Embarrassing Moments in Ministry

I’ve been in fulltime Christian ministry for over 30 years. I’ve had some good times. I’ve also had some moments when I stood there looking like a complete idiot. I’ve done some dumb things. I will bet that you have as well, if you are willing to admit it.

So, tell us your story. What was your most embarrassing moment as a minister?

Rules:

1) It has to be true.

2) It has to be embarrassing to you. Don’t tell stories that will embarrass another. This is confession time, guys.

3) Try to maintain some small measure of good taste.

I will start the ball rolling with two stories – hard to pick one over the other. Both actually could be entitled “Sermon Illustrations Gone Bad.” Strangely, both were making essentially the same point.

First Embarrassing Story

I was speaking of the importance of being grounded in the Word of God. I was a SCUBA diver in college and used to dive a place called “The Wrecks” off Palm Beach. On my first dive there, my ears would not equalize (pressure). My dive instructor came over and yanked my mask off. I put it back on and cleared it. (This is the crux of the story – to clear a mask underwater, you put it on, put pressure on the top of the mask, and blow through your nose. The air from the nose blows the water out of the mask and clears it.) When I cleared the mask, my ears equalized and I headed to the ocean floor (60 feet down). The whole time I was down there, my mask was filling with this thick green fluid which looked like algae. I couldn’t figure out how algae was getting in my mask, but I kept clearing my mask and it kept refilling. My air was gone, so I headed to the surface. As I got about 10 feet from the surface, I remembered that the first color you lose in water is red. I had a nosebleed the whole time I was down there. In shark infested waters I was putting blood out there the whole time.

THE POINT: When we are not grounded in the Word, we are shark bait, like I was that day.

THE PROBLEM: When I tried to illustrate the process of cleaning the mask to the church, I forgot I had a cold. I pushed on the top of my imaginary mask and I blew through my nose to clear the mask – and I blew snot all over my face.

THE LESSON: When you blow snot all over your face in front of your congregation, your sermon is over. Yes, you can keep preaching, but your ability to communicate anything significant to them is over.

Second Embarrassing Story

We had a 15 passenger van which we took on vacations to Florida. Good times. But on one of those trips, we evidently got some gasoline with water in it – it was not helpful to the operation of “Sherman” – our tank. Made the thing run really awful.

THE POINT: We must be careful to fuel ourselves well. Christians only function well when they get the good fuel – the Word of God.

THE PROBLEM: Here is what I said. “You cannot live well as a Christian if you are not fueling yourself regularly with the deep things of the Word of God. The problem with a lot of you folks is that you are full of bad gas.”  Yes, I said it. Unfortunately, my congregation was not of the forgiving sort that would simply ignore my faux pas and move on.

THE LESSON: Don’t accuse your people of being offensively flatulent!

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    I have another story, but it involves me mispronouncing a word and accidentally turning it into a profanity. I’ve still got a kid that was in that SS class who claims he was scarred by the time “the preacher cussed at me.”

  2. volfan007 says

    I had a homebound member, who lived on a farm. He and his wife had a very bad, mean dog. Everytime I’d go to visit them, I would honk my horn, until the lady would come out and literally hold onto the dog while I scampered into the house.

    Well, one time, I pulled up to the house, and I could see the dog a long way off. I thought I could beat the dog to the door, this time. So, I got out and was walking to the door, whenever I heard the pitter patter of the claws of a dog on the carport floor. It was the dog….mouth open…growling….coming right towards me. I instinctively grabbed the doorknob to the house, and lunged into the house…tripping on my way in….I slammed the door as I was falling onto the floor…to keep the dog from biting me. I then proceeded to roll into the dining room.
    Well, after coming to a halt on the dining room floor, I looked up. And, I saw that couple’s whole family sitting at the dining room table….large family. And, they were all staring at me with jaws dropped and mouth’s open. I looked up at that shocked crowd, and said, “I’m sorry, but that dog was about to get me.” And then, they all busted out laughing….

