C.J. Mahaney – Doing the Hard Work of Sermon Preparation?

By | October 7, 2015

2015-10-06 Mahaney crying while reading Job 1


“For a long time I have been convinced that I could take a person with a high school education, give him or her a six-month trade school training, and provide a pastor who would be satisfactory to any discriminating American congregation. The curriculum would consist of four courses.

Course I: Creative Plagiarism. I would put you in touch with a wide range of excellent and inspirational talks, show you how to alter them just enough to obscure their origins, and get you a reputation for wit and wisdom.

Course II: Voice Control for Prayer and Counseling. We would develop your own distinct style of Holy Joe intonation, acquiring the skill in resonance and modulation that conveys an unmistakable aura of sanctity

Course III: Efficient Office Management. There is nothing that parishioners admire more in their pastors than the capacity to run a tight ship administratively. If we return all telephone calls within twenty-four hours, answer all letters within a week, distributing enough carbons to key people so that they know we are on top of things, and have just the right amount of clutter on our desks – not too much or we appear inefficient, not too little or we appear underemployed – we quickly get the reputation for efficiency that is far more important than anything that we actually do.

Course IV: Image Projection. Here we would master the half-dozen well-known and easily implemented devices that create the impression that we are terrifically busy and widely sought after for counsel by influential people in the community. A one-week refresher course each year would introduce new phrases that would convince our parishioners that we are bold innovators on the cutting edge of the megatrends and at the same time solidly rooted in all the traditional values of our sainted ancestors.”

Eugene H. Peterson. Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Kindle Locations 72-81). Kindle Edition.


It is fairly obvious C.J. Mahaney lives for the spotlight – he thrives on the adulation of the large crowds at conferences.  For the past three years, he has been relegated to the unglamorous life of a pastor of a small church meeting in a hotel.  He has been attempting to get back on the conference circuit, but it has not been an easy task.  Working against him is the fact that most decent Christians don’t really care to pay good money to be lectured to by a man who has blackmailed the co-founder of his denomination and conspired to cover-up the sexual abuse of children.  However, with the aid of Christian celebrity friends such as Al Mohler and Mark Dever, and the short memory of the general public,  it appears Mahaney will be “back in the saddle again” as he is scheduled to appear at the Together For The Gospel conference in April of 2016.

Listen below to Mahaney describe how hard your pastor works for you.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons he wants to get back on the conference circuit.  Preaching at a small church in relative obscurity is tough work!

“He labors for you.. it will be hard work…it’s (sermon preparation) hours and hours, and hours and hours and hours every week in order to prepare a sermon and then in order to communicate that sermon, the same people every week…. no wonder God’s word says  that we are to most deeply respect and most highly esteem those who labor among us.”  -C.J. Mahaney

Well, at least Mahaney has four other pastors to help him shoulder the load of his small run-away church plant; and if that isn’t enough he frequently enlists the help of famous guest speakers.  I guess those “hours and hours, and hours and hours and hours” of weekly sermon preparation can really wear on a guy!

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So let’s listen to the results of all those hours of sermon preparation in a recent sermon delivered by C.J. Mahaney. The man pours his soul into preaching, after all, as Mahaney frequently reminds us, it is the most important hour of the week and we will be hearing the very words of God. We will pick it up right after Mahaney finishes reading the Scripture. Already the guy has been choking up with emotional tears; he is still sniffling a bit, so just in case you have trouble hearing him I have included the words, taken straight from a book titled “Job” by Francis I. Andersen! Yep, that’s right – straight from the text – hard work – hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work!

2015-10-06 Mahaney quotes from Andersens book 1

2015-10-06 Mahaney quotes from Andersen book2

Editors note:  I had a commenter question whether I thought Mahaney was plagiarizing Andersen’s work.  I believe all of Mahaney’s sermon above was a form of “creative plagiarism” mentioned by Eugene H. Peterson above.  Mahaney never once mentioned it was someone else’s work.  Then when he finishes the above section he lets us know the material below is from Andersen.  I have no problem with the way Mahaney handled the material below.

Screenshot 2015-10-07 19.58.41

Screenshot 2015-10-07 20.05.22

Screenshot 2015-10-07 20.05.44


For further information:

Check out my post titled “C.J. Mahaney Once Again Displays Minimal Effort.”  I detail how Mahaney utilizes the same sermon repeatedly.

I believe we have a right to expect pastors to conform to the highest ethical standards. They should be above reproach.  There was a time when the majority of pastors were.  Today, sadly, many are not.  Unfortunately the “celebrity leaders” are among the worst offenders.  Check out my post on Docent – a company that writes sermons for pastors.  Notice all the celebrities endorsing it!

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