Scot McKnight is one bold human being. . . and I love it! Sometimes telling the truth in order to undo what needs to be undone requires gutsy confrontation. A couple of days ago he posted a blog titled “Hey Preacher, Is That Sermon Really Yours?” In his post, McKnight rightly calls out and laments this emerging trend to engage in purchasing sermons,writing sermons by committee, and even what truly at times is plagiarism.
McKnight’s challenge isn’t warranted only by what’s happening in our churches with pastors. It addresses a growing trend in our youth ministry world. Way back in Episode 46 of our Youth Culture Matters Podcast, Duffy Robbins and I interviewed our friend Scott Gibson on the topic of “Should We Use Someone Else’s Talk or Sermon?” (embedded below). It was a popular episode because it tackles a timely topic. I blogged about some of the implications for youth ministry just after posting that podcast.
Some might ask, “What’s the big deal?” Here are just a few of my thoughts. . .
- There’s an integrity issue. Am I passing someone else’s work off as my own?
- There’s a depth issue. If I am not digging deeply into God’s Word on my own, I will not be growing.
- There’s a study issue. We live in a world where we focus on a destination, and then choose the path of least resistance. Sadly, if we do this with personal study and even formal education. . . well, we aren’t seeking excellence nor are we preparing ourselves responsibly. (This is one of my concerns with online only education).
- There’s a passion issue. How can I preach with passion if I’m not preaching what God has been revealing/doing in me through my responsible and deep study of God’s Word?
- There’s the student issue. To be honest, when we give them less, we are ripping them off by not taking them as deeply as might if we were spending more time in study.
- There’s the long-term fallout issue. Lack of depth in teaching leads to lack of depth in living. Just wait and see. Or, maybe we have already waited long enough and seen enough?
I love what Scot McKnight says in answer to the question, “What Is A Sermon?” He writes in his blog, “A sermon is preaching what a pastor has been given by God to speak to her or his specific church as a result of engaging God through Scripture study. . . A sermon is not a performance of a talk written by someone else. . . A sermon is an intimate act between God, the preacher and the congregation. . . A sermon is a specific pastor’s engagement with a specific congregation. No one else can do this. ”
Youth workers. . . go back and read that last paragraph again. This time, substitute “youth worker” for “pastor” and “youth group” for “congregation.”
What do you think?
Here’s what Scot McKnight wrote in his blog. . .
A number of varied sources recently have led me to learn that some well-known preachers and speakers are preaching sermons they, in effect, did not write and use research they did not do themselves. I know some names and I’m not afraid to use them but I won’t do that in this post.
To get more specific, some pay significant sums for researchers to do the exegetical and biblical work, sometimes involving writing introductions and even providing illustrations. Others are paying staff persons to do this for the preacher’s sermons and talks. Some even use the sermons of others. (Continue reading Scot McKnight’s blog here.)