If you sell your audio sermons that were recorded by your church or non-profit ministry, you might want to read this article. The article talks about the common practice of preaching your sermon at church, and selling the recording for your personal financial benefit.
You may be doing something wrong if your paperwork is not right. However, this does bring into question the whole idea of selling sermons as being unethical. I often get emails telling me that sermons should not be sold, they should be free. Some even say that they should be “open source.”
I don’t sell any of my sermons, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with selling them. Now after having said that, I do think that in the era of the internet and freely available sermons, that the average person will have difficulty selling their sermons. Personally, I think that freely giving them away makes sense for a few reasons.
First it makes sense because they reach the maximum amount of people. I have posted my sermons in text, audio, and video. The most views I have seen on a particular text sermon is somewhere near 12K. If I didn’t give that sermon away, perhaps 100-150 people would have heard the product of my work. Now 12K and who knows how many of them will use it to spawn their own creativity while putting together their own sermons.
Second and related to this is the truth that giving away your sermons gets your name out there. I have even had a sermon picked up to be published in an upcoming volume of sermons. I have had journalists contact me with questions about preaching. Yes putting your sermons out there will get your name out there very effectively.
But in reality, the simple fact of the matter is that you might as well not sell your sermons, because most of us will not be able to sell that many of them anyway. In an era when you can go on the internet and listen to Frederick D. Haynes, Otis Moss III, and Rudolph Mckissick on the internet for free, you are going to have a ton of difficulty trying to get any traction selling your sermons.
So if you are going to sell your sermons, do it legally, but recognize that there are valid reasons to give your sermons away free.