Curtis C. Thomas, in speaking of the work it takes to prepare a sermon in “Practical Wisdom for Pastors” (Crossway: 2001), writes:
“One pastor described it accurately in this way. When asked by his deacons what he did with his time, he explained that for one thing, he prepared three sermons each week that could be compared to having to prepare three college term papers every week.” (p. 114)
Well, apparently we have a lot of preachers these days who just don’t have the time it takes to prepare a sermon. You can find sermon outlines on-line and apparently these outlines are well used. I have also read numerous stories of preachers plagiarizing another’s work.
Listen to Wayne Grudem beginning at the 1:20 mark of his sermon at C.J. Mahaney’s church. He makes what I consider to be a rather shocking confession. He has 8-10 sermons that he uses over and over again, and has been doing so for years! He preached this same sermon 9 years ago to Sovereign Grace leaders!
C.J. Mahaney must have figured if it works for Wayne Grudem it should work for him too. Check out these two sermons. Based on the nearly word for word recital I believe we can safely assume Mahaney has delivered this message many times.
You can skip the first 8:40 of this video as it is a not so subtle attempt to pump up the “world class communicators” couched in the humble language of a simple man urging them to appreciate their own preachers more than the conference speakers. One of the interesting points Mahaney makes is the hours and hours of time the local pastor puts into the preparation of each sermon.
Umm, OK, but maybe not if you just pull it from your file of sermons you have preached numerous times before!
Mack Stiles is an elder at Redeemer Church of Dubai. He has written several books on evangelism and has an effective ministry among college students in Dubai. He is not a full-time preacher but seems to be a rising star among the 9Marks, Gospel Coalition crowd, having been a featured speaker at several of their conferences, with more engagements in the near future. I was a bit shocked when, after listening to two of his sermons, I found that they were nearly verbatim copies. I did some more investigating and found he has recently preached five times from the same text! You can listen to three of them below and you will find out they are delivered nearly verbatim in a highly polished manner that can only be the result of numerous repetitions.
Mack Stiles – “Ambassadors For Christ,” Sovereign Grace of Louisville, 3 February 2013. No recording is available. Below is a copy of the church bulletin.
Mack Stiles – “Ambassadors For Christ,” Redeemer Church of Dubai, 22 March 2013
Mack Stiles “The Ministry of Reconciliation” (same message, different title) The Gospel Coalition Missions Conference 7 April 2013
Mack Stiles – “Ambassadors For Christ,” United Christian Church of Dubai, 2 June 2013
Mack Stiles – “Ambassadors For Christ,” The Church of the Good Shepherd, Durham, NC, 28 July 2013. No recording is available but very reliable sources told me Mack Stiles preached his usual sermon from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Here is the sermon page from the churches web page, notice the date Mack Stiles spoke is missing.
In my opinion this highlights the problem, rampant in Christianity, of elevating men to “super star” status in the para-church conference world. I just don’t think it is biblical.