon is lived, not preached.

    In fact there are few, if any, examples of Jesus “expounding the scriptures” in the gospels. More often than not he referred to scripture to explain that he had just fulfilled it. It all depends on exactly what one means by “expound”, of course, but if there were ever an occasion in which Jesus read a passage of scripture and then interpreted it line by line, the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to have felt it necessary to record it for us.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in church circles where the singing and music is an important part of coming together. Nothing wrong with that. But the culture has developed whereby the goal is to be stroked and pleasured into a tearful and/or breathless state of emotional arousal; and a whole load of us learned to believe that once we were sobbing with emotion, then we had entered into The Presence. Maybe; maybe not. By the same token, other believers have learned to seek intellectual stimulation and pleasure, and associate a particularly brain-ticklingly satisfying turn of phrase with Encountering God Through His Word. Again – maybe, maybe not.

  125. @ John: Hmm… ever met people who are ministers in non-evangelical churches? It’s a whole different ballgame out here, and usually – though not always – better. doing the dirty work is the stuff of true pastoral ministry, imo, and the people I know who do it are about as far from wanting (or getting) rock star status as the Earth is from the Andromeda Galaxy.

  126. Even though I agree with the spirit of the post (pastor’s being honest about their research) If I could play devil’s advocate for a second.

    1. At its very core, if someone paid for a commentary and used it for their sermon, is this not the same as paying for a collected research? It is research not done by the pastor, but summarized and articulated for use.

    2. What if the context was different? Hypothetically, what if the pastor used the collected research to free up time for visitation and/or pastoral counseling, or any other number of service projects? Do the ends justify the means?

    Also, while I understand your point concerning pastors who complain about the tyranny of Sunday, one must realize that preaching is not easy, and that the current ecclesiological expectations on the weekly sermon make it a life or death affair for some (sermons are good = keep your job, sermons are bad = lose it). This does not excuse any abuses or complaining, but I do not want all pastors condemned as whiners because of a few high profile complainers.

  127. Derek wrote:

    one must realize that preaching is not easy, and that the current ecclesiological expectations on the weekly sermon make it a life or death affair for some (sermons are good = keep your job, sermons are bad = lose it).

    Please understand that there are people who labor out in the “secular” world whose very job means life or death for some: nurses, doctors, lab techs, pharmacists, firefighter, police, airline pilots,…They took their jobs knowing that a misapplication of their skills can directly result in the death of a human. However, most of them do not fuss about the “relentless” day to day of dealing with actual life and death.

    So, I am not so sure that I agree with your ecclesiastical life or death of a pastor’s job. If seminaries do not make it clear that the sermon is “the most important skill in order to keep your job” then where are the protests from the rank and file? Shouldn’t they be warned that this is what is part of the deal fo signing up for the pastorate? I believe in stating the rules of the game up front. If seminaries are failing then be the change in teaching this. Or what about changing the expectations?

    I watch as megachurches, some of the very guys you all look up to set up satellites surrounding smaller churches and suck the life out of them. The dirty little secret is they are not getting real growth. They are sucking the life out fo the other churches. Part of that deal is to look hip-dress it, sing it and speak it. Pay a boatload to a team to make up your sermon so you are the best around. Then grab the people away form the guy who doesn’t have the same resources. Wow-how very impressive, right?

    Od, could it be that the lifestyles of the rich and famous mega pastors is what is driving this? Could it be that the new crop of pastors want the mansion, the private jet and the acclaim of thousands? Could it be that the very system that has been created by the idol pastors is what is killing the while definition of the pastor.

    And I do no buy that this is the same things as using a commentary albeit I said that pastors should reveal to the congregation exactly what sources he uses. If he does not, I have to ask, Why not? Is it a secret meant to up the mystique factor of the pastor?

    Secondly, you should see my emails from those in the know about this stuff. Many pastors use this service and preach verbatim from the research. And the way the system has developed, I would say that this inevitable.

    Frankly, your megapastors have created a vicious cycle that only good and decent men can break. But it takes courage to reject the status quo.

  128. There is much to chew on here. For brevity, I am not going to cite scripture. Just a few thoughts. Blow if off if you want. The ministry of preaching (heralding the Good News) is central in the Gospels. It is included in the summary statements which means Jesus did it a lot as did the disciples. Paul makes preaching central in his letters to Timothy as he does the study of God’s word and the work of an evangelist. I believe they are same words, but can’t check that for sure at the moment. Anyway, It is a matter of biblical conviction that I spend the most amount of my time studying, praying and preparing two sermons a week (that and it brings me much joy).

    I also do enjoy spending time with people not only because I am people person by nature, but I want to be able to lovingly speak the Bible into their lives. A good preacher knows his bible and his people. I do take issue with one comment. I could not find it. It was somewhere a long the lines of pastors don’t understand the dirt and the pain of the real world. There is probably some truth to that. But most of the pastors I know were the first called to a home when for example, a 13 year old girl committed suicide in the woods behind her house, and her mom found her. You want to talk about pain and suffering in this world He was right in the midst of it. I sat in a hospital room with a young girl who just attempted suicide because her parents were divorcing, and while I was there the couple were arguing in the hallway!…talk about dirt and pain. Anyway, all that to say pastors should be focused on preaching and studying faithfully as unto the Lord and getting into the dirt of ministry lovingly and faithfully as unto the Lord.

  129. numo wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck: Hah – try a Lutheran church! Lots of singing, but none of the silliness you speak of. nor is it there in C of E choral evensongs, afaik.

    Numo – you’re talking to a former Head Chorister! (In other words, you’re singing to the choir…)

    I like just about any style of worship these days, if worship is indeed what it’s about. To be fair, there are many of so-called “charismatic” settings where there is very fully emotionally-involved singing without silliness.

