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I loved the video too! As a traditional kind of guy, it scratched a particular itch that I have. Something has always bugged me about contemporary worship but I have been hard-pressed to put it into words exactly what bothers me about it. This video gets at a lot of it (the anthropocentric tendencies mirroring our consumerist culture). Presentation is part of the content. I recommend David Wells' book "The courage to be Protestant".

Now in fairness, I would like to work on a video that shows where my side goes wrong. You could have some fun there too (some lumbering tune with words praising tradition for tradition's sake etc.) Looking out for eachother's specks and logs.

This video reminds me of those off-beat Old Spice commercials (youtube them if you have a moment-they are funny). We need to be able to laugh at ourselves! Just not at someone else's expense. We all have one goal here, to worship our Lord. Just because some prefer the new way, does not make them superficial...and the old fashioned supporters are not always stuffed shirts. Tolerance-we need to be taught this skill-it will get us far.

Canal street and its pastor sound a wee bit like our church; a church that I found every excuse under the sun not to attend-until said pastor accepted the call. He was humble and real. Still is, just a heck of a lot busier. He may ruffle feathers-but as I said, he is REAL. Not some holier-than-thou hypocrite, but a down to earth, common sense man that understands that God is working through him to bring our church to where it needs to be; not a man that takes credit for his aptly times sermons that speak to our souls (and at times hit us between the eyes and make us squirm-now that is a great gift from our Father). Not an easy task with a huge congregation...who can make everybody happy and still keep an iota of sanity? There will be many that whine and complain and bail for more 'upbeat' or 'accepting' rivers/venues...but how long can smoke and mirrors sustain the soul? They will be back. We have all been the prodigal son to one degree or another. I for one am grateful for the humanness of our pastor.

It's nice to see others are just as concerned as I am. I have nothing against contemporary worship, and certainly prefer it over dead traditoin any day. However just as tradition is lacking so is contemporary. I like how you mentioned that no one knew the songs, but the band sure could perform. That's all too common. I'd go for biblical songs that everyone knows with
out-of-tune musicians anyday over coming into church, getting nothing out of it, and then going home as if Sunday worship never happened. That is exactly why I don't like traditional churches. I have nothing against teaching church history, I think it is greatly needed more than ever. Then again who wants to get stuck in the past. God intends to move us and his church from glory to glory, so being stuck in the past isn't my thing either. The only thing I think contemporary worship usually has is that it is better than some of the old hyms the church got stuck on. It is easier for the worshipers to express themselves in it as well. The old sing to a vowel for 4-8 beats does not stir up truth and spirit. It stirs up vowel based noise with no basis of worship in it. That is really the only problem with the old music, or the ole I'm suffering songs. Dude if we aren't experincing suffering in our lives as the songs states(martydom and persecution), where oh where is the truth of it in our hearts? And there I think is the main problem in all worship that we find lacking. Where is the truth in it? When I hear a pastor preach, I could care less about some one's dead dog, or a family car trip, or recent events. I just want to hear the word of God so that I can get guidence from God for my life, so I can follow him better than I am now. The problem may very well boil down to the church turning to worldly wisdom, and to the desire to perform well rather than turning to God and worshiping out of our weakness where He is found strong in our lives.

This may rub some people the wrong way, but of course the gospel needs to be marketed and targeted to demographics. Paul knew it ("I will be all things to all people"); Moody knew it ("If ponies in the parking lot bring in the kids, I will lead the ponies around the parking lot"); and today's mega-churches know it. That's why they're so successful. And I have no problem with that. We draw tons of kids into our youth ministries because they are FUN--it gets them in the door. If they don't enter the doors, they can't hear about Christ.

The problem comes once we get them in the doors--will the Gospel be watered down? Will I serve those kids a "dumbed down" version of Jesus and the church and their place in it? Or, on the other hand, will I cram dry, memorized catechism questions down the kids' throats and expect people to step into a time warp--archaic language and songs that have words and music I don't understand--in order to join me in worship?

