Monday, March 19, 2007

Resources or Replacements?

So the round of 64 is now down to 16. How does your bracket look?

I didn't fill out an entire bracket, but did pick the Final Four and all of my teams remain alive (Ohio State, Florida, Georgetown and UCLA).


The Internet can be a preacher's best friend...and his own worst enemy.

For example, I saw the promotion of a new sermon series in a church bulletin the other day. The titles peaked my interest but the unusual creativity of the series caused me to ask, "Is this original?" A quick google search revealed the entire series to be lifted title-for-title from an on-line resource page for pastors.

Look, I don't want to jump on my colleagues too harshly. At one time, I was of the opinion (and the immaturity and lack of confidence that comes from being a newbie in ministry) that using others' material, so long as it was rooted in the Bible, was perfectly legitimate. But growing in faith, hope and love as a minister demands that the truths proposed and preached from Scripture have no value unless they have worked themselves through our own lives first!

The internet provides a treasure trove of resource material. But shouldn't a minister worth his salt use resource material as resources, not as replacements for solid study and for the work of the Word in his own life? When illustrations and stories are lifted, then pawned off as if they were true in the life of the minister, it is unethical.

It is wrong.

I simply share this in the hopes my colleagues in ministry recognize the value of ministering ethically. The great danger in ministry, enhanced by the internet, is a guy can now preach for a lifetime and never prepare an original outline or manuscript. The most effective preaching does not come by lifting creative material from others and teaching it as your own but from sharing truth from the Word that has first worked on and worked out of the life of God's spokesman.


Back in January, Mike Cope addressed this very dilemma on his blog. I want to refer you to his thoughts on the problem of plagiarism in ministry. Not only are his words appropriate, but so are many of the comments to his blog post. They serve as a warning for the need for ethical ministry.