  130. Not sure if this has come up here in the comments yet, but I noticed in a comment by “Dennis” on Jonathan Merritt’s blog that Mars Hill is looking for a new staff writer. Here’s the ad, if any of you would like to apply:

    http://newton.newtonsoftware.com/career/JobIntroduction.action?id=8ad64ec641adc69a0141cdc8ed0d1b3d&source=Indeed&source=Indeed#sthash.7XNXtudN.dpuf

    “Work with the Mars Hill Church content team to develop, edit, and/or produce written materials based on the work of Pastor Mark Driscoll for a variety of mediums, including Resurgence, trade publications, ebooks, social media, curriculum, and more.”

  131. PP wrote:

    There is much to chew on here. For brevity, I am not going to cite scripture. Just a few thoughts. Blow if off if you want. The ministry of preaching (heralding the Good News) is central in the Gospels. It is included in the summary statements which means Jesus did it a lot as did the disciples. Paul makes preaching central in his letters to Timothy as he does the study of God’s word and the work of an evangelist. I believe they are same words, but can’t check that for sure at the moment. Anyway, It is a matter of biblical conviction that I spend the most amount of my time studying, praying and preparing two sermons a week (that and it brings me much joy).

    As a PCA pastor for a number of years, one of the reasons I am thankful for TWW is that Dee and Deb, and nearly all the commenters here, have a deep respect and affection and gratitude for the work of sincere and humble pastors (which I hope to be, myself), while regularly calling out the posers and arrogant and destructive “pastors” that litter the current landscape of American evangelicalism. So, your comment is exactly the sort that encourages nearly everyone here. Keep at it!
    I also do enjoy spending time with people not only because I am people person by nature, but I want to be able to lovingly speak the Bible into their lives. A good preacher knows his bible and his people. I do take issue with one comment. I could not find it. It was somewhere a long the lines of pastors don’t understand the dirt and the pain of the real world. There is probably some truth to that. But most of the pastors I know were the first called to a home when for example, a 13 year old girl committed suicide in the woods behind her house, and her mom found her. You want to talk about pain and suffering in this world He was right in the midst of it. I sat in a hospital room with a young girl who just attempted suicide because her parents were divorcing, and while I was there the couple were arguing in the hallway!…talk about dirt and pain. Anyway, all that to say pastors should be focused on preaching and studying faithfully as unto the Lord and getting into the dirt of ministry lovingly and faithfully as unto the Lord.

  132. Flubbed up the formatting of that comment! My contribution got mixed in with PP’s; sorry about that!

  133. dee wrote:

    @ Kathi: I bet you could have bought an easy “A.”

    Well, with all of that work I did, I preached in class 4 or 5 times. One of the class requirements was to preach 2 Sundays in local churches. Guess who didn’t get an invite from a local church.

  134. And I most likely earned a B or C. Honestly, preaching was not my most favorite class in school. I was required to take it because I was a ministry major.

  135. Meanwhile, just noticed you called out Justin Taylor at the top of your home page for gutlessly closing down the comments on his blog, as usual. Couldn’t believe his words of justification — suffice to say his understanding of how the Christian life is actually supposed to be lived in the real world is embarrassing and destructive. I am ashamed for the reformed seminary from which he apparently received a degree. He has been off course in a number of ways over the years, but he lost all credibility with his shallow, vicious, and deceptive public defense of C. J. Mahaney and public attack upon the victims of sexual abuse under Mahaney’s leadership. Until he comes clean on that he is going to continue to go from bad to worse, as will the rest of them.

    I appreciate how relentlessly you keep the light of truth shining upon these businessmen posing as “Christian thought leaders.” I wonder who the first one of them to genuinely come clean is going to be? The act has to be tiring. I am asking the Lord to be merciful to all of them, even as He has shown me great mercy.

  136. You asked (up at the top): “Why is it that women bloggers seem to have more guts?”

    In my opinion, it’s because the men who have high-ranking positions in Christian leadership live precarious lives.

    One wrong word will topple them. They are stuck. Once they’ve climbed to the top of a power group, they cannot publicly change their minds about anything that power group believes or they get ejected.

    Usually conservative Christian women have no standing (or very little standing), so it’s impossible for men to demote women any lower than we already are.

    The good news: If they cannot hurt you, you can say anything you like. They fear women bloggers because they cannot control them with the same threats they use on each other.

    Christians (both men and women) who are not employees and don’t depend on advertising will eventually dominate the blogging world.

    Look at all of the terrified male bloggers who do not dare speak up online, even though they do in their public appearances.

  137. Dee to answer your question about female bloggers. You, Deb and Julie Anne Smith have more balls than most males I’ve met. Justin Taylor doesn’t have any balls…nor does Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll or CJ Mahaney. They speak so much about authority but that’s becuase they have none. If you have to demand authority you never had it. Respect is earned and not given…and frankly many of these guys I just don’t have any respect for.

  138. Can appreciate that sentiment.
    Christ said to remember Him with the bread/wine until he comes. Unfortunately, many churches come to the table once a month at best. Leaves lots of time /space in the service, for the emphasis to be placed upon the pastors’ sermon, rather then upon the supper for the saints.

    And this is a large part of why I love my liturgical church. Our priest has said to me directly that he tries to downplay his own personality during a service – and I know he writes his own sermons! – as he isn’t what is really important. Imagine a celebrity preacher saying that. Thankfully the majority of pastors and ministers and what-have-yous are far more like that than otherwise.

  139. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But the culture has developed whereby the goal is to be stroked and pleasured into a tearful and/or breathless state of emotional arousal; and a whole load of us learned to believe that once we were sobbing with emotion, then we had entered into The Presence. Maybe; maybe not.

    “Stroked and pleasured into a tearful/breathless state of emotional arousal”? Sounds sexual to me.

    “Sobbing with emotion/entered into The Presence”?
    Presence or Orgasm?

    (Hmm… was this the same M.O. as those sex-worshipping Fertility Cults? Dancing around screaming “BA’AL!” while cutting yourself with knives sounds like a pretty heavy “state of emotional arousal”.)

  140. Kathi wrote:

    Guess who didn’t get an invite from a local church.

    They are all idiots. I would not be surprised that some of these guys will be made to sit and listen to you preach in heaven! I will be there applauding you!