This is where many churches drop the ball. I have no problems with the loud praise bands, and the "hip" speaker, or the solemn pastor or the old-style choir, if they're sincere about what they're doing. The main thing is that the Gospel be presented to people, where they are, in all its glorious freedom and liberty. We truly need to emulate Paul and be all things to all people.

(RE the video: I have not yet seen a church that does "blended" worship really accepted by the members of its congregation. People want one or the other. It seems to me the churches that are successful at the moment are offering all traditional or all contemporary or separate services (one of each). Not saying that's the best way, but it's what I see in my area. "Blended worship" is a little like taking both Pepsi and Mountain Dew--each with their defenders--and putting them together to make everyone happy. No one's happy.)

Are we Christians so saturated with consumer marketing paradigms that we can't praise God without obsessing about the targeted demographic? If there wasn't truth to this video would we still be talking about it months later?

I can very much appreciate this video having been there and done that as worship pastor and musician.

I wonder still as the CRC ventures further into contemporary if we shouldn't offer a little more in the way of training to help with the transition. I've watched CRCs try to make this move and do it poorly trying to turn worship into something like the video portrays and no one trained well enough to even remotely pull it off. How do we make worship genuine and not manipulative so that the vertical and horizontal movement glorifies God and draws people into deeper relationship with him and each other?

I noticed that it seems in my area we are about 10 years behind in most things including clothing styles. There is the mentality especially among our youth to have the "hip" worship like the video as if that is the only option. And there are many here who believe if we change to more modern worship like that we will attract more people. And while I have worked hard with our church to develop a more "well done" blended, but slightly weighted toward modern, style of worship, I stress that God uses devoted followers of Christ to grow the church.

I'm not going to lie, I'd love to have David Crowder or Chris Tomlin or Blue Tree as my worship leaders.

My good friend Pastor Dave Horner pointed out this video to me a couple months back and I thought it was hilarious. For those of us who are worship artists, particularly in the modern worship movement, many of these things hit very close to home.....sometimes so close that it stings. And like most artists, musicians tend to be pretty sensitive folks (if you've ever been in a band that plays to the 10 people who showed up on time to church, you know what I mean).

But in the modern church, artist stretches from drummer to sound technician to video editor to web designer to lead guitarist and (hopefully) to pastor. Its helpful to point out that the people who put this video together are poking fun at themselves in many ways - artists reflecting satirically on themselves.

My favorite part of this video is the part about the worship leader trying to sing a song he wrote so that you'll buy it later in the bookstore. In our bands, we call this "inbred" music - being so selfish artistically that we only sing songs we wrote the way we wrote them with the band members we select. When its all about us in worship, the comments God makes about worship in Amos start to become very true.

I love the video in that it makes one really think about true God centered, Biblically based worship. Unfortunately I have been in worship services like that and left wondering what the full message was even tho I liked the sermon. There were too many conflicting messages thru song, testamonies, readings, etc.

Worship, for me and hopefully others, should focus on God and the Word. Everything from the prelude to the postlude should focus on the same message/theme. To me, it does not matter if it is traditional, contemporary, evangelical, ... but everything should enhance the next part of worship. It should lead one to meditate on the Word during and after the service and into the week.

As much as I love music, it seems to be the biggest contention to worship. I am nearly 60 and do not mind contemporary music but it needs to be in harmony with the whole service. And I admit I like a pastor that says it like it is, Truth is Truth, and if we are convicted, we are called to repent, not ignore.

All in all, we need to be aware of our worship. It cannot be all fun and games and nice just to bring people in or make them happy. We can update, yes, but do not dilute. The Isrealites danced in praise to God, why not us? And an extension of what we have gleaned from our worship is evidenced in our everyday life and outward doings:Obedience and Thanksgiving to God.

Great video - important to be able to step back and examine what we do in worship objectively - and laugh at it when necessary.

I"m just coming off a three-month sabbatical and had the opportunity to worship with many different congregations. It gave me a chance to be in the pew and to worship as a lay person in CRC's, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and United (Canada), and non-denominational churches. It surprised me to find connection (both vertical and horizontal) most easily in the Anglican church. Highly liturgical, yet no wasted words.

I know this video is showing the extemes. It would be just as easy and effective to show a video of a traditional service. This version might show members of the congregation walking into church in a solemn manner, no joy on their faces anticipating a time of joyful worship. In the backround we would hear the sounds of the pipe organ playing something from the 1500's. The pastor, dressed in his dark suit stands behind the huge pulpit and gives God's greeting. The congregation is then invited to open their Psalter Hymnals to sing. Notice the somber voices and the way they bury their heads in the book. This, too, would be a video of extremes.
There needs to be a way to find a middle ground. We need to find a way to respect the needs of people on both sides of the aisle (and also in the balcony.) Sunday worship is a holy time; a time to revere our God. It is also a time of praise and rejoicing. We need to be reminded of our sins and of God's grace towards us. We also need to be encouraged to shout to the Lord, to praise His name with our voices and our instruments.
Steve

Love the video! But then again, I love satire. It helps us to see what we do from a different perspective. It should cause us to examine our motives for doing what we do.
This is what the video tells me. Church is about worshiping God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-but are we really doing that? The video suggests that worship has become less about God and more about the people in the pew. We've all heard about the need to be relevant, engaging, etc. But in the end, it is God's Word and God's Spirit who grabs people. Authentic worship, regardless of style, will be exciting. Let us all worship in spirit and in truth!

How do we help each other? The answer, at first thought, is simple: follow Jesus’ example. Reflect on how He lived, prayed, interacted with others...all pretty straightforward stuff. Easy. But we humans seem to dislike ‘easy’, and prefer to super-size our lives with always wanting more-like Adam and Eve. We take the easy and complicate it with our free will and create a recipe for drama. *Sigh* (just kidding)

At the community college I attended, we were told not to bring our Christianity anywhere near our jobs as counsellors. Apparently, it tends to conflict with clear thinking, and one might be at risk of misleading their patient. I understand that “UU” has a place in this world, as not everyone believes in the same things...but to ask me to leave my Christianity at the door was something I could not-and will not ever do. How does one remove a part that makes up the central core of who they are? Is there a surgical procedure for this?

Learning about other’s belief systems and respecting those beliefs goes a long way in creating a helpful relationship, and as you said, we may even learn from each other. When I run into cases where I wish that I could freely talk about God, I look to the UU way of thinking and carefully choose my words. So, while I may be thinking about (my) God and offering conflict resolution ideas to them, they hear or perceive something neutral, such as-“If you were in Mary’s shoes, how do you think you would feel?”, not “Do unto others...”. It sounds rather fluffy, but that is what I need to do so I do not offend someone who believes in some big guy in the sky, or an entity that can seriously screw up good karma.

In the end, it is helping. So I have to change gears a bit and consider things from another person’s perspective-isn’t that what helping is all about? I have not heard of a surgeon that will perform a religionectomy, but then again, I think that is a good thing-and a procedure I would never have! When we help simply because that is what God has called us to do, we cannot mess it up, or cause harm-not when it comes straight from Him.

I'm sure the picture was photo shopped. The CRC media folks have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves. Who could possibly be that tall? I do wish that the photo shoppers would have removed some of those pounds that the camera, umm, added...

I second the motion and call for the question. Choking back the tears. Thank you Rod! :-)

Wish I could have been there!

On another note: Prof De Moor is retiring? This can only spell anarchy and chaos in the CRC... It's the end of the world as we know it!

=) Stanley

Aaah...new photographic evidence just in from an anonymous source. See, he's up in the rafters and way taller than that wall in the back.

This, of course, was taken just as he warmed up. By the end, all the delegates were ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing). Well, pretty close.

Rod, may our good Lord multiply your kind! Thanks for your seriously creative piece for such a great work to honor the best of God's servants in our midst. Upon reading your poem, am sure your counselor will give you a hefty discount!

