Rhetoric & Homiletics: “Stealing” Some Excellent Ideas

Plagiarism has been a hot topic.  It may continue to be a hot topic and an all too common practice among pastors because of the incessant demand on one of the most prolific “speechwriters” in the world — preachers.

Preachers are unsurpassed in their weekly public speaking appointments.  There are few, if any, who have more experience in public speaking than pastors.  

The demand for ways to make a message theologically accurate yet interesting is relentless!  The result is that pastors and preachers still continue to make pity points that are not their own — and the audience often knows or suspects that — because they have heard other preachers say the same thing, they also read the book that the pastor has been reading, and/or it is just not the way the pastor talks or thinks!

While it may seem innocuous to repeat a brief quip or witticism, the alternative is so basic and avoids the danger of outright “stealing” what you never thought of yourself.  Forget repeating a statement or an idea or statement that is not your own.

There are some simple ways to avoid “stealing” some excellent material.   Sometimes another’s idea can be grabbed and be repeated with a simple preface . . . .

I read this statement / heard it said that / some has said . . . .
“Water never really belongs to you, it’s just your turn to use it.”

There are a lot of interesting and mind catching ideas floating around in the world of cyberspace that can simply be cited as such, and used for

  • beginning the sermon,
  • illustrating a truth or principle,
  • simply catching the attention of the listeners in making a point,
  • summing up a parallel point,
  • closing (by drawing a parallel)

Here are a few . . . . .


1. “Finding an eggshell in an Egg McMuffin is both annoying and reassuring.”


2. “A different version of you exists in the minds of everyone who knows you.”




3. “As an identical triplet, you are simultaneously one of the rarest and most common people on the planet.”


4. “Making a typo in an online argument is the equivalent of [your] voice cracking in a verbal argument.”





5. “Once we have self-driving cars, wipers will no longer be essential, because the car doesn’t need a clean windshield to drive. Only humans do.”





6. “Kids will never understand the poignant self-satisfaction of slamming a phone down on the cradle to hang up on someone and end an angry conversation.”



7. “There could be a viral video of you doing something random with millions of views, and you have no idea because you haven’t seen it.”





8. “Gen Z might have been the last generation to know what it’s like to get up early in the morning to catch your favorite cartoons on TV.”





9. “Someone out there vividly remembers something you said, which you have completely forgotten.”





10. “When you walk into a 7-Eleven you wouldn’t think it’s an $18 billion company.”



11. “When we switch to electric vehicles, everything is going to become quieter.”

“I wonder how our ecosystems will be affected with less noise pollution?”





12. “Adult life is hard, but at least we don’t have to do P.E. anymore.”




13. “It won’t be long before people use ‘the ’20s, the ’30s, and the ’40s’ to describe the 2020s, the 2030s, and the 2040s.”




14. “If 24-hour clocks started at 23:59 and counted down till 00:01, people might try getting more done.”



15. “We advocate not judging a book by its cover, but also glorify ‘love at first sight.'”




16. “At some point in life, there was a stranger who got disappointed by how your voice sounded when you started talking.”





17. “Chances are high you are not anyone’s best friend.”





18. “Biscuits and gravy are weird because it’s like, ‘Here’s some really wet flour poured over some really dry flour.'”



19. “All adults were children, but not all children will become adults.”





20. “It’s likely that over 99% of trees that you look at will be still here when you’re dead.”





21. “The most attractive people you will ever see are often random passersby in public — who you will never see again, not celebrities you can follow on social media.”





22. “The posted speed limit is the legally accepted maximum limit, but the socially accepted minimum limit.”


23. “The asteroid that ended the dinosaurs was technically the highest ratio of killing birds to one stone in Earth’s history.”



46. “Most people would find licking the inside of a pipe disgusting but wouldn’t think twice about drinking water coming from that same pipe.”





47. “Whenever you eat canned pieces of fruit, you are more than likely sharing one whole fruit with someone hundreds of miles away.”





48. “Headaches make you realize how much you take not having one for granted.”





49. “Extra fries in your bag is going to become a thing of the past once fast-food workers are 100% replaced by robots.”


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