Ed Litton, SBC President, Is Seriously Accused of Plagiarism

Located in our galaxy about 11,000 light-years away from Earth, is one of the youngest known supernova remnants called Cassiopeia A, with an age of about 350 years. NASA

“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 (Pointed out by an alert reader in 2013) Think about it…Not high praise for us pew sitters.


True story not sourced for me by any group: Years ago, when my children were little, we attended, for a short period of time, Fellowship Church headed by Ed Young Jr. He shook hands with lines of people who were directed to exit through the handshaking door. The man in front of me said something to the effect of “I enjoyed your sermon. You even did it better than the first time I heard it at Willow Creek.”

Ed was noticeably embarrassed and pushed the man along. I ran out the door after him. He was shaking his head. He told me that Ed appeared to repeat, verbatim, a semon given by Bill Hybels. he said he and his family, who had just moved to Dallas would not be returning.

Later, when we left and joined Bent Tree Church, Steve and his family were there and we all got together in a small group. It would be years before I learned that a church could join the Willow Creek Association. One of the perks of that group was access to use a number of sermons, including those by Hybels.

The Ed Litton plagiarism scandal

From the Opinion Page of the New York Times, Dwight Christenbury, of Black Mountain, N.C. said

I am a rabbi and a preacher. One of the cardinal rules we learned in seminary is the rabbinical principle of “b’shem amro” (“in the name of the one who said it”). From the earliest rabbinical period, it was essential to quote one’s source. Not to do so was a grave sin, as theft of intellectual property is considered equal to the theft of physical property.

It is an honor to share the learning and wisdom of a colleague, a teacher or a noted source. To do anything less dishonors the original source and the preacher.

The NYT posted ‘Sermongate’ Prompts a Quandary: Should Pastors Borrow Words From One Another?

“The new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has delivered sermons containing passages from those of his predecessor, causing a furor.”

Let’s start with an example:

I’d say that was self-explanatory.

In a statement, Mr. Litton said he had asked Mr. Greear for permission to borrow from at least one sermon and apologized for not crediting him; Mr. Greear confirmed his account. But accusations of lying and stealing — and plenty of memes skewering Mr. Litton — are flying fast. Some of the same Baptists who opposed Mr. Litton’s election are now calling for his resignation. (ed.It is not surprising that Tom Ascol of the Founders is one of those.)

Baptist News Global posted Could newly elected SBC president be forced to resign over sermon plagiarism? It seemed things were even worse than expected. People were going through Litton’s sermons to find other examples of plagiarism using another person’s words.

Litton’s church, Redemption Church near Mobile, Ala., recently removed 140 videos of Litton’s sermons from its website and posted this explanation: “By the action of the leadership of Redemption Church, we have taken down sermon series prior to 2020 because people were going through sermons in an attempt to discredit and malign our pastor. It is our highest priority to care for and shepherd our church.”

Wait a minute! It is wrong for people to go through posted sermons in order to see if a pastor is a straight shooter? Baptist News Global reported:

Litton’s critics have launched a petition demanding that he resign his SBC leadership post — an action that would have immense ripple effects throughout the convention. One of the greatest powers the SBC president has is naming the committee that nominates the Committee on Committees. And this year, the president also has been mandated to name a special task force to investigate charges of covering up or mishandling allegations of clergy

Was this merely a plot of the Conservative Baptist Network which was upset over Mike Stone’s loss? Tom Ascol of the Founders was quoted in Baptist News Global.

One of Litton’s chief critics is Tom Ascol, director of another far-right group within the SBC called Founders Ministries. He tweeted June 29: “All you defenders of @EdLitton — if you truly love him, encourage him to get off this God-dishonoring road. May God have mercy on him & his church.”

Others like Brett Barber said he should apologize but not resign. In fact, according to Baptist News, there is no precedent set for what would happen if an SBC President were to resign. (This is something that should be discussed. It will happen one of these years.)

How long does a Baptist pastor spend on developing his Sunday sermon? The NYT article states:

Some full-time pastors report spending up to 30 hours a week on the task; more common is devoting two full work days to it.

Andy Traub, whose pastor was discovered plagiarizing sermons asks a great question. Again from the NYT.

If 95 percent of the stories he told us were not true, then who is he?”

Spot-checking sermons have become quite easy. From the NYT

Spot-checking has become radically easier just in the past year.

And perhaps the most damning claim in the NYT

Full texts and outlines of sermons are widely available on websites like Sermon Central and Logos, ostensibly for reference and inspiration. Consulting services like Docent Research Group offer pastors substantial help with research and planning. Some larger churches, including Mr. Litton’s, employ in-house “preaching teams” that collaborate on sermon production.

The relentless, unmitigated pain of the weekly sermons

It should not surprise our readers that I had posted a story about the Docent Group in 2013:The Relentless Pain of the Weekly Sermon. Here are some quotes from that post. Please note that some links have died but I assure you they were working when this post was written.


Begin excerpt:

Docent Research Group

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

  1. Research briefs 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 then why do they do it? Could it be that they are mixing conferences, book deals, and speaking engagements into their church responsibilities?

It takes a team to raise a sermon. 

Better yet, have pastors raised the expectations of their congregation that he is a superstar 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 on Docent’s website. “Pastors need a team of dedicated researchers 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? (Mark Driscoll made this infamous comment one time in a sermon.)

Is this process honest?

Craig Groeschel, the 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 that 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…

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.


…JD Greear actually thanked Docent in an endorsement now deleted from the website. From the NYT:

In a now-deleted endorsement on Docent’s website, Mr. Greear thanked the organization for saving him time on sermon prep. “I often have people remark to me, ‘How many hours did you spend on that sermon? Where do you get time to do all that research?’” he wrote. “Ha. Thanks, guys, for making me look so good!”

In an email, Mr. Greear said he had sometimes relied on “research assistants and other aids” to help him prepare sermons, a practice he had discussed openly in the past.

Is Ed Litton attempting to blow off this incident( or these incidents) with the help of JD Greear?

