To what extent should the average local church pastor list all his/her sources and provide annotation for all his/her slides?
This is a recurring question in our house because, online as we are, we often recognize things preached as owing to particular websites or books.
Typically, in a pre-internet age, the pastor was expected to spend “one hour in study for every one minute in the pulpit.” I knew a few pastors who met this expectation, or at least came very, very close. Their studies were filled with commentaries, lexicons and a variety of great books. For them to pause to mention every source would severely break up the flow of their message. It was a given that not all the content was their own, but was the culmination of a week of study.
Today, people sit in the pews fact-checking with their phones, and looking for the source of unique phrases. Plagiarism, in the church at least, is a crime punishable by embarrassment and censure.
What if there isn’t a list of footnotes because great bulk from a single source was copied and pasted wholesale into their sermon notes? “That’s a lot of material to borrow from a single source without attribution;” I said to my wife after lunch the other day. Why not at least direct the congregation to that source in the event they wish to follow-up with further study?
Furthermore, what if the minister/pastor/preacher was hired on their ability to compose great sermons on their own? What if that 30-minutes-equals-30-hours rule is still the general expectation? Doesn’t that make the wholesale borrowing a more serious situation?
What say you?