Looking For An Easy Sermon? 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Preach Other People’s Sermons


These are interesting times for communicators and preachers. Never have we had access to so many other people’s messages that would be easy sermons for us to preach.

And never have we felt more pressure in delivering our own.

Almost monthly I hear of pastors (most of whom will never make the headlines) who are losing their job because of plagiarism—using someone else’s content but passing it off as their own.

That’s just sad on about 100 levels.

First, it’s sad for their church, who lost a leader and saw some trust fractured.

Second, it’s sad for the pastor who obviously got into some kind of content trap he or she didn’t know how to get out of. I’m sure a few of the people who got fired intended to steal other people’s work and didn’t care about the consequences. But my guess is that’s a small group.

I’ll bet the majority actually just got caught in a trap of overwhelm and shame: they felt too busy/inadequate/desperate to write their own content, downloaded someone else’s, and were too ashamed/insecure/embarrassed to admit that. Rinse, lather and repeat and you have a fireable offense.

A third factor may be that vicious cycle of jealousy and inadequacy. Because we can access messages by world-class communicators every day for free (as can our congregations too), it’s not that hard to get lulled into thinking we can never measure up, so we beg, borrow and steal other people’s ideas without giving credit.

A Rip Off Epidemic (Too many preachers are wanting easy sermons.) 

If you don’t think this is an epidemic, please know I’m not even close to being the most well-known preacher on the planet, nor the best-known writer. But my team has found other preachers preaching our local series verbatim, with no permission and zero attribution. Even the jokes were re-used.

Ditto with my blog. My team has found other bloggers who have taken my content, pasted it word for word into their blog, and written their name above the post as the author. (We’ve asked them to take it down.)

So what’s the problem with idea-theft, sermon-theft or writing-theft?

It’s an integrity issue. It’s a character issue.

And at the heart of it is giving credit where credit is due.

There is nothing wrong with using other people’s ideas. Only fools think they are truly original thinkers. There really isn’t much new under the sun, so to quote, share and borrow ideas is fine. You just need to give credit.

And that’s the crux of it. If you mostly do other people’s content, then you’ll end up saying, “today’s message is based on a message written by Mark Batterson/Beth Moore/Andy Stanley/Tim Keller/Steven Furtick/Sheryl Brady/John Ortberg.”

There is nothing wrong with that occasionally. A few times a year I’ll open a message saying “What’ I’m sharing with you today aren’t my ideas—they’re based on the work of X, or come from a message/book by Y.”

But do that week after week after week, and people will begin to realize you aren’t writing your own stuff. Which is exactly why most pastors who plagiarize resist giving credit.

So what should preachers do?

Rather than finding easy sermons online, I suggest a simple guideline for preachers:

Write your own stuff. And if you didn’t, tell people.

That’s it.

So why do we want to rip off other communicators? There are at least 5 reasons that get pretty ugly if we’re honest.

Preachers, write your own stuff. And if you didn’t, tell people. Click To Tweet

1. You want people to think you’re smarter than you actually are

Let’s be honest…one reason we borrow other people’s ideas and make them appear to be ours is so it makes us look smarter than we are.

Don’t think you can give credit and still seem smart?

Just listen to Tim Keller. In virtually every message, Keller references a book he’s read or a thinker he’s borrowing from. He does this regularly and generously.

And guess what? Keller’s one of the sharpest thinkers alive today. Also one of the smartest.

Quoting other leaders doesn’t make you seem dumb. It actually makes you look smart.

Quoting other leaders doesn’t make you seem dumb. It actually makes you look smart. Click To Tweet

It’s evidence you’ve read more than a few tweets, and that you’ve dug deep into the heart of history or current events. It’s a sign you’re not lazy.

Ripping people off is lazy. Learning from other authors and thinkers isn’t.

2. You lie

Lying is an integrity issue.

People rightly assume when a speaker, artist or writer shares something without citing a source, it’s their take on an issue.

Far too many preachers today are literally downloading another pastor’s messages every week and preaching them verbatim.

If you steal money, you get fired. If you steal ideas, maybe you should be fired too.

If you steal money, you get fired. If you steal ideas, maybe you should be fired too. Click To Tweet

3. You stop growing

Of all the leaders and communicators who have their ideas ripped off, Andy Stanley is likely at top of the list. He’s one of the most quoted leaders alive today in the Western church, and for good reason. He’s brilliant.

I had a chance to talk with Andy on my Leadership Podcast and I asked him about how he felt about others ‘stealing’ his material and ideas. I loved his answer (you can listen to the episode here).

Andy said—so accurately—that preachers who preach other people’s messages forfeit the growth that comes with preparing a message from scratch. They miss the angst, the frustration and the tremendous reward that comes from wrestling down ideas until they come out in a powerful and helpful way.

Andy’s so right. Preachers, when you start stealing, you stop growing.

You also lose your own voice. If you’re like me, you may not be the biggest fan of your own voice, but it’s a voice God gave you and that God loves.

Further, if you’re simply a copycat, my suspicion is a younger audience will eventually tune you out. Why? Because Millennials can smell a lack of authenticity a mile away.

You may not be quite as clever or articulate as your favourite preacher, but you’re real. And real resonates.

You may not be as articulate as your favourite preacher, but you're real. And real resonates. Click To Tweet

But wait, you say, can’t you buy some preacher’s sermons so you can reteach them at your church? Can’t you download Craig Groeschel’s messages and reteach them at your church? Both legally?

Yes, you can.

There can be strategic purposes for doing so. And when you do, give credit.

But on all those other weeks of the year, don’t lose the edge you gain by wrestling through your own ideas, your own reading of God’s word, and finding your own voice on a regular basis.

Preachers, when you start stealing, you stop growing. Click To Tweet

4. You lose touch with God

When you plagiarize, you lose touch with God in at least two significant ways.

First, the sins of lying and stealing are themselves a barrier. Confession stands between you and God.

Second, stealing ideas required zero reliance on the Holy Spirit for inspiration, direction, courage or insights.

Ironically, in trying to make your content better, you’ve made it worse. You’ve robbed it of its true power. The real power in preaching comes not from our words, but from what God does with our words.

Do the hard work. You and everyone around you will be better for it.

Stealing ideas required zero reliance on the Holy Spirit for inspiration, direction, or courage. Click To Tweet

5. It creeps into other areas of your life

I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s generally true that when you compromise in one area of your life, it doesn’t take much to start compromising in other areas.

Sin is like a weed: It grows fast and you never have to water it.

The best way to tackle sin is to pull it out by its root before it creeps into other areas of your life.

Sin is like a weed, it grows fast and you never have to water it. Click To Tweet

So what do I do?

What should you do in a hyper-connected era when you and I are exposed to more ideas in a day than our grandparents were in a month or year?

First, use other people’s ideas generously. Just give credit where credit is due. Quote. Attribute. Link back.

That covers most of us.

But what about those preachers who realize they’re guilty of knowingly stealing entire messages or lines of thinking and passing it off as theirs..and no one has confronted them on it (yet)?

I would strongly encourage anyone in this category to come clean. Talk to your board. Explain what’s been happening, and tell them you want to stop.

See a counselor if you need to (there’s something inside that drove you there in the first place), and start writing fresh.



What do you think about pastors using these easy sermons?

Am I being too hard on us as communicators? What’s been your experience?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Looking For An Easy Sermon? 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Preach Other People’s Sermons


  1. William Holden on September 20, 2021 at 7:15 am

    any sermon should be GOD working through you to the Church. If not than it is the natural Man using his Ideas.

  2. Rob on July 18, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    As someone who has been down that road, let me say when it was done by me, it left a nagging horrible feeling in my stomach that I was a fraud, and I hated doing it. There is an expectation that as a preacher that you have had some amount of training in exegesis and homiletics. Sometimes there is nothing that comes, but I have learned that I’d rather re-use an old message that I did sometime before, or find another scripture passage that might have the same theme, than to use somebody else’s words. For me, to copy and paste is a spirit of laziness, and it is taking the easy way out. Once I started doing that, I found it hard to get out of because it became a bad habit. We have a responsibility to the congregants because they expect a certain standard from us in ministry, and they’re not coming to church to a hear a message from our mouths, that is not divinely inspired by the spirit working within us. We are defrauding the listener and cheating ourselves when we don’t give the best of ourselves in the pulpit as we’re not being lead by the Spirit and growing in the Lord.

  3. Steve Baker on July 4, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Well thank you for a thoughtful and gracious article. For many of us, we will never be big name preachers and for some of us, we are very happy about that. Of course stealing and passing off ideas or insights as if you came up with them is wrong. Taking other people’s experiences and making out that they are your own is wrong. And giving credit for an illustration or a way of explaining a theological truth that is helpful is right and proper.

    Sometimes however I might not want to mention the source of every idea for two reasons- one would be if my audience would not listen to the idea because they don’t like or agree with the preacher / theologian who said it and the other is if it looks like I am using the preacher / theologian as an appeal to authority.

    Ultimately all truth is Gods truth and as Carey says – there is nothing new under the Sun. Perhaps we should check our messages and make sure there is no more that ?5% ?that has come from someone else’s thinking. And we should site quotes and material from others 99% of the time unless there is very good reason on the odd occasion not to.

  4. Pamela Black on June 30, 2021 at 6:17 am

    I have been listening to Tim Keller’s sermons for decades. I have transcribed some of my favorite ones to help me remember and apply key points. A few years ago, while visiting a friend’s church out of state, I heard her pastor deliver a verbatim Keller message with which I was very familiar. He never acknowledged Keller or gave him credit in any way. So I composed a kind, thoughtful email to this pastor a few days later, letting him know that I was aware of his plagiarism. His response was arrogant and filled with excuses and justifying statements. I was deeply disappointed. I never felt led by the Spirit to tell my friend about this, because she adores this pastor. But I have prayed for him many times since that Sunday. It opened my eyes to the likelihood that using other people’s sermons and material without acknowledging them could be a common temptation for many in our day.
    Thank you, Carey, for your excellent insights and godly counsel for those tempted and or caught up in this practice. Every Christian leader needs to be surrounded by a wise group of people who has access to his/her life and thereby keeps the leader accountable. Compromising integrity, like any sin, is a slippery slope that can lead to not only individual destruction, but to the fall of many.

  5. Cameron on June 28, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    My Father walked away from Church and Faith in the Lord before I was born. One clear sign my Mother told us was when he started getting sermon material from different sources rather than seek Gods now word. I think danger is not just plagiarism but heart. Fortunately (praise God) my father came back to the Lord 25 years later and was passionate for Lord when he died 4 years later. When I taught in a bible school my focus kept on being to never let study of word or listening to others sermons ever come before your devotional life. Guard that fiercely

  6. Shauna on June 26, 2021 at 8:55 am

    I’ve worked in full-time Church ministry for 16 years. Our last senior leader regularly plagiarized sermons Word for Word from other pastors without giving credit. At times reading Word for Word pages from entire books without crediting the author. Over time, this eroded his trust with the congregation. His sermons were not connecting, because he was preaching someone else’s sermons that were intended for another body of believers. It became an integrity issue…. that he would take other peoples words and assign Credit to himself. We know this came out of a place of inadequacy and insecurity but he refused to address those areas when offered resources to do so. Eventually, he lost his position because he lost so much trust. It was very sad to watch. I believe Carey’s words here are very wise, and we would all do well to listen to them. He’s not suggesting that we never quote other people, but that we simply would give credit when we do…. when we are knowingly reciting Word for Word somebody else’s work.

  7. Anthony DiMaio on June 26, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Great trigger thought. You not only don’t want to preach another man’s sermon… it is EQUALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU don’t live another man’s life or another man’s calling. Follow Jesus, Behold He’s doing something NEW!

  8. Katherine Heal on June 26, 2021 at 8:14 am

    I loved your term “fractured trust”, especially as it relates in Canada today as we deal with the findings of more and more native children’s bodies. Trust in our churches, our government, our leaders, our place in the world seems to be at an all-time low – and for many, even trust in our God has disappeared. As it takes time for a fractured bone to heal – and that bone site must be cleansed and then set properly to produce healthy new growth, it seems to me that unless we let the Great Physician cleanse and heal our “fractured trust”, we will not grow to a healthy nation.

  9. Todd Crofford on June 26, 2021 at 7:07 am

    I appreciated this article. For me the tricky part is that it really IS tricky to know when to attribute. I will give an example of my own struggle. One year in preparing for Easter I ran across an Andy Stanley sermon and he used the expression “nobody expected to see no body.” I thought it was an extremely creative turn of phrase, and classic Andy Stanley stuff. I went ahead and put that qoute into my sermon and up on my screen and at the bottom I attributed to Andy Stanley.

    Meanwhile Andy had also made a comment about no one being at the grave counting down as the sun came up. I also thought that would be a fun thing to do, but I embellished it considerably and added all sorts of fun sidelights like cotton candy stands and popcorn et cetera. I felt like I had taken a creative Idea and embellished it to the place where it was my own flavor. I did not mention Andy Stanley when I did that.
    My point in all this is to say that in a world where there is so much information at our hands and watching videos of people preach is in SOME ways equivalent to reading books, it is a constant consideration for those of us who want to do this honestly but creatively to have to work through when to attribute and when not to.

  10. Jimmy Owens on April 26, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    This entire discourse points to the sad state of the church in America. So many get lost in a web of legalistic arguments about citations, copyright and the like while others seemingly think it normative on a routine basis to present the false facade of pretending another’s sermon is there own. And all the whining about time and preparation is a poor excuse for simply listening to the Spirt and having faith to step out and fearlessly preach a fresh, living word. We need to be worthy of our calling. If you don’t have something of your own ongoing relationship with the Lord to say for 20 or 30 minutes then you might need to tend to that relationship or get another “job.”

  11. Scott on April 26, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Help! How does study and making use of commentaries or reading books play into this? if an idea grows from a book and is researched through a commentary, is that “not allowed”? Maybe I’m over-complicating it, or over-simplifying.

    • Steve Weeks on August 14, 2021 at 11:11 am

      I would greatly limit the use of commentaries. Scripture was not written for one person to understand, then explain it. The preacher’s job is to expound it. I would study a scripture, understand what it meant for the biblical audience, then how does it apply to our time, not our culture. Then you can look at a commentary to see if there are similarities. Many people rely on commentary and Google that they really never built their own theology.

  12. JMPoe, LPC-S on March 22, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    How do you aid a beloved pastor that limits the number of weeks he preaches, complains about the number of times he does preach and utilizes the sermons of other preachers but doesn’t see this as a problem. Nor does he feel he is experiencing burnout or fatigue?

    • Steve Weeks on August 14, 2021 at 11:22 am

      This is very difficult. This pastor has made preaching, the topic, and even the scripture about themself. He does not experience fatigue because he is plagiarizing, which requires little effort. I would write a letter first, if that doesn’t induce a conversation, take a brother with you, if that does not induce a conversation, you must bring it before the church. (Matthew 18).
      We want to love our pastors, but often we esteem them too much, sometimes they esteem themselves to much. You would be helping, not complaining, and all men need help.
      This pastor will most likely respond with, “I am doing what God told me.” This would be easy to disprove because God calls preachers to utilize His word, not copying someone else.

  13. Cyril Soloman Porter on March 18, 2021 at 6:03 am

    I want elaboration on using others sermon and rescue if ousted from an independent church for lying etc. Is there any recovery of lost ground (not in the same church any other church).

  14. Rick on January 19, 2021 at 5:01 pm


    I have known your name for awhile but I stumbled on you personally over COVID. I have appreciated your blogs and insight over the past year. Thank you so much.

    I would truly love your answer to this question and insight. It is something I am truly struggling with.

    Quick back story. Our incredibly intelligent lead pastor is retiring and for the first time in our church’s history, we are engaging a planned succession where I will assume the lead pastor role. I am the student ministry pastor and I have been in student ministry for 20 years. This will be my first lead role. Our lead pastor is a dedicated preacher and spends a majority of his week preparing, studying for, and delivering his message. He is not a people person per se, and struggles with some of the other parts of the “pastor” role. I am a people-person and I am committed to the shepherding and the disciple-making aspect of the role, which I am super excited for. Ok, here is my question. How do I balance the time required to be with people, actively disciple people, teach others how to disciple, care for the staff, and lead effectively AND prepare, study, and deliver a message? Is it wrong to use the structure and outline and fill it in myself? How often is it ok to do things like this? I just don’t see how I can do both effectively and be a husband, father, sane human being. Any insight for a noob would be appreciated. I certainly agree with your points here but I am concerned already that I am going to burn out quick. Thank you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

      Hey Rick!

      This is a great question, and I’m glad to help.

      One tip I often give people is to preach as many messages per year that you can preach really well, and no more.

      Personally, I limited my own preaching to 30-35 weeks a year, and had other speakers take the other weeks. I knew that was my capacity, and was glad to share the stage.

      Could that be helpful? We have also piped in Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel’s messages on many of those weeks.

      If you are going to take sermon points from other pastors for your own message, generously give them the credit from the stage!

      Let me know what you think!

      • Rick on January 20, 2021 at 3:30 pm

        Thank you. Will take as many preacher hacks as I can! And will continue to read great thinkers and those who make me think.

        Our church has had a history of preaching being the main thing and so the culture will be hard to change. But I appreciate your advice in preaching only as many as I can well.

        I am definitely looking forward to the new chapter in ministry!

        On the same topic, why is it ok or acceptable for student ministries or kids ministries to follow a curriculum, even one that you just teach directly, but not for big church? I certainly wouldn’t ever read verbatim anyway, but Orange, Grow, etc. is looked upon favorably. Why do people look unfavorably on resources that facilitate or give outlines/topics/series for pastors to use?

  15. Paul on January 10, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Yes, a touchy subject. About 10 years ago , I was watching a early Sunday morning service on the tv. About halfway into the sermon, i realized that i had heard this exact sermon at church several weeks before, verbatum. My initial feelings was one of being robbed. I put, or had been putting trust in my pastor to draw near to God every Sunday and find what Gods message was for this church, this area, and the relevat issues facing the uniqueness of our church body. Since that Sunday, the pastor has preached a revolving door of sermon series’s and I have not once heard a single recognition of the contents author. What has it done to me? I honestly do not know if he can lead me or the congreegation to greener pastures, protect the flock from the wolves of the world, and especially now, preach to the church what we need to hear amidst the chaos of the current world that seems to be at the doorstep of the end of days. So many sermons now days are more psychology 101 instead of equipping the saints to die to self and spread the Good News . My mentor pastor from years gone by told me one time that many times he would prepare a sermon, with many hours of prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance, only to get in front of the congregation on Sunday and have the Holy Spirit totally take him down a different path than the one he had prepared. He said that every single time he did that, after the service or later on, he would find out that his sermon was for a audience of one, or a family, or an issue that needed divine intervention. By not being totally connected to Gods heart, pastors are probably missing that one person who needs God, a specific word from God on that specific day. Only God knows a persons heart, and only God knows the future, so it is very relevant that a pastor has his heart open to Gods heart every single day, every single Sunday, every single sermon. If a pastor finds a sermon that God leads him to and the Holy Spirit helps him add his talents to it, preach it, use it as an outline, and reference the source. But not verbatum, because that takes his heart, his gifts, and passion out of the equation.. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead. Be a warrior for the word of God. Many pastors now days fall into the pitfall that they have to be relevant, entertaining, get some smiles, some laughs, in order for people to feel good about themselves and keep coming back. As for my wife and me? When we get back to some form of normalcy and can start attending church again, we will find a pastor who first and foremost has his heart before God and realizes that the Church has a very specific mandate in this season, a message of grow- equip the saints, and go,-spread the Good News, because the days are short. And I don’t think, no- I know, for the days ahead, there has to be a new word, a new zeal and passion for the lost, a refocus by us all. Gone are the days of being comfortable, or a comfortable sermon, or a sermon not inspired by the Holy Spirit. I am not a pastor, just one that too which Jesus said, ” come follow me”.

  16. Michael Roloson on October 2, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    As a minister I totally agree with this article . Many are the times of my 27 years of preaching I have used something from someone . But I always let the people know . For example , I love reading books from Billy Graham . If I use something from him I will always say ; ” Billy Graham once said… .” While I am not preaching his message , a quote he made comes to me that fits the message I am preaching . By doing it like that the people and I have always been blessed .

