Thank you for your interest in putting my work to use. In this era of screenshots, retweets, and share buttons, using and distributing someone else’s work is as convenient as a single tap on your smartphone.

But not everything that others create can be shared — legally — in every avenue that modern tech gives us.

The following Q&A is offered to help you share my work from this website in ways that honor my copyright. (You might also read this blogpost by Tim Fall about how to appropriately share others’ writing online.)

“Your blogposts are awesome! I want to share them on social media. Is that okay?”

First: thanks! Second: yes! This website has social media share buttons for precisely that purpose, so you can share my work while simultaneously giving your friends & followers a link back to the original writing.

“You’ve written something that I’d like to use in worship. Can I read it aloud — for example, as part of a pastoral prayer or in a sermon?”

Yes, you’re welcome to read it aloud in the context of worship, but you also need to reference aloud in worship the title, source, and author (that is, the blogpost title + + my name).

If your faith community streams its worship online and a particular service includes my work being read aloud, please add an online citation of my work to the video, for example by posting a link to my website as a comment on a Facebook Live video of worship. Similarly, if you share your sermons on a website, a sermon that quotes my work should have a link back to my website in your online sermon text.

Can I distribute a piece of yours via non-social-media avenues?”

It depends.

You may print a work of mine from this website in a worship bulletin for a single Sunday’s worship service(s) in a specific faith community, so long as that same bulletin also prints the title & source & author of the piece. If you adapt my work in any way, the printed citation needs to acknowledge the adaptation.

You may share a work of mine from this website via email for not-for-profit, faith-related purposes, so long as a direct link to the original work is embedded in the email.

You may share a work of mine from this website in a church newsletter, so long as that newsletter includes the title & source & author of the piece (again: blogpost title + + my name). If you adapt my work in any way, the printed citation needs to acknowledge the adaptation.

You may not reprint my work without permission in a multi-use bulletin. For example, if your church prints one bulletin to use during the entire Lenten season and you’d like to use one of my psalms on the bulletin cover for the season, please ask. Or, for example, if a denomination produces a bulletin template for its churches, the denomination cannot use a work of mine in the template without my permission.

You may not create your own link to my work. Primarily this means that you may not repost my work on your website in a way that generates a unique link to a piece of my work — for example, reblogging. (Sometimes I cross-post my own work, in which case you should review the permissions that are outlined on both websites where my work is published.)

You may not create something new with my work without my permission. For example, it’s not appropriate to build your congregation’s next capital campaign around prayers from this website without asking me. And it’s not okay to publish my prayers in a book without my permission.

When in doubt, please ask!

It’s clunky to type a website into a bulletin or to say a web address aloud. Is it really necessary?”

Yes. The purpose of an attribution or a citation is not only to give credit where credit is due, but also to point others toward the source where additional material can be found by the same author. If you reprint a liturgy I’ve written in your Sunday bulletin but only include “by Rachel Hackenberg” as the attribution, then folks don’t know the source of the writing, where to find the original version, or where to go if they want to read more writing by me.

There are ways to cite my work in worship (title + source + author) without clunkiness. For example, if you quote my work in a sermon by saying, “As Rachel Hackenberg wrote…” then during the announcements you can add, “The quotation by Rachel Hackenberg in today’s sermon came from, a blogpost titled XYZ.”

“You love Jesus, and I love Jesus, so everything you’ve written is free to use by other Christians, right? It doesn’t matter if you wrote it or if I wrote it, so long as we’re all giving glory to God, don’t you think?”

No. As siblings in Christ, we strive not to harm one another (and of course not to harm all people, regardless of religious affiliation). Using my work without my permission or in violation of my copyright can cause me harm, since writing is a source of income for me.

“Is there a cost with permission?”

Sometimes. Admittedly: rarely. It depends on what you’d like to do with my work. I consider such factors as the audience size for your use of my work, the avenue(s) through which you intend to distribute my work, the work’s benefit to you, etc.

Aren’t you putting your work online so that it can be shared?”

Yes and no. Putting my work on a blog is a form of creation that is protected by copyright laws. There are some ways of using and sharing my work that are fine, and there are other ways that require my permission. Just ask.

“What about other ways of sharing your work?”

It’s delightful when others’ creativity resonates with or is sparked by my work in such a way that something new is imagined. Some folks read my words and hear the potential for a piece of music. Others read my work and envision its use in a book or resource. These ideas are fun to consider together, and those conversations necessarily include a discussion about permissions. Simply drop me an email so we can dream together!