Store Bought Sermons

A recent sampling of my weekend emails revealed the following offers:

  • Sermon for tomorrow—immediate access!
  • Sermon for this Sunday. Reliable. Professional. Easy.
  • Sermons freshly written for the Easter season.
  • Sermons professionally written for every Sunday.

Based on the subject lines, a thriving red-letter market exists for preachers interested in purchasing Saturday Night Special sermons.

In full disclosure, I certainly borrow from others in sermon preparation. After 2,000 years of Christendom, no one achieves originality. Dr. Fred Craddock, who taught homiletics at Candler School of Theology, warned: “He who steals from me steals twice.” And Fred probably got that statement from someone else!

However, preaching store bought sermons as sermon-dvd-blankhomemade homilies smacks of intellectual dishonesty and spiritual slothfulness. Like Esau, clergy that settle for “reliable, professional, and easy” store bought sermons have traded their birthright for porridge.

Preachers worth their salt labor over proclaiming the Gospel in a unique time and place to a particular people and parish. The integration of Word and World requires a pastor to stand with one foot in the sanctuary and another in the street.

Like Jacob at the Jabbok, faithful ministers wrestle with the Lord and struggle with the text. We limp away from the encounter to share with others our hard won experience.

A homemade homily prepared with love and preached with faithfulness may not be “professionally written,” but it inspires the hearts, minds, and souls of God’s saints.

16 thoughts on “Store Bought Sermons

  1. Bill, your sermons are always from your heart. That is evident in listening to you and watching you. I can never see you use a “canned sermon”. Keep doing things your way. Also, the Jonah tie is awesome. Looks like fish to me.

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  2. Your messages were always topic of conversation on the way home from church. A perfect balance of something old, something new, something learned and something true. And often funny! You are missed and appreciated.

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  3. Your sermons were always wonderful and I looked forward to them each Sunday. I also remember how you practiced in the Chapel each week. YOu were great and we greatly missed you when you left us.
    .
    And I missed Tracy also.

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  4. You do borrow some things & stay with much tried & true faith issues.your topics and much of the material is original to you & reflects your personality. Spring training was one of my favorites. You will be missed for all your special gifts & special uniqueness. You haven’t left yet? I plan on being there on the 21 St of May.

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  5. Great word! The part about keeping one foot in the sanctuary and one foot in the street brought to mind a poem I heard recently by Rev. Sam Shoemaker, called “So I Stand by the Door.” Not sure if you’ve ever heard of it, but I thought it was pretty cool. Here is a link I found, if you would like to check it out. http://www.silkworth.net/dickb/samshoemaker3.html

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  6. You’re such a good writer, Bill. I think there’s definitely a Hardman gene for having a way with words and it rests comfortably somewhere between your brain, heart, and hand. 👍

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  7. I once knew a pastor who would use sermons he got in mail packets and would read quotes that were no longer current, such as “In the recent movie Gone With the Wind…”. Then he would catch himself and try to think of a recent movie, etc, and the hole got deeper.

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