    Needless to say, I never heard the end of that one….

    David

  3. Dean says

    I was sharing a story that Tony Compollo used to share about being in Hawaii for a week preaching. He got jet lag and started going to Waffle House each morning around 2:00 am. He met a group of prostitutes who came there “after work”each night. One was upset one night for it was her birthday. A birthday is a reminder that she was a prostitute for one more year. The next night Compollo gave her a birthday party at the Waffle House to share God’s love. I was drawing the net with this story to motivate my church to live their faith. When I got to part of story about lady being upset over birthday I said, “no one chooses prostitution for a career it is something a lady does until she can get back on her feet.” Laughter erupted, service over.

    • Dave Miller says

      A truly embarrassing story almost always ends spiritual productivity for that service!

  4. says

    I was promoting a marriage weekend retreat. We had already had the largest number of couples sign up ever and I was trying to see just how many we could get. So in all my best marketing skills I could muster I said: “and listen, if you are not married and would like to attend, sign up, we will put you in a room with someone of the opposite sex and it will be an incredible never to forget weekend!”

    It took 10 min to get the laughter to stop. Should have seen the line at the sign up list! Choir members ran to out of the choir loft to get their names on the list.

  5. says

    I think I was preaching from Ephesians 2:1-10 (although this could apply to many, many other passages of Scripture). After describing how we are dead in our trespasses and sins and that we are “children of wrath” apart from Christ, I got to the “But” in verse 4. I began to say what a big “but” it was and that I really loved big “buts” in Scripture (although I don’t think I said “in Scripture”). As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew that I should have phrased my excitement over this “but” a bit differently. After a pause of about two seconds — which seemed like about a minute — I pressed forward as if I had not just said what I knew that I had said. My wife and I got a good laugh over that one when we got home. Needless to say, since then I have been very careful in how I explain the “buts” in a particular passage that I am preaching on.

    • Dave Miller says

      My congregations would never let me get away with pretending I didn’t say it.

  6. volfan007 says

    Okay, here’s another one….I could write a book…..lol.

    My wife and I were visiting an absentee member, one afternoon, late. The woman was sitting in a chair near some double, glass, sliding doors. So, her back was to the doors. My wife and I were sitting on a couch…facing the glass doors. The visit was going well….then….

    A naked man came walking down the walk, in front of the glass doors. It was the woman’s husband. He had been cleaning the pool, and got wet…thinking that no one would be around, he just took his clothes off, and came to the house. But, there he was….standing there in his birthday suit.

    Well, I glanced at my wife…she glanced at me. We both gave each other that “do you see what I’m seeing” glance. Well, that fella looked thru the glass doors, and saw us. First of all, he stared thru the doors. When he saw us, his eyes got big…then, his mouth dropped. Then, he took off running! lol

    His wife never saw anything, and continued talking…..my wife and I just sat there….then, when we left….never seeing the man, again….I told my wife that we could never talk about this, until we had left this town. But, not too many days later, he was telling the story to people…..lol.

    David

  7. Dale Pugh says

    Edit or delete as you see necessary, Dave, but here it is in all it’s glory. I laugh about it now:
    My most embarrassing moment in the pulpit occurred on a Sunday morning after a few days of an intestinal bug. I felt well enough that morning to carry on my regular schedule. In the middle of my sermon, while I was reading some verses from Romans 12, my “difficulties” unexpectedly returned.
    I knew that this was going to be bad, so I said, “Folks, I’ve had some sickness this past week and I’m not feeling very well right now.” I turned and walked off the stage toward the nearest exit which is about 20 feet away. I didn’t make it to the door before things got worse, but I just kept walking and never looked back. No one in the first few rows was spared the knowledge of just exactly what was happening.
    Those who were there just sat there looking at one another. The music director got up and led them in the invitation song. They prayed and went home. To my knowledge, no one discussed what had just taken place.
    Needless to say, we didn’t have church that night. It’s a small church, so I was able to get word out that afternoon that I was still indisposed.