  17. Ron on August 9, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    Well, for the record, I’d like to make clear that I am one who NEVER responds to what I read online but… I must say that I strongly disagree with this article… within reason. Now, by this, I’m not advocating just copying someone else’s sermon and pasting it into your word processor and then you’re good to go. But,there are times when the message simply doesn’t come and you need something to jump start your sermon writing process. A lady in a church I once pastored said to me one time “read your Bible everyday and He will give you what to say!” Oh, doesn’t that sound just wonderful!!! But then we have this thing we call reality! I do read my Bible everyday but sometimes God just doesn’t GIVE me what to say. Sometimes I pray and toil over coming up with something new and fresh each week and sometimes something new and fresh simply doesn’t happen! So, it’s good to have resources to help get that process started. Now, I will say this. I have served in associate roles in two different churches where the pastor did actually, just pretty much copy, paste, and preach… or attempt to preach. At one of these churches, all you had to do was Google the title of his sermon series and you could follow along word for word on your phone. The other one wasn’t much different. It as painfully obvious that the words of his messages were not his own and he always seemed beyond awkward when he was in the pulpit. So, I want to make clear that when I say I disagree and it’s OK to preach non original sermons, I’m not talking about copy, paste & preach. I certainly have used messages that I did not originate as most preachers have… since we’re talking about reality. But, I will say it’s actually easier for me to just write a sermon and preach it than it is to preach one somebody else wrote. It actually takes me longer to redo someone else’s message so it aligns with a format that I can use than it does to just write one from scratch. But I have also found that a lot of times, if I can just come up with a title and a passage, and then go from there, it’s much easier to build a sermon from that. So, while I don’t advocate copy and paste preaching, I don’t discourage the idea of taking someone’s title and passage and building a sermon from there. But regardless, I would say that if you’re going to preach a non original sermon, by ALL means, go through it word for word and change as much of it as you can to make it as much your message as you can. And really… plagiarizing??? Well, I guess I’m guilty as charged because I’ve been plagiarizing John, Peter and Paul (just to name a few) for 36 years.

    • Jeremy on December 15, 2020 at 5:02 am

      Ron, I appreciate your response. Thank your for your service and your honesty. I believe you actually agree more with the article than disagree. I did not take what the article said as saying it is wrong to use someone else’s ideas. The author said, when you do, give the author you are referencing credit. This is the same thing one should do when taking courses in school. Otherwise, it is plagiarism, and one who is guilty of such can be expelled from school. You mention plagiarism in the end of your comment, by one “plagiarizing” the writings of Paul, John, etc. However, that would not be plagiarism because I believe most pastors reference the Scripture when referencing it in a sermon. Therefore, you give reference and credit to that author. Likewise, this author is simply saying, if you are referencing someone else’s material, do the same.

      I currently attend services at a local congregation where a dear friend of mine became the pastor about 2 years ago. As a person, I know he cares for people and wants to help them. But, there has been a lack of growth in our congregation since he assumed the pastor role. For my own growth, I began listening to Craig Groeschel online, and I discovered that I was hearing the same messages verbatim at my local congregation on Sunday mornings. The jokes, the prayers, etc. I felt cheated. My pastor doesn’t care enough about us to even pray an authentic prayer for us? We pay a salary to a man to prepare a message for our congregation, and the best we get is copy and paste? Those were my true feelings. So, after much prayer and meditation, I approached my brother in love and told him mu feelings. I asked why he felt so compelled to do such a thing, and he referenced his inadequacy in being a good enough preacher. See, he is following in the footsteps of his father-in-law, who preceeded him as our pastor. I understood his feelings, and I told him that I do not disagree with using other people’s material. But, it is an integrity matter. This author referenced that. If we were to have Craig Groeschel as our pastor, we wouldn’t need our own pastor. We could simply turn on the screens and play his sermons. Craig, while being a great teacher of the Word, is not present in our congregation. He has not spent 20+ years with our people and doesn’t know them intimately. We need our pastor to be the voice of God, to bring His unique message for us. Can the ideas come from someone else? Yes. But, as said already, give credit where credit is due. Otherwise, you risk being seen as a fraud, a liar. One who passes off other people’s thoughts as your own. Not authentic. Not one who spends time with God to seek a Word from God for the body. And, how can a body follow a leader who is openly and knowingly committing sin from the pulpit? Seems counterintuitive and will stunt the growth of the body, as well as the pastor. I agree wholeheartedly with this author, and I appreciate the time spent sharing the thoughts. God bless you all on your calling and service. May God bless you and give you guidance and wisdom in doing His work.

    • Robert Ross on January 9, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I agree with you Pastor. There is no one that is original. We might be unique, but not original. What is the purpose of teaching people in your congregation if they can’t pass your sermon on. People are being blessed, saved, delivered, marriages restored,etc. Why worry about getting the credit when Christ is being honored. You will get your reward from God who sees in secret but rewards openly.
      I learnt how to preach by writing down the sermons word for word until I catch the spirit of the message and own it as mind. Then I would use my experiences and adjust the sermon to suite the culture of the people.
      What is the purpose of preaching and teaching if you don’t want people to use your material or imitate or follow you. Freely you received and freely you must give.
      Some pastors live in poverty stricken countries and can’t afford to be full time.
      Personally, I encourage people to use my material as their own! They have my right to copy!
      Read the book by Dag Heward Mills: The Art Of Copying it The The Art Of Following.
      Children learn by copying. We lose that as we “mature”.

  18. Melissa on August 6, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    I know someone that goes to a church where this happens, frequently and for many years. They are so afraid to speak up, but it’s really caused a lot of confusion in their life – because the pastor literally copies so many other preachers messages. It’s gotten to a point where they don’t want to be there anymore because of the preachings being copied but don’t know how to leave because they have been there for so long and serve in leadership.

  19. Viti on July 28, 2020 at 7:17 am

    I couldn’t agree more with your article. It is so easy on social media to copy and paste someone else’s comments, sermon or chapter from a book and pass it off as your own. This is lying and cheating someone else out of their due credit. It is deliberate and very wrong.

    It is also quite different if you are preaching or writing a sermon, and something pops into your head which may be someone else’s words. But if you know someone else said that, then you could just say “I don’t know who said this but…”quote”.

    It is just so obviously wrong to give yourself credit for someone else’s work.

    Judging from some of the comments here, many conciences have been pricked and so they should be!

  20. Dr Michael Lee on July 25, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    This is petty and sad. I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and sometimes recall a great point or remark… How childish to even notice, and much more to be offended or judgmental . I have preached thousands of sermons, most of them from Jesus or Paul, even Peter, but all of them Holy Spirit. If you are reading this and want to preach what I have preached, help yourself. Make no mention of me, just reach for those God has sent you to speak to. I am sure you sing the same song twice without telling people who wrote it…really? Grow up, and preach or get out of the business, this is very immature and unacceptable. Find another profession if you can’t get beyond someone using something they thought worthy of repeating without making sure YOU get the glory…SMH

    • Steve Gallant on July 26, 2020 at 6:17 am

      Everything about this comment is deserving of strong rebuke.

      • Robert Ross on January 9, 2021 at 12:31 pm

        I think you need to rebuke yourself first

    • Rachel Warren on October 3, 2020 at 11:08 am

      Thank you Dr. Michael Lee- Your spirit of unity and graciousness has really blessed me today in a powerful way. May God continue to use you mightily!

    • Beauty on November 2, 2020 at 7:16 pm

      God bless you!

    • Beauty on November 2, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      Bless you sir for your comments.
      I personally think this acticle is like one of the modern day marketing adverts. What is being sold here? You or the word of God?
      The messages you preach are from the spirit of God even though you studied to show yourself aproved. That same Spirit could permit someone who is privileged to come across your message and pass it to others who would otherwise not have seen it. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (tlb) said… had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet God gave us the courage to boldly REPEAT the SAME MESSAGE to you, even though we were surrounded by enemies. Who took credit for this message by Paul preached by the crew ? If you read forther he said.. “We didn’t ask for praise from you even though we deserve honor ”
      Are you trying to take credit from the Holy Spirit because you did some studies ? If the Spirit of God gave you the secret to writers block to share with others just do it without worldly marketing strategies. No offence marketing works. But you should repent of this and give the credit to God.

    • Rev. D. James on February 12, 2021 at 1:02 pm

      Amen! Thank you. I feel the same way. I don’t own anything I preach. If I put it out there where people can copy it who am I to get offended when they do? And please don’t call my name!

      • Steven Schnedler on February 12, 2021 at 1:10 pm

        Double Amen! If someone preaches one of my sermons, I am honored. I don’t need or want the glory. We sing, “It’s all about You…”, until someone preaches one of MY sermons! Then all at once “It’s all about Me…” and My research, My time, My resources, My ability. Can you imagine Paul telling Timothy, “Dude, get your own sermons, don’t copy mine or at least give ME credit if you do.” ? This is nothing more than American Christianity. Period.

    • Darlene J Thompson on July 24, 2021 at 11:41 am

      Really? Plagiarism is ok with you? Is this what you teach your children? I don’t. Living honestly and above board is what we are called to do….especially for a preacher. Stealing is never ok, whether you bought the sermon, or not. JSMH

  21. Dr Richard L Nash on July 22, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    I really don’t have any comments this time. Thank you kindly.

  22. Ken Valle on July 7, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Reason number 3 resonates. I was a Professor’s assistant in college and helped him pack up his house when he left the college to train pastors in Africa. Whenever he preached, he used a handwritten manuscript, reading it from his 3-ring rust-colored manuscript notebook. While packing things, I found a shelf with multiple manuscript notebooks and jokingly said, “When you die, I’d like to have these.” He replied, “Why would I want you to have those? I would rob you of the joy of discovering those things for yourself.”

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 7, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      That’s outstanding!

    • Sharri Anne Loraine Perolina on July 29, 2020 at 9:57 pm

      Wow! Truly God will always have his ways to make His revelation original, authentic, and unique to His ambassadors who earnestly seek HIm.

  23. Bob Jones on July 7, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Can anyone explain the difference between these two:

    1) Go to church for 15-20 years and listen to sermons each week. You become a Pastor in your 20’s/30’s and you use loads of points, ideas and all sorts that you’ve assimilated over the years.

    2) Not go to church for 15-20 years, and instead become a believer later in life and listen to 3-8 downloaded sermons a week. You use loads of points, ideas and all sorts that you’ve assimilated in a short time.

    Both of these are different to downloading a sermon and repeating it parrot fashion. I could take a sermon from someone and rework it and they wouldn’t recognize their own sermon afterwards. It saves me time when organizing a sermon series in a church with massive needs, and no team other than the pastor to attend to them.

    One of my favorite quotes from probably the most famous pastor on planet earth (guess…) is: “I’m not called to be original, I’m called to be effective”.

    Everyone will have their opinion on this but I imagine it’s the ‘Teaching Pastor’s’ who have little or no other responsibility and have teams and paid staff all around them who cry out about the injustice of using existing sermons to benefit/time save sermon prep – as opposed to churches where the Pastor is the lone member of staff doing management, maintenance, Ministry and Mission and being attacked at the same time.

    So feel free to use anything and everything I’ve got!

    • Steven Schnedler on July 7, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      So well said. It’s the PROFESSIONAL preachers who are so concerned about protecting “their” work and research instead of propagating the Gospel and building up the body of Christ. We have forgotten it is about Him, and not us, although we like to sing “It’s all about You.” We can actually use Preacher Paul’s messages word for word and in fact quote him almost every week in our messages, not for his benefit, so he doesn’t lose royalties from his revelations, but rather for the benefit of the listener’s so they know exactly where to find his words. Paul did not have a team of professionals around him to take care of all the churches’ needs so he could only research and preach and protect his work. You read 2 Corinthians 11 and all he cared about, at any cost, was to get the Gospel out. We are worried about credit and royalties. We have come a very long way from Paul’s perspective and attitude and character and instead of supporting the small churches where 1 man has to do everything, we shame him in to not being original with everything. Sad.

      • Steve Gallant on July 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

        I think you may be allowing your personal biases to color what you’re reading here.

        I don’t see any points in Carey’s blog or people’s supportive comments that mention royalties or getting credit.

        Notice that Carey’s entire point is how plagiarism affects YOU. What effect it has on YOU to not study for yourself and to pass something off as yours that isn’t. You are behaving as though his post says “#6 – The guy you’re ripping off needs that credit and royalty. Not cool!”

        It doesn’t say that. Also, the Bible is public record. Copyright laws don’t apply to it. The comment above that you replied to nailed it on the head though.. if you take principles and ideas and form your own sermon out of them.. great!!
        If you are printing off a word for word sermon someone else labored over and reciting it to your church like you wrote it, that’s lazy plagiarism.. and again, it’s not about the original author needing credit .. it’s about you needing integrity.

    • Annie on July 10, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Sir, I think using other´s content isn’t what was exposed as wrong, rather it is the pretence that what you share is your own when it isn’t .

    • Robert Ross on January 9, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      That is well said and pride free!
      I’ve trained people to become artisans and I tell them the shortest route to success is just copy, don’t re-invent.
      In Africa where I’m from, you can see the disaster in our countries because they wanted to be “independent “ yet they were much more blessed when they were colonized!
      Nothing wrong with copying—doctors do it, countries do it, lawyers do it, businessmen do it— and they prosper. Life is so short! Why try to reinvent something when you can just follow/copy someone who is successful. It’s about the kingdom that needs to be expanded pastors!

  24. Samith Mey on July 2, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Praying for you to be like Jesus than yourself. Everything belongs to God. Do not claim to be yours.

    • Michelle Schneider on July 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      So if I came to your house and stole your food or your clothes or other personal items, would you be upset? By your own line of reasoning I could justify my theft by saying, “Everything belongs to God! You should be more like Jesus and just LET me steal your stuff.” I suspect you would not be pleased with the theft of your personal items and yet we’re so comfortable with the theft of intellectual property. Why is that? How does it honor God to rip people off in any capacity??

      • Mark Holman on July 15, 2020 at 7:22 pm

        The one thing o know a fellow pastor had some of his music stolen, now everything is registered through ASCAP I know someone who claims to written a dog owned by someone else. I’ve arrived at a point to have nothing to do with her, presuming she is a Habitual Liar, I’ve arrived at the point as well everything else is pure Gaslighting. I told my wife the real truth about her.

      • Robert Ross on January 9, 2021 at 12:28 pm

        Your example is putrid. You should copy someone else’s. You really need to copy. You just don’t have the gift of originality

  25. Arek on July 1, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    This is great thank you Carey. It seems like this has become normal these days, I hear a message than hear the same one with same quotes and concepts at multiple churches or streams/podcasts a few weeks later. Guess some pastors don’t know that we too have access to the same podcasts as them.

    I figured there was some sort of sermon website that you can download sermons as easy as stock photography websites or the high quality stock Christian videos used on Easter, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc.

    I like the old school style of sermon preparation, where the spend time digging in the word reflects the quality and power of the message.


  26. Brian on July 1, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks Carey, and by the way, you are quotable. I quoted you, with credit just a couple of weeks ago in a sermon.

    Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is just a decision that fear won’t win. -Carey Nieuwhof

    Thanks for the good reminder and for holding our feet to the fire!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 1, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      This is awesome! Thank you.

    • Jose on June 26, 2021 at 10:20 am

      While I do agree with this article , I also agree with some of the counterpoints. Some things are simply common knowledge and clearly spelled out in the Bible. For example, what is so original with this quote from Carey that you just quoted? I probably listen to at least 1 or 2 demons daily of not some sometimes when I have a long drive. Sometimes, you honestly don’t know who might have said something. When you read the Bible, you also come up with the same conclusion. And if we are being biblical should we not come up with similar conclusions?
      I believe it helps to start on your own with only the Bible and prayer, then learn from others. God has been speaking to others walking with Him for centuries. No matter how we have rephrased what we say, the source remains the same.
      I do not encourage copying sermons verbatim, however, I believe it is beneficial to new preachers to follow seasoned preachers lead till they find their own voice. YES, they can still do that while relying on the Spirit. The more we preach the more skillful we can become (if we show ourselves approved).
      I can recall being on a mission trip to a remote part of Haiti and after I delivered the sermon on Sunday morning. One of the young preachers asked if he could have my notes. (My response was “of course“). That 20 years ago, in this remote part of Haiti, there was no internet access, no libraries, no Bible resources and this preacher had nor formal training (which was the case for most of them, until we started a training program for the pastors in that area. But in my case, I have logos, 24/7 internet access, YouTube, a library of resources at home, formal training…).
      My thoughts, all the Scriptures and words we speak are about Him and of Him (including “our sermon notes”).

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Cary. I really enjoyed reading this timely article and the comments from others. Thank you for facilitating this platform.

  27. Matt Troyer on July 1, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    It is disconcerting to me to read a number of posts on this blog topic that are upset that Carey would advise, “Use other people’s ideas generously. Just give credit where credit is due. Quote. Attribute. Link back.” Seriously!? You have a problem with crediting someone else when you preach!? Sometimes a preacher says something in a way that is brilliant and simply sharing it just like they wrote it is the most effective way of preaching that passage/idea. Use it! But claiming to come up with it on your own boils down to a pride issue. You want people to think you’re the brilliant one (I get it. I want people to think I’m brilliant too!). If it really is all about Jesus and the gospel then you would have no problem making sure you are above reproach and highlighting where a phrase, illustration, or message came from. If you feel the need to conceal the truth, your preaching is really about you trying to look good. I agree with Carey that it is best for us pastors to preach our own messages. And that may require us to STOP watching other pastors, at least for a season. We need to wisely be growing as communicators in ways that don’t expose us to an overwhelming temptation to opt for what another pastor wrote because we are feeling inferior. Do the hard work of message prep, be vulnerable. And trust God to work for his glory through you. As pastors, let’s lead the way for our people on what it looks like to live above reproach.

  28. Steve Gallant on July 1, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Some of you are missing the point entirely. The Bible is not copyrighted and is given to us to use.

    When someone else writes a message and you take general concepts and ideas/inspiration, fine.

    When you take someone sermon they labored over and copy it word for word (including jokes) that’s just lazy plagiarism. And if you think it should be fine because the Word is still being spread, you’re not wrong about that, but you’re still missing the point.

    Also, even people in ministry need to support their families and be financially responsible. Not everything can just be free because thats what would be easiest for you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 1, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      Love it Steve!

  29. Kathleen Domzalski on July 1, 2020 at 11:01 am

    For the last 2.5 years I have been part of a lay preacher rotation at my church – each of us preaches once every three months. I found this article fascinating from a number of standpoints.

    First why would ant pastor want to miss the communication with the Trinity that occurs when preparing a sermon? I have heard God the Father and God the Son speaking to me and inspiring thought each time I prepare a sermon, and the Holy Spirit sits somewhere between my shoulder and my head, popping up fresh ideas and enhancements now and then. Why would a pastor want to miss that experience?

    Second, a “borrowed” sermon is probably not an “easy” sermon as suggested; when you deliver a sermon and think back in evaluation, how would you escape the guilt of plagiarized thought, lack of second thoughts, or lack of your own interpretation? Guilt is never “easy”.


  30. Chris Robertson on July 1, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Thanks, Carey for alerting me to a major issue that has not been on my radar. I serve pastors through my work. This is a point of prayer as well as a discipleship opportunity.

  31. Josh on July 1, 2020 at 7:54 am

    What do I do as a staff member who isn’t the lead pastor but my pastor is using other people’s sermons as his own? I have confronted him about it and he didn’t think it was an issue and hasn’t stopped. As you can imagine, it was a brutal conversation to have for both of us.

    • Chris Robertson on July 1, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Praying for you, Josh!

    • Andrew on July 2, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Follow the biblical model. You have approached him privately and he has continued in sin. Now go to him with others as witnesses. If he continues then go to the elders and congregation at large

    • Mark Holman on July 2, 2020 at 8:46 am

      I can say this Narcissistic Personality Disorder is something to be aware of, I left a church where it took me some time and mostly I’ve discovered this on line and I’ve been disillusioned and I had to leave however I’m studying for my own Ministry credentials in a stable denomination and I’m currently working with my Pastor to complete a SLR (Service Learning Requirement) and I’m acquiring additional resources to help my training, and if your Pastor isn’t aware of sources like here and other ministries I would suggest like approach him as to like I’m doing something as hey can we do something to help you with some time off take wife to a conference or a getaway unless he’s single ( Big thing of someone being lured into a marriage proposal (happened to me wrong idea) ). If he’s willing to go to Grand Canyon, Chicago etc sometimes a Holiday is a good way to get some time off.

    • Steven L Schnedler on July 2, 2020 at 10:53 am

      As long as he is the pastor there, it is between him and God what and the source from which he preaches. If he is wrong, pray for him. Suggestions may be okay, but this kind of confrontation with demands is out of order. If you don’t trust your pastor to feed the sheep, then leave and go find a pastor and church you can trust. End of story.

