A break from all the seriousness…

A break from all the seriousness… June 11, 2011

Do you have a TRUE story of “pulpit humor” to share here?  One commenter shared that a Nazarene preacher told his congregation “I want to see some of you Nazarene women without pants on!”  It’s hard to believe, but I’ve heard worse.

So here’s my worst or best one (depending on your perspective, I guess):

Setting–denominational convention, Sunday evening “big service” with thousands in attendance.  The denominational leaders and guest speakers (mostly men) sitting on the platform during the “song service” facing the audience.  During the missions offering, the leaders of the Women’s World Fellowship (denominational women’s group) walked across the stage holding signs with the week’s announcements on them–signs facing the audience.  After the offering, a denominational leader stepped up to the pulpit and said “Well, I don’t know what you folks out there saw during the offering, but we saw the same behinds as last year!”  (The WWF had simply used last year’s announcement signs and painted this year’s announcements on the backs of them and turned them around so that the men on the platform saw last year’s announcement.)  This really happened.  According to my parents and uncles and aunts who were there (I’m not sure if I was there; I would have been very, very young) the audience broke out into waves and waves of laughter that kept going off and on throughout the entire rest of the evening.

So, what’s your best TRUE story of something someone said or did in the pulpit or at the lectern?  It can’t be an “evangelegend”–something you don’t know where or when it happened or to whom.  (I know the name of the man who said that in my story, but I’m not giving it here to protect the innocent–his descendents!)  You either had to have been there and seen/heard it yourself or know the details of when and where and who.

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  • YouTube is full of them. My personal favorite is the preacher who had trouble talking about Lot pitching his tents. Enjoy!

  • There was one lady who occupied, along with her husband, a very senior role in our denomination. Her faux pas were frequent and legendary.

    In one sermon she told the story once of how she’d been doing some housework on a fine summer’s day. ‘I bent over to pick something up off the floor. Now, I had the back door open, and the sun was shining straight up my back passage!’

    Another time she told us how her and her husband went to inspect a new building our denomination had built. She told us how ‘the architect got out of the car and proceeded to show us his magnificent erection!’

    This lady was a beautiful, Godly woman who was instrumental in getting me into ministry. She was a fine preacher, too. She just didn’t listen to herself preach through the ears of the ungodly.

  • james petticrew

    I’m afraid this is only really funny if you are British. An North American pastor at a chapel service at the theological college I attended announced to the students and staff that the weather had been so good he had been gardening “topless in his pants and suspenders”

    Now I am not sure what picture that conjures up for you but on this side of the pond it brought into our minds a picture of a middle aged man dressed like a Playboy centrefold. Nothing of spiritual significance happened in the rest of the service, our minds had been contaminated!

  • Bev Mitchell

    I’ll bite.
    At a big city-wide pentecostal gathering the star pastor speaker struggled to the podium after a great hosted dinner and opened with “Well, that was an outstanding meal – I thoroughly enjoyed every bite – but I must say that  I like my wife’s buns better!”

  • Joseph Olstad

    Cited in Greg Laurie’s book “The Updside Church” (I think it was about him personally or someone he was listening to)

    It was during a prayer in which one petitioned that they would be protected from the “fiery darts of the wicked one” but it unfortunatley came out “the diery farts of the wicked one.” Oops

  • Joshua Penduck

    This video has to be one of my favourites: I’ve never seen a pastor go red so quickly!



    • rogereolson

      You’re the second person to recommend this youtube clip. Somehow, watching it, I suspect the preacher did that on purpose. I heard that one years ago–when I was in college. It supposedly happened to a preacher everyone seemed to know but couldn’t name.

  • james petticrew

    Just noticed your quote of my quote, we truly are divided by a common language. He probably would have been drummed out the church for demanding to see young women without pants on, as over here pants refer to underwear and not trousers!

    This causes endless laughs for us when Americans visit. I remember my 5 year old son bursting into laughter when in the car a visiting American pastor’s wife asked me if it would be ok if she “just wore pants to church in the morning” My son probably thought it would be the most interesting sight he had ever seen in church!

  • My friend, who doesn’t want his name given, was a classmate of mine at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. He told of his first sermon that he preached at the age of 16. My friend was a recent convert, none of his family were church members, and his family was accustomed to using “colorful language” at home. My friend answered the call to preach at age 16 and the pastor gave him opportunity to preach one Sunday night.

