As a teacher of preaching for nearly a decade, I have observed that one question inevitably surfaces in every class: Do you think it is okay to preach another preacher’s sermon? I cringe a bit, even though I have come to expect the question. The reasons for my cringing are several. For starters, I know my response is bound to offend or, worse, humiliate someone in the class. Secondly, this issue is too multifaceted and complex for some of the overly simplistic and arrogantly opinionated answers I am tempted to shoot back at my students. Here is, I hope, a reasoned response to the question: Do you think it is okay to preach another preacher’s sermon?
• The best sermons are birthed through preachers who, like good ol’ Jacob of Genesis, wrestle with the angel for a sermon from the biblical text. In other words, the most profound and passionate sermons develop in preachers who have been engaged by God through a biblical text in a way that causes the former to come away personally transformed, limping with Jacob. This cannot happen for the preacher who simply downloads, prints, and preaches another preacher’s sermon. Developing a sermon that is conceived in you by the Holy Spirit through your engagement with the God of the biblical text not only makes for powerful preaching, it makes for powerful preachers.
• Many of us have grown weary, by now, of the word “authenticity.” However, the fact is authenticity matters. God wants to incarnate Christ through each preacher’s authentic voice. The way that Christ is revealed to us through the distinct voices of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, he wants to come to your people through your authentic voice. As a local church pastor, you know your church and community context better than any preacher featured on Sermoncentral.com, Pastors.com or Wesleyansermons.com. God wants to speak to your people through your authentic voice, which is why he called you to the church in the first place. God would rather speak to your people through a sermon from your soul than a downloadable sermon from Rick Warren to his people.
• Wesleyansermons.com, a new resource for pastors which I steer, provides a sermon outline to go with the featured audio sermon of the week. We did this to help you follow the flow of the featured sermon. The outline is there to help us reflect upon how to preach not what to preach. We have made these sermon outlines so brief that they absolutely cannot be preached without prayerful intimacy with God, diligent study of the text, and faithful sensitivity to your particular church context.
• The Wesleyan Church has many pastors who are bi-vocational. Many of these pastors work full-time outside of the church and part-time (read “full-time”) in the church. We applaud these hardworking shepherds. Wesleyansermons.com seeks to provide just a tiny sermonic seed to get bi-vocational pastors, as well as full-timers, started on their way toward the blood, sweat, and tears of sermon development and delivery.
• So, I do not advise, encourage, support, or endorse the preaching of another preacher’s sermon, though I am in support of allowing another preacher’s sermonic seed to get us started in the homiletic process. One more thing, always give credit in your sermon to whom credit is due. In other words, if you use more than just a tiny sermonic seed from another preacher avoid plagiarism and give credit.
Preaching Christ with you,