      • Dennis J Migliazzo on July 4, 2020 at 7:37 pm

        I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your post. Pastors are NO different that you and me. They are tempted, fail, wrestle with areas of sin in their lives just as you and I do. Why you would think that this confrontation without demands is out of order is mispoken imho. Shine the light on it ALL and let us in humility grow in the fear (respect) and admonition of the Lord. All of us need to be able to be transparent with other trusted believers. Your comment perpetuates the lack of transparency that encourages growth. James 4.

  32. Eric on June 15, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    We use scriptures all day from the Bible and many times without references?
    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 1:9

    • Jimmy Owens on June 15, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      All so sad. I’m sure many want to follow the right Way, but have not or will not empty themselves and rely on a fresh/timely Word for the flock each time they speak…so many strawman and red herring arguments about legalistic citations. This is not about that. I’d encouage all to read Jeremiah 23!

    • Nicholas on June 25, 2020 at 3:54 am

      I have taught you statutes and judgments, Deut. 4:5.

      teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons, Deut. 4:9.

    • Cameron on July 1, 2020 at 9:39 am

      I see point four as plenty enough reason in itself. It is a great encouragement when you preach or hear someone preach something God laid on their heart then hear same message in totally unrelated area which confirms God is highlighting this or that area. Personally my father left ministry and walked away from Lord for 30 years. The signs my mother saw was he spent more listening and using other people’s messages than listening to Gods voice and seeking His word. Thankfully my father turned back to Lord and was the most on fire I’d known him when he passed away. So whenever I teach in bible school or elsewhere my passion is never forsake personal devotion and Gods now word to you and replace with other sermons. I live listening to others and enjoy your insightful blogs but want His word now. Thanks for your blogs

    • Steve Gallant on July 1, 2020 at 11:15 am

      The Bible is public domain. What Carey is referring to is word for word plagiarism, or intellectual property theft.

  33. Carl on May 3, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    Best comment I read…”We all milk a lot of cows but churn our own butter.”

    I like Paul’s perspective:
    Philippians 1:12-18 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

    15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

    Plus…lost a little respect of Carey…the motive of the article…but my course.

    I love pastors and churches that freely give…why? So Christ is preached. And because of this I think that rejoice quite a bit.

    • Carl on May 3, 2020 at 11:49 pm

      Correction: the motive of the article…BUY my course.

      • Louise on July 1, 2020 at 9:02 am

        The direct marketing that is embedded in every single post also prompts me to turn away. There is a way to offer thoughtful content with genuine commitment and compassion. The obvious hard push marketing in every single communication feels like a bait and switch.

        Cary, if seems like you are just reeling us in so you can sell us more. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt that this is not your heart, but the tone and technique is so demeaning, it undermines your authenticity. When combined with your formatting choice that offers five quick solutions, six critical insights or seven key pointers, to each and every problem/issue, you communicate a lack of empathy and an overly simplistic approach to complex issues. This is actually off putting.

        We can understand that you want to be focused and that lists allow for skimming and can be attractive – and that you are trying to pay your mortgage through this business – but these two choices undermine your credibility

        • Louise on July 1, 2020 at 9:11 am

          This approach of – here is an important issue/problem/opportunity – let’s me write about it and then sell you my course / book/ resource to solve it, seems to be Carey’s consistent approach in very communication. It’s repetition and the tone is the issue folks are highlighting. It gets a little thin and undermines his authenticity and credibility. This is unfortunate as there are conversations he is having that are important.

      • Obed on July 1, 2020 at 9:05 am

        I see this comment too much… Carey writes hundreds of words a week for free to help people win and offers us more valuable resources that are worth a financial investment. It’s what he does and he loves to provide value. Let’s not fault him for making a living off doing what he loves.

        • Dan Cooley on June 26, 2021 at 3:10 pm

          I am with you Obed. I get lots of free advice from Carey and have never spent a cent. He has been a huge help to me, and way cheaper than a book or a conference. Anyway, if his approach so offends, anyone can unsubscribe. So, thank you Carey for all the free advice. I don’t see it as a bait and switch, it’s just bait, and that’s fair. Someday I may even pay for more!
          But probably not. I’m cheap.

  34. Rachel on March 10, 2020 at 9:10 am

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! My husband and I are struggling right now because our Pastor uses other peoples sermons EVERY WEEK!!! (Mind you, I come from a family of Pastors and know what goes into the daily life of a Pastor) It has been YEARS since he has preached his own sermon. I am ok with taking an idea from someone else and then creating your own take on the message but still giving credit where credit is due. However, I expect my Pastor to hear from God for our congregation and give me a FRESH word from God. Not a microwaved message from someone else. I can stay home and do that. If God called you HE WILL EQUIP YOU!!! If He didn’t think you could do it, He wouldn’t have called you. To me when Pastors do this, they aren’t trusting in their source and depending on the resources around them instead. It’s a fine line. If you take another persons outline and use it as a guideline that is one thing but when you preach someone else’s message WORD FOR WORD…that is LYING and PLAGIARISM! At that moment you are on a slippery slope. The sad thing is that my teenage kids have noticed it as well. Thank you again for writing this article.

    • Mbulelo on March 21, 2020 at 5:55 am

      There’s no plagiarism in God’s word. Anyone who uses what I said about Christ, in relation to Christ or His Kingdom, is doing exactly what should be done, take the Gospel to all nations. It’s not your sermon that preaches but the preacher, if he’s good enough he’ll preach better than you. I still have a 1990 sermon that I can still remember word for word. When you listen to a sermon, you do so to learn and when you show how much you learnt, you’re accused of plagiarism or lying. For instance, I love John Ortberg and how he uses words and therefore I use most of his style, sometimes I mention that Ortberg in his book……and in other cases I don’t am I lying? No, I’m a scholar of Ortberg. Bless you all

      • Steven L Schnedler on March 22, 2020 at 8:55 am


      • Joseph on March 26, 2020 at 10:38 am

        I wonder if Jesus or the Apostle Paul would charge money for teaching others to preach better. It is sad to see how some “Christians” dedicate themselves to doing business with the things of God. Why not imitate John MacArthur and others who freely share all that God gave him instead of dedicating themselves to seeking money in the name of God?

        • Danny on March 26, 2020 at 10:57 am

          I think the issue of this article is the heart and integrity of preaching something that is not your own. People pass off other people’s work as their own. To mention John MacArthur as one who gives his stuff away is true. But if you were to preach his stuff as your own and not give credit, I am sure his publishers would have something to say about that.

          • Steven Schnedler on March 26, 2020 at 11:57 am

            Danny, you are mixing apples and oranges. Preaching a message that John McArthur preached for a Sunday service is not the same as putting in print and selling something that he wrote. If publishers “had something to say” about every small-time preacher out there that took something out of a McArthur book and preached out of it, they would need a legal team bigger than their publishing team. In the case of someone preaching, if another preached something that was given away and was later prosecuted for it, then it really wasn’t given away.

            This is really only an issue with big-time preachers who market their goods as a business. Any other preacher is honored if someone wants to preach their message and couldn’t care less who gets the credit as long as Jesus is benefited and glorified. I agree that it is a heart issue and fortunately, most big-time preachers preach as a calling and not a business.

            The “heart” of this article was the problem. Imagine if Carey would have approached it from the perspective, “Do you have to rely on other people’s messages all the time to be able to give something you feel is of value to your own congregation? Would you like to be able to craft your own messages, so they come directly from your heart and study of the scripture and yet you feel just as good about them as reworking someone else’s message? If that describes you, let me show you how. In my new course, I will show you yadayada yada…” Instead, it came across as “If you preach one of my messages, for which I studied and deserve all the credit, and you don’t give me credit, which I deserve, then you are a thief and a criminal. However, for $X, I can show you how to stop living a life of crime. Just buy my course.” Yes, the heart was the issue. There you and I agree.

      • Nicholas on June 25, 2020 at 3:37 am

        Matthew 28:20 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
        20 and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”

        The command I see is clear that we can teach what Jesus Christ taught us. Do you know that every good teacher teaches what he was taught by his or her teacher. Teachers do not teach anything new. What more teachers of the Word of Yahweh God.

        I don’t know what you could be teaching if Jesus Christ could charge His Disciples not to teach/preach what He has taught us as that would amount to plagiarism,

        2 Timothy 2:2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
        2 You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.
        This is Paul commanding Timothy -NO PLAGIARISM

      • Nicholas on June 25, 2020 at 4:05 am

        TRUE!!! There is no plagiarism in God’s Word. If that’s true every preacher is a thief. You are in ministry telling people what is not your original thought.

        I have taught you statutes and judgments…teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons, Deut. 4:5.9.

        You are not teaching something NEW- it is wrong to own a sermon.
        “…You received without paying, now give without being paid.” (Matthew10:8)
        Jesus Christ encouraged His Disciples to teach/preach what He taught them.
        There is nothing new one can preach than what you have already been taught.
        To know that you are a good teacher – see others using what you have taught, that’s the impact of your teaching Sir.
        Yahweh Bless!!!

      • Dennis J Migliazzo on July 4, 2020 at 7:45 pm

        Mbuelelo, my question to you is: Galatians 5:22; the fruit of the Spirit. How is this fruit developed? We ALL as believers have it….as a free gift from our Lord. But the development of it, external evidence of it: in your life, is sharing what others a reflection of your personal life and growth. Is that what you WANT to share with your congregants? I hope so. Is what you are doing accomplishing that? (when 70% of the men in the US church have a problem with pornography, what is the best what to help others break free from the bondage?) Is it by parroting what may or may NOT be happening in your life, or by being honest with what IS happening in your life TODAY? I suggest TODAY, and what is causing YOU to GROW in your relationship with Christ…..THAT is what Paul shared…….HIS LIFE…..that is what CHRIST shared HIS LIFE. I pray you will share YOUR life for the benefit of yourself and OTHERS…..NOT others lives……

    • Carl on May 3, 2020 at 11:26 pm

      Really? Every week. You know this fact how? Apparently the word of God is not “fresh” enough to change your life. Mellow out on all the caps and exclamation points. It would probably be good for you to confess your anger and frustration you hold against your pastor (and probably share with others). Discover what the really facts are. If you can’t grow from the teaching at your church because of the opinion you hold then please find a church where you can grow, reach others for Christ and give generously.

  35. Dave on March 6, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    When it comes down to it, the source of all messages and sermons should be the Word of God. I am grateful to know others use my material and I personally do not seek credit or acknowledgement from those that use the material/outline I originated, just that God gets the glory. I believe this whole issue is just a distraction.

    • Themba Hwalima on March 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      Is it spiritually proper for example, for a preacher to rely on the teachings of the bishop to establish the credibility of his/sermon?

    • Greg on April 1, 2020 at 8:46 am

      Its incredible and disturbing to me the attacks on Carey’s integrity from commenters in writing this much needed post. I am so grateful for his addressing this issue directly. It seems to me to be a case of stoning the messenger just because the message is uncomfortable. Only pride and guilt on the part of the commenters would provoke such attacks on someone who has chosen to address the elephant in the room. I do not assume for one second that Carey wrote this out of resentment of others for using his unattributed material or just to sell his sermon-writing curriculum. Instead of giving preachers a fish, Carey wants to.teach them how to fish and I applaud him.

  36. John Pop on February 20, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    I agree to call pastors that are uses other pastors of speakers content as liars and plagiarists if the person that is writing the content is doing that from his OWN BRAIN and not using the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or the writings of the apostles or other speakers which they never mention. Nothing new under the sun.
    I agree to quote other peoples content in exams or theses but to mention in my sermons all the people that i learn from is no time to mention Jesus or Holy Spirit . Let get real

    • Steve on July 1, 2020 at 8:24 am

      Some of you are missing the point entirely. The Bible is not copyrighted and is given to us to use.

      When someone else writes a message and you take general concepts and ideas/inspiration, fine.

      When you take someone sermon they labored over and copy it word for word (including jokes) that’s just lazy plagiarism. And if you think it should be fine because the Word is still being spread, you’re not wrong about that, but you’re still missing the point.

      Also, even people in ministry need to support their families and be financially responsible. Not everything can just be free because thats what would be easiest for you.

  37. Emily on January 14, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    My pastor is one of my favorite people and I love his sermons. About a yer ago he used an analogy Tim Keller used in a sermon back in the 80s, never gave credit and it was pretty word-for-word the same. I only knew this because that so happened to be the only Tim Keller sermon I had heard and listened to regularly because it’s great. So I quickly knew he was referencing Keller, but never acknowledged it. Again it was just an analogy, but afterwards church members praised him for it and even today (a year later) church members are quoting this specific portion of his sermon and analogy.

    I can’t say enough how I genuinely love my pastor and maybe it’s a misunderstanding. Would someone share some wisdom as to if I should or how I should say something?
    Would much appreciate it.

    • Steven Schnedler on January 14, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      Don’t say anything. Why would you? Everything we learn we learn from someone else. There is nothing new under the sun. Maybe Tim Keller got it from someone else. Who cares? We preach to bless those we have opportunity to bless, not to seek credit. Preachers with the right hearts, which is by far the most, feel honored if someone uses something they preached and could care less about getting credit. They are excited their message, illustration, whatever got more mileage. 95% of what we learn we learn feom someone else. We’d spend half a message just giving credits if we were so concerned about it. The only time I deviate from this rule is it would be very uncool to explicitly say “God showed me x” when you got it from Rev. Bubba.

      So no, don’t say anything to your pastor. You want him to start giving you a list of credits after every message? If his messages speak to you, just receive them with gratitude and thank God your pastor listens to other preachers so he can better feed you. It doesn’t have to all be original to bless and in fact I have heard plenty of original messages that the preacher would have been better off just reading some one else’s message word for word. Just love on your pastor.

      • Teresa on July 1, 2020 at 8:36 am

        If you have to say something, maybe like this: I see you and I both like Keller’s analogies.

    • T M on February 7, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      A painful thing about discovering this about one’s pastor is that we know we have been deliberately deceived if the pastor accepts praise for what is not his own. When I speak out of the message God has given me, the credit belongs to God who is using me as a tool to express a message to the people. When we are used by God, praise doesn’t belong to the speaker, it belongs to God, so it is even more disturbing that some accept praise for what a different person did.

      Does this instance make you wonder if your pastor has done this on other occasions? Without clarification, confession, repentance, this could become a recurring and troublesome choice by your pastor. A private discussion with him would be a good first step. At the least, you will have peace of mind. Things like this do not go away with ignoring it.

  38. Shawn on December 28, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Do we not preach some of Peter and Paul’s messages?

  39. Geneva Peterson on November 22, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Precious people of God, we have lost focus on the most important thing, and that is love for one another, and advancing the kingdom of God! Where is the love of God that should be dwelling in your hearts? Does it matter if a sernmon is preached that has been prepared by another as long as it is for the Glory of God and not for greedy gain! There are many sites that gives permission to use their sermons except to make profit. Holy Spirit is very intelligent and will anoint afresh all material to make it effective for the moment. No sermon is of any value unless Holy Spirit breath on it and cause it to destroy strongholds in the lives of the people. God gifted men and women to write and to articulate His Word as He did others in the Holy Bible. Be privilege that You can be a blessing to the body of Christ, and please remember, God will reward you for your labor of love. Blessing

  40. mario on November 20, 2019 at 4:11 am



    If Preachers say they a word from the Lord and they give their message, IS THAT message his personal message or is that message for all to hear and come to the Lord. Did the Lord say only you can prewach that message.

    If messages are from the Lord, should not all be able to preach it, or read it.

    Just a thought

    • Craig on November 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      This is my thought too….i think that if god gave u a message to preach….once it is published it has no boundaries…so it can be used in other places that u dont reach as yet….if god has a problem with that he will deal with it….we still cout script..from the bible…we still say lines our proffessor say to us…because we are learning…..when ppl sing other ppl songs….they feel great…because the message spreads….preach wat god lay on ur heart let other spread the word…be glad…whatever motive they do it in…the name of the lord be magnify…ps

  41. mario on November 20, 2019 at 4:09 am


    If Preachers say they a word from the Lord and they give their message, IS THAT message his personal message or is that message for all to hear and come to the Lord. Did the Lord say only you can prewach that message.

    If messages are from the Lord, should not all be able to preach it, or read it.

    Just a thought

  42. Mike Borjon on November 14, 2019 at 2:52 am

    How about instead of charging $$$, be honest and tell these pastors that perhaps they’re not called to preach, or that they should call upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding, or stop thinking of pastoring as though it’s a gig.
    Too many times it’s not a sincere desire that’s the problem it’s have they been truly called by God or have they been woefully called by men. Go to your secret place, prostrate yourself before the Lord and seek out His desire for your life. Be at peace, be silent and wait upon the Lord.

  43. David on November 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Once again, I ask – end this string of commentary. It serves no good purpose. Now we have gone from calling pastor plagiarists to calling them liars. This is worthless. I am about ready to unsubscribe.

    • john coker on November 12, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Oh, sounds like it hit a nerve. I agree 100% with the author. I see it all the time, and have even heard another “pastor” quote my personal testimony word for word as his own. He had heard me give it several months before. Not knowing I was in the room, or even in the state, when he delivered it.

      • Hollyberry on February 25, 2020 at 12:23 am

        This is all very simple: “Don’t steal” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (God and Jesus) . Some people are getting very confused about right and wrong here, acting like it is OK to steal written material as long as it is for God, or thinking that one is stealing God’s glory by attributing the words Hod has given to a particular person to that particular person. Who wrote “A Christmas Carol”? Charles Dickens. If I take that manuscript and put my name on it, that is stealing, and I’ll bet everyone here would agree. Why is it then OK to steal another preacher’s words? Thinking plagiarism is OK is just another sign that we are muddying the moral atmosphere. And we are reaping that awful reward by not saying anything about it. All that evil asks is to be left alone. Share ideas. BUT GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.

  44. Gale Mc Koy George on October 24, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I have ofte nuse meterials from others from my teaching that I felt was appliicable to what I was ministerin g/ teaching on and give the where I got it from. I would indicate before that I am goin to be teaching on this topic, I will use some materials from so and so that found scriptual based , I will used the word of God and other insights I have recieved from the Holy Spirit. This gives the listeners the insight that I am acknowledging the gifts in the boy of christ. But for me. I relly do not have a problem in acknowledging the source. After saying that , we should understand that all knowledge , wisdom and undertsing comes from the Father Himself and we give him the praise and glory for using us all to enrich the Body of Christ. At the same time we are encourage to seek the face of teh Lord that he will give us fresh oil and trutch to feed to HIS people.

  45. Empecy on October 17, 2019 at 12:27 am

    What you write is true, but viewing the Christian life as the worldly in terms of plagiarism is where I don’t like hearing in the christendom. DON Moen say “shout to the Lord” and Darlene from Australia also sang the same song on their sold out album and I can’t decipher who is the real writer of that song yet, I never heard them fight.
    The blog A wrote was giving to A by God (the wisdom) and B decides to share with permission or acknowledging A doesn’t mean anything to me as long as it is written to convert people to the light and knowledge of God.
    God is the best author and in that case we should not be reading the bible and preach exactly what is in the bible.
    I read many Christian blogs and I see different understanding of the scriptures by different people and I came to that conclusion that if not for grace, no one in this generation will make heaven except the little babies.

  46. Sue on October 13, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    As someone whose pastor was let go for this very offense, I can tell you why it was such a big deal. When the plagiarism (word for word, including jokes/personal stories) was discovered, there was a realization that our pastor was not wrestling with the scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead him in preparation for us, his flock. Reading someone else’s sermon is not evidence of the fruit a pastor should produce as one who is above reproach. There is an expectation that preaching and teaching (most churches) is your main obligation, therefore if you are taking shortcuts there, what sort of example are you setting? When confronted, he denied it. When irrefutable evidence was produced, he backtracked. When asked for an explanation, he was not able to provide one. He plagiarized, he lied about it when confronted, and was not repentant when given the opportunity. It was a very difficult experience for all, but one that helped me understand the bigger implications of having a pastor who plagiarized.

    • Michelle on March 30, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      In a couple of churches I was visiting in a new area, I caught two different pastors preaching sermons I knew were available online. In both of those sermons, the pastors made a point of commenting on how hard they worked during the week to write their sermons (clearly implying the sermon was their own). One pastor made a comment that he couldn’t go visit the sick because he was so busy writing his sermon. I remember walking out of one of those services behind someone who was gushing at how their pastor spent all work writing his sermons for their benefit every week.

      I think once you get started believing that you can use the words of others and present them as your own, you start to excuse other things and then bigger things. What were those pastors doing all week instead of writing their sermons? Did they hide in their office and avoid other kinds of ministry, claiming they needed to write their sermons? Were they hired as pastor with the expectation that they were supposed to write their own sermons? Did they continually present themselves as master sermon writers and speakers?