  8. says

    When my youngest was about 3 my wife would bring him in to church on Sunday nights and sit in the back. On this particular week I could hear some distant whisper arguing in the back and noticed it was my wife and son. About that time he ripped one on the wooden pew and it reverberated throughout the worship center that held about 400 with 150 in it. And then very quickly you hear his sweet little voice shout “mom, I told you my tummy hurt!” The place erupted in laughter – I led in prayer and we went home early on that one.

  9. Randall Cofield says

    At the very pinnacle of a sermon on the Exaltation of Christ, I quoted Php 2:7 as follows: “Our Lord made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a SERPENT, and was made in the likeness of men….”

    Mortified doesn’t begin to describe it.

    That’s when I learned the verity of Dave’s statement: “… your sermon is over. Yes, you can keep preaching, but your ability to communicate anything significant to them is over.”

  10. Dwight McKissic says

    When I pastored in Arkansas, there was a Sunday night immediately after church that I will never forget.

    Church had just ended. I was standing down front shaking hands. One of the last persons milling around halfway down the aisle was a little boy about three-four years old. He made eye contact with me and then took off at a full sprint toward me. The closer he got a saw a big beautiful smile upon his face. He could hardly contain his glee. I opened my arms as he was about a foot length away. He jumped into my arms and just looked upon my face-googling and goggling–ooing and ahh-ing–for a few seconds. He finally settled down and stared me in the face and then said: “Hello, God.” I promise; a true story. And indeed a humiliating and teachable moment.

    • William Thornton says

      A cute little girl came up to me and asked, “Are you God?”

      I had to tell the truth.

    • says

      On a serious note: men with children, as many of us are, help form an idea of God in our children’s minds with the way we treat them as their father. We’re not God, but we directly influence their idea of God, not so much by our teaching, but by our behavior toward them.

  11. Lee Cooper says

    My first church was in a modified old Gas Station with a metal post in the middle of the sanctuary area which had the chairs oriented on either side with the post in the middle. As I would normally go out into the crowd as I preached I came to the point in a sermon where I was talking about unconfessed sin was like hitting a brick wall. As I spoke I reached up putting my hand on the pole as I bounced my head off the pole. No problem there. A bit later I wanted to re-emphasis that same point so I quickly headed for the pole and proceeded to give the illusion of smacking my head on it. Unfortunately this time I failed to get my hand up quick enough and smacked my head very hard on the metal pole. Took about 5 minutes for my to see straight. Obviously as Dave said, the sermon was over at that point.

  12. John Wylie says

    In the church I’m in now we started a tradition of having a man in the church come to the pulpit and do a scripture reading. One Sunday I asked one of our young “preacher boys” to have one prepared. I noticed that not long before he was supposed to do the reading he got up and left the auditorium, I assume to go to the restroom. I got a little miffed that he would do that at that time and so when the time came I stormed up to the podium and I said, “I’m sorry but I had asked Bro. Cody to do the reading and he’s no where to be found. I guess I need to get more reliable people to do it.” Someone from the congregation said, “Look behind you preacher.” And to my horror Cody was sitting in the choir loft the whole time! Apparently he had reentered the auditorium from the side door and I did not see him come up from the side of the platform! I felt like a jerk.

  13. Bruce H. says

    The elders were wanting to find a place for me to teach. I am an “adults only” teacher but they disregarded my pleas and made me start teaching the Senior High School. A couple of them sat in on the lesson. They let me choose my topic and I chose “The Sovereignty of God”. My illustration was a card trick I knew that amazed the viewers. The card trick was to display the sovereignty of its mathematical order. I missed counted for the first time in my life. I never recovered and the lesson had no finish. I got my adult class after that.

  14. volfan007 says

    Dave, my cousin wouldnt mind me telling you this one….he was a Pastor in the Bootheel of MO at the time…his son was about 5 yrs. old. He gave the invitation, and his son came walking down the aisle. My cousin thought…no way he’s gonna get saved this young. Well, when his son got to the front, my cousin asked him, “Son, why have you come forward this morning?” And, his son said, “Daddy, when we get thru, can we go to Pizza Hut?” lol He said, “yes, son, now go sit down.”

    lol

    David

  15. Daniel says

    Against my better judgment, I’ll share one.

