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Looking for someone willing to play the part of the preacher

October 2, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

A recent unique posting on churchstaffing.com (since deleted) was making the rounds in articles on Christian websites this past week. Apparently, a newer church in Colorado was looking for a pastor willing to memorize the sermons of certain megachurch pastors and preach them to their congregation every Sunday. The reasoning went like this: if worship teams learn and play Chris Tomlin or David Crowder songs for worship, adding in their own personal contributions, why not do the same with preaching? Why settle for listening to Joe Pastor when you can listen to Joe Pastor preaching a Steven Furtick or Andy Stanley sermon?

It sounds outlandish, almost like an urban legend or April Fool’s joke, but from all accounts it was a real posting. Then again, it also sounds like the natural outworking of our on-demand culture. After all, we already have access to just about every preacher online, so why not combine your favorite preacher’s sermon with the immediacy of a flesh-and-blood congregation?

Now, I know that I borrow from preachers and authors who are wiser and more talented than me. I don’t simply preach my own thoughts; rather, I read Bible commentaries, online articles or blog posts, listen to sermons, add my own thoughts and outline, and synthesize it into what you hear on a Sunday. I am heavily influenced by Christian thinkers like Tim Keller and C.S. Lewis, among many others. But I still have an issue with asking a preacher to preach someone else’s sermon.

First of all, a sermon is not simply a speech. It is meant to be a message from God for a particular church. To preach someone else’s sermon is to miss a large part of the point. That megachurch preacher you are trying to copy was delivering that sermon to a particular people in a particular place. And the people and setting are different for each church. When I am preparing a sermon, I am reading and studying a particular passage of Scripture with my church family in mind. What do they need to hear from this passage? How should the truths of this passage impact Nancy Allbee, or Duane Mackey, or Karen Lane?

Secondly, our trust as ministers of the gospel is not in the words we speak, but in the Spirit of God. Perhaps if I preached someone else’s sermon, I might be funnier, or more eloquent, or have more moving illustrations. But in the end, those are not the things that save, that convict people of their sins, or that bring spiritual transformation. That work can only be done by the Holy Spirit of God. I believe that copying another’s sermon is in many ways declaring that our hope is in the message and not in the one who can infuse even an average sermon with supernatural power.

I suppose it will be an interesting experiment if the Colorado church actually goes through with its plan. I’m just not sure that the Holy Spirit will be in attendance.

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