Selling Sermons – Or Give Them Away Free?

dollarsIf 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.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Ed Hightower - November 23, 2009 Reply

Mr. Cox,
I do agree. Can you imagine our Lord and his men roaming the Judaeaian countryside hawking his CD’s of his sermons and other items from his meetings… He had no need of a PR firm,nor a merchandising manager, he just went about doing good, healing and teaching, and dying for the likes of you and me. Glory!

Talise McMillan - June 10, 2010 Reply

Dear Brother Cox,

For the most part I agree with your comments on the subject of “free listening” of God’s messages. I do however; have a problem with your reference to “Your” message, and/or “Your” sermons. I was in the belief that a minister of God, intention for preaching and/or teaching was to give (Christ’s) message. So in fact the message/sermons do not belong to you, I believe they are supposed to be the Word’s of the LORD! Likewise if you sell something that does not belong to you, it is called robbery!

PMARTIN - June 8, 2013 Reply

Is a preacher to be concerned about “getting his name” out there??? This sounds self centered. Go preach “Jesus” on a street corner and get his name out.

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