Thanks and best wishes from a fellow ministry associate half your size,
fernando

Sigh, I probably should have flagged this as inappropriate. :)

For the record, I am not nine feet tall. I'm only 6'8" which I have always believed is a normal height, though I have noticed that there are an enormous number of people who are well below average. This 'poem' was intended to be deadly serious and I am stunned that it produced any laughter at all at the Synod banquet. It was quite painful to be laughed at when one is trying to offer their best work and then find out that I also get mis-described by the communications folks of the CRC. It is beyond comprehension. I imagine this will give me something to process with my counselor in the days ahead...

:)

Rod

Very well written! I think you have done a great job of allowing us to identify with one-or maybe even two of the Central Jerusalem Wannabe Temple Worship Committee members. Pride and passion can quickly turn into oil and water during some meetings.

A key point here is that we are indeed humans-humans that can get so fired up over things we- as an individuals- find important. And when those ideas get in our heads, well, they are perfect! So why can't everybody 'chill' and respect Davids songs for what they are? Because someone always has a better way of thinking...such an inane cycle, but sadly it's the cycle that robs us our ability to enter--and remain--humble throughout the meeting.

Thank you for gently nudging us with humor on this one, I know I certainly appreciate it!

I'm a young 21 year old, and am also fairly new to the CRC denomination (I began attending a CRC church about 5 years ago).

Anyways, one of the things that really attracted me to the denomination is the way the worship goes generally. I attend a more "contemporary" CRC church, but I still love the fact that the whole service is thought out and particularly planned, incorporating liturgy, scripture reading, and singing that all relates to a central theme usually expanded on during the sermon. I enjoy seeing worship planners and leaders incorporate traditional hymns in the contemporary worship. Generally, the hymns are so full of good solid theology that it would be a shame to lose them completely in the movement towards relating to a broader audience. That isn't necessary. There is a wonderful balance between incorporating the traditional hymns and liturgy into a contemporary service, and it's extremely powerful and relevant to my generation when it's done well.

Just earlier this month my husband and I had a similar experience. I am a young (OK, OK... so I passed to big 3-0) worship planner in our congregation, and I am always mindful of the liturgy, it's flow, and what the service as a whole communicates. It's important to think not only about each element, but also about the sum of the parts. I see more and more the trend of "watering down" liturgy, leaving it without depth, richness, or meaning in worship. It is without biblical teaching, with the exception of the sermon. Personally, I find it at the least disheartening, and more often than not a nearly complete waste of time, gifts, and talents. I often wonder if God finds it the same, if not displeasing!

Being Christian Reformed means that we have so much to offer by way of history and liturgy, yet we shrink away from it. Why? Don't get me wrong - I like contemporary style music as do many my age, but that doesn't mean I want a lack of substance and purpose in my worship. Or that I don't appreciate a hearty rendition of "How Great Thou Art" (or, insert your favorite hymn title here) every now and then - or every week!

Our congregation offers what many would term a "blended" worship service - but this should not just speak to music style alone. It should also be a convergence of worship elements from various historical and cultural bases... The liturgy of the past should not disappear altogether.

I understand and appreciate certain cultural adaptations, but we ought to be much more careful that in our "blending" we don't puree the meat into milk, lest we starve.

Logos 4 is a fantastic software option. I, too, was first meaningfully introduced to Logos at CTS and saw the changes from Logos 2 to Logos 3 (aka. Libronix), but the jump to Logos 4 has been the most helpful upgrade I've encountered yet. That being said, I opted to go to a Camp Logos seminar (2-day) taught my Morris Procter and found it very worthwhile. In fact, I'm teaching others in my church how to study the Bible using Logos now.

