Church Under Fire: Job Listing For Pastor To Copy Popular Sermons

Posted on Oct 7, 2018 in The Church

Church Under Fire: Job Listing For Pastor To Copy Popular Sermons
A recently posted job advertisement to be the ‘pastor’ of a church in Colorado has stirred up controversy with its request for applicants simply to copy, word for word, the sermons of other popular preachers.
This “disruptive” logic in the age of post-modern disruption is simple: if the preaching of a popular preacher can speak to the soul and bring congregations closer to God and one another, then why not simply steal his material instead of trying to compete?

The advertisement claims to have the funds necessary to make this a lucrative offer and already have a great praise team. All they need is a skilled orator willing to plagiarize another man’s sermons weekly.

This should surprise no one. In a generation that has grown up with Google searches and Wikipedia-sourced research papers, human intellectual property can seem like a public commodity, freely shared without consequence. The advertisement tries to draw the analogy of a band playing popular songs for a Sunday music performance, but the comparison is off the mark. A musical composition is written with the intention of being played or sung by someone other than the composer.
A sermon, on the other hand, is not just a rhetorical exercise; an act to beperformed for an audience. A sermon is how a pastor feeds his flock, tends to their uniquespiritual needs through the Word of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul himself explained to the Corinthians that he was no sophist and that simply being a communicator is not enough; one must be something more. He writes to them, ” When I came to you . . . I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom . . . and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest on the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  (I Corinthians 2.1-4)
Paul recognized, quite clearly, that a preacher may be eloquent but that his eloquence is not and should be the basis of his faith. As Matt Hodges pointed out in his article on The Gospel Coalition, this endorsement of plagiarism comes from the false assumption that the power of a sermon comes from its rhetorical style rather than the Holy Spirit’s anointing.
The job advertisement offers to compensate this skilled orator, no theological training or spiritual calling required, with a percentage of the tithes and all expenses paid. It is easy to see how this “Uber model” of preaching could spread almost like a restaurant franchise.
Step one, buy a church building; step two, hire an actor to deliver the sermons of others; step three, assess a 10% fee from tithes collected and, finally, use the profits to buy a church building three towns over and start the process again. All built on stolen, recycled words that once contained wisdom that was arduously gleaned from hours of Biblical study and careful contemplation.
For many pastors, it’s almost impossible not to compare oneself to other preachers and their success, perceived or real.
On any given day, we have access to the preaching “greats,” whether by podcast, sermon clips on social media or YouTube. We can’t help but evaluate the latest offering in light of everything else we may hear.
The pressure then builds on pastors to believe the lie: in order to be good, you need to preach like “that guy.” We assume his effectiveness must lie in his cadence or charisma, certain speech patterns or mannerisms that naturally yield a desired outcome.
In their university and seminary training, pastors take courses in homiletics; the art of preaching. After graduation, a pastor can learn from others who have come before. He may lift ideas from others or mimic some element of style, to be sure. But that is all part of his process of growth and maturity as he deepens his ability to interpret and present the Word of the Lord and guide his flock toward God, to Whom belongs all glory.
We must not forget the example of King Herod who, on a certain day, made an oration and was acclaimed by the people, saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!”  And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms.  (Acts 12.21)
Certainly, this church in Colorado, its advertisement now removed, is not alone in its post-modern approach to preaching. Yet, as Christians, we need to be wary of such pulpiteers, and seek out true Biblical counsel and teaching guided by the Holy Spirit.

 

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