      There was a lot of deception and lies in these two pastors who used the sermons of others and it is a bigger issue of their integrity, honesty, and work ethic. I would have no trouble with a pastor who recycled free sermons or purchased them online as long as they were honest about it. But if they are hiding it, what else are they hiding?

  47. Brad on October 12, 2019 at 8:34 am

    You left out the main reason to not use a canned sermon, whether plagiarized or freely given like Rick Warren’s.

    You run the risk of using apostate or heretical material from people like Beth Moore, Rick Warren or Andy Stanley.

    You also run the risk of becoming lazy and sloppy as a pastor and losing your heavenly crowns. Pastor’s and teachers are called to a higher standard, the Bible says so in several places.

    It appears that this article was written a little over a year ago based on the first comment date, All three of those were pushing an apostate heresy well before 2018 and all three have gotten worse since!

  48. Ambrose on October 2, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Even your criticism of others stealing your message is not original. Someone said this before penning down. But I have a few points:
    1. You sell, don’t I have the right to do with what I bought?
    2. The message is not your message. It’s God’s
    3. Reflect on Luke 17:10 (we are unworthy servants, we have done nothing more than our duty. Let God take the glory.

  49. Jong on September 27, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Amen… Its nice to share other’s good sermon

  50. Sister RENEE on September 25, 2019 at 2:31 am

    How is it plagiarism if they are selling the sermons on line them selves?

    • David on September 25, 2019 at 7:12 am

      Excellent question. I’ve asked that many times.

      • Myron Heckman on November 12, 2019 at 9:36 am

        If the sermon is sold that resolves the theft issue. It doesn’t resolve the lying issue.

    • C.F. on October 24, 2019 at 7:53 am

      I think taking credit for anything, an idea, a speach, a quote etc… is deceit. It’s a heart condition. The books, sermons, ideas, articles that I read, I will not intentionally take credit for. I have personally heard a few sermons re-preached (same title) I’m sure many were blessed by them. I wondered why no mention (at all) was given to the original speaker.

    • Jeff cantwell on December 23, 2019 at 7:49 am

      When the preacher says “I’ve titled my sermon “——-“ and it’s the same title the original author used then the pastor has lied because he didn’t title, the author did. Or when he uses illustrations from the sermon and attributes them to his own experience that’s a lie. So the issue isn’t so much plagiarism as it is lying.

  51. Senyegah on September 18, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Topics that pastors preach do we work with them or we seat back and criticize, and you have the time and go to google search and see if those topics has been preached by some one.

    what is wrong if a pastor come across a topic which he is touched to convey that massage to his members

    • Steven on September 18, 2019 at 10:33 am

      I agree. If a pastor’s goal is to bless others with their message, they should feel honored that others would retransmit it. That should be enough validation. But it isn’t. If I had messages that others around the globe were re-preaching I would feel so honored that the messages gained new feet and my effort was blessing so many more than just my congregation. Really! What an honor! Instead they stand back and accuse their own teammates of theft if they don’t get personal credit. That is like a ballplayer saying he should get credit for every hit a teammate gets because he used HIS bat he spent so much time carving. What a disgrace and how disgusting that must be to God.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      I would say that it is completely ok to preach on the same topic that someone else has preached on, It’s not ok to steal from them word-for-word without giving them credit.

      • Servant to the King of kings on October 21, 2019 at 5:39 am

        If GOD gave it why are you concerned about getting credit? It seems your interested in using the worlds laws to benefit. The heart of your entire article is giving credit to the writer. Was it not John the Baptist that said John 1:35-37 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; [36] And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! [37] And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
        John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
        And in case you’re still hung up on originality. Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 [8] All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it : the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. [9] The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. [10] Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
        According to God what you think is original is not new either😉

      • Chanda M on December 20, 2019 at 2:34 am

        Do you really need a credit for preaching God’s word? Need answers please

        • Robert Ziriak on December 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm

          No, we do not need credit for what we preach. All credit, all praise, all glory goes to God. We are deluded and puffed up in our own imaginations if we think the message comes from us. Freely we receive…freely we should give.

          • Steve Gallant on July 1, 2020 at 11:04 am

            So you think pastors should be volunteers?

        • Steve Gallant on July 1, 2020 at 11:05 am

          So you think pastors should be volunteers? You think if they write a book it’s okay for someone to steal it because ultimately it was inspired by the Lord ?

          Give your head a shake

      • Mark Holman on July 1, 2020 at 8:43 am

        I do know that there’s a website is a college paper plagiarism checker I’ve used in the past because say you did such a thing and then you may get a Failed Grade risk getting sued as well other legal problems. I’ll give you an example of someone claiming that she wrote a song that was written by someone else weather the person is still alive today I’m not sure. I do know that there’s a website that gives a list of sermons to download and it has been so so after looking at it. I’m right now trying to figure something out for writing one and having a discussion with the pastor there and hopefully get to write something.

  52. Jim on September 2, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Like the old hymn, how about we try to “trust and obey” when it comes to preaching, teaching and everything else? Are we going to be better formed as we engage the words of others or as we encounter the Living Word of God?
    Saying we’re busy and weary is an excuse (take a peek at promises within Isaiah). How hard is it to open the Bible and read and comment and proclaim on the fly if that’s considered a worst case scenario where you serve? What happened to being “prepared in and out of season?”
    Most in our area seem to preach 25-30 minutes, and a quick check once yielded a hard-to-believe average of less than 15 minutes for the mainline protestant churches. If we know the Lord with an Abiding Spirit and turn to the Word, written and alive, what is the difficulty in finding something to say within the expected time frame of the congregation? Are we able to give an account or “reason for the Hope we have within us” or not?
    And this is not just about preacher talk, people are suffering as much from what is not being preached, taught and counseled, as by what is. By relying on other’s sermons, instead of the Holy Spirit, we run great risk of not only missing what the Lord is seeking to reveal to us and our people, in a given place and time, but also risk being part of the problem, instead of the solution because Jesus said to judge by the fruit: Across the board, American Christianity, as is so often perceived and practiced today, is far from the Biblical witness of Jesus and His followers. Christian formation has too often turned into malformation.
    “Cheap Grace” and the lack of a call to discipleship (Bonhoeffer) are rampant, creating what the Scripture warned: “a form of religion without the power” or even an apostate “church.” Many will say “it’s all about the love,” but not even be aware, or certainly lack top-of-mind awareness, that Jesus said if we love Him we’ll obey His teachings and commands, but they are not know because they are not preached/taught with priority. If we’re downloading the latest 7 part series on how to do X created by a church marketing/writing team and presented to a big branded pastor for him to gloss over, our people are likely not hearing the fullness of what needs to be heard for the edification – strengthening – of the Saints.
    Giving attribution isn’t the issue in and of itself; it’s how tools that should be used for good are being badly. Easy access to sermons and writings and pads or monitors that can prompt and present Scripture should all be good, but in reality these tools allow pastors, in one form or another, to fake it. For better or worse, many, if not most congregations, especially if larger, will have their idea of who the pastor is formed by the sermons, and if those sermons are from someone else, on a regular basis, this can easily present a pastoral facade. On more than one occasion, the pastor conversing at conference or lunch doesn’t seem to be the same pastor on Sunday morning. And not just in matters of presentation or other communication considerations, but rather situations where the ministry emphasis and theology spoken by a pastor at lunch is not evident in that same pastor at the pulpit.
    I’ve heard with credibility of pastors spending enormous hours each week googling other’s words, downloading or compiling, then using various techniques and practices to hide or obscure this. If you really want to pretend that you are preaching by total reliance on the present power of Jesus and the movement of the Spirit, here are some technique’s you can use (if other’s want to add to the list, please do): Create a compiled manuscript but hide it within a iPad so people can’t see what it really is. You can also pretend that your pulpit or music stand only holds Scripture when in reality it’s a manuscript or a near-manuscript of downloaded material edited into “notes.” Walk away from the pulpit, stand or table to make eye contact while telling a personal story used to pretend the message you have is really your own, then walk back to your “Scripture” to read it, but then also take a good look at your downloaded material notes. Use small modifications and minor title edits so the intellectually curious, skeptics and visitors or those viewing online or on TV won’t easily catch you. You can also spend many hours mulling over others’ material, convince yourself it’s your own because you took all those words and used them like ingredients tossed into a bowl then pretend you actually were in God’s Word and trusted Him for the sermon; this level of familiarity will allow you to use an old professional school technique of making a large outline, then subsequently smaller outlines, until you can get it to the size of a card; you can then hide the card in the pulpit, music stand, table or even tape it into your Bible so people don’t know it’s there as you walk around waving it.
    And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have the greatest scheme of them all – straight from acting school (and yes, I know of this having been done): not only print but also read and record “your” compiled or downloaded sermon, spend double-digit hours (I thought this was about being really too busy) each week in front of a mirror with your manuscript in front of you and your headphones playing your read and recorded sermon, while you “practice your lines” by speaking them for the purpose of rote learning and viola’ you can now pretend to be a Spirit-filled pastor preaching without notes, and without any pesky evidence that might point the congregation toward thinking your words came from others.
    This is not truth. It is deceit. Perhaps you started traveling this idolatrous path because malformed pastors malformed you and called it mentoring, maybe you were pressured by congregants or leaders, maybe it’s insecurity, criticism or prideful expectations twisted by this world. Repent and turn back to reliance upon Jesus who called you and will enable you to do His ministry and share His word to His people.

    • Mark Holman on July 1, 2020 at 8:52 am

      Question; do all churches have a decipleship training ? I think the University I’m attending has one and to the church I’m attending has hardly anything going. Last 2 members passed away, three left are left the state and other is indecisive hopping for perfect church or city hopping around.

  53. Emmanuel on August 19, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well. 2 Timothy 2:2
    GOD’S WORD® Translation
    You’ve heard my message, and it’s been confirmed by many witnesses. Entrust this message to faithful individuals who will be competent to teach others.
    2 Timothy 1:13
    Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus

    • TTC on August 19, 2019 at 8:12 pm

      Out of all of the comments I’ve read, I still can’t justify intentionally not mentioning that my talk was at the least, inspired by another’s sermon. Even if I couldn’t remember the person’s name. In everything else in life. Most people agree that you should not take credit for someone else work. It’s called being dishonest. That’s what we teach kids.
      Thank God his truth can bless the hearers even in this situation.

    • Teresa on August 21, 2019 at 7:12 pm

      They preached it so people can hear it no? Why are they mad when you are just sharing their thoughts? Plus let’s suppose that the word their preaching is correct then it should get out everywhere. But let’s say that people or demons or angels fooled God then? Then yes please do not share a liars word.

    • Jerry on September 15, 2019 at 5:20 pm


  54. DH on August 6, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Our pastor has been reading something off his notes during preaching and I decided to simply do a Google search of the title message to see if he is using someone else sermon notes and sure enough I found that he has used them and never told where they came from. He does add his own thoughts between the notes he found. He did take a word out of some titles to make it his own. It is dishearting to know he plagiarized some of his messages.

    • Mike on August 6, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      Mark Twain believed there was no such thing as an original thought or an original idea, because every subject on Earth had been pored over, written about and analyzed.
      Did your Pastor lead you to believe it was an original sermon or did he simply preach it? I wouldnt worry too much over it. Lets be more concerned over souls being won, lives being blessed. If God can use the harlot Rahab in the story of Jericho and make a donkey talk then God can do whatever he pleases to accomplish his plan and purpose. I wish we were as passionate for souls as we were about plagerism.

      • Jong on September 27, 2019 at 11:43 pm

        Amen… Its nice to share other’s good sermon

    • Robert Ziriak on August 6, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      What I’ve learned as a pastor is if the saints respond to what I’m saying, it compels me to be better and do better. Hopefully, you are not the kind of church attender who sits in the assembly and criticizes but actually prays for your pastor.

  55. S. Evansi on August 3, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    As long souls are saved, copy sermons if you don’t have time to study the bible. There people who are good and talking and not good at planning their own sermon. And also they are some who have good facts but they cant express them. Both are called by God…Moses and Aron…
    If you are out there don’t think its a sin to copy and reduplicate that sermon or teaching, do it, for the bible itself have those guys who had the same view….the synoptic. The bottom line is, are you using that information to save souls or to make money. If it is to save souls there is no sin…those who have opened their mouth to come against the copying what do they want to achieve at the end of the day….i wonder if its the same heaven….search your heart before you comment on the things of God brethren otherwise some of those who thought their messages are theirs have been taken by God before they new who copied the messages. Lets concentrate on populating the gospel and bring out the true doctrine of Jesus Christ than this debate of who owns what and do what…
    Jesus is coming….

    • Felix churchman on January 2, 2020 at 6:52 am

      I suppose the cardinal ssue here is to ensure that God’s kingdom project is advanced whether copied sermons or not, at times we unwittingly bring up some issues that term to be a distraction to our common goal which is to invade the kingdom of the devil and save as many as we can for Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Though it is intellectually unhealthy to make use of an idea without proper referencing, but that shouldn’t be a major headache amongst Christians. The recognition of God remains ultimate.

  56. Joanne on July 26, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Very interesting article with noteworthy insights. I agree that preachers should give credit for the material we use that someone else’s.
    What amazes me is the fact that while no idea is original, our approach to it can be unique. When I get inspiration for a message and begin to research the text, I am often amazed that someone else has already come up with the same title or the same points.

    • Benry Kunf on July 30, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Advise given to me as a bivocational pastor. All of us milk many cows, each of us churns their own butter. It seems egotistical to think we have original thoughts.

      • Steven Schnedler on August 6, 2019 at 7:55 pm

        Agreed. Sadly, some are more interested in personal credit than getting the message out there.

      • JH on August 31, 2019 at 2:48 pm

        I agree!! There is nothing new under the sun!

  57. Robert Ziriak on July 22, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Honestly, according to this article, we should not even use the Bible since those are writings of other people.

    • Fa'atoafe Faleatua Faleatua on July 22, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      I must say God is Good, All the Time!. I fully agreed with all the points you’ve highlighted in this write-up. I’ve drifted towards depending on others ideas because I’m so busy with other parts of the ministry. And I’ve found that you’ve hit the nail on its head, with the point – about ‘No Growth’ – as a result.
      So thank you for the reminder and the wake-up Call. I will now have to go back to how I started and rely on God’s Spirit guidance.
      May God’s blessings be upon your ministry always.
      With sincere appreciation…
      Faatoafe Faleatua… 23rd July 2019.

    • Steve Gallant on July 1, 2020 at 11:06 am

      It’s public domain. Argument failed.

  58. Paul Okpali on July 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks writer,
    I agreed that the person will stop growing
    I agreed that the person will loose touch with God
    I agreed that the person will looses his voice
    I agreed that the person will not flow well with holy spirit
    This writeup has changed my life because I am a busy Pastor and don’t have much time to study and i copy messages online and with little refining and preach it. I notice that am not growing as before, my boldness is fading, looses communication with the spirit and weak.
    I really appreciate your writeup. Am going back to God fully.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 22, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Glad to help!

  59. Rev. Ralph DiChiara on July 7, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Hey Cary, Mark, my advice is just put all your sermons out there for free, and share how the Lord is inspiring you! I’m sure you guys are givers in many other areas of your lives, so why not give the best of what God has given you? The satisfaction you’ll get from knowing other preachers are using your sermons will be awesome. Update you blog and call it “Fresh Ideas for All”.
    Also, haven’t you ever re-cycled one of your own sermons when you were void of inspiration? Picked a sermon from a few years back hoping no one in the congregation will recognize it? Preachers do it all the time and often tell the congregation, “I’d like to preach a sermon from a few years back, because I feel the Holy Spirit is moving me to remind you all of this topic”, when that wasn’t the case at all. They too were lazy, and lied to the congregation. I know you’ve been there. Let it go bro! I feel you set yourself up for this, and only believe you’ll dig in deeper because of pride. If Salvation is free, then so are your sermons!
    Hey reach out to me if you’d like. I’m from New England where the culture is very different up here. I’ll give you a slightly different perspective of what your used too. Rev. Ralph 774 696-5391

    • David on July 7, 2019 at 10:08 am

      A wise pastor once told me that if you have a sermon that you only preach one time and never use again, it probably wasn’t very good. Also, brother, I encourage you to be cautious when suggesting that pastors lie about the reason they are reproaching a message after some time. I have done it many times for many reasons. Usually, I take the message and do more work to refine it, seek God’s direction for that moment and that congregation, so it can be timely.

      • David on July 7, 2019 at 10:08 am

        I meant reproaching a message, not reproaching.

        • David on July 7, 2019 at 10:09 am

          I’ll try that one more time- repreaching.

    • Marla Kramer on July 17, 2019 at 2:18 am

      I was shocked that this is a common practice. I noticed it around Christmas two years ago. I had listened to many sermons on YouTube and began noticing many sermons had the same titles. I recognized some of the titles from books available at Christian bookstores. I also saw there’s a big market for these sermons. Copy cat teachers and preachers a sad indictment on the shepherds who don’t study the Word or seek the Lord for the fresh manna He has for their own congregation. It’s very disheartening when you realize this has been happening for years in many churches who brag about being led by the Holy Spirit. God help us. Pay to pray, pay to preach, get someone to visit your flock when they’re sick, we are possessors of merchandised Christianity. Lazy, calloused preachers. What do they do with their time and money are they even called by God?

    • Marla Kramer on July 17, 2019 at 2:35 am

      Shocking to me how many are defending plagerism here. Theft is theft. What if someone stole your patent and copied your product to make money from it? “Everybody’s doing it!” We tell kids that’s a lousy excuse for getting on board the sin bandwagon. You can be expelled from University or suspended from school for plagerism. You can be sued in court for copyright infringement. Why? Because it’s wrong, it’s theft, illegal and sinful. So many here justifying this sinful practice. Very sad. There are no excuses. You’re ripping your people off, taking their money and not even seeking God on their behalf.

      • Robert Ziriak on July 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm

        Marla, how do you know they aren’t seeking God? If God gave a message to one preacher, could He not give it to another? The preacher does not own the message if God gives it. God owns it. Plagiarism is defined as: the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. Since the preacher gives credit to God for giving said preacher the material than it is no longer plagiarism. It is more reprehensible to think that a man is taking credit for something God gives. Sounds like a man may be trying to take the place of God if said man is taking credit for anything God gives. Sounds familiar. Lucifer did the same thing.

        • Steven Schnedler on July 18, 2019 at 6:22 pm

          Robert, you hit the nail on the head.

        • Alonzo Mable on November 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

          It appears that all of you guys are forgetting the power of the Holy Spirit. If the sermon is preached and the Holy Spirit doesn’t come it doesn’t matter where it came from. I don’t copy other preachers sermons but I study and read books along with my Bible. Then I cry and pray over my message and I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to come and speak through me. I believe all that have been really called does it similar the same way.

  60. Mike on July 4, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Seems like to me if God gave someone a sermon, then, actually its Gods sermon. His name should go on it. If God gives or inspires me to write a sermon I believe he wants it shared with everyone. Since I cant be everywhere, then I say to all the preachers to take its content and preach it as an inspired word and hopefully many lives will be changed. If you must give someone credit, give God the credit. Just saying…….

    • Steven on July 4, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      Perfectly expressed. Thanks.

  61. Robert on June 27, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Ecc 1:9  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 
    Ecc 1:10  Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 

    From this passage it is obvious no matter how smart one thinks he is, how original one may think they are, etc they are wrong. One would almost be honored someone else would think so highly of their material that another would want to duplicate it. Personally, I seek God and attempt to feel after Him for each service without copying another person. However, since there is nothing new under the sun, then every thought, every message, etc is plagiarized. It seems this article is born more out of pride than concern for the spiritual well-being of another preacher. Basically, you are saying if you don’t credit you don’t want your material used. How arrogant is that? God used a donkey to speak to the prophet, we are no more or less than a donkey. This entire article was used to sell a course the author is pushing like a drug. It is pride and money driven. That is more sad than a preacher who lacks the ability to “come up with his own material”.

    • teey on July 17, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      i guess you’re right about the content of this article…

  62. Jim Carlin MD academic radiologist on June 24, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Dad and grandfathers preached good sermons-turned around bankrupt churches-ministered to families/the death and dying
    Sadly the message he gave his kids was “you’re not good enough” he didn’t or couldn’t listen to his kids
    Whatever we did wasn’t the “full time church ministry sis helped the welfare system work–I served in depressed inner city hospitals Everyone has a ministry and deserves credit – no t shaming because they didn’t do it your way

  63. Haydee on June 10, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I totally get what your staying…here but is it not God that is meant to get the GLORY…from any work you do….and if your message is being inspired by GOD and if it is being borrowed, stolen and or plagiarise by other men or women of GOd if a ( that is open to interpretion) soul is saved and is being brought to God’s kingdom should that not count. But I get what your saying here..just wondered how much in the great scheme of things this matters as long as people are being saved… ???? .

