Three years ago, I was visiting a friend’s church in Las Vegas. The church ran 150-200 people. They were welcoming and you could tell they were excited to be there. The worship team lead extremely well and the 30-second “turn to your neighbor and give them a high-five” segment wasn’t as awkward as it usually is.
Then the sermon began. I distinctly remember the title of the message:
“Crash the Chatterbox”.
If you’re in ministry and you don’t live under a rock, you know this is not only a sermon series that Steven Furtick preached at Elevation, but it was also a New York Times best seller for a couple of weeks. Yet I can almost guarantee only two people in the room knew that: myself and the pastor.
After the message, I went out to lunch with a group of friends. And to my surprise, they couldn’t stop talking about how great the message was. All I could think was, “This message has been done before.”
Is that really a bad thing?
Once I got over my initial snobbery, I realized it was actually a beautiful thing. Pastor Furtick put his sermon series out there knowing other pastors would use it for their own teachings. It outlived just one church and one book.
Many churches do more than just put it out there; they actually support churches in re-using their material. They give away their sermons, outlines, ideas, and even the graphics they used.
I’d love to see more churches do this.
Pastors: we cannot be selfish with our sermon content. If we are selfish with our sermon content, you’ve put your sermon on its deathbed immediately after you’ve preached.
People may disagree with me, but I believe not making your sermons public for other ministries to utilize could be one of the most selfish things a ministry could do. Every now and then, I come across pastors and church leaders who have a selfish approach to their sermons. They don’t want anyone to preach them outside of themselves.
When pastors publicly share their content, though, whether it’s the outline, the sermon video, or the design behind the series, it’s doing a particular thing: It’s creating a legacy that will last well beyond your years. This is letting other people into your creative mind. While you may be the author, you don’t have to be the only distributor.
So, pastor, it’s your move. A personal legacy is like a tree that doesn’t bear any fruit; even though it might be a mighty oak tree, it will die with no seeds to produce a grand forest. Your legacy should be one that grows those around you for generations to come, not just your name for two years after you are dead. And one of the best ways we can do that is to make our sermons, outlines, and sermon series ideas available to the masses.
Let’s just not preach one sermon that dies as soon as preach it, but let’s share our content so the words of Jesus can be used over and over again.
by Josh White
Josh is a pastor, author, and songwriter in San Francisco, CA. More than anything, he longs for people to know, love, and create in the image of our Creator.