Should We Borrow from Other Preachers?

Image courtesy of the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archive

The following is a guest post by Steve Rogers, the son of beloved Baptist pastor Adrian Rogers.

Assuming that—as part of your job description—you are expected to preach in a church setting on a regular basis, here is your reality: Every Sunday, in your audience, there will be sin that needs to be confronted, sinners who need to be convicted, doubters who need to challenged, mourners who need to be comforted, and saints who need to be encouraged, exhorted, and equipped.

What’s more, many will sit there with their arms crossed, silently channeling their inner Pat Benetar: “Hit me your best shot, preacher; fire away.” Even your long-time believers will sit in the pew with an unspoken attitude that says, “I want to be mentally stimulated, entertained, and made to feel good. Make me laugh; make me cry. I don’t want you to talk over my head, but yet, I want to feel like I haven’t been talked down to. I don’t have time to cut and chew my spiritual food, so I want you to do it for me.”

A tall order indeed! What’s more, you are now constantly compared with whoever the Internet “preacher du jour” is.

Can we “borrow” from other preachers? 

With all of the above as context, here is a question: Should you always come up with every bit of your sermon on your own? Is there an expectation by your congregation (and by God) that you labor and sweat over every point in your outline, that your exegetical insights are all totally original, and that your illustrations are poignant, funny, and not from a sermon that you heard David Jeremiah preach last week? Bottom line: Is it OK to borrow here and there from other preachers?

Without answering the question (yet), let’s consider this reality: Many feel there is a stigma—real or imagined—that goes with a pastor preaching a sermon that isn’t entirely home-cooked. And what’s more, we all know of some of our fellow compatriots who consistently preach “fill in the blank” sermon downloads from sermons-r-us.com, and give little, if any, serious time to either exegesis (finding and bringing to the surface a glorious nugget of biblical truth) or homiletics (delivering that nugget of truth to the listener in an engaging, relevant, and meaningful manner).

And let’s face it. There is a certain amount of pressure on the preacher that is not on the singer. For every Steven Curtis Chapman (who usually writes most of the songs he sings), there are a lot more Steve Greens, Sandy Pattys, Amy Grants, etc. who don’t. Has anyone ever accused the latter group of not being effective singers? Thus, we don’t insist that the singer who sings just before the sermon have written the song he/she sings, but we expect the preacher to have come up with all the points, all of the ideas, all of the fresh insights, and all of the illustrations, without copying or borrowing from anyone else.

Dig and glean

So what’s the answer? Do both: Learn to dig your own gold, and glean from (and use judiciously) material that fellow pulpiteers have come up with. And when you are ready for some fresh insight, I know of no better reservoir of sermons to study and learn from than the 2,000+ sermon transcripts that are currently available by my father, Adrian Rogers. They are all fully outlined with his original sermon points integrated directly into the sermon text. Furthermore, all of the sermons are searchable using Logos’ powerful search capabilities.

My father was once asked if it would be OK for someone to preach one of his sermons. Of course, if the bulk of your sermon is drawn from another preacher’s work, you’d be wise to acknowledge that. But his reply was fitting: “If my bullet fits your gun, shoot it, but use your own powder.” He followed it up with this: “Don’t let it come out here (motioning to his mouth) without first going through here (motioning to his heart).” My admonition to you: “Go, and do thou likewise.”


Now available on Pre-Pub, the Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive represents the most comprehensive source of sermons by the famed preacher and teacher. Be sure to pick up the archive on Pre-Pub for $249.99 and save $100 off the regular price!

Comments

  1. Michael Wilson says:

    I thought preachers were supposed to preach christ, crucified. If every preacher does that, we are all borrowing from the Bible. If I say something that has never been said, in my biblical interpretation, I am wrong. So I will say the same things Spurgeon, Sproul, Lawson, and millions of others say.

  2. I used to watch him on TV on Sunday morning before going to church. He has always preached the Word and done so boldly. What a voice! Thanks for the archive of his work. He was not only one of the best Southern Preachers he was one of the best Preachers.

  3. An interesting bite of information only to find it is another infomercial to spend a few hundred dollars. Too many of these.

    • Dr. Donald E. Harris says:

      “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” 2 John 8 NKJV
      Greetings Cliff,
      What brother Steve Rogers wrote is more than “an interesting bite of information.” Nor is it “another infomercial.” What may be an “interesting bite of information” to you may be a God given revelation or epiphany to another. So what if it is “another infomercial”? Our God has the right to use an “infomercial” to spread His uncompromising truth to His people and the world. I shall pray that you are able to look at the Logos services through spiritual eyes instead of secular eyes. May the good Lord continue to bless you and smile your way. Amen

    • Ha, yes, I actually let out a sigh as I got to the end of this.

    • David C Hinterlong says:

      Nobody hates commercials more than me but…I’m on board with this. Adrian blessed me more than anyone. My walk with Christ has been greatly blessed and sanctified by this great preacher and lover of Jesus. I’ll struggle with paying for this but I’m going to do it. The return on my money will only be determined in eternity. If I fast from breakfast at McDonalds for only 33 days it will be paid for.

  4. Dr. Donald E. Harris says:

    Dear Brother Rogers,
    You are absolutely correct in your assertion about preaching and preaching other preacher’s sermons. However, I take your assertion a little further. No preacher owns his sermons for the simple reason that his sermon comes from God through His living word, the Holy Bible, and the Holy Spirit. We should all work to constantly improve our delivery of God’s word to our congregation whom the Lord has blessed us to have. However, if I hear a word or read a word that inspires me through the Holy Spirit to share with my congregation, I have absolutely no hesitation to share it with them. I realize and know that that Word did not come from the preacher from whom it was taken but from the Father in Heaven. The delivering preacher was just a vessel through which God delivered it to me. Hallelujah!! As soon as I get the money, I intend to purchase The Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive so that I can immediately keep God’s word alive through the vessel God delivered it to me. Dr. Donald E. Harris

  5. There once was a preacher named “Spurgy,”
    Who scorned the use of liturgy,
    But his sermons were fine
    and I preached them as mine
    And so did the rest of the clergy.

  6. Phillip W Mansfield says:

    Way back in 1973, Adrian gave me permission to preach one of his sermons. I was new to preaching when I met him at Union University. His message that morning was mesmerizing. I was from a small church in a small community and had never heard words so well put together. I met him after the service and tried to tell him what the message meant to me. It was then he told me to take it, make it my own, and preach it with all my heart. I have done so but only on three occasions in 42 years. I feel that message to be of such rare vintage and because it was such a special gift, that it be used at just the right moment.

  7. Jeff Moore says:

    To paraphrase Spurgeon: It is okay to borrow another man’s axe as long as you cut your own wood. Or as Bro. Paul said, “What do we have that we did not receive?”