  141. A. Amos Love wrote:

    HUG
    I was thinking about you when I wrote how they change the words and change meanings of words.
    Thanks to your persistence – In how the bad guys constantly reframe there junk…

    Remember Screwtape’s letter to Wormwood about the subject?

  142. Daisy wrote:

    Oh yeah, you know it. HUG and I have chatted about this before.
    I notice a lot of preachers harp on sexual sin. It makes me wonder what is going on with them.

    In some cases, it’s self-medication/self-treatment.

    Think of a CELEBRITY Megachurch Pastor. He’s a big CELEBRITY whose fame comes from claiming to be God’s Anointed. He’s got so much invested in being the Great ManoGawd that (like a hypermacho Third World Dictator) he cannot show ANY sign of weakness or less than superhuman perfection. He will try to self-treat in secret because if anyone ever finds out, It’s All Over. (Especially if he’s the type who brags about throwing anyone who crosses him under his bus.) And one day everything just blows sky-high.

  143. To our readers: Stand by

    Starting tomorrow we are going to expose the underbelly of an Acts 29 church takeover of a successful church which they ultimately decimated. It is a sordid tale of hubris, church discipline from the pit of hell, stealth theology, and a pastor who likes to drink and dress very well. And guess what! He is still a role model for the Acts 29 church planters!!! This story is unbelievable. It is book material but we don’t have enough money to have Docent write it for us! And the people are coming forward with their names.

  144. pcapastor wrote:

    you called out Justin Taylor at the top of your home page for gutlessly closing down the comments on his blog, as usual. Couldn’t believe his words of justification

    Poor guy probably tired of deleting all the negative comments that he was receiving. He closed shop after 18 comments. Can you imagine how his elder style at his church? You better be positive or you will be deleted!!!

    Too bad that he can’t stand his ground with courage. I would respect that even if I disagreed with him.

  145. Sweet Lord!!!!! 😯 Look at this comment by Justin Taylor?!? How did this boy get anywhere in life? Maybe he can publish a book “Gospel Centered Brownnosing”. I read this and was stunned. Pity Nazi Germany is in the history books…otherwise Joseph Goebbels would have had stiff competition for propaganda minsiter.

    —-

    Daryl,

    I’m not going to have the comments section become a debate on Driscoll/Mefferd.

    So let me just say a few things by way of comment.

    (1) I thought that Ms. Mefferd acted unprofessionally and that authors should know something about her modus operandi here. First, she has every right to raise the issue, but it should have been done first to Mark or his publisher offline. It’s a violation of the Golden Rule. Second, I don’t know what more Mark could have said. He said that he may have made a mistake and that he would consult with Dr. Jones and fix it if he was wrong. But Ms. Mefferd kept badgering him on the point. Third, she told an untruth (conspiracy theorists notwithstanding) that he hung up on her. Her producer even emailed a breathless report to bloggers trying to make a story out of this. Maybe she has apologized for this but I haven’t seen it.

    (2) This is not the first time I’ve observed this behavior from her. I think it is very problematic that she has given a platform to a known slanderer regarding the SGM situation. She also tried to try the case in the court of public opinion and proceeded in an unbiblical way. In other words, this didn’t seem like a one-off situation.

    (3) I probably should have kept this opinion to myself, but I still hold it.

    (4) I did not defend Mark Driscoll or take a “position” or weigh in regarding the charges.

    (5) I have written about plagiarism and I think it’s a sin.

    (6) I think it’s somewhat silly and selective when people think that I or others need to weigh in on every new Scandal of the Week—or else suggest that we are hiding something or fearing man or protecting celebrities.

    (7) I think the footnote in the Resurgence book citing Jones should be expanded to say that this section is indebted to his work. A simple adjustment. But Tyndale has examined it and determined it is well within industry standards.

    (8) The 1 Peter material clearly is without attribution and is wrong. I have no insider knowledge on this, but I doubt Driscoll had anything to do with the writing/publication of it, so charges against him on this score are less than careful or accurate. I do think it needs to be changed, and I doubt it was intentional (though I don’t know).

    I hope that helps.

  146. Eagle wrote:

    I have written about plagiarism and I think it’s a sin.

    But if it was done by any of his friends or business prospects, it was definitely not plagiarism. He gets to define plagiarism.

  147. Dee wrote:

    Derek wrote:
    Please understand that there are people who labor out in the “secular” world whose very job means life or death for some: nurses, doctors, lab techs, pharmacists, firefighter, police, airline pilots,…They took their jobs knowing that a misapplication of their skills can directly result in the death of a human. However, most of them do not fuss about the “relentless” day to day of dealing with actual life and death.

    No pity for those who complain about having to give a weekly sermon. I know a number of ministers and sometimes sermon prep is uplifting, sometimes it’s drudgery and most don’t complain about it because they know every job has it’s drudgery. As PP noted in his post above, it’s the helping people experiencing the ugly side of life, the tragic deaths, the abused, the struggling poor, etc. that’s hard. The same goes for police, social workers, medical professionals, teachers, etc.

    But celebrity preachers don’t minister, they just talk. They have no clue what real life is like because they purposely keep themselves ‘above’ it and live a life far removed from their congregation in a cushy lifestyle few can imagine. I mean, when you have a congregation and you think your only and most important and taxing job is giving sermons and you need outside help to do so, you are no minister and really have nothing at all to teach anyone.

  148. @ Joe:

    Yep, I’ve read it. Good book, too. I do think others should read it as well.

    She’s also been treated to the “single woman as temptress” stereotype and does not like it at all. She covers the horrible cliches and pat answers singles who want marriage get from Christians, like some of the ones you mentioned.

    Another thing she discusses in the book is something similar as to what someone said above (not about singles, but something else):

    If churches had a host of preachers, preachers would not suffer burn out and leave, as they are apt to do.

    You would have one preacher do the sermon one week, another the next, and they could trade off other duties.

    That book conveyed that it is hard and exhausting for one guy to shoulder the burden alone. (I mean, the hard working preachers, not the guys with big pocket books paying for others to write their sermons).

