I was floored when I came upon this article/blog today…
My husband and I were just discussing this after I listened to a pod cast by my former pastor. He had taken a story from somewhere and didn’t attribute it to the author. I was able to look the story up because it was so unusual, it involved a nail, and a dead dog, and a homeowner. I was able to trace the story online easily and found that the former pastor had used it word for word. When we first started trying to figure out what was going on in our former church, I spent time putting phrases from sermons into google, and I would come up with a book or another sermon. Because the lead pastor stepped down into a missional position, he no longer preaches the bulk of the sermons. His sermons always contained footnotes in online notes, but not always mentioned while he was speaking. This is how we discovered all the emergent/Warren/Hybels and other references. He actually cited who he quoted, and even if he paraphrased. The current pastor does not cite his stories nor books. He even recently preached a series on Nehemiah, and I was able to find online a book by Swindoll with the same theme as well as Saddleback materials with the same themes. I’m not sure he used them for his sermons, but it appears likely he may have. I do know that all it takes is simple searches to find who influences the pastors, they preach from these men’s works. I also found it disturbing when we began our church search to hear pastors using phrases and stories easily found in books or online. One such example is the Sunday we realized we couldn’t attend a church five minutes from our home. A speaker came and was happily sharing how well he knew Max Lucado and that the pastor of the church we were visiting because they attended the same college. He then spent his sermon talking all about “boat potatoes.” I knew I had heard this before, so I came home and opened up a book a friend had given to me to read, an Ortberg book. There is was, “boat potatoes” with the entire theme the pastor had made into a sermon (which by the way, I detested as a theme and feel it was a misuse of scripture). This man was traveling, getting paid for speaking on a circuit, and was using a canned sermon right out of Ortberg’s book. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating. Putting two and two together is not hard when they make it so obvious. Peddling the word is what is happening, sadly, most believe it’s God’s word, but actually it’s men’s words being peddled or God’s word distorted. The illusion that these pastors are going to the Father and seeking his guidance for sermons is shattered when we learn how canned all these stories and sermons are. It’s not a Divine providence that you might hear the same message from one church to another. It may just be that all these pastors are cutting corners and using someone else’s materials to craft a sermon. They seem to be part of one big machine. This machine masks itself as the Body. Sad, very sad.
One other thought, the pastor has stopped quoting or citing in his online work. This means that an author has to be found by his quotes and not by the citation. It makes it a great deal harder to find who is influencing the sermons. We had come to the church with some examples of using emergent/emerging authors in sermons as proof the church was being influenced by this teaching. This was denied by our former pastor, and angrily so. Forced into plagiarism by Berean behavior perhaps?