Confession: I used to download & re-preach sermons written by other people.
I’ve bought them from Northpoint. I’ve downloaded free sermons from open.church or church of the highlands, I’ve stolen from celebrity preachers, and I’ve even borrowed my Dad’s sermon notes.
Early on as a church planter, I was taught to do this by other preachers. They’d say “you’re busy and have no time to sermon prep, so just preach from the free resource sites…” The general idea was that preaching sermons you didn’t write gives you more time to love people, plan events, and do other time consuming church work.
But I didn’t need all these “reasons” because I had my own unspoken reasons.
What were my reasons?
Sometimes I was just lazy. But most of the time it was insecurity. I didn’t believe i was good enough…
I wanted to preach A level sermons, and I thought those only came from A level preachers. I didn’t believe my sermons would be as “impressive.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve transitioned away from preaching someone else’s “A level” sermons and started preaching my own “C level” sermons. One thing I’ve learned is that God CAN use my Cs if I trust Him.
Kicking the bad habit of preaching other peoples sermons wasn’t easy, but was worth it. And i learned A LOT along the way. There are a ton of different opinions about preaching… Verse by verse, expository, topical, etc
But no matter your convictions, these two things are paramount:
Know the word
Know your audience
The danger of downloading & preaching other peoples sermons?
You’re preaching a sermon written for an audience that is not even in the room.
You’re preaching a subject that you have not fully lived or digested. (You’re only regurgitating.)
The goal of preaching is not to learn something new in order to preach.
It’s the opposite. Identify stuff you’ve already studied, learned & grown through, and unpack THAT for your audience.
If you are trying to unlearn the bad, sometimes sinful habit of plagiarism. Or if you just want to get started learning to preach something authentic and true to what God is doing IN YOU…
Then start honestly identifying the things God is teaching YOU, even if it’s not trendy or popular, and start teaching that.