Is the SBC following suit? Plagiarism Today (yes, it exists) wrote Southern Baptist Convention President Accused of Widespread Plagiarism

Though I’ve been critical of the SBC through much of this, I want to be clear that Litton has not carried himself any better. When confronted with a scandal such as this, one such as Litton has an obligation to be open, transparent and honest about what happened.

Removing the videos, addressing only one incident, and generally trying to ignore the issue is the antithesis of that. Even if Litton’s copying isn’t a problem, his response to the controversy absolutely is.

Greater or lesser expectations of the audience?

Is this merely confusion about the expectations of the audience? Karen Swallow Prior makes this point in the NYT article.

Karen Swallow Prior, who is a professor at SEBTS, claims that while surprising, it may just mix-up of who expects what from their pastor.

Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, who has written about plagiarism, called the episode surprising. “What this whole thing has opened up is there are people who have an unstated expectation that a pastor is delivering his own examination and wrestling with the biblical text, and others who may not have that expectation at all.”

Plagiarism Today (PT) claims that there are three attribution standards in religious settings that are on the whole, very ill-defined.

  1. Some churches view any preparation for a sermon to be against their code.
  2. Others demand meticulously researched and original sermons from their leader’s voice,
  3. others feel that plagiarism is wholly acceptable because giving the best sermon, not personal glory, should be what is of the utmost importance.

PT continues in this vein.

If everyone involved agrees to a certain attribution standard (or lack thereof), then it is not unethical.

After all, plagiarism is about the lie behind it. However, if there is no expectation of originality, then it’s not a lie to present someone else’s work without citation. It’s much like the difference between a novelist who plagiarized and a celebrity that uses a ghostwriter for their autobiography. One has an expectation of originality, the other does not.

It’s time for the SBC to define its values and expectations. (Where have we heard this before?)

None of this is to say that what Litton did is right. Instead, it is to say that judging pastoral plagiarism is impossible without knowing the expectations of everyone involved. What this case has shown more than anything is that there is a divide in the SBC on these issues, and one that needs to be addressed.

A true story

This happened in my very former SBC church. I’ve told this story before. The pastor of missions was preaching. This church had an odd lineup on Sunday mornings. The senior pastor would be preaching through a series. He claimed that preaching the same sermon three times on Sunday morning was just too exhausting for him. (So much I could say here but won’t.) So he would preach in two services and the assistants would preach and the other. However, stupid me, I did not realize that the assistant would prepare a sermon not based on the series. Only the senior pastor could preach on his series. So the assistants would always be ready with their canned sermon. They would rotate through the services, repeating the same sermon. This could happen over a number of weeks.

The trick was this. They would not announce that the senior pastor would not be present for one of the services. I was told that people wouldn’t come since they came to hear him. 😐 I was sitting in Service #1 and the missions pastor was up. He ended the sermon with a touching story that he had *personally* witnessed. Except, I happened to know that the story was making the rounds and it was false, now verifiable on Snopes. Although I was a bit irritated that he pretended this happened to him, I wrote him a most polite email telling him that the story wasn’t true and giving him the reference. He wrote me back, most embarrassed.

Except…

A few weeks later I was sitting in service #3. Said missions pastor was up. Within seconds I knew he was repeating the same sermon that I had heard before. I was curious to see how he ended the sermon. You guessed it! He looked a little awkward and repeated the story. Yikes!

I went to the senior pastor because I thought this was a problem. The senior pastor told me something like this. “Well, he’s a little older and they used to teach how to give sermons like that,” I said. “You mean they taught them to lie?” He then said “You know, I will have to go to him about this.” I said that was a good idea. He couldn’t wait to get me out of his office. I wonder if he ever told him.

I’m tired of this nonsense. They should tell the truth. I have no problem if someone reads C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia from the pulpit so long as they say that is what they are doing. Here are some of my thoughts from 8 years ago. They seem to be relevant.

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 that 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” (always posted at TGC) 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.

A final suggestion for Ed Litton. Fess up!

I have no dog in this hunt. I left the SBC in 2008 and have no intentions of returning. I’m a Lutheran and have discovered the value of a shorter sermon each week. I actually remember what is said. The New York Times and others besides the Conservative Baptist Network are now watching him. He can be sure that all of his sermons, books, talks, etc. will be checked for plagiarism or whatever the heck the Baptists call it. If he regularly repeats the work of others without attribution, it’s time that folks go back and listen to each and every one of his sermons. He should make up a list of his lack of attribution and come clean. It’s well worth it. If he doesn’t, the next year will be a slow drip, drip, drip of a revelation here and a revelation there. Painful…

I think Baptist News Global did a great job in these two articles about what and how to deal with attributions in sermons.

  1. A modest proposal for imperiled pulpit plagiarists by Marv Knox.
  2. Where’s the line between finding inspiration in another pastor’s sermon and plagiarizing it? by Mark Wingfield

I almost forgot. Look at the quote that used to be on the Docent’s website. If your pastor looks down to you in this fashion, get out of there. They look at you as just another one of those *dumb sheep” who are willing to fork over the cash.

“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.” (formerly on the Dcent website.)

I fear this is only the beginning and not just for Litton but for others. This could lead to more people leaving the already beleaguered SBC


Comments

Ed Litton, SBC President, Is Seriously Accused of Plagiarism — 111 Comments

  1. For years we faithfully served an SBC pastor and my husband was on staff for a while. There was always something a bit off about this pastor, and he loved to dismiss my efforts at personal sanctification, calling me “intense” and other things. He broke my heart in many ways with the things he did to my family and me. This “pastor” hid the fact that one married staff member was grooming a young woman and involved in an online sex affair with her. He did it with at least one other, and I highly suspect one before the both of them. He was finally quietly removed from staff and returned to his former job of working with at risk youth. Another married staff member was reportedly stalking a member of the community but thenpastor did nothing about it until finally he was let go and is serving in the same position at another church. There were many many things wrong at this church but when my husband and I attempted to bring them to attention, we were demonized and ultimately a form of shunning. It finally came out that the pastor had been plagiarizing someone else’s sermons for many years. No wonder he treated us so, he didn’t internalize a word he ever said! He was let go, but after 6 weeks said he was “free” of idolizing the church, which was his explanation of why he supposedly just didn’t have anything left to give to the sermon preparation. Which is a bunch of baloney. He ALWAYS stayed as far away from the congregation as he could, lest they ask something of him. Ultimately he was fired. I’m sure there was a very very nice severance package. Some of the staff were given severance packages as well, and I’m almost certain NDAs were signed. All out of the congregation’s pocket. The congregation who goes without nicer homes, extra cars, lessons for the kids, going out to eat, vacations etc, to give to the Lord’s work, only to be horribly betrayed by these false shepherds and their cohorts. The things I could tell y’all about this church, but I don’t want to identify myself. Although really, our story has been repeated over and over and much more horrifically in now countless churches across our great land. I will never set foot in another church due to this pastor and another one we served on staff with briefly. And as I said, what’s so sorrowful is that we are one of thousands and thousands who feel the same way.

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  2. The “questionable” ethics just continue, even though this specific example has been discussed here, and many other places for years… they just don’t “get it”..
    I am with Dee, I would not think down on preachers if they heavily cited their sources…. in fact, depending how it was done, I might even be more impressed…. but here is the “kicker”…. they would have to put some “originality” in their sermons to keep them from being exact copies….. sigh..
    Given I live in a world of writing and publishing, citing other work is FUNDAMENTAL…. and, the more you cite, the more you “look good” by showing you “ did your homework”, and know the literature!

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  3. This certainly cripples Litton on performing his new duties as SBC President. I figure he will do the minimum – appoint committee members, etc. and lay low otherwise. I doubt that he be traveling much and preaching in SBC pulpits across the country like SBC Presidents do during their term in office.

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  4. “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.”

    That is an arrogant way to describe what the French call “Vulgurization” – the ability to explain complex and profound things in a way that makes them understandable to near everybody.

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  5. “Is Ed Litton attempting to blow off this incident( or these incidents) with the help of JD Greear?”

    Birds of a feather stick together. Greear didn’t pitch much of a fit when Litton used his sermons without credit. Yet, he said this several years ago:

    “If I ever preach the gist of another person’s sermon, meaning that I used the lion’s share of their message’s organization, points, or applications, I give credit … I don’t ever think it’s a good idea to preach someone else’s sermon …” (J.D. Greear, 2012)

    https://jdgreear.com/what-counts-as-plagiarism-in-a-sermon/

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  6. In my preaching/teaching I cited the sources in my sermon or the sermon notes (that were an insert in the bulletin). I never re-preached someone else’s message. I provided folks asking for more info on the topic the resources I used and was glad to do so.

    Prep usually took about 25-30 hours unless I had preached the message before–in that case, I spent 10-15 hours in preparation focusing on making the message better in terms of illustration and application.

    The book that best explains the process was written by my preaching professor: Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages,
    by Haddon W. Robinson.

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  7. I can’t even wrap my mind around placing this much emphasis on the sermon. If church consists only of a long-winded sermon in a hymn sandwich, what’s the point? Ugh.

    Does this mean there’s tremendous pressure to come up with a real barnburner every week? If so, that explains a lot.

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  8. Paul D.:
    My old church’s sermons were far too boring to have been written by scriptwriters or plagiarized from other pastors.

    All I ask of a sermon (homily) is that it not put me to sleep. 😀

    Our current pastor does give excellent homilies, though. Nonetheless, they’re not the Main Event.

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  9. Abigail: In any other context.. politics, education, publishing, media….this would be called THEFT.

    No kidding.

    In a recent post about a church operating their org within the law like everyone else does (he used the example of a non-profit child care centre where he was an administrator), “Jack” commented:

    “So I fail to see how denominations and churches with boards and ‘elders’ with huge budgets and cash galore fail to take care of the nuts and bolts of running an organization. Why? Because it’s a ‘church’? What – these elders can’t read the applicable rules and regs? The pastor who can natter on ad nauseum about points of theology can’t go to a website and download the applicable regulations regarding their roles and responsibilities to the laws that apply to their organization?

    “This is a combination of laziness and hubris.”

    This plagiarism scandal, which is what it is, seems to be another example of laziness and hubris on the part of a so-called leader, a preaching pastor. He can’t cite sources? Prepare his sermons with intellectual integrity (since the rest of us are too dim-witted to figure it out)? Do the work of his job? Are these just men doing this? Perhaps women might have more integrity in the pulpit.

    High school students have to submit their written work to https://www.turnitin.com to make sure they are not stealing intellectual property, even just sentences, phrases.

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  10. I know that pastor of missions, and frankly anything to improve his sermons would have been a blessing. Actually that is true of almost every sermon I have heard over the last 40 years. (There were a couple of pastors who were actually good, but most of them were abominable.)
    I would have NO problem with them giving a source and preaching a GOOD sermon, rather than trying to make one up out of that day’s New York Times (I heard many a sermon from the NYT). Unfortunately the pastors are too stupid to even recognize a good sermon when they plagiarize.

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  11. Jeffrey Chalmers: Given I live in a world of writing and publishing, citing other work is FUNDAMENTAL…. and, the more you cite, the more you “look good” by showing you “ did your homework”, and know the literature!

    Yes! My degree’s in history, footnotes are my happy place.

    As a side note, I can’t help but wonder if so much of the disinformation that is floating around would get stopped sooner if more people were in the habit of asking, “Wait, what’s your source for that information?”