    • Steven Schnedler on June 10, 2019 at 3:04 pm

      Agree 100%. It’s easy to lose sight of what the end goal is and be more concerned about who gets the credit. I think God is able to keep score just fine.

      • Robert on June 27, 2019 at 5:43 pm

        The entirety of this article is summarized with offering a course at the end. This article is meant for one purpose, to make people feel bad and spend money so they are not in “sin”. I am actually saddened by this article because the recurring theme is, give me credit or else. So sad.

        • James Dawn on December 9, 2019 at 3:08 pm

          The Bible declares, Men of God wrote… spoke… as they were moved by the Holy Spirit… If you use the Bible then you are plagiarizing… according to what some are trying to say… If you tell a story and it’s not yours… your plagiarizing… when we sings hymns… we are plagiarizing… Sharing the good news… is sharing the Good news… if Christ is being lifted… and souls are being saved… it wasn’t your word… it was His… and no one should be making money from the word that is free… Christ paid the price… His Gospel is free… yours may not be… that’s why who you follow is important… Our only example should be Christ and even He quoted from the Old Testament. Even though He was the Word.

    • Jo Mani on June 16, 2019 at 3:34 am

      Wow! This sermon does converts the soul! Doesn’t it?

      This is exactly what the Church of God has become, mans business. So many men of God have become God of men. We’ve become so territorial we forget the ultimate goal and aim. That we must win souls for Christ. Does it matter if someone uses my sermon to do that? Absolutely No!
      Come to think of it, who says it’s my sermon? Am I the subject? No. Am I the reference, the bible? No!, Did I write the reference? No!
      Am I the owner of the spoken word, intelligence of or the gift of speaking? Totally totally No. The Holy Spirit it is that gives good sermon inspirations, not me, not you!

      We should be careful we don’t go down the secular route…plagiarism, me, my, mine
      This happens when men seek glory.
      All the glory must go to God
      Does it matter if the Holy Spirit has only used me as vessels to form a sermon and it’s used by others for the glorification of God?
      What am I in the equation of all of these? A mere vessel.
      Can a bottle or cup lay claim to the ownership of the wine poured in it? Absolutely no!

      Kindly delete this nonsense article if you still can. It does not glorify our God. It is rather distracting and can only be interpreted as Satan’s ploy again to stunt the good word of our God from spreading. The harvest is too plenty with only few labourers. Let a labourer borrow my tool, I don’t mind.its all for us to achieve the same goal. There’s too much evil, wickedness, illness and agonies in the world that we should be concerned with.
      Don’t forget Jesus died for these.let us stop self glorification and self seeking habits. There are missionaries out there laying down their lives and you are here seeking self glorification. Excuse me!

      Paul would not, I repeat would not stop , Timothy, his tutee, from preaching the sermon that Paul had preached.
      This happens when Men forget their mission in Christ and all they seek is their glory in churches
      Though there’s so much to say about this but I’ll stop here

      • Steven Schnedler on June 16, 2019 at 7:09 am

        So incredibly well said. Thanks!

        • Alonzo mable on November 20, 2019 at 3:23 am

          Wonderful job well said.

      • TJ on July 5, 2019 at 7:22 am

        Wow.I totally agree.All Glory goes to God!!! The Bible is the Word of God inspired. Breathed on by The Holy Spirit!!!The same with someone’s book music or sermon.Mention the persons name but make sure to GIVE GOD ALL THE GLORY WHICH IS HIS !!!We are dust,vesesls.

  64. Alex Nunez on May 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    The bible is full other peoples sermons that is being preached ! Paul in the bible preached Isaiah’s sermons. Jesus told his disciples “freely you have received freely give! So why are preachers and teachers selling books and doctrines, bible courses like they own it? Its Jesus that owns it all

  65. Alex Nunez on May 18, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    The bible is full other peoples sermons that is being preached ! Paul in the bible preached Isaiah’s sermons. Jesus told his disciples “freely you have received freely give! So why are preachers and teachers selling books and doctrines, bible courses like they own it?

  66. Gift Mvuleni on May 6, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    What a powerful comment sir as i was busy reading your post, it reminded me of da verse “it is no longer us living in this world but God within us” but also spiritual growth’s needed in a Christian’s life

  67. Matt Hybarger on May 6, 2019 at 12:04 am

    I see Pastor Carey’s point. And in principle, I tend to agree.. but speaking from my own experience, I have had a couple of my songs (one in particular) recorded by people literally around the world that never even asked for permission, let alone secured a mechanical license. At first I thought, “hey! wait a minute!!”

    Then upon reflection, I realized that what I wrote to bless people in my circle, was being used to bless people in places I will never get to. The people who recorded my song actually expanded the audience ! regionally, nationally and globally people were now hearing a message that God gave me locally in Fort Worth, TX. When you look at it that way.. it’s like… WOW GOD!

    I like to give credit where it is due whenever I can…when I discover a great preacher, I like to share it! But at the end of the day, if we’re honest… the source was the Holy Spirit… so it is God who deserves the credit and of course the glory.

    • Steven Schnedler on May 6, 2019 at 1:30 am

      That is awesome Matt! Thanks for sharing. Love your heart brother!

    • Kingsley on May 16, 2019 at 10:26 pm

      Beloveth Matt, thanks a lot for your contribution, It’s wonderful and I appreciated how you did the analyses. God bless you.
      Nothing wrong though in giving reference to a person whose God’s inspired idea you are sharing, but let it not be a habit as some preachers have resorted to. Some do it to take credit for the whole thing and some others do it because they felt the message is too good for only them to hear. Now, it comes down to one thing; THE ISSUE OF THE HEART! What’s the motive behind your deed?

  68. Chris on May 5, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Yes, it is good to write your own sermon but I don’t agree with you.

    What is wrong with preaching your message that will bless people and win souls to the kingdom of God?
    The Bible we qoute, we qoute it freely. You are not sued for plagiarism for qouting Apostle Paul, neither are you sued for qouting Prophet Isaiah.
    I think, we all have a common goal (win more souls for Christ), except your goal is different. If your message is good and will win souls for Christ, why won’t I preach it to win souls to the kingdom since the ultimate goal is to win more souls to the kingdom of Christ.
    Is anything wrong with that?

  69. B. Mathew on May 2, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Yes you are right, but why do you share your work when don’t want other people to use it. I can preach from your topic, perhaps some of your key points, but the examples may be from my locality. Property rights but not really for the word of God.
    You never know how many lost souls your sermon has saved in this world. I plea to you that you may allow people use what you have shared ONLY TO SAVE SOULS FOR CHRIST JESUS.

    • Steven Schnedler on May 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      I agree with you, but unfortunately too much of ministry is now big business and is handled no differently than the secular world. The “in-thing” now is to have a podcast and expensive courses to sell. There are still some, thank God, that are grateful when their stuff is shared and duplicated in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:2. The others place more value on their products rather than people and want to make sure they get recognition. Sad.

  70. TT Carol on April 11, 2019 at 6:59 am

    To intentionally deceive your listening audience is simply wrong and not at all loving. Why is it so hard to at least give credit to the originator? I do it all the time. I learn so much from the teaching of others (along with my own studies) I love sharing and giving credit to the source of my information. Maybe it’s a pride issue to not choose to honor the original author or speaker?

    • Geneva Peterson on April 30, 2019 at 5:08 am

      Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sharing a message that others have posted and have given permission to use is not a sin. Trying to make a profit from it is truly wrong. Preaching under the anointing of God will bless the people of God in a mighty way, Be led by the Holy Ghost, He will not lead you wrong.

  71. Robert Neiman on April 11, 2019 at 12:14 am

    A pastor spending 75 percent of his time in his study working on his sermon is the more biblical model than a one hour cut and paste job by a pastor stealing someone else’s sermon. How can spending more time on a sermon be scandalous? Especially if that pastor has a calling to spend that amount of time in study.

  72. Raymond Wiggins on March 30, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Our ultimate example should be Jesus Christ and His Word. The Bible is full of examples of people, including Jesus Christ, quoting others and rarely giving credit to others. Why? Because they only cared the message. They didn’t care about getting credit from any human or giving credit to any human other than Jesus Christ. They just wanted to lead people to God.
    When we worry about getting credit for a sermon, and even potentially slandering our brother or even damaging his ministry (which ultimately can harm souls), we are treading on thin ice.
    This article takes modern cultural norms of jealousy, and applies that as a standard for the church and ministry. God can touch our hearts in many ways. When we are touched by someone else’s message, we should share that with those around us. If we really believe the concept that God is speaking through that message, why give credit to man? God is truth. Give Him, and only Him the credit. Unless we want to give our listeners a way to find more information on a subject, or if we want them to be able to confirm the truth of what we are saying, then there is no good reason to continually give credit to man. We only have a short amount of time to preach; why waste it? We only have a limited amount of time to study; why spend countless hours trying to find the original source and give credit, when we could better spend our time ministering to those around us? Throughout history, including writers of the Bible, men have used what has been said by others, sometimes verbatim, without giving credit to man. If God touches to our heart through another person’s message, we should share that with others.
    Giving credit to man is not a Christian concept. Giving all credit to God is. If we have a spirit of jealousy and must be verbally rewarded for “our” messages, then we are just admitting what we preach is not of God; because, if we know what we preach is from God, then why demand credit for ourselves. Nothing could be further from the character and integrity of Jesus Christ, our ultimate example!
    All of the above being said, I give credit in writings, because it is the cultural and even legal norm. I also do it so the work will be considered scholarly and more difficult to refute. But in preaching and verbal teaching, I do not believe we should waste our time, for the reasons I mentioned above. God bless all on both sides of this issue!

    • Michael on April 26, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      I believe what you shared brother is within the spirit of God’s heart. The message is not mine, but God’s. Granted, some are theologians and are gifted to research and develop Holy Spirit inspired messages whereas others have a prophetic gift that boldly communicates God’s message as researched by the theologian. What the author of this article conveniently overlooked saying is that many of these gifted Pastors have staff that assist in the research and development of their messages.

    • DC on June 10, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      You say that they quoted others without giving them credit. If they didnt give them credit, how do you know they were quoting someone else?

      When you preach you tell someone where to turn in the Bible which has a reference and in turn, gives credit to the original author.

      Our tendency is to point fingers at the preachers expecting credit for their work but forget that if we are willing to let our church family believe that what we preach is ours rather than someone else’s is dishonest on our part. It is a heart issue. When it comes down to it, we dont want to give credit to the original author of the sermon because we are embarrassed and know that it is wrong. It is not pride on the original authors part, it is deception on the persons part who is unwilling to admit that what he preaches is not his own.

      Preparing sermons is a hard task and it can be time consuming but if this is what He called us to, I believe the labor is well rewarded .

  73. Chris on March 29, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Disagree 110 percent. You are stating an ethic as if it were a moral. Ethics are societal expectations. Morals are God-given truths that transcend cultures. After all, God created all peoples and has the right to challenge any of their ethics. What we now call plagiarism was not even a thing when the gospels were written. The gospel writers obviously borrowed from each other – verbatim in places. At other times, they copied with redactions. At other times, they copied with additions.

    The idea of plagiarism arose out of a world where people want credit for their authorship because they are seeking fame. Then, once the printing press was invented, and people could earn money from book sales, plagiarism became inportant because claiming credit for someone else’s content was clearly robbing them of income based on their work. Prior to the printing press, the only money involved in authoring a book was paid by those who commissioned such works; there were no book sale royalties. Before the printing press, books were all handwritten, and a person purchasing a book was paying for the labor involved in transcribing and binding the book; they were not paying an author’s royalty.

    Now let’s apply this knowledge to sermons and blogs by the professional speakers known as “pastors”, even though the true definition of a pastor is not the professional sermon-delivering kind that we see practiced in so many religious organizations today. These professional sermon-writers are almost universally paid by their church to write and deliver these messages. The messages are then given freely to all who will listen. No royalties are charged.

    Further, the kingdom of God is SUPPOSED to operate differently than the greedy, fame-seeking world. Jesus said “Freely you have received. Freely give.” Messages are not to be given with the intent of impressing the hearers to think highly of the message-preparer or message-presenter. The apostle Paul took this to heart by not only relinquishing his right to earn a living from preaching the gospel (he paid his own way by working side jobs), but by welcoming others who in a sense competed with him in preaching the gospel, so as to take away some of Paul’s “market share”. As long as the gospel was being preached, Paul rejoiced. After all, wasn’t the preaching of the gospel the ENTIRE POINT? To get God’s message to mankind, not to seek profit or fame?

    Similarly, Mark and Luke both borrowed from Matthew in writing the gospels (though many scholars today have been misled into believing in an imaginary “Q” manuscript because they don’t realize that the process of incorporating others’ content into your own writings can take not only the form of verbatim copying, but of redacting whatever you wish, editing whatever you wish, and adding your own unique content wherever you wish. Oh, and you switch between all of the above whenever you wish. Thus it is impossible through textual criticism to know who copied what from whom.)

    If you are willing to impose the modern ethical idea of plagiarism on the gospel writers, then I’d be interested in having you write an article on how they were wrong. If, however, the gospel writers were not guilty of moral failure, and if it is true that in the kingdom of God we are seeking God’s fame and not our own, and if it is true that we are truly working for God’s kingdom instead of our own kingdom where we think we can ride the coattails of Jesus to our own superstar fame, then credit-giving is not really a thing in the kingdom of God. All credit goes to God. If you think that the kingdom of God is subservient to a culture’s ideas of ethics, you need to read your Bible further. Jesus challenged his culture so strongly that they put him to death. He disrupted an entire industry by casting the sellers of sacrificial animals out of the temple. In our culture, that would result in lawsuits and jail time. Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman – unsupervised. Imagine the scandal today. Jesus ignored all the cultural ethics of washing hands before he ate, avoiding work on the sabbath, and letting little children interrupt adult conversations. Culture is not authoritative in moral manners. Ethics are not morally binding on a believer. We answer to a higher command to love each other. And no, loving one another does not mean that we have to respect the fame-seeking of Christian clergy by worrying about the cultural ethic of avoiding plagiarism in promoting God’s kingdom.

    So let me ask which drum you are marching to, and whose system do you consider authoritative? Jesus’ kingdom with its moral absolutes that are based on love for God and others, and self-sacrifice? Or modern western culture with its crazy ethics that say plagiarism is wrong but same-sex cohabitation and murder of unborn children are acceptable?

    As Jesus said, “stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” If you have a problem with someone reusing material that you prepared, when they are doing so in order to reach people for God’s kingdom, then you are in the wrong “business”, and need to hang up your hat. “Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.” – The Apostle Paul (cited not to “give credit where credit is due”, but to reference a higher authority than either you or myself when it comes to matters of Christian morality)

    • Joe Lewis Winston, Evangelist on January 25, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!! Chris. Thank you so much for your comment. When I first started preaching many years ago, my farther-in-law gave me 25 of his manuscript sermons. And said, “Son use these as you deem fit.” He never once said “give me the credit.” I felt good that he wanted to help me. It was wonderful to realize that he was not looking for fame and fortune through preaching. Again, thanks for your article.

  74. Ishwar Bhola on February 21, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    When preachers preach on a Sunday, are they not equipping the Church. If i one day become a preacher and
    use some of preaching that i received from my Church, is it that bad, it helped me become a better person, it brought conviction,took me closer to GOD, , maybe not word for word, but to say i cannot use none of it, then why even go to Bible college.Ultimately the Holy Spirit is the teacher, as a Christian is it really his preaching or the Holy Sprit empowering him…….think guys, stop acying as the world and be excited that someone was touched with your spirit filled message and decided to use some of it, not passing it as his own .

    • Steven L Schnedler on April 11, 2019 at 7:32 am

      Amen brother!

  75. Elsie on February 5, 2019 at 1:51 am

    I use to have a pastor who use to preach other preachers sermons, verbatim including the jokes. before I discovered that I started to feel like his preaching were powerful and true to the carnal ear but they lacked anointing. And he would start with statements like “last night when I was in my prayer closet” or “today I’m going to share with you a fresh massage straight from the throne of God”. I ended up coming from church feeling like I just did not eat enough word. So I ended up reading and watching teachings on internet right after church just to feel fired up. While doing so I ended up following the same preachers who’s work he plagiarized. So on Sunday I have to watch him lie to me everyday that he got a massage straight from the holy spirit but I already watched that teaching. It pained me and I could not tell anyone in church. I eventually left that church.

    • Sarah on March 31, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Something similar happened to me. I have the plagiarized sermons downloaded as well.

      • kerosi on April 12, 2019 at 1:50 am

        Dear Servant of the Lord,

        Greetings in the name of our savior Jesus Amen.

        Thank you very much for your Website.I have learned your teachings and beliefs.I thank the Lord also that through the internet i have met with you. And we thank our lord so much because of your good teachings Concerning to the lords people.

        I am a born again Christian fellowship and we have a small fellowship of 67 church members and we would kindly request you to learn more about you and if possible you send us your teaching materials.

        We are eager to see every believer transformed by God’s word, in the context of a loving and Christ-like community, in order to shine forth as witnesses of the grace of Jesus Christ, and to see the lost discover the saving work and eternal worth of Jesus Christ

        We will request you to visit us here in Kenya to teach and train us in our church in God’s timing.Thank you and pray for our church and the orphans in your daily prayers.

        We will be glad to receive again from you

        Yours in Christ
        Brother Kerosi

  76. Mopseys on January 22, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    I am sorry but I don’t see what the big deal. The whole point of preaching is to bring souls to the Kingdom, to build a relationship with God Almighty by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Everything else is vanity. Preachers should feel privileged and honoured if their message helped to save a soul. Who gave them the wisdom to write the messages God. Whether it’s attributed to you or not the most important thing is a soul was saved. I have never used any of your messages, by the way.. May the Lord grant us all wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Amen.

    • Steven L Schnedler on January 22, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      A big amen! Instead of being grateful others are giving legs to the work they did and multiplying it, thus blessing more people, as Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”, they are worried about getting personal, individual credit. Can we possibly imagine Paul scolding Timothy, calling him a liar with no integrity because he preached something he heard Paul preach? We have too much of a worldly mindset, which is what happens when we turn ministry into big business.

      • Raymond Wiggins on March 30, 2019 at 8:02 am

        Amen. Amen. Amen

    • Apostle D. X. Lay on February 17, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      I’ll simply say this. We will never all come to the same conclusion. Although I would love it for mankind to. I agree with points that each of you made. My perception is simply this. The word of God is this, the word of God. Taking credit for anything God gave you as a Word to share with His sheep is not of God. Although I may hear a word from the Lord I promise you that God is not a respecter of persons and will and can give the same message to someone else. I understand how you may feel about plaigurism and I never read a sermon word for word. I may use a outline but the word that God gives me will be totally different. Then at time I may start with your outline but God takes me somewhere else. So I know it’s not about what I wanna do but its about Him that sent me.

      God bless.

    • Raymond Wiggins on March 30, 2019 at 8:00 am


  77. Scott Frary on January 6, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Here is the problem that I have with this. Today my pastor used the Levi Lusko sermon series (You in 5 Years) and used it almost verbatim, even down to the jokes, all the while stating this is what he received during his prep time with God. I have no problem with borrowing and using content from others sermons, but don’t claim that this is from your own time spent with God. It’s lazy at best and disingenuous at worst.

    • Steven Schnedler on January 6, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Maybe God prepped your pastor through Levi Lusko. LOL!

      • Scott Frary on January 6, 2019 at 9:29 pm

        Lol. Maybe I’ll suggest everyone stay home on Sunday mornings and just watch the original sermon on the internet. Wonder what church attendance would become?

        • Robert on June 27, 2019 at 5:52 pm

          LOL. Maybe if your pastor had the loyalty and affirmation of the congregation, he would feel more inspired.

      • Michelle Maragni on July 12, 2019 at 12:50 pm

        I have been reading through several of these comments. Alot here is very troubling to me. When a preacher/teacher is anointed to give a message from God he/she should not be stealing a sermon. It will not be anointed. God speaks to you about a subject, you pray and study, get references from scripture, and if you see other information from other references you should mention that.
        I lead a women’s group and teach sunday school. I find alot of great sermons on line and study scriptural Bible studies. I always let people know that I found this information and from whom to back up the Subject that the Holy Spirit layed on my heart and felt I needed to share with others. For the Glory Of God. I direct that message towards myself first and then to others so it may help them.

        • Steven Schnedler on July 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm

          You may not use other people’s sermons, but I suggest you use a dictionary, for the glory of God of course. The words are “a lot”. “Alot” does not exist. Picky? Maybe, but you just accused some of your fellow Christian ministers of being thieves with no anointing.

