Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Night Special – Just Buy It

I recently saw an ad in a Bible college’s magazine for a website where you can have access to a “huge library of series ideas, message outlines, cross references, illustrations, and life applications that you can download, develop, and deliver this Sunday.”

It concludes that you can “Put more time into developing your message.”

For just “a dollar fitty” (as we say in da Rouge), you can download an editable sermon outline.

[Note of Irony: This is the  same type of place that I think would have issues with modern versions at least in part of because of copyrighting, you know the old “They just publish new Bibles to make money off of God’s people.” I suppose it’s okay to make money off of God’s people so long as you are own peddling your own words and not God’s, though I am not entirely sure which they hold in higher esteem.]

Here’s two questions I have:
  1. If you download all this stuff that’s already developed, why will you need “more time” to put into “developing your message”?
  2. Isn’t a Bible college supposed to train pastors to develop the message rather than provide them with a website where they can download it?
Why develop sermon ideas and series ideas because you are out in the community getting to know people and finding out what’s going on in their lives and where the Bible addresses it?

Why go get your messages from studying the Bible when you can dial up a website and spring for a buck and a half to get someone else to do the work for you? Of course, it is “editable,” which means you can call it your own, I guess.

Why go get illustrations and applications from spending time with people and talking to people in your community when you can get cool stories from someone else’s life (that may or may not be true)?

Now, let’s be clear: We all lean on others for the study of the Word and the teaching of the Word It would be foolish to suggest otherwise … almost as foolish as refusing to lean on others. I do pick up series ideas, topics, and illustrations from a wide variety of places (all for free because, of course, I’m cheap). I do, from time to time, use published material for certain classes and forums in the church.

But I struggle to accept that it’s okay to download sermon outlines and preach them, even if you edit them.
In my preparation, I usually (and intentionally) refuse to look at how other pastors have handled a particular passage because I do not want to copy them. I do not listen to someone else preach the text.

I know, I know. One can make the argument that reading commentaries is not that far away. Actually though, I think it is (if you are using the right kind of commentaries). Most commentaries are filled with stuff that does not fit well into a message. They do not contain cute outlines, and gripping illustrations. In fact, they are rather boring (which may explain why some very accurate preaching is “rather boring”). I don’t use many homiletical commentaries until the very end because I feel like I need to make it mine before it becomes someone else’s.

My conviction is that when a man stands up to preach, his message should be the result of his Bible study, not his internet connection.

In an unrelated note, the Big Guy’s mug shot is right on the page where you download the sermons.  I don’t know … It just smacks of something strange.

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