    The first church I served was a very small country church. A beautiful wooden church building with a block Social Hall. Extremely thin wood veneer doors were the choice in all the rooms of the church. Once a month we would have our business meeting in the social hall where we would share a covered dish meal.

    At the time I was a bivocational pastor, working 50 hours a week in retail and pastoring this rural church. I was sick. I had been at work all day but had spent the day mostly sitting in my office and running to the bathroom as the need arose. By the time I made it to the church that night I was feeling somewhat better but I ate very little for fear that I might have a reprisal.

    After everyone ate we sat around one long row of tables (all 12 of us) and began our conference. I was sitting on the end with the bathrooms about 15 feet directly behind me. Small bathrooms. Small bathrooms with no fans and thin veneer doors. In the midst of a spirited discussion as to whether or not we should replace the deep well, it hit. I had no choice.

    I bolted for the bathroom praying for silent relief. Such was not to be the case. In fact, the discussion was at the other end of the table and my presence was not missed until the sounds from the bathroom were heard. I’m not sure who was more embarassed, my wife or myself.

    After the brief interlude we did decide to not replace the well. The conference was concluded.

  16. Joel says

    My Grandpa, Roger Hunt, was a Presbyterian minister, and he used to to tell the story of switching pulpits with another minister one Sunday, and the poor fellow accidentially using my Grandma Helen’s name in vain. Appearantly the bulletin had some mundane tidbit of which was made mention by the visiting pastor during the announcements. The mistake came when he followed up with the phrase, “…and if you need any more information, you can go to Hell and hunt (Helen Hunt) for it.” Since I wasn’t there, I can’t speak as to the congregational reaction, but My Grandma said there were numerous gasps amongst the pews.

    While my Grandpa always laughed when he told that story, it always made my Grandma pretty tight-lipped… :)

  17. volfan007 says

    I was out visiting some prospects, one time. I didnt know these people, at all. Well, they invited me into their home. And, they had one of those couches that you just sink down into, and you cant get back out of… especially someone as big as me. Well, when I sat down, my britches just ripped wide open….and, I mean, wide open….they blew out!

    The poor people just sat there….staring at me…with this shocked look on their face. And, I said, “Well, I guess I better be going. I hope yall come to Church, this Sunday.” Needless to say, I never saw them come to Church. lol

    David

  18. says

    Well, here goes…

    During my days at MABTS I also served as Children’s Minister at a church in Memphis. During a period of time while we were without a pastor, our staff took on various responsibilities. One Wednesday night, I had the privilege of leading our adult prayer meeting. One request had come to us from our previous Children’s Minister who was then serving as a Youth Pastor in Alabama. It was to report that hey were expecting their second child. At that point I took the liberty of saying, “Hearing this reminds me that my wife and I are often asked when we will have our first child. Well, we’re working on it and we’ll let you know…” It took a second (eternity) for me to realize what I had said. Trying to talk my way around it only made it worse…but wait, there’s more. After we finished, my wife, who had been working with our Mission Friends kids (& new nothing of what had transpired), had a few of our guys (my ‘friends’) come up to her and say, “you go girl”, etc. Finally one of them explained what had happened. We laugh about it…now.

  19. Jess Alford says

    When I was pastor at Flatcreek Baptist church back in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, (I never did figure out why it was called flatcreek), I really don’t care. I had a 1971 camaro that I would visit in and drive to church. The camaro was low to the ground and I had to drive over a
    gravel road full potholes left by the coal trucks, the pot holes were about a foot deep. One pot hole caused me to tear my shifter linkage loose
    from the transmission and bent my shifter on the transmission. I found a small steel rod I thought would be a perfect fit for what I wanted to do.
    I drilled a hole in the floor board of my car near my right foot, and
    stuck the rod down through the hole to the linkage, when I bent the rod just right it worked fine. I would have to pull or push the rod by hand for whatever gear I wanted. When you are poor you either fix it yourself or
    walk. I would have no idea what gear the transmission was in if the car would lunge forward I knew I was ready to go somewhere.