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  12. Few thoughts from the outside.
    1. Don’t confuse plagiarism with copyright infringement. The first is taking credit for the ideas of someone else; the second is reusing the expression of those ideas without legal permission. For instance if Parson A uses Parson B’s sermon and fully credits her that is not plagiarism but would be copyright infringement if he didn’t get Parson B’s permission (unless Parson B had been dead for some decades so the sermon was out of copyright). If Parson A uses Parson B’s ideas without crediting her, that is plagiarism even if Parson B died in the 1800s so her sermons are no longer protected by copyright law. If Parson B had given permission to reuse without requiring credit, then it would also not be copyright infringement but still plagiarism.
    2. Pastors in mainline denominations who usually have set texts for a given Sunday (a lectionary, so for instance next Sunday the Revised Common Lectionary has 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Psalm 89:20-37 [or Jeremiah 23:1-6, Psalm 23], Ephesians 2:11-22, and Mark 6:30-34, 53-56) do sometimes seem to gather in small groups to discuss the texts but each is suppose to write their own sermon and certainly not claim someone else’s anecdotes as their own. Or at least I hope not. Is this ok?
    3. What is the priority? Should pastors prioritize comforting the sick, consoling the bereaved, visiting those in prison over sermon making?

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

    Granted, this IS snobbish wording, but I appreciate the sentiment. As someone who is not technologically inclined, for example, I appreciate when my techie husband (whose job title, I am embarrassed to admit, I can never remember. I think it includes the phrase “cloud architect,” which makes me think of a weather wizard waving his wand) takes the time to explain his latest project to me in layman’s terms.

    In similar ways, he appreciates when I take the time to explain the humor in a particularly funny passage from 19th century English lit that I read aloud to him. (At least he has the courtesy to say that he appreciates it.)

    Sometimes pastors/theologians can get so caught up in the intellectual repartee of end-times prophecy or creation theories or how the meaning of this random word in Aramaic changes when used in the subjunctive verses the aorist verses the past progressive that they forget the bigger question… why care? What does it matter to the average person who is trying to live out their day-to-day life in a “Christlike” manner?

    At least, in this brief moment of charity, that’s what I hope Docent is trying to say when they use the phrases “accessible” and “not intellectually inclined.”

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  14. Erp: 3. What is the priority? Should pastors prioritize comforting the sick, consoling the bereaved, visiting those in prison over sermon making?

    Does the sermon matter? Is there one sermon or sermon series that stands out? Memorable? Made a difference? God spoke (via the preacher & God’s Word, the Bible)? Lives were changed? What’s the point?

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  15. I went to the websites noted near the end an…wait, the epectation is for “30 to 45 minutes of original, insightful and inspiring material”? That’s longer than a sitcom, and those have ads. This makes my point: American evangelicalism is a consumer product, another form of entertainment. A megachurch strikes me as a field full of tares, and they aren’t going to leave because of a little intellectual property theft. It’s why I, like you, toil in a historically informed tradition with twelve-minute sermons in a 90 minute complete liturgical experience and a menu of shoulder-to-the-wheel local do-gooder projects we don’t dress up as ‘mission,’ it’s our church’s leavening work in the community. It’s old fashioned – really, *really* old fashioned.

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  16. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I can’t even wrap my mind around placing this much emphasis on the sermon. If church consists only of a long-winded sermon in a hymn sandwich, what’s the point? Ugh.

    At a non-liturgical church, it’s pretty much the sermon, plus the music, and hopefully some fellowship. I think it does make a church rather pastor-centered, and no doubt there is a lot of pressure to deliver popular sermons.

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  17. > “… have discovered the value of a shorter sermon each week.”

    My “takeaway” from this phenomenon is that the business imperatives of “church at scale” are distorting church ministry, even more so than the ideology embedded in non-sacramentalist flavors of protestant ecclesiology (that see preaching as the central function of the weekly assembly).

    I’m less confident of “what to do about it.” Perhaps change could come from the bottom up. There is so much good scholarship that is now available to laypeople via the internet and in print. One doesn’t have to rely on a big preacher in a local big box church building to access this. Is it laziness that passive reception, “supply/push” rather than “demand/pull”, is the preferred mode of distribution? The weekly sermon as another form of serial entertainment?

    We’ve come a long way from what Jesus and the apostles founded. Timothy was advised by Paul to devote himself to public reading of the Scriptures (in context, the Greek OT; Paul thought that the background to the story of Jesus was really important; he might be surprised that in our day the focus of public Scripture reading is not on that story but rather on Paul himself). The meetings of the church at Corinth were highly participatory, with many people speaking up in turn. They were looking at each other, not at one exalted bible expositor.

    I really don’t think that what is being done today has a strong claim to be closely related to what they were doing then.

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  18. If we don’t stop giving $$$ to these pastors, church staff, and the Southern Baptist Convention things will never change. We have known for a long time that majority of these pastors just want a book deal. They want to be quoted. They want pastor worship. If I remember correctly….isn’t that how Lucifer fell??

    If a pastor doesn’t have time to study his lesson for Sunday…then he needs a new “career”.

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  19. Samuel Conner: the business imperatives of “church at scale” are distorting church ministry … We’ve come a long way from what Jesus and the apostles founded … I really don’t think that what is being done today has a strong claim to be closely related to what they were doing then

    It’s not even those who do “church at scale” … this is a widespread problem in the American church … the little guys modeling what the big boys are doing in hopes of being mega someday. We’ve lost connection to the spirit of the early church and no longer resemble the model they set for expressing Christianity among themselves and to a lost world.

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  20. Plagiarism is what brought MD and MH down, the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. While I was glad there was something the finally stopped the Mars Hill bus from running over people, I would have preferred that it had been his abuse and misogyny that would have been enough to tip things over.

    So I feel the same here. If it takes plagiarism to finally stop the abuse of women and children and the spewing of misogynist teaching, that’s better than nothing. But I personally feel that emotional and sexual abuse and spiritually abusive doctrine should have been enough.

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  21. 20John: Maybe you could read that part of the Docent quote about “people who are not intellectually inclined.” as referring not just to us dumb sheep, but as referring to their preacher clients as well.

    The average American pastor lives in fear that a church member will buy Christian books, listen to sermon podcasts, and even read the Bible!

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  22. Mara R: If it takes plagiarism to finally stop the abuse of women and children and the spewing of misogynist teaching, that’s better than nothing. But I personally feel that emotional and sexual abuse and spiritually abusive doctrine should have been enough.