    The problem is, as her book covers, is that a lot of churches reject that model, like the guys in the Old Testament did not want to be led by God, they wanted a single (earthly) king.

    Churches are the same, most want one and one preacher only, not a board of them that can trade off duties. I don’t know why people are so enamored of having one head guy in charge.

  149. @ numo:
    Thank you. 🙂

    In honor of my stunt double reference, here is a link to the opening of “The Fall Guy” TV show
    The Fall Guy
    (show about man who works as a stunt man for movies)

  150. numo wrote:

    @ Bridget: I honestly think that the “relentless pain” is in having to listen to sermons….

    . . . 😉

  151. This is addressing a topic way back in the comments, but I attended McLean Bible Church from 2000-2004. I know it’s grown since then, and I never had occasion to call on the pastors for any major life event. I did have a good experience with some of the folks I hung out with, though. Sometimes in big churches it’s more of where you place yourself within the church and who you expose yourself to. But I can’t speak about what the pastors do or don’t do. It’s sad in general that we’re losing that personal touch.

    I know when my Mom was in hospice, her priest visited her several times.

  152. Joe wrote:

    They have pat answers such as if God hasn’t brought someone into your life by age “X”, then you have the gift of singleness and stop complaining about your situation in life.

    Always given to the single by someone who married at 18.

  153. So you are so busy you need to hire someone to do your research for you? And to write your books and sermons? Really?

    Haven’t these guys heard of extemporaneous preaching?

    Granted, you do need to do your own research, study and writing, but if you can’t stand up and talk about the One who gave His life for you for 30 minutes, you need to go sell used cars.

  154. @ PP:

    You sound like you have a good heart in following Jesus. Frank Viola and George Barna documented some historical research on the evolution of the sermon in their book “Pagan Christianity”. They show how tradition has more to do with the 45 minute sermon (monologue) being equated with “preaching” or “proclaiming” than does Scripture.

    Also, check out David Norrington in “To Preach Or Not To Preach – The Church’s Urgent Question”

    http://www.amazon.com/To-Preach-Not-Churchs-Question/dp/1938480015/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386124447&sr=8-1&keywords=to+preach+or+not+to+preach

    It’s been over 10 years since I’ve read it, but I remember he shows how translators like the KJV were biased when they interpreted a couple dozen different greek words as “preach”, when many of those words could have been more accurately translated as “dialogue” or something similar – as when Paul was supposedly “preaching” till midnight and the kid fell asleep and went out the window. That word “preach” accurately translated meant “dialogue” (I think NIV got it right). In other words, they were having a conversation, not your typical one-way monologue.

    Maybe it was Norrington that also pointed out something like 80% of the time preach was used – the context shows the audience was unsaved. Something like that. Lots of other thought-provoking perspective on Scripture. Worth getting, IMO.

    Lastly, visit Searchingtogether.org and poke around. You’ll find some good articles and books by Jon Zens and others…one of them being “The Pastor has no Clothes – Moving from Clergy Centered Church to Christ Centered Ekklesia”.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Pastor-Has-Clothes-Clergy-Centered/dp/0982744641

    I have given out a good number of books in the past 13 years that have challenged my thinking to get the perspective of those around me (probably close to a hundred, maybe?), only to receive a couple of one sentence responses from those few that have actually read them. Most “didn’t have time” (or find the time) to read them.

    Bottom line: If you question tradition, you’ll probably end up rocking your world as you currently know it. Many people around us (speaking of the body of Christ) gave up on us when they sensed we were heading in a different direction spiritually/theologically. We felt as if they thought we were leaving Christ (which we weren’t). Sadly, those that have not claimed to love Christ have shown us much more care and love than those who have. Probably, many of the folks that visit TWW would say the same.

    I wish you all God’s blessings as you continue on your joyful journey in Him!

  155. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Joe wrote:
    They have pat answers such as if God hasn’t brought someone into your life by age “X”, then you have the gift of singleness and stop complaining about your situation in life.

    HUG replied:
    Always given to the single by someone who married at 18.

    Yep, HUG, you are correct.

    To be super accurate about the cliches we singles get, where Joe said (in common platitudes Christians give singles),
    “stop complaining about your situation in life.”

    It’s usually worded thusly:
    “Be content in your singleness.”

    (Upon seeing the crest-fallen or annoyed face of the single, it’s accompanied with,
    “It’s a gift! You were gifted with singleness by God, so enjoy the gift!”)

    That, or it’s implied you’re wasting time, energy, or being selfish in trying dating sites, or in simply wanting to get married, so another cliche is:

    “Make the most of your singleness!,” or, “Don’t waste your singleness!”

  156. @ Joe:

    They have pat answers such as if God hasn’t brought someone into your life by age “X”, then you have the gift of singleness and stop complaining about your situation in life.

    …because it’s somehow taboo for women to go actively looking for a spouse rather than just waiting around and praying for one. But if a man is widowed and starts looking for a new wife, sympathy abounds because after all, he needs someone to cook, clean, take care of the kids and give him sex (which he cannot do without for longer than a week because, you know, he’s a man).

  157. TW wrote:

    Anybody want to work for Mark Driscoll? $15 per hour and you won’t have to worry about getting thrown off the bus!

    http://www.denverseminary.edu/docent-research-group/2013-11-22-researcher/

    As a full-time job, that’d work out to $30,000/year. I wonder if it’s on a contract basis, so the researcher is responsible for all his Social Security contributions on top of regular taxes…

    I located Docent Research Group’s 990 for 2011 and perused it. (Yes, Docent is a 501(c)3 charity! I have to imagine that’s some sort of tax dodge, which is a great deal if you can get it.) I learned they had revenue of $531,362 and expenses of $418,211. I also learned that the president of Docent Research, a guy named Glenn Lucke, worked 50 hours a week and was paid $104,300. Someone named Stephanie Lucke worked 5 hours a week and was paid $5,000. (That is 5 hours x 50 weeks = 250 hours, or $20 an hour, or more than the $15/hour paid by Docent to its researchers, who are apparently seminary students and likely in possession of at least a bachelor’s degree in *something*.)