    I had a grouchy old deacon and his son that wanted to go visiting with me.
    The son was about 40 years old, the deacon had white hair. To make a long story short, I had to drive up a long steep hill to visit some folks.
    The deacon and the son asked if it would be ok to set in the car while I went in to visit the couple. I said sure.

    I pulled up in their driveway, pushed my rod to where I thought was park.
    I got out and closed the door and started walking on up to the house.
    I heard a car rolling behind me, when I looked back I guess my can was headed home backwards, I have never seen a white haired man moving so fast in my life as he was moving back and forth in the front seat, all I could see of his son was his legs sticking up while his head and hands
    were down near the brake, finally they got the car stopped as I caught up with them, I jumped in and pushed my rod two more knotches and hit
    park. I still laugh to this day, Moses didn’t have anything on me.

  20. Christiane says

    KAOPECTATE

    an OTC drug for people with ‘tummy troubles’ (euphemism)
    that might ‘flare up’ at the wrong times, in the wrong places, and around the wrong people

    it dries diarrhea up safely while getting you through your day (or evening) without too much angst

    keep a bottle (of Kaopectate) in your Church office desk drawer just for those times when Mother Nature decides to speed things up and you get a roaring case of the ‘green apple quick step’.

    ‘Depends’ are good as back-up insurance on a really bad day when you have a stubborn case,
    or you could try the Archie Bunker remedy cooked up by Cousin Maude:
    Cream Wheat with cheese . . . this actually works!

    God Bless!

  21. Jess Alford says

    Here is another true story from the hills. I talked one of my deacons into going possum hunting with me. I was proud of my dog, his name was Luke so I called him old Luke. The deacon and I heard old Luke barking.
    We went to him, old Luke had a possum down in a hole. Old Luke was
    trying to dig him out. I told the deacon to just wait while I go get a shovel to dig out the possum. When I got back with the shovel the deacon said brother Jess you better careful, I know someone a possum bit. I didn’t know that a 300 pound deacon would be afraid of a possum.

    I made the hole bigger with my shovel so I could get my head and my hand in the hole. I turned on my light and there it was, one of the biggest possums I’d ever seen. I reached my arm in the hole and got the possum by the tail and started pulling him out of the hole. The deacon was yelling you better be careful bro Jess. When I cleared the hole with the possum,
    old Luke latched onto the possum. A tug of war was on, Old Luke was a strong dog. It was dark and I couldn’t see the creek behind me. During the tug of war I didn’t know the 300 pound deacon was between me and the creek. I gave one big hard pull, old Luke let go, my hands and the possum went over my shoulder and smacked the deacon in the face.
    The deacon fell backward into the creek,Splat! The deacon said Oh Lordy
    preacher, you’ve killed me. The banks of the creek was about six feet
    high and the creek had about six inches of mud in it, You guys ought to have seen that deacon, he looked like a three hundred pound ball of mud.

    I still laugh about this one too.

  22. Jess Alford says

    Just one more and I’ll hush, It’s about the deacon in the first story, mean
    and grouchy. He and another fellow were talking, the other fellow pulled out his pipe and was going to smoke, the fellows last match didn’t strike,
    he asked the deacon for a light, the deacon said I don’t smoke but I have my magnifying glass with me that I use for reading, it will light your pipe.

    My deacon turned the fellow toward the sun and said put the pipe in your mouth and when I tell you to start puffing, puff as hard as you can. The
    deacon zeroed the magnifying glass in just right. There was just a little bright spot, instead of putting the spot on the tobacco, the deacon had it zeroed in on the end of the fellows nose. The deacon said start puffing.
    The guy starts puffing and after about 10 seconds he spits out his pipe
    and calls the deacon a bad name.

