How To Use SERMONCITY
J. Mike Minnix
Founder and Editor, www.pastorlife.com

FAILING TO READ THIS COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR MINISTRY!  

Most people with any knowledge of a personal computer, and any experience with the internet, can move through a web page with ease, even if they have never seen it before.
 
PastorLife is a simple site and does not require great expertise' to use. However, there are some things that we could all learn about, "How To Use This Site." That is the purpose of this article. Some pastors have gotten into trouble using the Internet. Their emails, use of pornography, and other misuse of the computer have cost some pastors their dignity, careers and families.
 
Some pastors have also been caught doing something that may have seemed benign at the time but resulted is dismissal from their pastorates. What was their mistake? The mistake was that they took sermon material directly from the Internet to the pulpit, and presented it without giving any reference to the original author of the material. Through laziness or dishonesty, these pastors ruined their ministries - don't let this happen to you. Read the following to be reminded of the things you should DO when using material from this website.
 
A Georgia Baptist pastor was recently dismissed from his church when a member discovered that he was reading verbatim the sermon material from an Internet site during his Sunday morning message without giving credit to the author.
 
The following is a list of GUIDELINES when using PastorLife.
 
1.   It is important to never use material from this site word-for-word in your sermon without crediting the author.
 
You should not be ashamed to quote other people while preaching. It is a sign of study and preparation to reference others when preaching.
 
While attending conference some years ago, I heard Billy Graham speak to several hundred North Carolina pastors. Dr. Graham humbly stated he was sure some of the men in the audience could do a better job preaching to the pastors than he, but he proceeded to share a message with us.
 
It was almost 20 years ago and I cannot remember his exact words, but they went something like this, "I get a lot of my sermons from pastor friends of mine. I use them in my preparation and in my crusades. I want to share a message with you today from a North Carolina pastor friend. You may want to write this down because it is a great outline that I am sure you can preach in your churches."
 
He then spoke on the question, 'Is Anything Too Hard For God?' The outline went like this: There is no Place Too Hard For God to Bless. There is no Prayer Too Hard for God to Answer. There is no Problem Too Hard for God to Solve. There is no Person Too Hard for God to Save. Dr. Graham went to say that we had his permission and that of the author to use that sermon as our own.
 
Of course, when someone tells you that you can use their material freely and without citing credit, you certainly have that freedom. But, a layperson in the local church may not understand that preachers often share sermon material, outlines, ideas, etc., in order to help each other with the difficult process of proclaiming God's Word on a frequent basis. For that reason, it is always a good idea to reference any outline or quote that is in the public record. In addition, if you make it your habit to use material shared from others, even if they tell you it is permitted, you may become lazy, distant from the One who called you to preach, and you may find your preaching ministry absent of the Holy Spirit's power!
 
If Dr. Graham was not ashamed to share how he obtained some of his material, surely we should not be either. The one thing Billy Graham did not do is get up and preach the sermon as if he orginated the outline. A good preacher can always take an idea, pray it through, study it thoroughly and improve upon it for use in his own pulpit. When the outline is changed, personal illustrations are added and the pastor's own words are used, the sermon no longer belongs to someone else - it is the product of the pastor in the local church. That is the best way to use this site!
 
2.    It is important to have inspiration from the Lord concerning your sermon before you start searching for sermon material on any website.
 
 A pastor needs to pray and seek God for a Bible text, or spiritual theme, before looking at the material of others. Don't misunderstand me, all preachers are wise to browse sermon material from others from time-to-time, to look for ideas and to see what others are doing. But when you are preparing a message, you must have a word from God first! There are those times when circumstances make it impossible to study as one would like. Two funerals, a wedding, several counseling sessions, some sick church members to visit and a number of meetings in a given week, can put a preacher in a difficult situation. Almost all preachers have faced that situation at one time or another. There is a time when you just have to get on the web or call a friend to find a sermon in a pinch. The best preachers in the world have done that at times. But, that must not be the habit of the preacher's life!
 
3.    It is inappropriate to use a personal pronoun when telling a story from the life of someone else.
 
One preacher got into trouble in his church by telling a story that actually happened to someone else. How did that get him into trouble? The preacher repeated the story as if it had happened to HIM! It is okay to quote someone in the first person, as long as you preface the story by letting your audience know you are quoting someone else, but one must never take a life incident from someone else and tell it as his own experience.
 
4.   Keep improving your preaching as the years pass by.
 
 Reading the sermons of others can help us all develop into better preachers of the Gospel. If the disciples were not rebuked when they asked Jesus to teach them to pray, we should not be hesitant to learn more about the great work of preaching. Use this site to enhance your own calling and gift to preach rather than just using it to find a quick illustration or outline for your next se
 
6.   Please let us know at j.mikeminnix@pastorlife.com if you see something that needs a proper reference.
 
We do not claim to know the source of all the material on this site. If you see anything amiss on our site, we will do everything possible to give proper credit to the original author. We are not perfect. There are mistakes, errors, and weaknesses in what we are trying to do. This is not an academic site, but a practical one. We want to assist pastors and ministers by providing an online library of sermons, illustrations, articles, commentaries, etc., for their use. We consider our site much like that of a pastor's file drawer. You open it up and find an assortment of ideas to be considered for your ministry. It is our prayer that it helps you, honors Christ, disciples His people, and leads many people to faith in Jesus Christ.
 
7. Open your sermon files to others!
 
Share your material with others. We invite you to submit your sermons, illustrations and other material for possible publishing on www.pastorlife.com. If you get help on this site, consider giving some help to others. After all, all good things come down from above, so we should freely share them with those who are in the minister of holding forth the Word of Life.
 
Thank you for reading this important section on PastorLife. You feedback is appreciated.