    Anyway, just some food for thought.

  158. Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    I located Docent Research Group’s 990 for 2011 and perused it. (Yes, Docent is a 501(c)3 charity! I have to imagine that’s some sort of tax dodge, which is a great deal if you can get it.) I learned they had revenue of $531,362 and expenses of $418,211. I also learned that the president of Docent Research, a guy named Glenn Lucke, worked 50 hours a week and was paid $104,300. Someone named Stephanie Lucke worked 5 hours a week and was paid $5,000.

    Interesting. Thanks for checking into Docent. I would like to see a list of churches/pastors paying for their services. I wonder if there is any way of obtaining that list? Since Docent is a charitable organization can churches who utilize their services deduct the fees paid? I know if I send money to a charity and also pay for a book with one check the book portion is not deductible. If a church could deduct the amount paid to Docent they would basically get to write off money they paid to help the pastor prepare his sermon and then could also claim in their church budget that this money spent went to missions. (Docent donates money to some inner city Christian groups.)

  159. Numo and Dee,

    We best keep that . . . ahem, sermon business on the lo down. I’m thinking we will soon be declared heathens.

  160. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    I remember a story told by a friend who was leading a congregation up north a few years ago. A new lassie in the church came up to her and confided that she really found the worship difficult, because the noises people made sounded like they were having sex. I don’t think the feelings people get are actually sexual, but I believe they are analogous to it and so I use the word “arousal” deliberately, if with a certain caution.

    There’s a brilliant blog post here, dealing with the link between traditional modern worship and the phenomenon of ASMR. It’s on a blog clearly written by a man blessed with an unprecedented mix of genius and Christ-like character.

    (Tim and others Poe about Steven Furtick, and that works pretty well, so I thought I’d Poe about myself.)

  161. TW wrote:

    would like to see a list of churches/pastors paying for their services. I wonder if there is any way of obtaining that list?

    I have been told that some pastors make them sign confidentiality agreements so that their names would not be revealed. These are the guys who like to pretend they are something that they are not. Also, I bet they are afraid that their congregation would not be pleased to have him spending their hard earned money on such a service.

  162. TW wrote:

    A. Amos – I would like to tell you where I am from, but it is a very dangerous location where I could, at any moment, lose my life for being a Christian

    ROFL

  163. Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    omeone named Stephanie Lucke worked 5 hours a week and was paid $5,000. (That is 5 hours x 50 weeks = 250 hours, or $20 an hour, or more than the $15/hour paid by Docent to its researchers, who are apparently seminary students and likely in possession of at least a bachelor’s degree in *something*

    They always find a way to pay the wives.

  164. Bridget wrote:

    We best keep that . . . ahem, sermon business on the lo down. I’m thinking we will soon be declared heathens.

    Well, they could always ask me to come and preach a sermon. Then they could learn what I know about the Bible. Whoops-they can only use women to write their sermons. Only they can open their mouths and speak it.

  165. @ ken:

    Ken, I agree with your comment. In looking at the NT with this in mind, I found that most of what we think as “preaching” seemed to take place outside the assembly meeting. (ekklesia)

    In fact, it seems in some instances they were doing more eating (wrongly in some cases) than just about anything! :o) Seems they were really Baptists. (wink)

    We have clues here and there that there was much more participation than what we might have imagined. But certainly sitting and listening to one guy being the centerpiece of the time together week after week was not the structure.

  166. Anon 1 wrote:

    We have clues here and there that there was much more participation than what we might have imagined. But certainly sitting and listening to one guy being the centerpiece of the time together week after week was not the structure.

    That’s why the word ‘liturgy’ came to describe the worship service. “liturgy” literally means ‘work of the people’ – all are involved. I wonder if there’s a word for ‘sit, shut up, and applaud when the “applause” light comes on’?

  167. @ ken:
    @ Anon 1:

    I agree with these comments. I will only add that it also seems that 80% of the sermon time is addressing the body of Christ (believers) as if they are unbelievers.

  168. Bridget wrote:

    @ ken:
    @ Anon 1:
    I agree with these comments. I will only add that it also seems that 80% of the sermon time is addressing the body of Christ (believers) as if they are unbelievers.

    I agree also. I’m thankful that in over a year at my current church, our pastor has preached not one “sermon” to “the choir”. Not any sermon at all, actually. Not that I think he’d preach bad ones, or that we’d have a bad choir or worship team, if we had one. Don’t miss it all, at all, though. Really rather liberating. We hardly ever sing when we meet together. But lots of eating, lots of teaching and dialogue, and communion every week.

  169. JeffT wrote:

    Anon 1 wrote:

    We have clues here and there that there was much more participation than what we might have imagined. But certainly sitting and listening to one guy being the centerpiece of the time together week after week was not the structure.

    That’s why the word ‘liturgy’ came to describe the worship service. “liturgy” literally means ‘work of the people’ – all are involved. I wonder if there’s a word for ‘sit, shut up, and applaud when the “applause” light comes on’?

    Hee Hee. BTW: I did not know that about the word “liturgy”.

  170. Wow, I want to find out if my pastor uses any hired help to research his sermon material. This post is an eye opener for me. I love to research. I would much rather research for a speaker than to publicly speak myself. So at first reading today, I thought wow, I could actually get paid to do this for pastors? How fun would that be for me since the scriptures and their history and nuances of teachings are of such interest to me.

    I then went into my usual pessimist mode while analyzing my possibilities and realized that if I was dependent on my livelihood this way I would have to provide results biased to the client’s particular bent. I wonder if the pastors mentioned in this post who use Docent would mind if Docent gave all other religions the same kind of support for their logic so that they as well could be successful religious orators and collect people, too.

  171. Bridget wrote:

    @ ken:
    @ Anon 1:

    I agree with these comments. I will only add that it also seems that 80% of the sermon time is addressing the body of Christ (believers) as if they are unbelievers.

