It’s late on Saturday night. This is panic time for Pastors. Throughout the week, You have thought and prayed–but still no clear direction about what you are going to preach. You envision yourself standing before your audience with a dumb look on your face and no words in your mouth. “No words in your mouth…scratch that. If you are a preacher, that is probably not going to happen. After all, we are known as those whose words are many, right? Seriously, when you need help getting the idea tumbler turning, what do you do?
Hmmmm, lets see:
1. Do the old flip the Bible open, close your eyes, and point to a verse. Better leave one eye open.
2. Go back through your files from the last church you pastored. Probably won’t understand most of your own handwriting.
3. Pray with vigor and ask God for mercy. This is always good to do even on Monday morning.
4. Thank God for Google and then use it. BINGO!
Of course the above list is a set up to validate my article but still helpful I hope. The wonder of the technology available is that you can lean on and glean from what others have preached. You, in essence, assume the role of someone in your congregation who does the same thing when they come to hear you preach.
Simply type something like free sermons online into the Google search box. Presto, thousands of instant resources appear before your eyes. Some of these will be in manuscript form, some in outline form, some in audio form, some in a notes format. This really is neat for bible preachers and teachers. Just go into this like eating fish—when you come to a bone, spit it out.
There are some ethical issues to consider and some practices to safeguard yourself from falling into the ditch of plagiarism. Three quick pointers for you:
1. Give credit where credit is due. If a friend were to ask you, “Where did you get that new shirt?” Why would you say, “I sewed it myself.” when it fact you got it from the new men’s shop at the mall?
2. Learn to humbly quote your sources. You build the house, but can still mention where you bought the lumber. People usually appreciate this because it demonstrates integrity. It also shows you study which is not a bad trait for a preacher. Share your source in a way that demonstrates you are a still a learner yourself. Don’t try to make it look like you read a million pages a week. Be real!
3. Don’t allow your sermons to become monotonous bibliographies. If you rely on an entire outline from someone, mention it to your people. For goodness sake, just mention you ran across an online sermon by Pastor Bill Doright that spoke to you and inspired you and you want to share his sermon outline filled in with some of your own ideas. By the way, be sure to use some of your own ideas if you say it that way.
If you share a great illustration or piece of info, why not mention it? Like this for example–In his book, Preaching is Fun!, Bill Feelgood says that “One hour of preaching is equivalent to four hours of swinging a 16 pound sledge hammer.” I hope there is no such book with such an author because I just made it up for the sake of making a point as well as the sledge hammer quote though that it is probably fairly accurate. Now when you write it down, give more details so people can go to the original source if possible.
4. Be sure to notice copyright issues. Some do not allow their work to be used. Others may give you permission to use their stuff as long as you give them credit. Others may tell you to just take it and use it. I have a site of bible sermons for free that you can use and change anyway you want. Make them your own. Just notice what the author of the material wants in regard to the use of his/her material.
Anyway, learn to learn from others and give them credit in the appropriate ways without becoming dry as dust in the process.
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