  78. AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:00 am

    I’ve taught college rhetoric for 20 years and, of course, had to handle research and sources for my own graduate degree. I can assure you that students in my freshman comp courses would easily be able to recognize what our minister does weekly as plagiarism. Why should we have lower standards for preachers? Part of the problem is that they’re being paid as some sort of set-apart person who has great (spiritual?) insight. If you’re just mashing up sources, that’s not inspired or even terribly difficult. I just want the attribution, and not just because it’s fair. We require it in academia so we can see if the writer or speaker has himself handled the sources accurately, and to allow us to follow up with our own research. I hear our preacher regularly using sources he doesn’t understand, for example, from literature. So I know he hasn’t studied or even read the novel he’s citing; he’s just relying on Rob Bell’s or somebody else’s representation of the work, which might not be accurate. I could maybe stand it if, when I hear people praising him, he didn’t just accept their praise for his “brilliant ideas.” Another problem is that, because our preacher hasn’t originated these ideas, he can’t handle any questioning of them, so he shut downs or ignores anyone who doesn’t blindly praise him. I think the church would be better off if we followed I Cor. 14:26 and no one person would have to dazzle anyone every week, and we’d have elders as spiritual leaders rather than managers of a multi-million-dollar budget. And then poor preachers wouldn’t have to listen to people complain. If preachers are so overworked that they can’t do the sermon honestly, that’s something they need to talk to their church about, not cheat. And by the way, I regularly worked 70-hour weeks helping students achieve their dreams, and I did it for $2300 per course. I didn’t slack off just because the load and pay were unfair. I have a choice to not accept those conditions, but, once I do, I’m honor-bound to work “as for God and not for man.” Preachers, you have no idea how bad you look when you make excuses for this, and especially when you act as if you’re the only people who work long hours. Maybe a link from this article to one of the many, many, many “why people are leaving church” articles would be pertinent.

    • David on December 25, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Perhaps the comments are why we need to leave this topic. It is no longer being helpful.

  79. REV Rob on December 5, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Written by someone that clearly has a very differnt expetience of ministry – see how little time you would have in a parish in Scotland – 100 plus sermons to write each year- full preaching and pastoral responsibilities for several parishes,imterim moderator duties as norm, school chaplainces, weekly assemblies in schools, hospital visiting, responsibly for provision of christian funerals on request in a time scale of as little as three days and increasingly for non christians we are free of charge the humanist is not. Then there is church committee-session meetings- presbytery committees – special committees and duties to national church-and an expectation to find new and imagitive ways of worship to keep the flame of fath alive. All without support spiritually or administratively. Humble yourself before God and consider it an honour to help a brother or sister on a frontline , that you may well not have the guts or the fibre to operate on

    • Steven Schnedler on December 5, 2018 at 5:12 pm


  80. Matt on December 4, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    I think the point of the post is to at least give credit to the original speaker if you are going to re-use their content. I agree that is a matter of integrity. Standing up and reading someone else’s sermon without acknowledgement seems dishonest to me.

    • TT Carol on April 11, 2019 at 6:43 am

      Amen! But please, don’t use their jokes and don’t use the original author’s experience as your own. Give credit where credit is due.

  81. Steven Schnedler on December 4, 2018 at 1:58 am

    I wonder if the Apostle Paul would be offended if someone used his sermons? Would he accuse them of being thieves and criminals?

    If God can’t use a sermon a second time in the voice of another who can still give it some originality, then every song sung on Sunday mornings should be original every Sunday and only written by members of each church. Any song used more than once or by another writer outside the church would be a sign of laziness on the part of the worship leader, and he should be fired for dishonesty. Oh yes, he can use someone else’s song once in a blue moon, but not every Sunday. Congregants will quickly pick up on his lack of originality.

    If someone preached a sermon I wrote, and many in Latin America do, I would be honored, not threatened. I could care less about “getting credit”. I care about lost souls and edifying the body of Christ. I am so happy that my messages are actually multiplying in the lives of others, that is the essence of discipleship and what could be better than other preachers multiplying what I teach/preach? When my primary concern is “getting credit”, I forget who the One is who gave me the ability to create in the process. I think it is about ME and MY hard work. In reality, I should be so grateful that God gave me a platform where others actually want to multiply my efforts. If I put 20 hours in to developing a message and others can help me get more mileage out of it, I am ecstatic! My time really paid off! And, I had an opportunity to be blessing to others. Otherwise, I forget I am on the same team fighting the real enemy of our souls. How can I possibly have a true passion for God’s people and purport to care about other pastors when this has become such a major focus?

    While I do agree no one should publish verbatim a document written by others, when my focus has become “me getting credit” and accusing as thieves and criminals, other preachers who honor me by multiplying what God has given me, I have lost focus and my ministry has become a business. Usually, when I read these types of articles, it is by very well-known Christian leaders who feel the profitability of their business is being threatened, but they are savvy in their choice of words. Freely you have received, freely give… unless you’re a famous preacher selling how-to courses. I believe this is truly grieving to the Father.

    • Michael on December 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

      Completely agree Steven! For me, leveraging someone else’s content is a matter of stewardship. It is not so much that I need to be impressive in my communication. It is more about giving my sheep the best food I can find. I pray over the year’s “scope and sequence” so that I know the spiritual journey that I am taking them on and that it is a balanced diet of Old and New Testament, exegetical and topical, etc. Then. I will use other’s series for direction and inspiration. For us, we are not large enough to have an Executive Pastor to tend to our staff, a congregational care pastor to pray and counsel with our members, or a graphics designer to “brand” our content. Yet in a livestream/ right now media age, many in our church want content of the same quality that they perceive from others on the internet. I could put in 20 hours a week in sermon prep but I believe that stewardship of my time means that I invest 8-10 and use the rest to care for our staff and our church. Honestly, my larger concern is that there is a trend in the church for leaders to be more authors and artists than pastors. I wonder if we should take out Proverbs since the writer uses material from ancient literature that pre-dates its writing. Or should we discredit Matthew and Luke because many historians believe they borrowed from Mark’s writing? Of course not! I appreciate you injecting common sense leadership perspective. Blessings my friend!

      • David on December 4, 2018 at 9:06 am

        Good thoughts have been shared in Michael’s post as well in some of other recent ones. The vast majority of us don’t have a research team or ghost writers of multi-staff help. If the mega-church pastors don’t want “their” material used, they need to do their own research and stop using ghost writers.

        • Steven Schnedler on December 5, 2018 at 1:13 am

          Thanks to both Michael and David, both of you had excellent points. I believe that using ghost writers is nothing more than legal plagiarism and totally negates one of the main points of the original article, that each pastor should put in the sweat and tears to earn their own paycheck with an original message, instead of, God forbid, taking advantage of research already done by others, because, of course, if I do it myself, it makes it more valid.

          Of course, I am not going to defend getting up and reading verbatim what someone else preached, but how many do that? Aside from ethical issues, that is not even practical or effective, (but if it were effective and people were blessed, why not give glory to God for that revelation that was extended and used to bless others instead of worrying about getting credit?) However, as to taking the main points of a message and using those to preach an effective message being “unethical”, just blows my mind. How can these extremely gifted preachers not WANT others to use their messages (not verbatim, but outlines of main points) so they get more traction in the lives of God’s church, God’s people, THEIR brothers and sisters?!? Besides, I could not be an Andy Stanley, no matter how I preached his message. I will never be Andy Stanley, or anyone else but me.

          In addition, to suggest that a message can’t be effective unless it is original is nothing more than a myth and actually can be quite prideful. Many original messages aren’t worth the time of the hearer, while many duplicated ones can be very effective. That is nothing more but one more myth to promote the next how-to course.

          When the ministry becomes a business, we forget we all have the same Father. We call ourselves “brothers” and “sisters” but often treat each others like business associates. We sing, “It’s all about You”, when it’s really “All about me and you giving me credit.” Why does a famous preacher care if a No-name preacher gives him credit for his outline or not? What is it? Another feather in his cap, that he won’t even see? Are they really that needy for getting credit from a brother in the Lord? Is all the adulation they get from their “fans” or “business associates” really not enough that they have to make us feel like criminals if we dare use one of their outlines and, woe is me, one of their jokes?

      • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:05 am

        But you’re accepting pay for it. You’re being paid under the expectation by everyone that you’re coming up with your own amazing, unique insights. If you weren’t, and this were only for educational purposes, and you’re weren’t making anything off of it, you would sometimes be within fair-use. It’s that y’all are getting paid that creates a big part of the problem. And you do know that plagiarism is illegal, right?

    • Yvette banda on December 20, 2018 at 6:01 am

      You are 100% correct.God is the giver of every good thing according to the scripture.so If one found something worthy for the divine kingdom and shares it that person is not wrong.

    • Ejike on January 15, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      God bless you for this response, you just said my mind

      • Steven Schnedler on January 15, 2019 at 6:49 pm

        Amen brother. That is why I stay away from sermons by these types of guys. I don’t want to be tempted to intentionally or accidentally use one of their ideas or outlines and be accused of a crime. There are plenty of great preachers who are honored that their messages are being carried on and multiplied by others, just like Paul taught Timothy in 2 Timothy 2. Blessings!

      • S. Evansi on August 3, 2019 at 6:59 pm

        Nothing is new here on earth…If you are born again why worry about people taking what you think is yours. You will die and the best you have to work out is that your message has saved many souls. Pride is what you are in brother. Release what you have and do what you are doing for the Lord not personal glory…
        The bible has it all. what new would we want to reproduce…nothing….what you call are your messages, it has been preached.
        If we do this work for ourselves then we have no reward. I know that many people dont study the word but if you do study and some take it up and save many souls give glory to God thats God at work. You plant and the other water and our harvest will be great.
        If you dont want your messages to be copied by people, let them not biblical, dont even put them on internet and dont preach them, keep them to yourself. Otherwise i like people copying the messages i preach…they are not mine…

        be a true desciple


        Pastor S. Evans

  82. David on December 2, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    For me, I see No problem whatsoever in using someone else’s ideas. Not verbatim of course. I am a avid reader and as a result, many of these ideas find heir way to one of my sermons. Adrian Rogers, one of the greatest preachers ever, used to say “if the ammo fits your gun, fire it.” In other words use it. Many of the mega church pastors sells their sermons in hopes that they will be used. Some people write with more originality than others. Any great sermon starts in the heart of God and that is a great place to begin. I work to be creative every week, never preach a message ver batim and write my own thoughts. But my thoughts do stem at times from whatever I have read. Friends we are all this together. I buy Pastor Niehwof’s materials and have used them to train our leaders. Any message that chcamges lives does so because God is in it. So I think we need to lighten up in this topic. As far as a blog is concerned, copying it word for word and posting it under your name is just plain wrong. So what is the difference? Putting your name on something and claiming it as yours is plagiarism. Preaching a sermon and using ideas someone has presented it generally acceptable in my opinion. I have seen this post before and believe Carrie should move on to another topic.

    • Michael on December 3, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      I agree David! I’d be curious if the same article would apply to “ghost writers.” John Maxwell has had one for years. I know Furtick has one (he applied for a job at a church I used to work at). If someone gets famous speaking what other people have written, is that not the same principle. Most of what I hear preachers do is not even to that extreme because they don’t directly take credit for it. Or could we say that if the Kingdom is advanced and people find (and grow) in Jesus – none of it really matters. After all, isn’t it just as prideful to say that God can’t use content unless I write it originally. Plagerism is not a biblical concept but one birthed in a greedy culture that needs “paid” for its work.

      • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:07 am

        So you’re not being compensated?

    • Steven Schnedler on December 4, 2018 at 1:59 am

      Agree 100%

  83. Hope Drew on November 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you. I am a new pastor of 4 months and I am glad to know there are other pastors that feel the same as I do. Most of my members are millennials and they are very keen to “real.” My being “real” is what continues to draw them back to church Sunday after Sunday.

    Again, thank you.

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  85. Alexandre Luquete on October 30, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Here in Brazil we preach about 150 sermons a year, so it is very difficult to be original. But we do not have to be. In my church it happens a few times a year that I use another preacher’s sermon. And as you said, integrity is everything. Whenever I use someone’s sermon I say who I was based on, if it was a book I take it to the pulpit, show it to the church and I encourage you to read the original, if it was a video of the internet I share the link for everyone.
    If I am not honest in delivering God’s message, what else will I be?

  86. Maureen Fernandes on October 28, 2018 at 8:00 am

    How do I enroll in the online class on how to write sermons.

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  88. greg cleveland on August 13, 2018 at 10:20 am

    So I am guessing that your saying that all the pastors that are using ghost writers are really not telling the truth. Maybe we should be careful in our judgement upon others. After all as one of the greatest men of God that I know said these great words. “When they write better sermons I will preach better sermons.”.
    Just saying that we should be very careful.

  89. Greg Coldewey on June 25, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Having listened to Max Lucado for 30 years at Oak Hills Church, it’s not surprising to hear a “Max” sermon somewhere else. Years ago we attended a church in a different state, and the pastor preached a Max sermon word for word even down to the key illustration which was based on a local thing in San Antonio…but he adapted that part as if it had occurred to him locally. As a hearer, it felt very dishonest. Had he attributed it and preached it it would have been fine. It really was a great sermon, and one of the few I remember to this day. That pastor really destroyed his credibility, which is another danger.

  90. […] This article originally appeared here […]

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  92. Lee on June 4, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Ha ha ha ha Great Blog post about copying blog posts! May I share this? Oh my! As the great theologian, Bugs Bunny said, “That’s All Folks!” Looks folks there is the Red Herring!

  93. Tony on June 4, 2018 at 8:27 am

    If you have a Word from the Lord, and somebody else takes it and runs with it, what’s wrong with that?
    Do you not want it to reach as many people as possible? If you’re looking for credit and recognition then you’re in it for all the wrong reasons… Maybe you need to rethink this.

    • Tony on June 4, 2018 at 8:57 am

      Look at it this way… somebody taught you. And somebody taught them and so on. Most pastors have around 50 sermons or so that they rehash every year… but a lot of pastors are relating what they have been taught in the past.
      Just teach God’s Word. Pray, ask for wisdom and incite, be open, be authentic and you’ll be ok.

    • Janet Woodlock on June 4, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      If God gives you a word for your community, what makes you think that’s what God wants to say to another community?

      You can only know this through discernment, not by lazy plagiarism. And if it is a word for your community, why not acknowledge it as a matter of your own integrity?

      Academics (rightly) lose their jobs over plagiarism: it’s considered a serious breach of professional ethics. And this should be so for pastors, who have an extra reason to behave ethically – their calling from God.

    • Paul on June 16, 2018 at 11:30 am

      If you preach a sermon verbatim and act like it was your own work, then that is stealing and a lie. Stealing and lying is sin. If you are going to preach other people’s sermons, then you should be honest and step down as preacher. Many lay leaders teach small groups with prepackaged study guides like in Sunday School classes. We generally call these leaders facilitators. At least we know where they get most (if not all) of their material. The pastor of the church and any person who regularly preaches should be studying the Bible and not spending precious time on copying sermons from others.

      • Andrew Johnson on October 13, 2018 at 9:11 pm

        So are you a pastor?

        • Paul on October 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

          I am not a pastor, Andrew. Does being a pastor or simply being a member of the body of Christ matter in this regard? I have been a Sunday School teacher and have led small groups. I have preached a few sermons as a lay leader in the church. When I used material that was written by someone else, I would give them credit. Does it or does it not concern you that a preacher would say “The Lord led me to this message…” when it was actually Google or sermoncentral? Shouldn’t the preacher devote himself to prayer and the study of the word if God?

          • Davis on November 27, 2018 at 5:28 pm

            Remember the message you can preach is not your message. I believe every meeting (service) at church has its purpose and as a Pastor if am found at someones Church I know that it is GODs intention for me to get another information to spread it to others. Yes we have to acknowledge that you got the message according to what you heard but lets not sound as if we generate messages on our own. Its by the Spiriti Of GOD that teaches and Guides us. Moreover we required to spread the Good news. Unless the message is not Good

    • Paul on June 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      If you feel like you cannot preach a sermon that is original, then go to the Bible and read it word for word out loud to your audience. At least you are planting God’s word in the hearts of your congregation, instead of regurgitating other people’s sermons. Check out Jeremiah 23:30 and Romans 2:21. Instead of copying and pasting, I recommend you open your Bibles and diligently study.

    • greg cleveland on August 13, 2018 at 10:22 am

      Thank you for your post. You hit the nail right on the head. (Sorry I guess I should not say that because I know that I have heard that somewhere before.)

    • Danny on December 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      I think the point here is not that someone preaches something you don’t get credit for. It’s about the integrity of the person who passes it off as his/her own. As pastors/preachers it is easy go copy someone else’s work and not give credit. It is hard work to come up with your own sermons but the benefits outweigh the work. Shouldn’t we be preaching stuff that we are walking through in our own lives? If someone copies someone else’s outline, perhaps that is more permissable. But when you take illustrations as if they are your own, that is a real integrity issue.

  94. Russ on June 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve been reading through these comments and keep thinking, “What in the world am I doing?” My Sunday sermon preparation is so different from what so many of the guys are posting here. I usually put 2-5 hours of straight research into my sermons. I wish it was more, but that’s usually all the time I can afford. Thanks to Logos Bible Software, I use the “Exegetical Guide” to list my commentaries & language sources. I click on the ones I think I’ll like, quickly skim them, and literally drag & drop relevant comments into a Word Document; which automatically footnotes them. After 2-3 hours, I’ve got a 10-20 page document. I print that off and using voice recognition software, I look it over and speak my sermon into a text. Then I reformat it and I preach from my laptop. On the one hand, very few things in my sermon are original to me—when I talk about what fishing is like in the Sea of Galilee, since I’ve never been there, that’s stuff I’m getting from some other source. Even when I dive into application; it’s often stuff I’ve gleaned from books, life, sermons, etc. But when I say “This happened to me when I was 8…” it really happened. To say anything else would be a lie, and how would the Holy Spirit bless a lie? For that matter, isn’t Satan the Father of lies? Twenty years ago, I worked at a megachurch with a pastor most of us would know. I personally looked over his preaching notes many times. True, he was brilliant, but I can tell you he never plagiarized. He’d hand-write his notes and literally bring to the pulpit photocopies of the things he was quoting—and it was obvious he was quoting them because he’d say, “I’ve got a quote…it’s right here…hang on…okay here is it…” And then he’d hold it in his hand, step away from the pulpit, and read it with a force and passion that would honor the original author. I thought we all more-or-less followed a similar process. Now, I see why I’m having problems at my current church. I’ve been in my current church for about 4.5 years. By year 3, we grew to our highest levels on record, but in the last year we’ve had a split. One key leader of the uprising once said to me, “You’re just making stuff up because I’ve been going to church for decades and I’ve never heard anything like this before.” I was baffled because I just preach what the text says—if anything, I spend too much time stating the obvious. But if the American church is accustomed to preachers just recycling what “the showmen” are saying, no wonder people have “never heard this stuff before”—they haven’t heard the Bible! The Holy Spirit illumines HIS Words, not mine and not someone else’s! I’ll admit I’m not nearly as good as the famous preachers, but I’m hoping to improve; and as I get better, I’ll be better in teaching God’s Word, not sermon retreads. No wonder why the American church is in such tatters. Filling churches with preachers who copycat the “showmen” hurts the whole body of Christ because His people are not being taught discernment and it makes the guys who are not airbrushed seem even more irrelevant. Forgive me if I sound self-righteous, I’m really just discouraged by these comments. Maybe I’m a fool playing on a team of fools that would prefer to make themselves look good rather than Christ.

  95. Weekend Leadership Roundup - Hope's Reason on June 2, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    […] 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Preach Other People’s Sermons – Carey Nieuwhof […]

  96. Danelle on June 2, 2018 at 2:27 am

    What if the Holy Spirit gives the same idea to 30 different pastors who have prayed listening to His leading? Maybe not verbatim, but inspiration, theme, or anointing. Who is going to copyright that? The Holy Spirit is the author. Are you going to look to see the first peron in the chain to hear this from the Lord every time? I think many are forgetting the original author. This is a danger, in my view, of building up man and not the One you serve. I am a librarian and believe very much in Open Sources. The Holy Spirit is the most open sourced database anyone could have? Jesus gave you all free material to use and duplicate. He is the Word. Duplicate until the gospel is proclaimed in every tongue, in every nation.

