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Real Wisdom

More Ponderings About "Pre-packaged" & Plagiarism

Honestly, I was going to let this topic rest because there are so many more positive things to write about from God's Word.  However, in all fairness, I feel that I must address further some comments in the discussion that ensued at my post from last week entititled "It Can't Be Plagiarism, Can it?".  Keep in mind that I will not be addressing everything included in those comments because to do so would be repetitive.  After all, both sides of some of the questions were addressed adequately within the comments themselves. If you haven't read that post including the comments section, I would encourage you to read it in its entirety before proceeding.

Plagiarism Revisited

First of all, I must begin by restating the main purpose of my previous post.  The post was about the act of plagiarism, defined as taking the writings, ideas, etc. and passing them off as one's own.  To do such a thing, regardless of whether permission has been granted by the original idea generator, is still plagiarism.  Think back to your high school days and papers you had to write for English class.  Your teacher wouldn't let you turn in work that was prepared for you by a friend, relative or other source, would they? The standard still applies.

What's the Big Deal, Anyway?

Obviously, there is more than meets the eye to my simple question of whether or not using prepackaged purchased sermons without disclosing the source of such materials to an unsuspecting congregation is plagiarism.  By definition, not disclosing a source when the source is known is in fact plagiarism.   Most of the time, only the presenter of the material knows that he is plagiarizing.  So the question to me is then "Why would a person not want to disclose the source of their material?"  Maybe the presenter doesn't realize that they should do so, but on the other hand, could there be some deceit present?  I can't make the call, but I can ask the question.  What I do know is this:

1) God doesn't like it.

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. - Proverbs 20:17

2) Paul didn't do it.

For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.  But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.  1 Thess 2:3-4 NKJV

What Time are We Saving?

Admittedly, putting together a worship service on Sunday takes a lot of work.  It takes a lot of resources to "keep up with the Jones'", even if you are a church.  I know this is stated pretty bluntly, but I want to make a point here.  Again, I am not criticizing here the creators of the resources, just their proper use.  A few commenters mentioned the time saving aspects of the prepackaged service materials as they related to churches of all sizes with limited resources.   It is here that I would like to address this point.

My challenge for us to consider is whether or not we are spending our precious time on the things that really matter anyway.  Do we need the drama?  Do we need the best band?  Do we need the most up to date movie clip or power point presentation?  Are these things that take up so much valuable time to put together really necessary in presenting the gospel?  Who are we trying to please?  And is "saving time" really profitable in the long run?

A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.  Proverbs 28:20 NKJV

Finally, to bring this back to the whole point of my original post, if churches are going to use prepackaged services, they should be disclosing their source material to their congregation to remain blameless.

What Does God Want?

God wants us to get to know Him as He says in His word:

But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these I delight." says the Lord. (Jer 9:24 NKJV)

God wants our teachers to study:

2 Tim 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)

God wants us to be blameless so that the good we do will not be evil spoken of.  (Romans 14:6)

And if all of this means that we need to disclose our "source", why can't we just do it?  Let's keep the main thing the main thing, keep our motives pure and keep our focus on Jesus.  God will take care of the rest.  After all, He says He will build His church.