FYI...Zondervan's Pradis software has been discontinued. It can still be purchased but Zondervan FINALLY decided that Logos could distribute their stuff.

posted in: Study Software

Many of these statistics are dubious, and depend greatly on the meaning of certain words. Take, for instance, the first one. What is the actual range of IQ scores? According to the IQ and the WEALTH OF NATIONS study by Lynn & Vanhanen, China rates 12th at 100 and the US comes in at 98. But, as this site points out (http://www.vdare.com/sailer/wealth_of_nations.htm) there are significant problems with comparing cross-cultural, cross-language IQ scores. The reality of change has been with us now for nearly 150 years. In some ways it has accelerated. In others, it has remained flat. Human nature, for all this, has not changed much at all.

What all these statistics really boil down to is highlighting the change in the way information is accessed and transferred. With more information generally accessible, strategies for identifying the SIGNIFICANT information becomes more important. The best way to hide a needle is not in a haystack, but in a large pile of other needles. Skill at identifying the specific needle one is after quickly and accurately becomes particularly valuable, and people begin to develop this skill.

One of the things that means is that teachers and preachers need to become adept at presenting information that will be flagged by "browsers", enticing people to stop and dig a little deeper because they'll see that this "needle" is an important one. Effective headlines and titles, for instance, become much more important. Even with that, one has to hook people early on or they've already gone to the next page/link/site.

I Tweet and Facebook. Those are my main social networks where I have actually done ministry with other people in my congregation and friends. I mainly use Twitter for colleagues in ministry across denom lines, but I do follow some interests such as homebrewing, cooking and music.
I have learned about online webinars and valuable resources that I would have otherwise missed.
Social networking is not for everyone, especially the less computer and internet savvy who would most likely find it an infringement on their time.
For me it is part of my ministry tool set.

posted in: "Why I Don't Tweet"

I have a thought about the comments regarding not participating in Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever it might be, because you don't have time. I hear that comment over and over again when I talk about how much I love to read. I'd estimate that about 98% of the time, the person I'm talking to says he or she would read more if they just had the time. My inner thought is, "And you think I have more time than you do?" No, it's a matter of priorities. I want to read a lot so I do. It's where I've decided to spend my time. I could even be accused (and have been) of being addicted to reading. I often use it as an escape, and I often neglect things more important in order to read.

I'm sure people who exercise faithfully hear similar responses, or who write, or who meditate faithfully, whatever. I know reading, exercising, writing and meditating are different than using Facebook or Twitter but using Facebook or Twitter can evoke some of the same responses, as can many activities. And as with most things, there are many reasons for participating or not participating.

I myself enjoy Facebook and I think a big reason I do is that I'm a social person who loves to connect with people as much as I can. Some people are more private or have a smaller social circle so they might not find Facebook as fun or interesting as I do. I have a Twitter account and I follow some technology-related Tweeters to keep up on some technology I'm interested in, as well as a few celebrities who I find entertaining. I don’t have any friends who’ve latched onto Twitter so I don’t tweet much myself, but I think I could enjoy using Twitter a lot if I did.

Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what my point is. It's not a huge issue with me or anything. I don't hold it against anyone who tells me they don't have time to read. I’ve come to expect that response. I guess maybe my point is that there are most likely different reasons than time management for using or not using Twitter.

posted in: "Why I Don't Tweet"

Interested in finding out more about the requirements for becoming a Ministry Associate. Are these paying positions? I have a family member with an A.A. from Dordt who may be interested in pursuing this option.

I don't know if anyone has written to you, Joel, but I was the Zondervan editor who edited the OTC (also ordained in the CRC, by the way). If you are looking for something that looks at the OT in a covenantal framework, you will not find it in OTC; for the most part, the OT is used as examples for our lives. But I do think the content is good. Especially if your church is weak in OT history and you follow the full OTC program, you will get coordinated preaching, small groups, and personal Bible study with a rather complete survey of the Old Testament. Bible knowledge is always a good thing, and, of course, you can shape your own messages on the passages to meet the needs of your own congregation.

It's been a while since I did the series, so I don't remember all the passages without looking at it again, but you can always get a copy of the leader's guide to see if it might be for your church.