    Perhaps this will draw attention to these greater problems in SBC ranks and elsewhere. As I noted upstream “I suppose SBC’s New Calvinist pastors are too crazy busy ruling women with an iron fist to prepare their own sermons.”

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  23. Watchman on the Wall: If we don’t stop giving $$$ to these pastors, church staff, and the Southern Baptist Convention things will never change. We have known for a long time that majority of these pastors just want a book deal. They want to be quoted. They want pastor worship. If I remember correctly….isn’t that how Lucifer fell??

    If a pastor doesn’t have time to study his lesson for Sunday…then he needs a new “career”.

    Yes.

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  24. Daisy: I just blogged about this topic earlier today:

    Thx, Daisy. For adding your original work to the discourse.
    Thx, Dee. So unselfish of you to allow others to post their own work here, too.

    Quite the opposite of plagiarism. Write your own stuff, even on the same topic. Do your own research. Post your own work on your own blog. Then share the link. Way to go, women of God. Master class. How to do it.

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  25. I have mentioned before that SEBTS had students who passed out flyers for sermon services and most students I knew were in favor of buying from a service or just flat out stealing the sermons of others. There is definitely a culture of this in the SBC.

    When this came out on Twitter, people like Mike Stone were OUTRAGED that Litton was accused of using another’s sermon, even though Greear makes them available for use. Huh. Doesn’t Mike Stone also sell his sermons on sermonsearch.com where Greear’s sermons are? Why would he be all outraged now after trying to get other pastors to buy his sermons? And I’ll be honest. I am betting that many of these big pastors who sell their sermons have a research service or someone on staff to help them write their sermons.

    The biggest problem with this is evident. Most of these pastors are phonies. They are either fakes or liars. If they do write their own sermons, they are phonies about their outrage over the practice because they are over there selling their sermons to make a buck. And many of these people have known about this practice for years and never said anything about it until it was politically advantageous to do so.

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  26. Max,

    Perhaps. Here is what I saw on Throckmorten’s blog.
    When I was chiming in about Driscoll’s plagiarism, some conservative Christian dude was trying to shame me into silence, saying something to the effect that we shouldn’t be airing our dirty laundry on that “Liberal” site. We should be policing it quietly among ourselves.
    I did not hesitate to let conservative Christian dude know my position on this. If ConserChristians would have policed themselves this might have been an option. But since all we ever saw was the good ol’ boys and their lackeys circle the wagons to protect their spiritually abusive leasers, the time for self-policing was over. I let him know that, while the plagiarism was bad, I found the other abuses to be far worse. But I would have to settle for pasty intellectual indignity rather than righteous anger toward injustice to stop the madness.

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  27. After many years of pastoral ministry, my last role was that of a state denominational executive that dealt exclusively with pastoral and church support that included interpersonal and congregational conflict.

    A group of deacons once met with me to discuss their pastor whom they wondered was using others’ sermons. They had done impressive research into pastoral publications and actually ended up subscribing to the one their pastor used. The deacons tracked their pastor’s plagiarized sermons – word for word – for three months. They asked me how to proceed as they did not want to sound accusatory, but of course, wanted to deal with the issue. I offered to meet with them and the pastor to mediate the discussion.

    The meeting began with me presenting the issue to the pastor and the chair and vice-chair of deacons in the meeting. The pastor immediately denied that he used anyone else’s material. The deacon chairman recorded the pastor’s last two sermons and had them transcribed. He handed the pastor the transcribed copy as well as the publication from which the sermons were taken and asked the pastor to compare and explain. The pastor’s face turned red and rather than discussing the issue, he accused the deacons of “setting him up” and walked out of the room. I asked the pastor to talk with me as an intermediary; he refused to talk with me or the deacons and walked out. We strategized and decided to write the pastor a letter that was delivered special delivery the next day. He was asked to respond either in writing or in person within 48 hours or the deacons would take it before the church the next Sunday in a called congregational meeting. The pastor refused to respond and the congregation voted him out as pastor at their meeting.

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  28. While I do not agree with every jot and tittle, and you will want to think it through carefully, let me recommend the book “Pagan Christianity”. So much of what we do has totally nothing to do Christianity, and everything to do with politics/customs/habits/pagan worship.

    Probably the best preacher in the SBC we ever had, which was almost 50 years ago, worked two jobs in order to support the privilege as he called it of preaching at our little Baptist church in the eastern NM sandhills for $25 a week to cover cost of travel there, but only if we had the $$. Otherwise he preached for free. Well, we paid him for the Sunday morning but he threw in the Sunday evening and Wednesday evening no charge. He said he couldn’t not preach, had to preach, it wasn’t an option for him but a thing he could not not do. Then again, he was clear he was called to preach. Not teach. He preached straight evangelistic sermons 3 times a week, and we saw people we never thought would get saved walk the aisle, get baptized, and change their lives. The teaching was done by the rest of us, women included. So was the pastoral function, the hand holding the dying and the visiting the sick and the outreach. Pianist once rode to town in the ambulance with a dying member. That sort of thing.

    Jesus warned us about not having this idea of clergy above us in the red letter part of the Bible. If we ignore that, and it doesn’t work well, it isn’t all the clergy’s fault.

    Maybe we should let those truly called to preach preach, and the rest of us be the church. If we outsource our job to the clergy, why be shocked or angry when they outsource their job?

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  29. Mara R: I did not hesitate to let conservative Christian dude know my position on this. If ConserChristians would have policed themselves this might have been an option. But since all we ever saw was the good ol’ boys and their lackeys circle the wagons to protect their spiritually abusive leasers, the time for self-policing was over.

    Totally agree. They had their chance to do things the “right” way. They failed, rather epically. They don’t really have room to talk about what other people should or should not do.

    That’s kind become my philosophy on most Christianity. If you actually did what you said you believed, I’d believe you about morality. But most don’t and still expect others to live by what they say…

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  30. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    The “questionable” ethics just continue, even though this specific example has been discussed here, and many other places for years… they just don’t “get it”..
    I am with Dee, I would not think down on preachers if they heavily cited their sources…. in fact, depending how it was done, I might even be more impressed…. but here is the “kicker”….they would have to put some “originality” in their sermons to keep them from being exact copies….. sigh..
    Given I live in a world of writing and publishing, citing other work is FUNDAMENTAL…. and, the more you cite, the more you “look good” by showing you “ did your homework”, and know the literature!

