By Elizabeth Prata
Plagiarism is a plague in the church. Many pastors are not working out their sermons with fear and trembling under illumination of the Holy Spirit. They are reading other men’s sermons, reformatting, swapping out some words with synonyms and re-delivering the other man’s words to their churches as if they were their own. Or they take another guy’s sermon outlines and his structure and his flow, rename the sermon points, and pretend they crafted it together with their own brain and sweat and labor.
In no case did the preacher dig out truths the Spirit wanted him to pass to the local body. He didn’t spend time sweating and laboring and unearthing scriptural gems with the precise emphasis the Spirit wanted for this specific congregation to hear. The plagiarizing pastor just took the easy way out.
THIS IS BAD.
On Twitter, SuzanneT @suz_setfree said, “Paul Washer. I don’t know of any other man of this generation who visibly, genuinely feels more weight of the Gospel and of the ministry of it than he.”
Perfectly said, person on Twitter! I agree.
Paul Washer closed the Friday session of the G3 National conference with a fiery sermon. Well, that is what you expect from a Paul Washer sermon. That, and tears. Fire and tears and conviction. He said regarding young pastors who might be tempted to preach someone else’s sermons, “Just go away. Go away.”
He spent more time just admonishing us all, pastors/preachers/teachers than focusing on the plagiarizing issue, urging preachers to spend more time in the Bible. More than TV, more than reading ABOUT the Bible, more than recreation. Anything. Prayer and study should be the preacher’s watchwords. He issued a challenge, “I challenge you: over a week’s time, compare your screen time to your prayer life.”
His regard for the scriptures and the importance of preaching the Gospel with integrity is such that he said,
“Your public ministry should be the tip of the iceberg of your relationship with God.”
What we see in public from our pastor is nothing compared to the time he should be spending in the scriptures, in research and writing the sermon, and in prayer. We believers have been given a precious gift, God’s word, access to the throne through it and through prayer. Washer said,
“How do you pray? You pray until you can pray. Then you pray until you have prayed.”
What interferes with a deep relationship with God and a proper preparation of a sermon? Washer said,
“Get off the internet. Get off the internet and get on your knees and in your Bible for hours a day. Listen to me, I’m not talking about a 45 minute quiet time — you eat this book, you live this book, you bleed this book when they cut you…It’s more than knowing. It’s feeding upon the scriptures.”
Pastor, why aren’t you doing this? Why would you NOT be? “Pastors“, Washer said,
“In this world that is so mundane and without purpose (God’s ministers) have been given a purpose, a call to battle, a reason to die, something to fight for. If we do this with a congregation of 10, 25, or 50 all of our life, we are a good servant. Is that not enough for you? What other accolade could you desire? Is it not enough to hear ‘Well done good and faithful servant’?”
Indeed. If you are blessed with a pastor who spends hours putting together his sermon, praying, laboring with all the sober weight of his charge upon his shoulders, you are truly blessed. If you have a pastor who skims the Bible, turns to the internet for other men’s words, appropriates their sermons and adopts them as his own, and flings those stolen, unholy words out to his innocent congregation, as Washer said, GO AWAY. JUST GO AWAY.