Verlyn D. Verbrugge

I don't tweet either. I am human and not a bird :)

To me it's both the case of time management (pastors blogs can be an exception) and the fact that whatever I put out there on facebook is there for the congregation to see and judge. A careless word posted can be damaging to my ministry, even if I never intend it to be such. My gut feeling is that more people want to be heard than to hear others. From what I understand of Twitter, it encourages people to be quick to speak...the Bible has words of caution for that behavior. Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many sin is not absent but he who holds his tongue is wise".

But forums and discussion threads such as this one can be helpful for gaining wisdom if one's goal is to listen to others at least as much as it is to speak (overcoming the great temptation of preachers :)

posted in: "Why I Don't Tweet"

"The Holy Spirit" by Paul Cho
"Signs and Wonders: A Reformed Look at the Spirit's ongoing work" by John Algera.

I checked the 2007 denominational survey and it looks like the stat is from there. It's mentioned on page 1 with more details on page 10. It's noted there that:

These averages are not of the entire CRC population but only of those 18 or older, since respondents were limited to adults.

So the trends are still helpful, but can't be compared to the general US/CDN population, for example. The full survey report is available at www.crcna.org/research

Hope this helps.

I'd look into Gordon Fee's work. He has a massive tome in which he exegetes every Pauline passage ("God's Empowering Presence")--but also a shorter, more "user friendly" book called "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God."

The Leadership booklet is available as a free download at http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Effective-Leadership-in-the-Church. It's a great resource used regularly at Calvin Seminary with students and pastors.

I am a Ministry Associate working as an Active Duty Army Chaplain. I am currently deployed to Iraq, but will be coming home in the next few months. I will have been here 12 months.

I attended College and Seminary with my wife. We both earned a BA in Biblical Studies and she completed an MA in Old Testament and I, an M.Div. I've been ordained through other denominations (or non-denoms) for quite a while. The more I studied and seriously reflected on Scripture and truth, the less Arminian I became. I came into the Reformed movement after a couple of years of cognitive dissonance until I found a CRCNA church and discovered the doctrine was much more like what I had come to believe than any other church. It was a much longer, winding process than that, but suffice it to say, God worked on me. I have had no formal Reformed training, but I hope in the future to earn my Th.M. from Calvin, Westminster or Princeton, in service to the Army Chaplain Corps. Then hopefully a Ph.D.

I'm happy to be a missionary from my local congregation. I've pastored before, but never missionaried. I appreciate the status of MA because it helps me keep in touch with my local congregation more than if I wasn't attached as an associate.

I look forward to discussion of issues facing MAs in general and specifics.

Faith Alive Christian Resources publishes "The Holy Spirit: Under the Influence" in our Discover Life series.

Hey, Tony!

I think that Francis Chan has a pretty good series/DVD on the Holy Spirit based on his book "The Forgotten God". I've heard that it can lead to good discussions on where we as a church do or don't leave "spaces", so to speak, for the Spirit to work. (Not like we tend to be over-planners or anything) Hope it works for you!

Jeff B.

Good stuff, sure. But, like so much of what we do as pastors, Jim's article analyzes the Acts scene...and prescribes this for our churches.

BUT, unless individual people are passionate about seeing their own lives powerfully used by the Spirit in the lives of lost people....our congregations will not be missional, much.

So I would ask all readers of this post: Do you have the names of at least 5 persons in your purse or wallet whom you are pleading with Father to let you move them or lead them to Christ?
When you look at your schedule do you have at least 20% of your weekly labors such that you are networking in the community intentionally....to build relationships with lost people?

How many times in the last 6 months has someone, of the same gender, asked you: "Can I speak to you about how you are doing spiritually?"
Have you asked that question of others?

Until we lead our members of the church God entrusted to our leadership to live this way.....Our churches will not change.

