Dluxe's World

Friday, March 17

Tricks of the trade

/rant on

Isaac Newton was a smart guy... And yet, one of his famous quotes goes like this: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Words to live by, for me. As I've stated before, I try to look thoughtful and quote smart people. That prevents my own ignorance from coming out too often...

Ok, maybe it helps 1 in 5 times. My ignorance, sadly, is quite potent.

When I am asked to teach, I'll make no bones about it... I'm standing on some serious shoulders (though I doubt I see very far). I spend a day or two reading and outlining the passage/lesson then, once I have a start, I run through the following:
Then I spend the rest of my prep time mulling over all this input and trying to synthesize it into something that is 'mine' to one degree or another.

So, this sharing of information is good. After all, it's all supposed to be about furthering the gospel of Christ, right? If someone's out there forging messages that are completely off the map other intelligent people used, odds are good that they've strayed into half-truths and heresy. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever... As a result, I'd be willing to wager that every good doctrine has been formed and expounded. Likewise, every false doctrine has been formed and expounded.

It remains for us to search the scriptures, discern truth from error, and communicate it to a hungry world. And so I'm grateful to gifted teachers today who make their thought available to us. Since I exchanged emails with them today, take John Piper's Desiring God Ministries for example. The sheer amount and quality of free resources they offer is amazing. And I'm quite confident that Dr. Piper expects, would even encourage, that these materials would be launching pads for others in their ministry.

This begs the question... Why do I have an issue with this article by Rick Warren? In it, Pastor Warren says:
When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors’ sermons fed my own soul – and eased my preparation. In fact, I still use other pastors’ sermons in my preparation time. If you’ve ever heard me talk about sermon preparation at all, you know I have a “bucket file,” where I toss illustrations, articles, and books on topics I plan to preach on. Among those other items I put in this file are sermons preached by other pastors. They give me ideas. They help me see Scripture in entirely new ways sometimes. I believe these sermons are like the commentaries of the 21st century.

Cool... I was just saying the same thing!
I hope my sermons will do the same for you. That’s why I make them available to you on Pastors.com. Whether you use the outlines and transcripts for sermon ideas or listen to the preaching to fine-tune your delivery, I’ll be thrilled if your ministry becomes more effective because of them. And if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it!

Rick Warren is agreeing with me! Of course, each sermon transcript is $4. You want the companion audio file? That'll be $4. And you'll be lost without the corresponding PowerPoint slides (available for a nominal charge of $4).

Now, every good MBA student out there is cheering! "That's right! Don't you dare give up your IP without compensation!" Well, hooray for capitalism. Funny that Warren open the article by telling us a touching story re: a African pastor who walks an hour to download Warren's sermons for use at his church:
My heart of love went out to that guy. I will give the rest of my life for guys like that. Soldiers of the cross who are serving God with so little when God has given me so much. I will serve those people, and I will lay down my identity, my influence, and my income to help guys like that.

For $4 per copy, of course. Strikes me as a little duplicitous...

But that's not even the worst of it. The worst comes from this article by Steve Sjogren. He says:
At a seminar, Dr. Cho, pastor of the world's largest church in Korea, was asked during a question and answer time, "How do you put your weekly messages together? They are so powerful!" He said, "Honestly, I have never given an original message in all my years of ministry here at Yoido Church. Each week, I preach word-for-word messages from either Billy Graham or W.A. Criswell from Dallas First Baptist Church. I can't afford to not have a home run each weekend when we gather. I don't trust my own ability to give completely original messages." Wow!

There's an element of this that makes me very sad. I don't know Dr. Cho, so I apologize if I'm off-base here. Why is a home run is so critically important? Is it because people might not come back? If that's the case, the problem is not with the sermon - it's in the heart of the congregants. They're there for the show and pagentry... They're there to watch Barry Bonds hit home runs on the juice. I would even go so far as to say they've been trained to have that kind of attitude, which is a terrible thing to say. All this is to say nothing of the prideful motives of 'numbers' that would appear to be driving the leadership.

Another side of the issue is that I wonder how many pastors follow this advice but can't back it up... How many people pound the pulpit on Sunday, delivering firey messages straight from the mouth of someone else, and yet can't feed their flock through the week because they themselves aren't spending time in the Word? Since regurgitating someone else's thoughts is the road to success, why spend time letting the Word of God penetrate my mind and start changing me from the inside out? It's kinda like having a nutrition expert with an eating disorder...

/rant off
//and no, I found these articles on another blog. Standing short on the shoulders of giants, again.



  • heavydluxe...I'd rather preach a sermon full of stutters that's borne out of the Word ministering to me than someone else's sermon that is technically and stylistically excellent. I preach to feed myself and my flock. I don't preach to hit "homeruns". I don't think I've ever hit one of those...but I hope the sheep know that this under-shepherd loves them and wants God's best for them.

    I think (I hope this isn't justifying mediocrity!) a mediocre preacher who faithfully loves his congregation and loves God's Word and brings it to feed with the best skill he has will be blessed of God in it.

    By Blogger coramdeo, at 11:16 AM, March 20, 2006  

  • Couldn't have said it better myself... nice blog.

    By Blogger AJN, at 5:43 PM, March 23, 2006  

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