    Oh, I know! In the seeker mega’s they took this for granted which is why most of their sermons were so shallow. They assumed they were preaching to the new “churched” because of their marketing methods toward the “unchurched”. In fact, the sermons were quite entertaining and were more of a motivational type thing playing on emotions. Even when it came to tithing. You could tell they were really playing on emotions if you knew the prep that went into it.

    There are only a few I can listen to anymore and they are for the most part “teachers”/scholars who really focus on the cultural context which I think is missing from most bible studies. I won’t name names because it is never an endorsement. Those I find interesting, I disagree with also on some things but they are the ones that are NOT indoctrinating but seem to want to make folks think. I am all for that!

  172. And what do you do if you hear the pastor that hired your firm publicly misquote the material you gave them?

  173. Patti wrote:

    And what do you do if you hear the pastor that hired your firm publicly misquote the material you gave them?

    Check and see if he paid his bill? :o)

  174. Dee wrote:

    However, most of them do not fuss about the “relentless” day to day of dealing with actual life and death.

    I think it would be good to clarify what you mean here. I hope you are not advocating that pastors should never complain at all about what they do. I believe that has been the dominant culture for some time (I even know of a situation where a pastor was fired for being on anti-depressants – for nothing should be wrong), and I believe it is spiritually and emotionally unhealthy. However, i believe you are speaking out against publicly complaining from the pulpit/mass media as a means for attention/sympathy. That I do disagree with.

    As for your last two sentences, I want to make it clear that they are not “my” megachurch pastors (I was a little offended at that quasi-ad hominem attack). I posted to merely to ascertain the ethical issue of the problem (was it the hiding of the collected research, the collected research itself, or the previous actions of those involved). I also wanted to point out the problem of ethical scale – if a pastor copied a phrase from a commentary and used it without attribution, would it merit a blog post? Or is the scale of the ethical transgression (the team of paid researchers). I had the same question concerning Mac Brunson’s accepting of the gift of land down in Jacksonville. Would I be as upset if it were free produce from someone’s garden that they gifted to him? The question of scale is an important issue to wrestle with. Once again, I do not condone the actions by these pastors, but I think it is important to be self-reflective as well.

  175. Derek,

    Have you considered that pastors are “employees” of those who pay them? I do know that most do not think that way of themselves which is why the entitlement mentality has become so base in that vocation. Now there is some “self reflection” for ya. :o)

  176. Have you considered that pastors are “employees” of those who pay them?

    I have and agree, but I don’t get the relevance to this discussion. I am opposed to the hyper-authoritarian (Moses) model that is espoused by dictatorial pastors. I believe that the church should reflect the unity and equality of the Trinity, where all exercise their gifts equally for the good of the kingdom.

    I believe the entitlement mentality has emerged because the congregation expects the pastor to the be the spiritual “superstar,” who is excellent at preaching, teaching, leading, administration, church growth, etc, while they passively ingest what is taught by the pastor and do not truly live in community. In this system, a pastor who is marginally good at these things begins to believe that he truly is a “superstar,” rather than a humble servant, and begins to feel entitled. Everyone is at fault, and the system needs to be changed. I believe that is what this blog is attempting to do.

  177. Derek wrote:

    As for your last two sentences, I want to make it clear that they are not “my” megachurch pastors (I was a little offended at that quasi-ad hominem attack).

    I am sorry. What i truly meant is that the ones who use this service tend to be well off megachurch pastors. I should have said “these” instead of “yours.” That was not intentional.
    Derek wrote:

    However, i believe you are speaking out against publicly complaining from the pulpit/mass media as a means for attention/sympathy. That I do disagree with.

    You are correct. But, as I think about this, it is important for those pastors who truly feel prevailed upon by writing a weekly sermon to reassess why they are in the pastorate since it would seem to me that this is one of the regular functions of a pastor. That would be like my husband complaining that he needs to see patients. Why do it at all if you feel s negative?

    Derek wrote:

    The question of scale is an important issue to wrestle with.

    That was one of the first question we ever received on the blog. I answered by saying that it is like pornography. It is hard to define but I know it when I see it. (Supreme Court Justice Brennan?) There is a bit difference between tomatoes, an old car and weekly free dinners made by an in home chef and a Porsche.

  178. As one who is looking to go into ministry and at the doorstep (and one who has seen an up close look with both my father-in-law and close friends) it is appalling to me that a pastor would pay for others to do their research especially if it is at the church’s expense.

    That said, my father-in-law was at a small baptist church and he was expected to preach/teach 3 times a week and sometimes four (If what I learned in my public speaking class would be true you should spend about 1 hour of preparation for every one minute of speaking, that would put a pastor at 30 hours of preparation for a 30min sermon. If you take half of that for those who are experienced, the amount of time preparing would be at least 15 hours for each thirty minute sermon/sunday school/bible study lesson. If we take it a little less and go with 12 hours that was at least 36 hours of preparation just for teaching). A pastor in a church of 30 was supposed to be in preparation 36 hours weekly for preaching/teaching add on to that counseling time (10 hours including prep time), discipleship time (5 hours including prep), prayer (7 hours) administrative time (7hours), hospital visits (2 hours){this is not everything but up to this point comes to 67 hours/week). Then when there are weddings and funerals work that would need to be done on the church and at the parsonage (7 hours), and the hours easily got up towards 80 hours per week. And this was what was expected from a church of about 30 people.

    This does not include the fact that a pastor never punches the clock and is off duty.
    So, this might speak to the “relentless pain of preaching.” At least for some.

    What follows comes from this site: http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-many-hours-must-a-pastor-work-to-satisfy-the-congregation-100959/

    Hours for a Pastor:

    Prayer at the church: 14 hours
    Sermon preparation: 18 hours
    Outreach and evangelism: 10 hours
    Counseling: 10 hours
    Hospital and home visits: 15 hours
    Administrative functions: 18 hours
    Community involvement: 5 hours
    Denominational involvement: 5 hours
    Church meetings: 5 hours
    Worship services/preaching: 4 hours
    Other: 10 hours

    This comes to 114 hours. Are these the hours pastors should be expected to do in each of the areas that are broken down? If so, there is obviously good reason why some things are delegated.

    And last, if this is true of even half of pastors (that these are expectations from churches) then the churches need to reconsider what they are expecting…At least in my mind.

  179. Dee,

    Thanks for your awesome reply. I enjoy and appreciate this blog and was just posing some questions.

    Re: Why do it at all if you feel s negative?

    I think you hit the heart of the matter. The last statistic I heard was that 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month because of burn-out. If that is even somewhat accurate, then a choice has to be made as to interpreting it. Either 1500 were never truly called, or there is systemically wrong. I personally have never heard a pastor complain about the sermon process – but more of a general dis-ease with the ministry. I am wondering if our current ecclesiological elevation of the pastor is systemically unhealthy (unbiblical?) and therefore these complaints, moral failures and burnouts are merely the symptoms. A previous poster commented that pastors should see themselves as employees – maybe that is the problem (not the accountability by superiors but the professionalization of the vocation).

    I am a Quaker, and the founder of our movement saw professional clergy living off of government collected tithes in the upper crust of society while not caring for their flocks. He lamented the fact that they “did not possess what they professed.” So, in early Quakerism, there was no paid clergy. Now, in evangelical Quakerism, there are paid pastors, but I believe the culture is different (I am actually about to begin on a dissertation on this very topic). A pastor is one whose gifts are recognized and is “released” to practice these gifts full time. However, he is not the “leader” but merely a voice among many in unity and equality. I believe this culture would go a long way in mitigating these pastoral abuses.

    I would highly recommnend Miroslav Volf’s “After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity,” which articulates the basis for a church culture that is poly-centric (not pastor-centric).

  180. Anon 1 wrote:

    There are only a few I can listen to anymore and they are for the most part “teachers”/scholars who really focus on the cultural context which I think is missing from most bible studies

    I remember a friend of mine told me he, being frustrated week after week, had stood up in the middle of the pastor’s sermon at a rather large Baptist church and asked the pastor for further clarification on a point he had made earlier (he had more courage than I ever did). Said you could literally see the people around him shrink down/away and become super stiff. As far as I can remember the pastor gave him a quick response and told my friend to see him afterwards for any clarification he might need.

    It is always interesting how deep rooted tradition steers our cultural understanding of ideas in Scripture like I Cor. 14:40 – “Let all things be done decently and in order”. This concept was used to silently subdue my friend into remaining quiet while the pastor spoke without interruption, when in reality the entire passage is chocked full of phrases that speak to mutual participation (when the church is gathered) in the context of respect for one another.

    I can see Paul coming into our assemblies here in America and doing the exact same thing as my friend did.

  181. Thoughts from a (small-church) Pastor

    1. Doing my job is not “tyranny,” except in the usual way that everyone’s job becomes “tyranny” at times – as in, you’re sick but you’ve got to get it done. Welcome to the human race.

    2. My job is not that of a professional scholar. It is not to lecture, write books, and build a professional resume. It is to preach, which, if I am to do it, means to “study to show [myself] approved.

    3. My fellow-elder is a plumber, for what it’s worth. And an awesome marriage counselor.

    4. I have little respect for anyone who claims to do my job but doesn’t really do it. It reminds me of another plumber I knew, talking about a guy he worked with once who refused to dig trenches to lay pipe. Thought he was above it. Nobody ever ate lunch with that guy.

  182. I have not read all the comments but I think I have the gist of them. This article really speaks to me and I would like to offer a comment. I teach Expository Preaching in a Christian College and I love it having been in the ministry for 41 years. Preaching is to be taken very serious as is prayer and study of the word are to be the primary calling of a pastor. I share with my students that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would average preparing 1 hour for every minute he spoke. So, if he gave a speech that lasted 18 minutes he essentially had prepared for 18 hours. No wonder he impacted masses with his message. This kind of prep and prayer is not valued by Pastors today. I feel it is ludicrous and a major failure ( as well as deceptive) to hire a service to do your work. If that is their case, you are way to busy. churches are built on biblical, Spirit filed exposition. But lets remember that mega churches have to keep the hype and the dog and pony show going and that demands hours of administration which robs them of their first priority. As Adrian Rogers once said: “If you get them there with a circus, you have to keep them there with a circus.”.

  183. @ Derek:
    It is true that 1,500 Pastors leave the ministry a month. It is not necessarily that they were not called or saved. Some do because of health, being fired, others for moral issues and some for depression and lack of wages. It is my understanding that out of 9 seminary graduates today, only one will still be in ministry by the time they are 50.

  184. John wrote:

    Preaching is to be taken very serious as is prayer and study of the word are to be the primary calling of a pastor. I share with my students that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would average preparing 1 hour for every minute he spoke. So, if he gave a speech that lasted 18 minutes he essentially had prepared for 18 hours. No wonder he impacted masses with his message.

    Having someone like you teaching the next generation gives me so much hope. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Best Comment of the Day Award!

  185. Anon 1 wrote:

    Have you considered that pastors are “employees” of those who pay them?

    Actually, many are considered “independent contractors” for IRS purposes. At year end, they do not receive a W-2 form, but a 1099. As independent contractors, there are all sorts of things they can write off as business expenses that regular employees cannot. And, there is the biggie: they can write off a huge chunk (and in some cases up to 100 percent) of that 1099 income for their “housing allowance.”

    http://www.ecfa.org/Documents/TheMinistersHousingAllowance.pdf

  186. Some of these mega pastors hiring out their sermon content become upset when mothers hire out help so that they can do something different than the ‘tyranny’ of ‘womanhood.’ hmmmm

  187. I’m one of those pastors who’s sermon preparation takes an average of 18-20 hours. Let’s say that I’m having a particularly good week, and my prep takes only 18 hours; now multiply that by 3, since I’m expected to preach both morning and evening on Sunday, and preach again on Wednesday night. Total sermon prep time for the week: 56 hours.

    Now, let’s not forget that I’m expected (as part of my job description) to teach all of the weekly bible studies that take place: mens, womens, and youth. I spend about 7 hours preparing each lesson, so that works out to another 21 hours every week. Now we’re up to 77 hours per week.