Change starts with me....and then telling stories to the folks of the church

Good stuff. thanks.
When churches/ deacons/ pastors "head out", tension in the fellowship is almost inevitable. Conflict, or fear of it, tends to make us hesitant about the journey outwards. I'd love to hear some stories from around the CRC that help us see how to manage the conflict while we seek to be obedient to the mission of Jesus.

That's a valid question, and I think the answer is "yes." The reality is that we are both -- the New Testament makes it clear of course, that we are "saints" -- God's chosen people, Holy & Dearly loved, the bride of Christ, & many other images that illustrate our nature that has been called & cleansed.

The reality is that we are, at least on this side of heaven, also sinners, as the sinful nature still rages within. Romans 7 attests to this (of course, that raises a whole other issue...! -- before, or after conversion?!).

The best way, I think, is to find a balance. When we do our time of confession, I try to find a way to bring out both the fact that we, as a church are "different" from non-believers; we are the people who have been once and for all forgiven by sin, and thus redeemed, but who also continually need to acknowledge our sinfulness.

So, that's not a very helpful answer, but it reflects the tension of the question.

At Brookside CRC in Grand Rapids where I attend, we also wrestled with payment for staffing. Nothing was formally in writing, but we only paid leadership positions in ministry areas in addition to the lead organist/pianist for services. These positions are 20 hrs/wk or more.

Many people serve the church with enormous amounts of time and they are appreciated. I'm sure there are many people who give 5-10 hours of their time each week and some maybe even more in doing ministry as gifted members.

Pastors, worship leaders, and sound operators are all possible recipients of gratuities at our church for funerals. A fee is set for sound operators with our weddings and other rental events.

As far as I know, the denomination (synod) has never adopted a particular stance on this. But if it tolerated anything less than an honest personal wrestling with the text in its original language and context and with faithful and relevant application to our lives today, I suppose we could close Calvin Theological Seminary for good. There would be no need for biblical studies, for homiletics, for any other theological discipline......... I do know that several classes (I won't say which ones) have taken actions that clearly come down hard on plagiarism. For what it's worth ....

Thank you for this solid article. For me this is where the rubber meets the road as a church within it's community. It doesn't matter whether you are a large or small church, with this focus churches can be strong and vital participants in God's work where they are placed.

I'm all for nipping! I do it from time to time. My father-in-law is a pastor in the Chicago area and he and I are always "borrowing" each other's ideas. Pastor friends and I also pass back and forth ideas. Sometimes I even quote them. In a preaching class of mine at Fuller, we talked about verbal footnotes. Use what other people say as long as you acknowledge.

Coming back to my original thought, though, I guess with the sermon series put out by Saddleback, Willowcreek, LifeChurch.tv and others, they all state that it is a sermon series based upon this particular book, church, person, etc. Before you begin preaching people know where you are getting it from. But we can't just repeat what was written in the series given. For me personally, I feel like that is cheating. When I've done series based off of programs provided, I've still struggled with the message, wrestled with the text and presented what the Holy Spirit had moved in my heart to say using the program as a stepping board to helping us hear God's word for us. We hear God's Word first and then everything else is gravy in helping us interpret and apply it to our lives.

I know that in many CRCs in the past, people had become upset about pastors using material like this, mainly because they are being paid to write original sermons, not someone else's and use original ideas not already pre-packaged ones. Out of curiosity, what is the denomination's stance on this?

Bert,

Thanks for posting those; that was helpful. I do agree that honorariums are gift offerings, that need not be surrendered to the church, though if that is something a pastor would wish to do, that would certainly be a fine thing to do. Often, weddings or funeral require me to spend extra time away from my wife and kids, so we usally try to spend that extra money on something as a family.

There is another side to that whole money thing though, and that is the way that money can easily taint a ministry. Even subconciously, we can start to think of people in terms of money they have given. For example, it could happen that a couple did/could not give any honorarium, and personally, I know how easy it could be to remember that, and always be seeing that couple as "the ones who were cheap" -- and the opposite is also true; a generous honorarium can easily lead a pastor to think more favorably about a couple. Sad to admit, but last time I checked, pastors have a sinful nature too.