    If preachers did nothing but read from St John Chrysostom’s sermons — with proper attribution, of course — it would be a huge improvement over 99.9999% of contemporary homiletics.

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  31. Mara R: we shouldn’t be airing our dirty laundry on that “Liberal” site

    Flagging misbehaving in SBC pulpits (and elsewhere) is always branded as attack by liberals. I’m about as conservative as you can get, but believe that sin by ministers and ministries should be exposed not covered. “Airing dirty laundry” in the blogosphere serves to inform and warn pew-sitters who can do something about it if they would step up to the plate. When will enough be enough?!

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  32. Muff Potter: Same here in Lutheranism, it’s not pastor-centric, it’s liturgy driven.
    You (generic you) don’t have a guy beating you over the head with an obscure verse in say, II Chronicles.

    Amen! And that touches on something else: the lectionary. OT reading, psalm, NT reading, Gospel — all prescribed and predetermined, not determined by the preacher’s whim. And the sermons usually deal with those particular Scripture passages. So, the preacher is at the service of the Scriptures, not the other way around. There’s a lot less room for showboating.

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  33. ishy,

    “Doesn’t Mike Stone also sell his sermons on sermonsearch.com where Greear’s sermons are? Why would he be all outraged now after trying to get other pastors to buy his sermons?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Mike Stone has at least 176 sermons for sale.

    He is actively selling to his commodity to customers like Ed Litton, and actively wanting pastors like Ed Litton to purchase them and preach from them.

    talk about two-faced. he should have been cast in Spiderman.

    https://www.sermonsearch.com/advancedsearch.aspx

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  34. Max: Flagging misbehaving in SBC pulpits (and elsewhere) is always branded as attack by liberals. I’m about as conservative as you can get, but believe that sin by ministers and ministries should be exposed not covered.

    If you want to get Biblical, this is called “Because of you, Christ has become a laughingstock among the Goyim”.

    If you want to get crude something I heard a lot during the PTL scandal:
    “God’s just a Crock of Sh*t,
    Anything to do with God’s a Crock of Sh*t,
    JIM AND TAMMY ARE LIVING PROOF!”

    And today’s Professional CHRISTIANS(TM) do things in public that at the time of Jim & Tammy didn’t even have names among the Heathen. (But they’re very Pure and Moral when it comes to Pelvic Issues(TM)!)

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  35. Luckyforward: The pastor’s face turned red and rather than discussing the issue, he accused the deacons of “setting him up” and walked out of the room.

    Just like that Rabbi who got nailed by Chris Hansen on the first season of “To Catch a Predator”. Aftermath to that was this guy was the only predator in the show’s entire run who (1) tried to physically attack the camera crew wen exposed and (2) tried every sort of petty legal revenge he could against Dateline NBC and everyone connected.

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  36. Max: It’s not even those who do “church at scale” … this is a widespread problem in the American church … the little guys modeling what the big boys are doing in hopes of being mega someday.

    Didn’t that Rabbi from Nazareth say something about “You cross land and sea to make a single convert, then you make him into twice the child of Hell as yourselves!”

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  37. Mara R: So I feel the same here. If it takes plagiarism to finally stop the abuse of women and children and the spewing of misogynist teaching, that’s better than nothing.

    Remember when taking down the “Chicago Outfit” some 90-100 years ago, the only thing they could nail Capone on was tax evasion.

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  38. Wild Honey: As a side note, I can’t help but wonder if so much of the disinformation that is floating around would get stopped sooner if more people were in the habit of asking, “Wait, what’s your source for that information?”

    “It’s On The Internet! DO YOUR RESEARCH! I DID!”
    — Standard QAnoner response to that question

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  39. Stealing material from other “star pastors” is a symptom of the Neo Cal “sickness.” During my pastoral years, I believed that every part of a worship service – music, prayer, sermon, offertory, etc. – was important. I never thought that my sermon was the “MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT” of worship. Like every other act of worship, the sermon was merely a part of the whole of being in the presence of God.

    In the Neo Cal era, the ONLY important part of worship is the S E R M O N! Everything else is merely a warm up act for this event. It is interesting here in Nashville to see church newsletters and websites that are dominated by the pastor’s current sermon series, and little else. It is interesting to see the “banners” in front of churches that advertise the pastor and the name of his sermon series, but nothing is said or emphasized about the overall W O R S H I P experience.

    How times have changed . . .

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  40. Max: The average American pastor lives in fear that a church member will buy Christian books, listen to sermon podcasts, and even read the Bible!

    My husband once commented to an elder, his wife, and the associate pastor, “Don’t you guys want to give the people in the congregation the tools to be able to read and understand the Bible for themselves?”

    Blank stares all around.

    That was the same night we left that particular church.

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  41. Luckyforward: Stealing material from other “star pastors” is a symptom of the Neo Cal “sickness.”

    During the height of the NeoCal movement, I could tune into sermon podcasts of SBC-YRR church planters in my area and swear I was listening to Driscoll – they copied the potty-mouth’s delivery and inflection. No doubt that the new reformers parrot each other (and steal from each other) … God hates that!

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  42. Wild Honey: “Don’t you guys want to give the people in the congregation the tools to be able to read and understand the Bible for themselves?”

    Blank stares all around.

    Perhaps they didn’t know about Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4 to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part! If you keep “the tools” from the pew, you’ll be able to maintain an authoritarian separation of clergy from laity (which of course is not Biblical). We just need to flush 21st century church in many places across America and start over.

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  43. Headless Unicorn Guy: Muslin fka Dee Holmes:
    Maybe there’s something to be said about having a liturgical year, using a lectionary and not making the sermon the end all to be all center of worship.

    But isn’t that ROMISH(TM)?