    • Dan on October 13, 2018 at 10:16 pm


  97. Jon Perrin on June 1, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Great article, Carey! I wish more pastors would understand this. It’s not a sin to borrow, but it’s at the very least shady to plagiarize. Unfortunately integrity is becoming a lost art in ministry. And once you’ve lost your credibility, you’ve lost your ability to lead. I tell people that I read and listen to so many great leaders/pastors that I will inevitably borrow the thoughts/ideas of others.

  98. Austin on June 1, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Love it. As an associate pastor who’s serving as interim youth pastor I often work through 3 sermons or lessons per week on the same topic. Original content becomes more and more taxing. Integrity, credit, and Holy Spirit are so important. Thanks for the post Carey.

  99. Kelly on June 1, 2018 at 7:32 am

    The more I think about this, the more this question keeps coming back up into my mind. I was a worship pastor for over 20+ years and have only been a senior pastor for the last 6. Not one time during my time as a worship pastor did I ever before singing a song give credit to the writer of the lyrics or the music. And we would do original songs every now and then but for the most part they were songs that someone else had written under God’s inspiration. Even at conferences now I hear a popular worship leader song someone else’s song without giving credit but not once have I ever felt angry or cheated that they’d sing someone else’s song. Again, I don’t copy messages word for word and I do give credit where credit is due, but this just gave me something to think about.

    • Janet Woodlock on June 4, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Everyone expects you’ll be singing the songs of others don’t they? That’s why churches buy song licences. That’s not an integrity issue… unless you’ve ever said “this is a song I’ve written” about someone else’s material.

      NO ONE expects their pastor to be preaching someone else’s sermon though. So that’s a clear integrity issue.

      • Kelly on June 5, 2018 at 7:47 am

        Everyone expects you’ll be singing the songs of others? I hope they simply expect you to lead them into God’s presence. As far as the licensing – all/most church don’t pay for the CCLI. I just came back from a conference where worship was a major part of it and one of the worship leaders announced they were going to do a new song. I loved the song and try to look it up – I found it and the worship leader that lead it was not one of the writers of that song. I didn’t bother me in the least bit because all I was expecting of him was to lead me into God’s presence. I wasn’t expecting it all be original, just for Him to do his best to hear from God and lead us there.

        Do I think it’s a problem for someone to take an entire message word for word, story for story and not give credit? Absolutely. But, I personally don’t think there is anything wrong from hearing a preacher preach a word and it speak to you so much that God has you share with others that would never hear it otherwise. That’s not an integrity issue – it’s just a matter of hearing from God or not.

        • Michael Bulkley on June 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm

          “As far as the licensing – all/most church don’t pay for the CCLI.” That is an awfully broad statement to make. Maybe there are a number of small churches, or churches without live streaming, or web available broadcast that do not, but any church who puts there services online is risking big fines if they do not pay CCLI. Further, whether you broadcast or not it is illegal to play music in your church in any other context than the actual church service unless you pay CCLI fees (this includes VBS, church coffee shop, music in the lobby, music on your telephone hold, etc.). Now, one can decide to ignore that and likely if they are a smaller church with no outside broadcast and they will not be caught, but if their choice is to “not get caught” (no matter how one justifies it) it is still illegal and thus a lack of integrity. I do not like to pay my taxes and I think that much of my tax money goes to pay for immoral things but Jesus still said I had to pay to Caesar what was Caesar’s. All that being said, I do not know any churches around me that DON’T pay CCLI.

  100. Mlungisi Gabriel Magwaza on June 1, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Thanks Carey, I hope there is no problem to quote someones sentences and mention that to congregation.

    Question: How can I help someone who is in the same problem of preaching others’ sermons. We have a same fellow in our church.

  101. Deb Angerman on June 1, 2018 at 6:51 am

    I just finished an undergrad college course on speaking to youth, and one of the materials we were required to read actually recommended NOT sourcing “borrowed” material in our sermons, because it “interferred with the flow of the message.” WHATTT? I couldn’t believe it.

    My motto is borrow away – but ALWAYS give credit!

  102. Jeremy on May 31, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    As someone accused of plagiarizing even when citing the source I do see how important this is to people. Legit question though…when compiling all of the research for detailed topics it’s almost impossible to cite everything. For one intro to a message I used multiple sources. They weren’t other people’s messages but certainly books/articles. Didn’t quote directly. So what do you suggest? Or is that a different topic?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 1, 2018 at 5:09 am

      Good question…and I’m sorry you were questioned. Tough! You’re right, there are really no truly original thoughts. So attribute the major ones…be generous and humble with your sourcing and that should cover it. It can be as simple as “As Tim Keller has said” or “Andy Stanley points out..” That’s what I do.

    • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:12 am

      Let people know up front that you consulted several sources, and that they can find a list of those somewhere, perhaps in a text version of your sermon with the citations, or, at the very least, tag concepts, e.g., “on the idea of xyz, see . . . ” and cite the sources.

  103. Campbell on May 31, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I now include a “bibliography/sources used” in my sermon handout.

    15+ Years ago I attended a church planting conference at Saddleback. Rick Warren came in & spoke to the planters & told us, “You can use any of my information. No citing is necessary.” I thought that was great. Of course being the son of an English teacher, and the grandson of an English teacher, and having taught high school English myself, I wasn’t comfortable with taking that at face value. So I would use verbal citations for his or other authors thoughts, ideas, quotes, etc.

    A few years ago I realized that there are times where I quote someone but in the process I may forget to cite them, or may misattribute the quote. Then another pastor in my area was accused of using someone else’s material and passing it off as his own. I cannot recall at this time where I saw the idea to include a “Sources Used” reference as part of my sermon handout, but made the commitment at that time that I would try to include as full a list of sources for any particular sermon. So at the end of my sermon notes, I have a Bibliography.

    If I use another pastor’s outline of a series, even if I am not using any part of his messages, I include that in my source citation. If I use some personal Bible Study books (such as The Navigators LifeChange series) when breaking down a passage, I cite it in the notes. I don’t do this to be lazy, or just to make sure I am covered. I do this because I want my people to have good sources they can go to as well.

    • Captain Kevin on December 2, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Campbell, that’s a great idea!

  104. Russ Baley on May 31, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    I just finished sharing this with my team. For years I have been railing against use of other pastors sermons. ‘Where was the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the copy and pasting of the sermon from Andy Stanley?’ With regards to point number 5. I know of a former pastor who constantly justified his plagiarism of Craig Groeshel and Louie Giglio. Yes even right down to the personal stories about family members including wives. When people approached me about it I talked to another local pastor who was my coach. We approached him and he rebuffed our loving attempt to correct his behavior. His reasoning was the Spirit can work through the any preacher because the Word was from God and he like the pastors he plagiarized were mouthpieces for God. Unfortunately he continued, his church leaders were okay with it. With regard to leading to other things creeping in. This pastor is now in jail for some not so good things. I will always strive to correctly represent myself because our integrity is the only thing man cannot take from us…we have to give it away.

  105. D. A. Taylor on May 31, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    About five years ago, there were several web sites where pastors could purchase sermon outlines with complete references. Being curious, I looked at the Google Adword data and found that these site owners were paying up to $5.00 per click — which meant they were making LOTS and LOTS of money. Of course, this web site and it’s associated activity only confirmed what I had see throughout 50 years of attending Christian churches and observing how most preachers only work 2-3 days a week. One particular pastors stands out in my memory. When the brethren called this guy during certain morning hours on weekdays, his wife would inform the caller “the Pastor is taking his nap.” Of course, this is what church members deserve when they ignore Christ’s instructions in Matthew 23:8-10.

    • David Nuhfer on May 31, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      You must have attended a lot of churches if, as you say, “most preachers only work 2-3 days a week”. As a pastor, I find your assumption 3 things – (1) Presumptuous, (2) Arrogant and, (3) Ignorant. Perhaps you should spend more time working on being a little more truthful and a lot less self-righteous.

  106. Chris Teien on May 31, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve preached over 900 sermons so far over my 22 years in full time ministry and they rarely have ever been 100% “original” and I think that with all the resources available to us there is no excuse for a bad sermon on Sunday mornings. Before the internet pastors used printed Bible commentaries and books for their sermons and today we have a ton of ministry sites giving or selling sermon series complete with graphics and outlines (like https://open.life.church/resources) and I think that if a pastor finds a series or outline or concept that is what their congregation needs they should adapt it to fit their ministry and people. I too have watched people preach another’s sermon and claim the experience illustration as their own and I think that is crossing the line but using another persons outline or sermon points – especially if they gave it or sold it to you should be ok. Not every chef/cook is making all the food from scratch – sometimes they grabbed the canned stuff to more efficiently feed more people. I used to attend a megachurch where the nationally recognized and admired Senior Pastor had a full time staff person that did a lot of his sermon research. Even more scandalous then a pastor using other peoples sermon ideas is the pastor that spends 75% of his time in his study working on his sermon each week.

    • Robert Neiman on April 11, 2019 at 12:13 am

      A pastor spending 75 percent of his time in his study working on his sermon is the more biblical model than a one hour cut and paste job by a pastor stealing someone else’s sermon. How can spending more time on a sermon be scandalous? Especially if that pastor has a calling to spend that amount of time in study.

      • Ian on April 11, 2019 at 12:56 am

        I think any pastor who spends 75% of his time working on a sermon is neglecting the rest of his job or he is fortunate enough to work in a church with a large amount of staff. It would be impossible for me to spend that much time on my sermon. I’m lucky if I get 10 hours a week. I understand intellectual property and plagerism but nothing is new under the son. The new commentaries are other pastors sermons. I don’t have the luxury of a research assistant like some pastors have so I use other sermons to help guide me as I study. I use my own illustrations, own context, and most of the time even my own study on the text but I’ve used other people’s points and even used there bottom line. It would almost be impossible to preach something new. Also, why do we feel this need to reinvent the wheel? If something Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Levi Lusko, or Carey says speaks to me and is God speaking to me through them, why can’t I use that to share with my congregation? Why is that message only for the people in Georgia, Canada, Montana, or wherever? God just might have wanted me to hear so I could tell my people too.

  107. Joe Gunter on May 31, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Right on Carey! I find it very aggravating in my circle the amount of re-preaches I hears. Even worse, leaders don’t want to communicate where the received the content from. The truth is many people in the congregation don’t follow what’s being preached by “Big Name” leaders and are un able to identify when it happens. Unfortunately, I feel this way of preaching is becoming standard in today’s church culture. Not too ago a church member came to me excited saying how awesome the message someone preached was and ask I had ever heard that before and I said, “actually yes I have.” No credit or reference given to the original writer but preached well!

  108. Michael Bulkley on May 31, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I have read all the comments so far posted and I was fascinated with some of the thoughts presented. In short my takeaway from Carey is not that it is wrong to re-preach someone else’s message, it is just wrong to present them as your own. I have had moments where I read someone’s sermon or blog and immediately realized that God was answering my prayer for how to speak with my congregation about something. I then told the people that very point, “I was wrestling with this and I read/heard this perspective and I believe God is saying it us as well as to the original author’s audience.” I also know that there is intentional plagarism (frankly I did not realize it was as widespread as Carey has alluded) and unintentional. I remember having a conversation with Phil Driscoll and he told me how he almost never listened to anyone else’s music when he was writing his music as he did not even want the chance of accidentally copying a riff. I thought that was extreme but for him it kept him so devoted/dependent on the Holy Spirit to lead him in writing his music. I do not in any way suggest that we not ever listen to or read other’s sermons or books (very much to the contrary) but I do think we should maintain that attitude of caution as it keeps us dependent on the Holy Spirit for inspiration. As for those who are bi-vocational, I feel your pain very much. I just know that the best messages I have given have often come from moments of my greatest pain and thus often when there was little time to prepare the way I would like. I also have a church dynamic where I am often called to cover the pulpit with little or no notice. Thus much of my sermon material comes from my journals and personal devotional/study time. Just my thoughts.

    • Mike McGuire on May 31, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      “Thus much of my sermon material comes from my journals and personal devotional/study time. Just my thoughts.”

      This is a good point. I too am bi-vocational. Bible study and journaling should be more than just to find material to preach, but it often becomes a good source. Just a few weeks ago I was reading a devotional magazine, and the focal verse was Hebrews 11:7. That struck me as a good passage for a biblical sermon warning against coming judgment. I was out of the country on a mission trip and it became a sermon while I was preaching there in a crusade.

      As for other comments above, I often use quotes from others as illustrations. I always say something like I read this in a book by John MacArthur, or I saw this in a clip on YouTube, Or I heard this in a news clip on CNN or something like that. Somewhere in this thread the comment was made that when you quote people and give them credit, you come across as being more prepared and intelligent.

  109. Jeff Courter on May 31, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    The lowest grade I received in seminary was in my preaching class, where I made the comment, “If I want to give the best sermon to my congregation, I will go online, download it, and show it to my congregation!” My professor did not appreciate that comment, but I still stand by it – I will probably never be the best preacher in America, and the best sermon most likely will not be mine.

    We Protestants are so focused on the sermon, we have forgotten that worship is about the whole service, not the sermon! The sermon is a part of an entire event focused on directing our attention to God, and glorifying him. The Protestant Reformation came at a time when most people could neither read nor write, and most could not afford to purchase a Bible – reading scripture and explaining it was essential for transmitting the Gospel. (This is part of the reason public education became important to most Protestant denominations, BTW.) Today, neither of these is the case, and most people can find meaningful explanations of the Bible online, in the comfort of their room of choice.

    So why preach? A good question – if we aren’t asking that very question, we risk becoming anachronisms ourselves. If we see the sermon as a part of a larger goal, the worship of God, then the sermon becomes less the reason people should attend. People should attend to worship, not simply to listen to us preach. To think of my sermon too highly is hubris. As the Buddhist saying goes, “The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.” At my very best, in my very best sermon, I am merely pointing a finger at the Divine.

    • Captain Kevin on December 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Jeff Courter, Amen! You expressed something I’ve been mulling on for a while, that the sermon is part of the whole worship experience. Regarding your seminary experience, I once heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll that was both so convicting and so inspiring that I thought, if I were pastoring right now, I would simply share the video with my congregation, and preface it by saying that I was so touched by this teaching that I want you to experience it too.

  110. Paul S on May 31, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Carey

    Great article but what advice you would give to a young bivocational pastor with a young family and only 4-6 hours to build a sermon?

    You can understand why it can be tempting to lean on other people’s messages for inspiration and direction in this context. Especially when there are those resources available from life.church and others.

    • Michael Bulkley on June 5, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Hey Paul,
      I know I am not Carey but if I were to guess, or at least give you my two cents after 22 years much in your shoes, I would say freely use the resources available but just don’t hide it. Further, I would say that often in my reading other sermons or resources they spark an idea or answer a question about a text I am studying which, while spurred by my reading, is my own thought or my own way of describing the point. The Holy Spirit can work that way. But the problem is when you cut and paste a sermon, or parts of it and present it as your own where it gets muddy. I remember a time I told a guest speaker how impacted I was by a point he made and that I would be preaching it again. He said, the first time give me credit and after that it is yours, but always remember it ultimately came from God. One last thing I would offer is that I use Logos Bible software. It is expensive up front (I have been building my digital library for 14 years) but it helps me cut so much time in studying as it helps me get right to the point and gives me many differing perspectives on a text all in one place. Hopefully your church could purchase it for you if you personally do not have the budget. God bless you in your endeavors my friend!

  111. Stephen Hamilton on May 31, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Hey Carey, this is excellent and very timely. It’s critical for all communicators to be men and women of integrity. Just give credit where it is due. We need to increase our time with God and in preparation to increase our effectiveness.

    • Kel on May 31, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      I often share words of wisdom I’ve learned, whether from my own children, grandchildren, friends, or pastors. I always give credit, but withhold names if it’s a minor. I add my own take on it, share how it impacted my walk with Christ. I would never just peach a whole sermon mimiking another. I wouldn’t feel good at all about that, regardless of how profound the message would be. I need to sleep at night knowing I’m right with the Lord. I think using quotes is fine, but plagiarism is just not okay. When we quote the Bible, we should always reference the chapter and verse. It would frighten me to think that anyone might have enough trust in me to just take it for granted. I’m not worthy, nor am I worthy of another’s words. I always carry bibles to share, so that those who hunger can find truth in those pages.

  112. Danny Legault on May 31, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I do appreciate the thrust of this article and I don’t have any criticisms of the various points. However, there is something very refreshing about Mike Bickle’s (International House of Prayer) approach. He again and again emphasizes that his copy right policy is the right to copy. His passion to get the message out far exceeds any need to get the credit.

  113. Mike McGuire on May 31, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I used to be a High School teacher. We do not expect high school teachers to write their own books every day for lesson plans, however we do expect that they will put their own spin on it, in a good way. years ago while I was in seminary, the pastor I grew up under had written a book. I bought a copy of it. When I was a you, the youth minister taught us to take sermon notes. I kept weekly notes in that church from 1973 until I moved away from home in 1980. From then I kept notes until I became a pastor in 1989 (Now I have my own notes) Anyway, going back to the book. There was a particular illustration that my pastor had used from the pulpit. He was telling a third person story about a little boy who skipped school one day. He elaborated on the story ( I forgot what exactly happened) and the surprise ending of the story was, “And that little boy was me!” That sermon was included in his book.

    Years later while in seminary, I was the youth minister. I saw a copy of that book on my pastor’s desk. (Not the author of the book.) That pastor began to tell that same story in a sermon, and at the end he said, “And that little boy was me!” At that point, I lost all respect for that pastor. As this article said, he could have given credit to the author of the book, but he didn’t. As I began to pay more attention, he was ripping off other pastors virtually every sermon. He would get a newsletter from a church. Copy the outline of the sermon in his own handwriting and then give it to the church secretary to type. Then he would preach it on Sunday as his own. He could have saved a lot of time and effort if he had just taken the newsletter to the pulpit.

  114. David on May 31, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I simply do not agree with this post. We have used a video series of yours to train our people in leadership. I read sermons and listen to sermons frequently. When I quote Sources I do foot note these in my sermon notes. Sometimes I do preach other individuals sermons. …. not verbatim …. I add and subtract and make changes but I definitely use other peoples ideas. I like what Dr. Adrian Rogers said many years ago about this, if the bullet fits your gun, use it. Pastors have many things to accomplish every week and most of us speak 2 to 3 times a week. It is hard to be original every week.

  115. Paul on May 31, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Hi Carey

    This is an awesome article and I agree with it all but as a young bivocational pastor I have a question.

    Many friends of mine who are full time pastors have encouraged me to get inspiration from other messages, saying that I should prayerfully listen and read the manuscripts etc. and then personalize it. When you’re trying to turn a church around, working 40 hours and raising a young family you can understand why this seems appealing. In fact the likes of Craig Groeschel even encourage it

    Do you think that it is acceptable for a bivocational pastor to lean more heavily on other pastors messages given their context?

  116. Derrell Brame on May 31, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Not sure I agree with all the points made. It is true, some of have so many other responsibilities other than preaching. When I listen to other sermons, I am always in sermon mode to gather ideas and the best way to express thoughts. Rick Warren used to say, “There is nothing original. The secret to good preaching is hiding your sources” (or something like that). For me, if there is a good sermon that has touched my life, I want to share that same idea. I will rework the words and outline to make it me, then preach it! I remember sharing Max Lucado’s 100 Happy People series. I called Oak Hills and they gladly shared much of the media with me to use. I gave credit, but used Max’s sermon ideas in the series. I guess, if you are using the sermons word for word, you are just memorizing a script, and that would be plagiarism! But if you take the text, idea, and work through all the thoughts as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead, not sure how that is wrong! Anyway, we all are individuals and have to be honest before the Lord and our church board…thanks for the thought provoking article!

    • David on May 31, 2018 at 11:03 am

      I agree

    • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:25 am

      So when one of my students turns in a pieced-together, unattributed work, I’ll be sure to ask if the Holy Spirit has inspired it before I fail him/her from the course and notify the dean. Too many preachers are deeply out of touch with reality, and this is why we’re losing people in droves.

  117. Cecil Cogswell on May 31, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Well spoken Carey. As I read this thought comes to mind, “where you start you usually finish.” This is my own thought, but I am sure someone else has thought it before (protecting myself here). Having spent over 30 years in ministry and sermon prep I have learned that you MUST spend time reading God’s Word in order to received the message that God wants delivered to His people. My time was before the heavens opened and everyones’ thoughts and writings became available online. I would caution that if a preacher does not start in the Word, he will not finish in the Word. Holy Spirit inspiration comes through the Word not the words of other people. Proclamation/preaching is not about parroting someone else, it is about allowing God to speak through us as His instruments. We should never go online first seeking inspiration! The pit is way too deep and sermons prepared by the most godly men are just man’s words which makes us think we sound sound smarter, not be smarter. Surf away after the sermon is mostly finished seeking a better way to say things, or great applications, but resist the temptation to start online.