Best, I think, to expect nothing, work on the assumption that nothing will be given, and be grateful for anything beyond that.

Josh Benton wrote a good, thought-provoking response to the plagiarism article and I thought it deserved my own thought and a comment.

The main issue in preaching (or any writing) is not that we should be afraid to use other resources. There hasn't been a totally original thought around for a long while. That means we are, in fact, dependent on all kinds of on-going conversations about Scripture, church life, social issues and so on to keep ourselves up-to-date, interesting (we hope!) and useful as servants who, in the words of a long-time mentor, "always mediate the Word of God in some way or other."

What matters is HOW we use all that information and all those resources "out there"--whether "out there" means internet, books, libraries, newspapers, magazines, commercials or whatnot. It is certainly legitimate to get pushes and nudges from all the sorts of things that Josh mentioned. It equally illegitimate to fob that stuff off as our own work without attribution, acknowledgement, credit.

Funny--a retired preacher buddy read that plagiarism article a few weeks ago and said, "My pastor is always nipping other people's sermons, quoting from them, sometimes saying ahead of time, 'I can't say this any better than so-and-so.' But that's fine. He is scrupulously honest about giving credit to the authors."

I know we can overquote and bore people and even create a certain amount of distrust if ALL we do is quote. What is important is that we own, embrace, chew, digest the Bible passage so that the words of the semons are honest, resting on personal and Holy Spiritual integrity.

Jesus said some pretty strong words about the Father of Lies and his children. We are children of the Father of Truth, or the original and eternal WORD and in our own words are pretty strongly bound to honesty and integrity.

I think there is a lot of truth to this. But my question comes what about those resources such as Purpose Driven Church/Life, Willowcreek and LifeChurch.tv who supply sermon series information, outlines, videos, etc. all aimed at helping churches. Is there a balance between the two. I've used resources like these in the past using the resources as a starting point. Is that good or bad?

I am a self-proclaimed "Facebook junkie" who uses Facebook for both personal and professional connections.

I have used Twitter sporadically, but I don't really use it anymore for the simple reason that I can't see ANYTHING that Twitter does that can't be done on Facebook. When I started "following" people on Twitter, I soon discovered that many of them were simply pushing their Tweets out to Facebook, which meant that I was reading everything twice.

I certainly cannot offer up a biblical defense for my use of Facebook, but Twitter just annoys me, as I am convinced that this application is a true case of the Emperor wearing no clothes.

And "FacebookandTwitter" is NOT a word!

(the views expressed in this post are my own and do not represent the views of my employer.)

posted in: "Why I Don't Tweet"

I think I've read this article before... :) just kidding

During research for a sermon out of Leviticus I found four sermons on the same site for the passage I was interested in. As I read through them I began to notice startling similarities. Through dates posted I was able to determine the the original scholarship. The second sermon borrowed a little and used a different title - no attribution. The third sermon borrowed much of the exegetical work, some of the illustrations, used own application, different title - no attribution. The last sermon, the pastor put his name at the top and submitted it as his own work title and all.

It is of interest to note that the passage was Leviticus 10 - the sons of Aaron bringing strange fire before the altar of the Lord. I used my research experience as my opening illustration for the sermon.

As to using other people's work - always attribute. To do anything else is to defraud your congregation and the God you serve.

Re Mike's comment above re #3:

I wondered if that would generate some reaction. I respectfully disagree with Mike's opinion, however. I do regret using the word "fee" the first time instead of "honorarium," as the latter is really the more appropriate term. Moneys received for conducting either weddings or funerals are "honorariums," which are given as expressions of appreciation for extra work done (often on my days off - Saturdays, as in my case). Regardless of day, however, honorariums are similar to bonuses or tips, and as long as you do not make them mandatory and your council is aware that you receive such honorariums (which mine is) and have no problem with it, accept them gratefully and take your wife out on a nice date or buy yourself that new pair of shoes you - or your kids -have been needing!

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