    Not every church that follows a church year and liturgy is “Roman”. I think it seems too formal or strange to people who were not brought up in it. Putting aside issues like the meaning and practice of the Lord’s Supper, a church calendar and liturgy force a pattern to things – but it’s not quite the same thing every week. Different church seasons have a different focus and the Bible readings take you through the Bible. The sermons have to cover a lot of things throughout the year. I would say there is a lot of variety.

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  44. Jacob: I think it seems too formal or strange to people who were not brought up in it.

    True of many, but a lot of folks like the connection to ancient rites, as well as the mystical elements. The intriguing architecture of old churches—Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Gothic Revival, etc.—appeals to the senses of sight and hearing.

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  45. Husband John thinks the Sarn Babdists should simply dissolve. I disagree. They ought to split up into smaller groups: Extreme right, far right, regular white supremacists, moderate racists, plagiarizers, and maybe some who go back to the old-time religion and allow women to be pastors again and not demand wives graciously submit to overbearing authoritrian husbands.

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  46. Catholic Gate-Crasher: some of these guys even recycle other preachers’ personal anecdotes

    Which probably weren’t original to the guy they cribbed it from.

    I’ve given “sermons” at church, only we call them “inspirational talks” or “sharing our faith experience” or other terms, depending on the context, which is not during Mass. I can put together a solid 20-30 minute talk in a day while keeping up my housework and going to Walmart. A shorter one takes more prep, because one can’t ramble, and it’s good to do a practice with family or some committee members.

    When Pope Francis was first elected and his daily homilies were being distributed, my pastor would often start his homily at daily Mass with, “Pope Francis talked about this gospel today, and he said …,” which was a change from, “I was just reading this book, and …”.

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  47. Muff Potter: Same here in Lutheranism, it’s not pastor-centric, it’s liturgy driven.
    You (generic you) don’t have a guy beating you over the head with an obscure verse in say, II Chronicles.

    The great thing about liturgical church is you have a pretty good idea when the service is going to end without constantly looking at your watch. As soon as the Eucharist was done, you were in the home stretch.

    Evangelical services can be harder to figure out, often I had to bail before the end. I wasn’t the only one who had to go “warm up the car”. Thank goodness for long winters. We’d also bail if the sermon was a snore. Thank goodness for upper rear balconies.

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  48. Do all pastors write their own sermons? Or do many rely on speech-writers and trust them to keep it above-board? And if a speech-writer gets sloppy with the credits, who is the plagiarist?

    I’m thinking of politicians, who are known to have others write their speeches. The only think I remember about Joe Biden from his 1988 presidential campaign was his plagiarism of a member of the British Parliament. It was a scandal back then, produced some raw jokes, but it didn’t deter Obama from picking Biden as vice president, in fact it wasn’t an issue. It did come up in the debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris–Pence alluded to it, and Harris ignored it.

    Four years ago, Melania Trump was embarrassed when her speech was found to have ripped off whole phrases from Michelle Obama’s speech. Who gets the blame for these disasters, the speaker or the speech writer? Does the same go for pastors? In the small churches I attend, I think the pastor writes his own–I know I have,when I’ve subbed for the pastor,and yes, it does take 10 to 20 hours to construct a sermon, unless it’s a quick homily, and I think those are often better.

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  49. Ted: ripped off whole phrases from Michelle Obama’s speech. Who gets the blame for these disasters, the speaker or the speech writer

    The speaker has to take ownership for the content of the speech. But a sermon isn’t supposed to be a speech. It’s supposed to encourage the congregation about a topic that is relevant to the congregations needs at a given time.

    In liturgical churches they could tie it in to the church calendar but the key point is relevance.

    If the pastor is out of touch then the sermon can become a non sequitor. Then you get an 8 week “series” on Nehemiah. Heard that when my wife watched on line during the pandemic. Heard one, heard the series. I suspect it was a canned sermon.

    Btw I haven’t heard the on line sermons for a while. I wonder how many people are dropping off?

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  50. Jack: Evangelical services can be harder to figure out, often I had to bail before the end

    I haven’t been to an ‘Evangelical’ service since my Calvary Chapel days.
    I am now happily ensconced in a small Lutheran church in my town.
    No drama, no strongman in the pulpit, no jockeying for approval, just ancient liturgy, great people, and coffee and donuts afterward.

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  51. Muff Potter: haven’t been to an ‘Evangelical’ service since my Calvary Chapel days.
    I am now happily ensconced in a small Lutheran church in my town.

    I got involved in an Evangelical(TM) Not-a-Cult back in the Seventies, got a bad “Take Your God And Shove It!” burnout, then over the next decade drifted back into a Western-rite Liturgical Church.

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  52. Samuel Conner: The meetings of the church at Corinth were highly participatory, with many people speaking up in turn. They were looking at each other, not at one exalted bible expositor.

    I really don’t think that what is being done today has a strong claim to be closely related to what they were doing then.

    I completely agree. This is one of the reasons after being a Christian for 50 years I no longer have the slightest interest in hearing another sermon. I am only interested in doing my part to be active in the work of building up the saints and particularly some of those who are struggling with basic life issues the most. The Gospel is not an intellectual game to be played or understood, it is a lifestyle to be worked out with fear and trembling. The real church does not look like either high or low standard church practices. A faith not lived out is useless for everyone and especially for the liar claiming to have it. It is what you do outside of the service with almost all of our time where faith either grows or it actually does not exist. What goes on inside is typically of very, very, very little use for people in general.

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  53. Samuel Conner: The meetings of the church at Corinth were highly participatory, with many people speaking up in turn.

    One time I attended a service at a downtown mainline church, where every sermon was followed immediately by a Q&A. Yes, that’s right, people in the pews asked questions and the preacher answered them, and then thanked everyone for their participation.

    As I recall, the questions were supportive “could you say more” material, which could easily have hinted at “that was unclear” or “you contradicted yourself.” I was impressed that the preachers were willing to do this every Sunday, especially since instant reactions are not always that deep.

