Other People’s Sermons

A friend told me about a website last week, a treasure trove of preaching, with links to more than 8,000 sermons – 8,000! There’s got to be a few good ones in there. Most of us only need forty or fifty in a year (unless we are Korean wherein we would have to multiply the number by 10). They always said that the internet would save us time. Well here’s one way. We can simply preach each other’s sermons.

There is a certain logic to it. I mean, if a sermon is worth preaching, it’s worth preaching again. If it was true when you proclaimed it, it ought to still be true if I proclaimed the same thing. We’re not so postmodern as to let go of the universality of truth, are we?

Of course, it’s the time management aspect of this that is the most compelling. As Rick Warren likes to say, you can do your own research or you can pay him and his staff pennies an hour to do it for you. Economies of scale, you know.
The problem is that I’ve never been quite able to pull it off. Any time I’ve tried to preach someone else’s outline it comes off sounding like someone else’s outline. It sounds flat, without the kind of impact in my life or that of the listeners that would happen if I had done the hard work of building my own sermon under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The issue, when you think about it, is that preaching is more than propositions. The outline (or plot) is a rather small part of the ultimate product. The sermon is an event, a moment-in-time that can’t be published, reduced to outlines, or otherwise truncated into a format that can be easily transmitted by our various technologies. The sermon is that unique event when God speaks through a preacher he has prepared for this specific opportunity. Rich Warren has preached some great sermons, but they are not my sermons. For me to try to ride his coattails might smack more of laziness than efficiency.

People coming to preaching.org to find sermons for next week will be disappointed. There are, of course, plenty of other places one could go. This is a place, instead, to think about the task of preaching itself. Perhaps we can challenge one another to the hard work of creative proclamation. Perhaps we can help our people hear from God.


4 thoughts on “Other People’s Sermons

  1. Even the thought of preaching someone else’s sermon makes me think of trying to wear “Crocodile Dundee’s” hat. It may fit, but it just doesn’t look as good on me as on him. I will admit that hearing a well presented, Biblically correct sermon, may give me an idea for something similar, but to preach the same message, no way!

  2. 2 things: 1–how do I get a new avatar?
    2–isn’t preaching someone else’s sermon plagiarism? It seems to me that the main task of the pastor is to take care of the sheep–which, according to Jesus is to feed them. Of course, we all have a plethora of things to do in taking care of them. But getting before the Lord, doing our own research and presenting it to the people the Lord has entrusted to our care just comes with the territory.
    I was a chaplain in the military (retired 5 years ago) and my supervisor told me that I needed to do my sermon prep on my days off. Even though I was putting in 12-14 hour days as a norm, I didn’t even think for a microsecond about doing someone else’s stuff.

  3. If I would preach some one elses sermon, I would fall flat on my face. My first sermon was one that I searched out the Word of God and came up with a word, by faith. It wasn’t eloquent but it was from Gods’ Word. People that get their messages out of books or from the internet are either lazy or they can’t hear from God. I tried preaching a message that I had heard preached and thought it was great but when I tried to give the same message, it just didn’t have an impact. I preaced it with my own study and in my own form but God let me fall on my face. We have to hear God for our own people. In churches just like in people, we are at different levels of growth.

  4. I can’t even preach my own sermons over, after having moved congregations! There is a specific time, ethos, set of issues, and spiritual place where a congregation comes from…and to think a “good” sermon speaks without consideration of the Holy Spirit’s movement in our flock…isn’t that blaspheming…and we all know what Jesus said about THAT!

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