    Add to that all of the other stuff that’s on my plate: home visits, hospital visits, cleaning the church, taking care of all of the landscaping for the church property (including the cemetary), and various and sundry other duties; these all work out to about an additional 15 hours per week, but we’ll play it short and assume that it’s another really good week, and it amounts to only 10 hours. Now we’re up to 87 hours per week.

    Keep in mind that when I took the job it was made perfectly clear to me that this was “part-time” work, and that I was expected to work another job in order to help make ends meet! And there is not another “part-time” job—-I can’t put in 87 hours a week, and have a healthy marriage, and work another part-time job, too. So for my 87 hours a week, my weekly income, after taxes, is $340. That’s right, my yearly income is less than $18,000.

    When I started this job, I was a very healthy 145 lbs. Not too shabby for a guy that only stands 5’3″. Last month, I spent two weeks in the hospital because I’ve been both vomiting and passing blood due to the insane amount of stress I’m living with, and I’ve dropped down to a super slim and attractive 102 lbs.

    While I was in the hospital, I had to ensure that the pulpit was filled for both Sunday’s. I didn’t get a single visit or phone call.

    Yep, this gig as the Senior Minister sure is glamorous…

  188. Exhausted Pastor wrote:

    Yep, this gig as the Senior Minister sure is glamorous…

    You are a real pastor and I respect you. You could use the help of this group but it appears available to only pastors who can pay which means mega church pastors. They, on the other hand, do no hospital visits, wedding, funerals and certainly do not lead Bible studies for the pew sitters.

    It is pastors like you who give me hope. I shall pray for you.

  189. @ Exhausted Pastor:
    I rarely five unsolicited advice on this blog– but you speak for a great many Exhausted Pastors who may read, even if you choose not to follow my advice. Maybe you need to ask the flock (to steal a Driscoll book title) “Who do you think you are?” Take your next 3 sermons– or as many as it takes, to teach them that “sermons” such as they expect of you are not taught or exemplified in Scripture. I’m happy to ghost-write these sermons for you free of charge, of you like. Just email Dee. Then cancel “sermons” and encourage each “joint” to supply for up-biuilding. Then you’ll have a life and energy to bring to the flock during the Bible Studies and the rest of church life. If they fire you for this– it’s not as if you’re losing a cushy job!
    I’ve known three pastors in the past who were fired from similar churches– and all are now in better places. My current pastor has preached not one single “sermon” in the time I’ve been a part– and neither he nor we miss it. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t teach us a lot. Today, I happen to know he was praying for me and my family- and he had no need to cut that short in order to start prep for Sunday!

  190. Exhausted Pastor wrote:

    When I started this job, I was a very healthy 145 lbs. Not too shabby for a guy that only stands 5’3″. Last month, I spent two weeks in the hospital because I’ve been both vomiting and passing blood due to the insane amount of stress I’m living with, and I’ve dropped down to a super slim and attractive 102 lbs.
    While I was in the hospital, I had to ensure that the pulpit was filled for both Sunday’s. I didn’t get a single visit or phone call.
    Yep, this gig as the Senior Minister sure is glamorous…

    Exhausted Pastor,
    You have gone above and beyond the call of duty. I personally thank you for your dedication to Christ. If I were in your position I would have a serious heart-to-heart with the elders or church board or entire church and say either working conditions radically change or I quit. You could easily find a job making more money than you now earn. You owe it to your health and family. Maybe when you have had time to unwind and reflect you will be refreshed and may wish to teach one class, or maybe not. At any rate, I know you will be more than willing to lend a hand to help out an overworked pastor in your next church.

    Just my 2 cents.

    May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! -Psalm 29:11

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  192. Dee,

    I know this post is a few days old, but I just read it so it is new to me! Ha. If maybe just you read it, that is OK too– no need to post it if it is unhelpful.

    I’m no Stetzer fanboy (far from it). I think he is far too pragmatic for my tastes. But I heard Stetzer speak recently about the very quote you talked about, which is why I am making my first comment here! I think you are being a bit unfair to what I understand about the situation.

    When I heard him make this “three things” reference, his emphasis was on prioritizing what you CAN do in the time you had and talking about how he wanted to be in a small group.

    I do know that he stopped being an interim pastor (a nice paying deal at big churches where you just show up to preach on Sunday and cash a check) to start a church as an unpaid pastor.

    Unless he is not telling the truth, he is a not getting any money at the church and he was making the point that he prioritizes his time to meet with an apprentice or lead a home group so he did not get distant from real life ministry. His church is also pretty small, so he is not a megachurch pastor saying he won’t do hospital visitation, but guy saying what he can give to a church as a volunteer.

    To me, the fact that a “Christian speaker writer type” would give up prime Sunday speaking income to start a church with real people seems a bit different than the picture in this and your post about him before. I’m sure he is paid fine at Lifeway, but the point here is that his church is a volunteer thing that he does not have to do at all, and you seem to be criticizing him for that.

    Maybe I am reading too much into what your saying, but it seems more critical than warranted in this case.

    Now, if you want to talk about the fact that he encouraged people to read Rick Warren in the same talk, that concerns me! HA.

    Rob

  193. @ Rob T: You do know that he planted a couple of churches that failed. He does not talk about that very much. So something went wrong and there is no discussion? He is also considered the “expert” on church planting so I would seem that he should do some of it if he is to be an expert on it.

    Now, I really don’t care if he is paid a lot or a little in this circumstance. I only care about the fact that he says he is a pastor. For me, “pastor” means a lot more than a talking head. So, if he is coming in to preach, and preach only, then say so. I do not think that preaching is what makes a pastor.

    As for a small group, we all are supposed to be members of small groups-whether you are a pastor or just a member. Therefore, I do not put small group membership into “being a pastor” nor do I consider it an extraordinary thing he is doing. My husband and I have led small groups for decades and my husband has time to be a full time doctor, be involved in missions, serve as a president of a local Christian board, etc. When he serves in leading a small group, he would never presume to call himself a pastor.