    I’ll bet people in that congregation learned to listen more carefully, and the preachers probably worked hard on their sermons.

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  54. There is a very, very, long tradition of preachers copying sermons. We could say it goes back to before the new testament books were chosen. At least beyond the modern form of the English language and beyond Protestantism to the days when the Bible was only in Latin and many rural priests didn’t really know Latin well enough to read it themselves. And what we know of sermons by ancient church fathers is because those were copied down, sometimes as with John Chrysostom (347-5407) by the congregation paying for someone to do so while he preached, and then the manuscript copies were circulated. Even many of the letters in the New Testmanent became scripture because they were copied, circulated, and repeatedly read in churches.

    There was a long ago cultural meme about preachers spending time in the British Library’s reading room, copying sermons. Or, even worse, see in Bro’ Google’s travelling library the 1872 book “Memories of the British Museum”, page 272 where a paragraph begins “Not long since, a long set of `The Pulpit,’ in many volumes, had to be removed from its place in the Reading-Room, as many entire sermons had been cut out. Little did the congregations, to whom these sermons were probably preached, imagine where they had come from.”

    Or also in Google Books, the work “Sermons or Homilies Appointed to Be Read in the Time of Queen Elizabeth of Famous Memory”, which in an introduction says “… how that all they which are appointed Ministers have not the gift of preaching sufficiently to instruct the people, …, whereof great inconveniences might rise, and ignorance still be maintained, … : the Queen’s most excellent majesty, …, hath by the advice of her most honourable Counsellors, …, caused a Book of Homilies, which heretofore was set forth by her most loving Brother, …, Edward the Sixth, to be printed anew, … All which Homilies her Majesty commandeth and straitly chargeth all Parsons, Vicars, Curates, and all others having spiritual cure every Sunday and Holy-day in the year, …, to read and declare to their parishioners plainly and distinctly one of the said Homilies, … And when the foresaid Book of Homilies is read over, her Majesty’s pleasure is, that the same be repeated and read again, … As it was published in the year 1562”.

    At least with the letters that became the New Testament or Queen Elizabeth’s Book of Homilies, everyone knew what was going on.

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  55. Headless Unicorn Guy: Didn’t that Rabbi from Nazareth say something about “You cross land and sea to make a single convert, then you make him into twice the child of Hell as yourselves!

    Careful interpreters may disagree among themselves at this point. The Greek text can be interpreted as “two-fold more”, which could imply that the converts are actually 3 times as much children of gehenna as the prosyletizers.

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  56. Erp,

    And this, with the Prayer Book, was rejected in Scotland and led to my ancestors being imprisoned.And as Rabbie Burns said in Lowland Scots –
    Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
    Fareweel our ancient glory;
    Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,
    Sae fam’d in martial story.
    Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
    An’ Tweed rins to the ocean,
    To mark where England’s province stands-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
    What force or guile could not subdue,
    Thro’ many warlike ages,
    Is wrought now by a coward few,
    For hireling traitor’s wages.
    The English steel we could disdain,
    Secure in valour’s station;
    But English gold has been our bane –
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
    O would, ere I had seen the day
    That Treason thus could sell us,
    My auld grey head had lien in clay,
    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
    But pith and power, till my last hour,
    I’ll mak this declaration;
    We’re bought and sold for English gold-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation![5]

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  57. I have much less of a problem with it if the person preaching is open about it. But I know, because I’ve seen it, that many of these pastors go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are using someone else’s sermon. I remember a pastor bragging about how hard he worked that week writing that sermon, which I had heard at a another church a few months before.

    Most members look for pastors who write and preach their own sermons, and they wouldn’t choose someone in a pastoral search that didn’t study and do the work of preaching. So they’ve created this huge culture of secrecy around it, even though most of them approve of sermon-stealing.

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  58. ishy: I remember a pastor bragging about how hard he worked that week writing that sermon, which I had heard at a another church a few months before.

    That’s why “pastors” don’t want you visiting other churches! Nor listening to sermon podcasts or reading Christian books. They want you in the pew and ignorant. Folks like you scare the living daylights out of pulpiteers!

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  59. This is nothing new. Go to a preacher’s conference and the audience will be full of guys taking notes from the keynote sermon(s).
    I remember going to a SBC Church with a family member in the Tyler, TX area( Fairly large church) and the preacher making the mistake that a “sermon service” who had sent me a free copy trying to get me to subscribe. The “service” used the wrong chapter/verse in Isaiah and the minister didn’t even bother looking up the verse on his own….He just used the freebie to “prepare” his sermon.

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  60. K.D.: This is nothing new. Go to a preacher’s conference and the audience will be full of guys taking notes from the keynote sermon(s).

    Oh yeah. The really good note takers even make marginal notes about when to pause, wave arms, thump on pulpit, insert jokes, speak with inflection, etc. I’ve listen to sermon podcasts where I would have sworn it was “Dr. Marvelous” speaking … because the sermon was originally his!

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  61. What do these CEOs do with their time, if they are not spending 20+ hours a week preparing sermons? They should all be required (which cannot logistically happen, I know) to take 6 months out of every 5 years and pastor a small, rural church where they are the only staff member.

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  62. Mr. Jesperson,

    After over a year of online services and then returning to a packed sanctuary with no masks, I’m done with in person services for right now. But I have gained all sorts of meaning from my service in the church at this time (drive through food distribution mostly) and deep conversations with other church members about various issues, including doubt and problems in the church. This is my church right now.

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  63. He concluded: “I am committed to being a man of integrity and humility. I will not waver from that as I lead Redemption Church to be Christ-followers and the SBC to unite around her mission.” In a response, pastor Greear said he accepted pastor Litton’s “gracious and humble words” and shared a statement on his website.

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  64. Яна:
    He concluded: “I am committed to being a man of integrity and humility. I will not waver from that as I lead Redemption Church to be Christ-followers and the SBC to unite around her mission.” In a response, pastor Greear said he accepted pastor Litton’s “gracious and humble words” and shared a statement on his website.

    See if he repents to the others. This wasn’t just a one time event from what I’v heard.

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