  118. Sheila McJilton on May 31, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Having had my own work plagiarized, I am sensitive to this issue. I work very hard on my sermons, and I begin on Monday morning, using a book entitled FOUR PAGES OF THE SERMON by Paul Scott Wilson to guide my (creative) thinking and discernment about which text. (NB: I am an Episcopal priest, so am in a liturgical tradition that gives me four choices of Holy Scripture: OT, Psalm, NT & Gospel). Occasionally I go back to one of MY old sermons and use the bones of that, but almost never go back to that sermon entirely, because the context is different. Yes, I almost always preach from text on an I-Pad, but the I-Pad seemed to free me up in a strange way from text on paper. I would never use someone else’s work without crediting them, and I do use quotes of sources.

  119. Luke on May 31, 2018 at 10:25 am

    is it the same thing when there is a team of pastors and one pastor wrote the sermon series but everyone is responsible for preaching it?

  120. Ian on May 31, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I am challenged by this. I am struggling with the idea of not using someone else’s sermons. What about things like Orange curriculum for student and children’s pastors? If I had to write all the content that I need in a given year between preaching with students, leading events, and preaching on Sunday throughout the year, I would never be able to do of the other ministry work I need to do. I use so many sermons from other pastors and great preachers more like commentaries. I trust that guys like Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Levi Lusko, and yourself are far smarter than I am and have done countless more hours of research than I can do. I always try to give credit and rarely if ever have I used a sermon word for word. However, I have used sections, application points, or breakdowns of a scripture from other pastors. I am unsure where to draw the line… What is right or wrong here? I struggle to see a difference between using orange curriculum and using someone else’s sermon content, so long as you contextualize it for your people and use your own stories or illustrations.

    • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:27 am

      Trusting that others are far smarter is exactly why you need to cite — if you’re not going to aggressively question and check their work before passing it on, well, this is how a lot of bad information goes flying around the world in no time. If you’re going to “trust,” you’d absolutely better cite.

    • Mark Del Papa on May 19, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Good topic. I find it interesting that Christians who have revelation from from a ” power that is able to separate the very divine of our spill..” The marrow from the bone.. are so concerned about copywriter infringement. Maybe the Holy Spirit is ruled that you are so concerned about calling what another author has inspired in you. The author and finisher of our faith. You mention someone using ” your jokes” verbatim . Come on know!” The messages are not as personal as you say they aware. Maybe they are smart by using your messages. Because they aren’t ready to preach from experience. The biggest lie is that five fold ministers are so concerned about copywriter infringement as if notoriety is their big concern. Ha ha. We should name our sources. Teach people to learn from how you delineate personal experience from bible truth. The reason others are not courageous to this is because the teaching they receive reflects narcissism and one upmanship. Just like all the people who took of songs and lyrics in a secular setting. That’s also why expository preaching is the answer to men making stories about their lives, ” one day my wife and I were flying a kite” not enough Pastors and congregations are making disciples. This article is indicative of the selfish ambition pres hers have as if this blog was expressing something spiritual. You say. My team? My? My ? Your team. What? You have a team.that your not on? And why? They search the web giving cease and d’s is notices? Wow! We are on the same team sir. Your words are so packed with a lack of the character that the mind of Christ has.

      Jesus might sue you for preaching Parables. Imitating Christ is the highest form of flattery. Don’t flatter yourself by pretending your Waldo Emerson or some wanna be Rock Star preacher. If someone is using your ideas..( ideas) then they are not God’s public domain. I bet you do not see the most important thing. The most important thing isn’t your spin. metaphors or ” so called” creative influence over something that is suppose to move in the supernatural for. the edification of those who hear. Romans 10:17. This whole vain argument sounds like a passive aggressive attempt to bolster your pension for being the center of the topic. A writer so profound that the people wanting to preach it are not doing God’s will even as they are claiming authorship to words and subject matter that they did not author. But then again.

      If we are going to boast? Boast in the Lord.
      Whatever is good? Maybe you need a time out preacher man. You should have a team that is part by the Spirit enough to realize the cause and effect of doing anything in the flesh. Let me know when your preaching at Dodger Stadium telling jokes. Oops. Maybe Greg Laurie will claim that using jokes is his intellectual property designed to deflect the truth of the two edged sword and put the attention on him as the comedian. I mean, Christian comedians are at a premium. Knock , knock? ..who’s there? Its Jesus. Stop knocking people, ask the right questions of God seek him diligently and then you’ll be at the door that brings him glory by a humility that doesn’t need a team of man pleases to see the obvious. If someone steals your jokes? Give them your sermon. Let God deal with it. For even if an angel.preached another Gospel every curse known in this book would be upon him. Leading isn’t being out front It’s allowing Jesus to mirror from the things that are most important..

      ” go and find out what this means.. “I desire mercy not sacrifice”

      You sound like the schoolmates in finding Forrester.
      There’s always a William that will see someone else’s pen in all of our writings. Hopefully God. His word is written in our heart.. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeded from the Fathers mouth..So; if God isn’t the one getting the credit? Your just trickier than those who may just need a little affirmation. Since he knows the intentions of every heart.. God bless you, keep preaching the word. The gospel to all nations and make disciples out of men. Not a team of crack intellectual property protectors..


      My feet are dirty

      • Lt Zandile on May 21, 2019 at 9:55 pm

        The book of Jeremiah talks a lot about this issue, our messages should come from The Holy Spirit, reference what the Lord did not speak directly to you. GOD HAS A FRESH WORD FOR EVERY AUDIENCE.

  121. Heartspeak on May 31, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I read a blog post like this and sadly shake my head and cry, “Dear God, rescue your people!” Churches are dying. (Note: the Church, is not dying) Stubborn people. Unrepentant hirelings. An unhealthy commitment to 3 songs and a talk as the ‘only’ way to do God’s work. NO focus on actually doing what it takes to make disciples who make disciples under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    It’s time and past time to really look at what are we doing and what are the results. Jesus said that by their fruit you will know them. Most ‘fruit’ of what churches are doing is inedible.

    God does His work in the lives of those who seek Him but that does not mean that what we are doing is right, good or best. It means that God is faithful to those who genuinely seek Him.

    Sorry. Not sorry. Just nauseous…..

  122. David Nuhfer on May 31, 2018 at 9:43 am

    This has always been an issue of great contention, because the question is always “What does it mean that a pastor used someone else’s material without giving them credit?” Too much to share in one post, so I’ll try to make it brief (or as brief as a pastor who has been doing this for almost 30 years can be.) In this world of multiple “sermon help” websites and organizations that offer their sermons for sale for other pastors to use, the idea of plagiarism has become increasingly muddied. I remember reading one famous pastor saying that buying a sermon series from his organization is a help because “why should you have to do all the research yourself that we have already done and made available to you to use?” I have purchased many message series and sermon books and I have used them in my ministry. I have gone through the essence of them, made changes, added personal illustration, selected different scriptures at some points and even changed some of the main points. I have found them helpful in preaching and saw them help change lives for the better. I have never claimed that they were my personal creation, nor have I ever tried to sell them. At times, I have said that the message was inspired by thoughts of a specific preacher, but you simply cannot spend sermon time giving credit to every person from whom you get a thought. Sometimes, I wonder, “Where did THEY get that idea?” I have used illustrations from other pastors experiences, starting with, “(NAME OF PASTOR) tells a story about . . .” The truth is, many pastors of larger churches have staff & researchers helping them find and put together their messages. Most of us don’t have that luxury. In addition to sermon prep, we are busy visiting the sick, the new guest & the family in crisis, meeting with boards, trying to be visible in the community, changing light bulbs, mowing the church lawn, etc. I think a lot that might be called plagiarism is not plagiarism. Perhaps we had better give less credit to the people writing the words on paper and more credit to the Spirit that does the inspiring. We also need to be careful who we accuse of plagiarism. A statement I once heard is true when it comes to preaching – Anything any of us preach is not original. It has all be preached before in some way and we all get our content from somewhere that is not original to us, whether it is from the Holy Spirit or someone else. With the exception of someone intentionally taking someone else’s message and passing it off as his/her own, “plagiarism” is in the eye of the beholder. I hope this is helpful.

    • S. Evansi on August 3, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      If people speak of plagiarism on the Gospel then they have to read the four gospels and comment about plagiarism. For those writers copied each other for the word to reach all. When you hear someone preaching you idea, you must give Glory for the confirmation, whether copied or stolen the important fact is let it reach someone and get saved.
      Those who are commenting against messages pirating are those who are enriching themselves with the word of God. Let the good news be pirated and multiplied till it reach to the end of the world….

  123. Andrew Minard on May 31, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Great point about being real and how people resonate with that.

  124. Lois Holliday on May 31, 2018 at 9:33 am

    David Jeremiah (YEARS ago) did a sermon that involved Marines, San Diego, Hell Week. A very good message that I listened to on the way to work and the way home from work. Same day – BBN had him on 2x a day. Next Wednesday night, pastor’s son did the message and it was Jeremiah’s message, word for word. While everyone around me was spellbound, I couldn’t help having an attitude that bordered on contempt. Sorry. Not right. Not good. But that’s just how I reacted to his blatant, misleading behavior.

  125. Kelly on May 31, 2018 at 9:26 am

    I get what Carey is saying completely, but if I hear an idea that I didn’t personally think of, I’ll take it and run with it because I agree, I don’t think we are as original thinkers as we’d like to think we are. I may also hear a message and that message gives me a different idea to take it in a different direction. I personally believe that just as God can speak to you through someone else’s teaching – God can use that speaker to speak to you to deliver ideas from that message to people that would never have heard it otherwise.
    I don’t steal messages word for word, and I do give credit when I use someone’s idea, but I am not as creative as I would like to be when it comes to preparing a message or series and I think there are a lot of others like me that feel the same way, although it may not get said on this platform. Those are just my thoughts.

    • David on May 31, 2018 at 9:38 am

      I agree with you. I think there is a difference between inspiration and laziness. I too have been inspired by other messages but would use that to write my own sermon and not use someone else’s. If God wants a message out I believe this is one of His many ways of doing that.

  126. Jonathan Lowery on May 31, 2018 at 9:25 am

    This article reminds me of how I really need to lift my Pastor in prayer and ask God’s power to be on his life. As worship leader, I don’t have to prepare a sermon every week so I can’t imagine the weight of such a huge task. My prayer is that I will always share out of a heart that’s been with God when I lead worship. I read more and more as I get older to learn from those smarter than myself. God uses those things to refine me and I share that as I lead worship. I also often share books and authors with my team so that they can be impacted in the same way by great books, DVD’s and online teaching. Thanks for sharing and stirring my heart to pray more for my Pastor as he prepares each week.

  127. Daryl J DeKlerk on May 31, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Well said to lean into the Holy Spirit each week! Love the line, “The real power in preaching comes not from our words, but from what God does with our words.” Praise God!

  128. John Spohn on May 31, 2018 at 9:24 am

    In every sermon I have placed a personal family illustration. I have visited some congregations where my family illustration was used as though it were the speaker’s personal life. It would have been so much easier to say “I heard ” or “I read.”

  129. Rachelle M on May 31, 2018 at 9:23 am

    This recently happened at my church, where our new pastor plagiarized his whole first sermon series, and continues to use free sermons presenting them as his own.

    Pastors should be led by the Spirit about what to preach and to do so with integrity.

    I have been wrestling with whether or not we should stay at our church. The board looked into the issue, but it has since been dropped. I am afraid I am not growing. I love our church, and don’t want to leave.

    Any advice?

    • George on June 1, 2018 at 6:08 am

      stick with the church for the time being and then see how you feel. The church is not just the pastor, it is the people and you will have established relationships there which you need to consider.

      • Rachelle on June 26, 2018 at 11:54 am

        The people at my church and the relationships I have are the only thing keeping me there. I don’t want to leave.

        Any advice on how to address the church or pastor with this issue?

        He has lost all credibility and respect from me.

    • Janet Woodlock on June 4, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Pass this article on to the Board? And express your deep concerns?

      The church leadership should deal with integrity issues, and this is an integrity issue.

      • Rachelle on July 19, 2018 at 10:43 am

        This is the action I have decided to take. Thank you, Janet!

  130. Charles F Norris on May 31, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Excellent points, Carey! I appreciate your valuable insight. Please keep up the good work! Charles

  131. David on May 31, 2018 at 9:19 am

    This is a good article. I use quotes a lot whether I am preaching to the congregation or teaching the youth. Sometimes someone can say my thoughts better than I can so I use it… and give them credit. The best part of sermon writing is having so much that it needs to be pruned so that all is left is the good stuff. 🙂 As a pastors, speakers, teachers, and leaders we must check our ego at the door. We follow (Heb 13:7), serve (Matt 20:25-28), live above reproach (1 Tim 3:1-3), and live like Jesus (John 13:13-15) in all that we do.

    Let’s continue to build each other up, inspire each other, and through the power of the Holy Spirit help build the Kingdom of God.

  132. Eric on May 31, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I’ve purchase sermon series in the past and given credit where credit is due. I have consistently found that it feels un-natural to preach someone else’s words and ideas. It just doesn’t flow, and it doesn’t connect as well as when I preach messages I have written.

  133. Mike on May 31, 2018 at 7:57 am

    1. Eliminates silliness of “how to have you best life now”.
    2. Causes pastors like Carey to stop eisegeting texts
    3. Eliminates a sense of self righteousness.
    4. Deals directly with sin, repentance, forgiveness from God himself.
    5. Helps pastors like Carey stop delivering sermons without the text even open and giving his almighty interpretation of life. This saves no one. This points no one to Christ but rather to Carey as he would have it that way.

    • Jeremy Mahood on May 31, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hey Mike, you may disagree with Carey and at time I do as well. However, I’m not sure the attitude of the way in which you expressed yourself is healthy! How about you post the number of salvations and baptisms and those serving in ministry and compare them to what’s happening where Carey preaches. I’m not talking about attendance or crowds…just salvations, baptism and serving. And then you can be as critical as you would like.

      • AD Hatfield on December 25, 2018 at 3:49 am

        Agree his comment isn’t very nice, but neither is your reply, even though it’s dripping with false kindness, which is worse than the open scorn. And you are assuming that only people who are paid to stand in front of audiences are helping bring people to salvation. You assumed the author had not met any of your criteria, and you have no idea. If he had listed “his” work– really? How disgusting to imagine someone’s doing that. Even if he had not, only a deeply insecure person plays that card. A truly seeking minister, leader or mature person is willing to hear really hard things (maybe not enjoy them!). God often uses the least likely to bring up sharp truths to his people. This is why people are leaving. They can’t speak truths without being sugar-shamed by ministers.

    • Scotty Jarrard on May 31, 2018 at 7:20 pm

      Hey Mike,
      Exegesis Matthew 18:15-20 and tell us how you could of handled this differently.

      Love you brother, I really do.

      • DJ Dangerfield on December 3, 2018 at 10:09 am

        I can see using someone talking points but preaching someone’s sermon verbatim is really difficult I can’t even do my own sermons again verbatim!

        • Randy Gingrich on March 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm

          “Nothing under the sun” does not mean our fingerprints are the same. Every person is original in style and character. This resonates with the listener as these give life to the content. Matthew 7:28-29 says “…the people were astonished at His doctrine; for He taught them as one having authority…” What sticks with people is the character of the individual, the style in which he delivers the Word. It was the electrifying power of the Holy Spirit upon Billy Graham that made his message effective. What he said was not really extraordinary. D. L. Moody’s sermons were quite simple. Yet they had a profound impact. The best way for a pastor to prepare and deliver a sermon is to walk in purity. Bruce Wilkinson said “What you privately think has a powerful impact.” Soon after I was saved as a teenager I went to a Bible study. A lot was said that night, but it was the unusual peace of God that was on the 17 year old leader that stayed with me and influenced my life far more than anything else.
          In general the church is missing God because we think sermons have to be 40 minutes or whatever with all this stuff in it. Congregations are being babied and coaxed into the truth with extended appeals, which is becoming counterproductive. How long does it take to read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2? (3 minutes) What about the sermon on the mount? (15 minutes) Pastors should have New Testament body ministry during services as their goal (1 Corinthians 12-14). It’s their calling to equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:12).
          Bible Schools have taught wrong concepts concerning 1st century Christianity. The origin of the problem or debate of using someone else’s sermon to preach yours is not really with pastors; but with the colleges and Position Papers of religious organizations that control the curriculum. That’s where we need to direct our attention! They don’t believe that New Testament Christianity is our example to follow. My book proves this, it’s shocking, but liberating when people see it. Pastors are doing what they are taught to do. The anointing to preach is in the Word and the Holy Spirit who inspired it. This produces revelation for content. But much of this power never reaches the heart of many pastors because of bad teaching that they received in college! This is the NUMBER 1 reason why they don’t go to the Bible to find a sermon, but rely on others who really are not teaching the Word anyway. They are mostly skipping around quoting selective verses, but avoid teaching doctrine. Why would you want to preach somebody else’s sermon? Go to the best source of originality and pure truth, the Bible, and pray for the creation of a powerful message. It’s fascinating! Do they ever give their church any good systematic teaching on doctrines such as faith for answered prayer, and the spoken word of faith taught by Jesus? Is there any teaching on chastisement? It’s in the Bible 30 times. Many can pastor for years, yet the word “chastisement” is never heard. It’s very rare to see any pastor open up God’s Word and just teach as is, on any doctrine or topic. Another example would be on marriage out of Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3. And just go through it, verse by verse, not skipping anything. Quote everything it says to both genders like it means what it says and says what it means without apology or watering it down by making any comment about culture. When finished we will all see the chemistry of Christian marriage. The Bible contains its own checks and balances. We don’t need to play the hero. We are not smarter than God. Just preach the full counsel of God. Do they ever refer to the church as the saints? The New Testament calls us saints dozens of times, yet a pastor will spend 20 years in the ministry without saying it once! This is not right. I could go on and on here, but just one more. Nine times the book of Acts gives us the example of immediate water baptism after salvation! Yet most pastors have chartered their own course, leaning to their own understanding, and making excuses. There is little respect for the book of Acts. So why should they go to the Bible to get their sermons when they already are fabricating their own way. Ministers are not free to teach the Bible as is, and to follow its example, because their leaders have taught them agendas which are replacing the commandments of God. So their conscience views much scripture loosing relevance and authority in their life. This in turn caused the entire Bible to be weakened as their final authority. They deny this across the board weakening, but it is unavoidable in their sub-conscience, and is clearly demonstrated by want they won’t preach. They have opened the door.
          Probably the second reason why we have this discussion is that many pastors are not obeying the commandments to be a man of prayer and the Word, to preach sound doctrine. Search the Epistles, and you will see this is his chief calling, not to be busy with administration. Look at the priorities of the apostles in Acts 6:4.
          Topics and ideas in their basic form are typically not original. But ideas and methods can be new. Mankind’s need for transportation is nothing new, but the automobile is new under the sun. Two thousand years ago the church was new; and so it is with Holy Spirit revelation within each of us as we speak in new environments. Speaking to a different group of people in another setting and time requires fresh thought.
          A message from God will be original. All truth originated from Him. Therefore God wants us to seek to be original as He is. Go to the best source of originality, the Word of God. No two prophecies have the same wording and thrust. Thousands of sermons by their own nature and purpose have varying degrees of originality with the speaker and that’s perfectly fine. Somethings are simply academic, but we need to be reminded. Truth contains its original life every time it is repeated. Truth has energy within it. But the speaker’s heart must be connected to it. It will work with a donkey, but it is much better if a human speaks it, and it has far more potential when the person is connected. Using material from another person’s sermon to preach your sermon to a certain extent can also be born in prayer, inspired by God. And the Lord wants us to preach it in ever increasing power by the Holy Spirit which will create new thought. It’s up to each preacher to decide. What is his conscience saying to him, and is it aligned with God’s best way of using him. We all learn from others, and most of us at times use their material, but we should be unique in sermon. It’s God’s purpose for creating us as individuals.

          • Dale Donaldson on July 1, 2020 at 9:05 am

            We all learn from others, and most of us at times use their material, but we should be unique in sermon. My brother you are really smart and a great sermon writer. We who write are always unique if the Holy Spirit is operating in us. Remember the true context of every sermon of a believer is a copy of the word of God, even the sermon we call ours is not ours. Being unique comes from first finding a foundation a model a mentor and then developing through process to sound a little different then our mentor. My sermon are a copy of what I see, hear, touch, smell and even taste. They come from my life experience and anyone else I come in contact with. whose names I don’t even know. Let me shut up cause you messages although there is not a lot of scriptural text involved. I take peaces and quote you and add text.

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