    My friend was a quite exuberant and enthusiastic speaker. He had his mother come to church that night to hear his first sermon. The topic was David and Goliath. As the young preacher boy got into the sermon, his excitement grew as recounted the biblical story. “Young David had no fear as he approached Goliath, because he knew God was with him.” He said. “he put that stone in his slingshot, spun it faster and faster and faster, then he let the stone fly and hit that SOB fight between the eyes.” (Except he didn’t just say “SOB”, he uttered the entire expletive) My friend continued with his sermon, never realizing what he had actually said.

    After he got home that night, he asked his mother what she thought of the sermon. “Well,” she said, “I thought you did a fine job delivering that message, I’m just not sure those church people are ready for language like that.” He couldn’t believe it when she told him how he presented the David and Goliath story. The next day he went to the pastor, humble and apologetic. He explained that he had just realized how he had let some words fly that were from his pre-conversion days, and he felt really bad about how he had managed his first sermon.

    His pastor told him, “Well, the truth is, that people began paying a lot more attention to the rest of your sermon after you told that Bible story the way you did, and there were two decisions of faith at the end of the service. I don’t think I would make it a continued practice, but this time, I think things turned out okay.”

    • Pardon the typo: “fight between the eyes” should be “right between the eyes.”

  • Matt W

    I remember a woman at our church doing a children’s sermon and she handed out ‘tickets to heaven’ to each child for an illustration that she was going to do (the theme of the message was faith and salvation).

    Some of the kids thought they were literal tickets (i.e. they actually thought there was a bus outside the church that they were going to board soon that would take them to heaven).

    In the middle of the children’s message the kids (who had come to the front of the church for the message) started looking nervously around trying to locate their parents – as if to say a final goodbye.

    Soon the speaker realized that she had terrified the kids by giving them the tickets – and spent the rest of the time trying to calm the kid’s down.

  • Brian Small

    Well, I wasn’t there personally, but this is too funny to pass up. In one of my churches I heard one of my parishioners tell this story about a pastor they knew. At the end of a wedding service the pastor said,

    “The couple would like to invite everyone to the fellowship hall for the conception.”

    • rogereolson

      It certainly might have happened somewhere, but I’ve heard that one for many years. Nobody who told it to me knew to whom it happened or where it happened. I think it’s an evangelegend.

  • You might like this true story just up on a blog.

  • My dad often told the story of a meeting of Open Bible Church pastors and leaders in Oregon (I believe this was in Eugene). This would have occurred in the mid-60s. Toward the end of the conference, a pastor was speaking to exhort the leaders to greater commitment. As he was concluding the message, he told the people, “Brothers and sisters, we’re always going to pray more . . . but- We’re always going to read our Bibles more . . . but- We’re always going to evangelize more . . . but- Brothers and sisters, tonight I want you to come up here and put your buts on the altar.” There was an immediate silence, then a few snickers, which quickly turned into raucous laughter.

    At a coffee shop later that evening, the speaker, greeted by laughter, jokingly shook his fist and said, “Alright, the first one of you who even opens your mouth . . .” This was followed by a lot of good-natured joshing. I’m a post-Pentecostal now, but the down-to-earth humor of these pastors is a good memory from my childhood.

    • rogereolson

      I grew up in Open Bible and I heard the one about the preacher who said “I want you all to put your buts on the altar” many, many times. But I never heard where it was said or by whom. If you parents are still living, please ask them for a name. I know almost every OBSC evangelist and leader. (My uncle was president of OBSC for 25 years and my aunts and uncles were OBSC missionaries. My stepmother was Frank Smith’s secretary and my birth mother was R. Bryant Mitchell’s secretary!)

      • My father is no longer living, but I’ll see if my mother remembers any names. We were part of the Open Bible Church in Medford, Or, pastored by Rev. Harsh (affectionally known as ‘Rev’). We moved when I was only four, but my earliest, vivid memories of church were of this church. We moved often after this, and tended to alternate between Assemblies of God and Baptist churches. (A somewhat strange combination, I know, but not without its benefits, such as teaching me to fairly consider opposing viewpoints.)

  • Terry

    During a worship service, using the Tabernacle as a form for our worship expression that night, I was encouraging prayer among the people around the Altar of Incense. Only it came out as the Altar of incest… And to make matters worse, I did it twice. I was able to cover in both instances, thankfully. If you talk for a living you’ll eventually step on your tongue.

    Another time I got my tongue wrapped around my eye teeth and couldn’t see what I was saying: I was reading from one of those great passages on the annals of the Kings (1Kings 11:41, 14:19, 29, etc.) and discovered that other events of a king’s reign were to be found in the “anals of the kings.” I was not able to cover this one and I seem to remember losing the congregation (and the morning) after that.