Preacher integrity
Have you inadvertently "copied" someone else's sermon? (Lightstock)

Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing his reflections and practical insights as a ministry leader on Greenelines, a new podcast. Listen at

Teresa Fry Brown makes a startling statement in her presentation of Charles Adams’ nine suggestions to preachers in her book Weary Throats and New Songs. She says, “One lacks homiletical integrity, authority, creativity, character, calm and spirituality if one’s entire preaching life is stolen.”

Brown notes that one should at least credit a source if one uses another’s introduction, alliteration or other device.

Stealing sermons has some problematic aspects. But one that we don’t often discuss is how stealing sermons hurts the thief, because he or she slowly loses the God-given spark of creativity that is used to put together strong sermons.

When you steal a sermon, it becomes a greater temptation to steal another one, and then as the difficult work of putting together a sermon interacts with the reality that stealing is a lot easier, we become less able to actually create that sermon.

In addition, there is a great possibility that we could lose credibility with people. I remember hearing a particularly strong sermon from a well-regarded preacher. Later in my seminary study, I was reading a book of sermons and found that sermon that the other preached gave word for word. This brought into question all of the sermons that he had preached. I began to wonder: Had he stolen many other of his sermons? Don’t let that happen to you.

I heard another preacher beginning to whoop, and he simply stole the catch phrases and whooping devices from two or three preachers and mashed them together. What saved the preacher was that the devices came from preachers from a different theological tradition, and thus many in the congregation had not heard them before.

Imagine the surprise of your Baptist visitor when she is not impressed by your Pentecostal preacher’s whoop because she heard it before by a different preacher at her own church.

Such preaching may get you an “Amen,” but it seriously calls into question your own integrity as a preacher. God has called you to preach to this people at this time.

If God wanted that other preacher that you are copying to preach, then God would have placed that preacher where you stand. Preaching is hard work, but the benefits are enormous; don’t shortcut the process for a few ill-gotten accolades.  

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds an M.Div with an emphasis in homiletics and an M.S. in computer science. Visit Sherman at

For the original article, visit

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Peace is indeed attainable in this selfish world. Just look for it in the right place.

    Finding Peace in a Fallen and Selfish World

    You can have peace in this world. Just stop looking in the wrong places.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Church members argue

    12 Reasons Church Staff Conflict May Arise

    This is not unique, but among these there are some that seem more pervasive than others.

  • Prestonwood Church in Dallas

    What Leaders Can Learn From Prestonwood's Jack Graham

    Leaders don't have to know everything, but they need to give their staff what Graham gives his.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders