The other day I was listening to a preacher. After about 5 minutes I realized that his presentation style, rate of speech, and sermonic structure were copied from a popular preacher. Even some of the idioms that were characteristic of the popular preacher such as “Bless My Bones” or “Gooder” were faithfully copied by this unoriginal preacher. Immediately I began to wonder whether the preacher copied the sermon itself. I began to wonder if he spent any time putting together the presentation. In short I began to wonder how much was original and how much was a facsimile of the original.
Certainly we are to learn from other preachers, but we should never copy another preacher to the point that we become “redundant.” God has chosen you to preach the gospel for some reason. It is that “something” that makes you YOU that is the reason that God has chosen you to be God’s representative. You may get a shout, the people may be fooled, but you are hurting yourself when you resort to such copying. You are putting yourself in a box that will hinder future growth. You are tempting fate as you wonder who might have heard the original preacher that you are copying. You are limiting your future options as many of those who book preachers will choose the good original preacher over the copy of a great preacher.
So what can we do to guarantee that we do not copy a preacher to the point of being a “knock off?” First, if you are emulating the style of preachers, use more than one to emulate. Don’t pick one preacher. If you pick 3 or 4 that you enjoy the synthesis of the styles of these three preachers will be unique and thus will be original to you.
The next way to guarantee that your use of other preachers is helpful and not hindering is to work to be you in the pulpit. While you take characteristics from others, attempt to sound like yourself. You are not attempting to preach the gospel like Freddie Haynes or Jerry Black. You are attempting to preach the gospel like you. Never get into the pulpit and sound totally different than you sound outside the pulpit. Just that alone makes you sound insincere. Again, God has chosen you. This requires a lot of work in exegesis and sermon construction, but it also requires a lot of work in learning your own idiosyncrasies so that you can use them rather than having them use you.
Don’t sound like a “knock off” or a “hack” when you preach the gospel. It is better to be a perfect representation of you than a good but imperfect copy of a great preacher. Think about it!