    Sorry guys, I still laugh at this one too.

  23. Greg Harvey says

    Brilliant idea, Dave. I appreciate the shared humility (if not humiliation) of the story sharers. You guys kill me!

  24. says

    I have two, both of which occurred on Easter Sunday. I think God did this to maximize the embarrassment. First I accidentally said erection instead of resurrection in the INTRODUCTION of my message. I wanted to die, alas I had to carry on.

    Another Easter after finishing my message I promptly backed up and fell in our trough that we use for baptizing. It was horrible.

    • Judy Ford says

      I watched a situation comedy one evening. The man was behind the door watching his inexperienced son embarrass himself with a girl he wanted to impress. He looked up at the sky and begged, “Quick, beam him up Scotty!” I’m not a minister, but can see how it would be nice if a pastor could be “beamed up” from time to time. Thank you all for what you do.

  25. Wade Phillips says

    I hope this is not too graphic, Dave. Feel free to delete if it is. But I have never heard the end of this from my Sunday School class.

    I was discussing Eve’s creation, and how she and Adam stood before one another, naked and unashamed. And how it caused Adam to break into the first poem, about how they were created for one another, the perfect match.

    My paraphrase, “It was like a round peg met a round hole,” was unforunate. Most of the class tried to be really spiritual, but I had one new Christian who couldn’t help but bust out laughing. I didn’t even realize what I said until that moment. Of course, the one person laughing caused everyone else to do the same. Class was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point.

  26. David Krueger says

    I was pastoring my first church out of college. It was an open-country church in mid-Missouri. One Sunday I was preaching on the Prophet Elijah’s great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. One of my points was how this great man of God had achieved this great spiritual victory, but when Queen Jezebel threatened his life his courage failed him. In my mind I was thinking, “Elijah ran as quickly as he could for the desert.” What came out of my mouth was, “And Elijah ran like hell for the desert. “ My wife wanted to slide under her pew.

    • Dave Miller says

      You know, that is why I don’t like watching movies with a lot of cussing in them. I am so afraid that at some point I will have a momentary lapse – a senior moment – and have something like that happen to me.

  27. Jess Alford says

    Dave, against my better judgement, but here goes. My son taught my grandson to say tallywacker instead of pee pee. My son said it was more manly.

    I had bought my grandson a coon dog, five years old is a good age to start a grandson coon hunting. I told him that the coon dog is the smartest dog in the world.

    One Sunday, my grand son went to church with my wife and I. Every one gathered around him, making over him, really making him feel good.
    So my grandson started talking to the folks. He told the the folks that he
    had the smartest dog in the world, which made me feel good, but he went on to say, I asked Luke (the dogs name), what is three plus three?
    He licked his tallywacker six times. I tell you all I could have crawled
    under my own shoe. I never was so embarrassed in my life. I wanted to say who is this kid. The older folks in the church almost laughed themselves to death.

  28. tom bryant says

    I was baptizing for the 1st time ever in the 1st church i had ever served in. I had not even had any practice dunks. We were baptizing at the end of the service. As I baptized this older lady when as i put her under the water, her wig popped off and was floating like a dead rat on the water. She had very little hair under it, so, not knowing what else to do, I just reached down, picked it up and put it on her head.

    People started laughing which got me tickled and I was unable to pray from laughing, so I called on a deacon to close the service. All I got was silence and when I looked over to where he was, he was shaking with laughter. I just said, “Amen” and called it a day.

  29. tom bryant says

    I didn’t get married until I was almost 45 and the jokes were constant about setting me up with dates. Our youth guy made some announcements and ended it up with something about me being single. Without thinking, I said “People can set me up as long as they’re not under 30 or over 50… but some of these 60 year olds are looking pretty good.” The line to shake my hand after the service was extra long with senior adult single ladies.

  30. Dale Pugh says

    Keep it coming, folks! I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a blog post so much and I just know that Dave is going to close it down before we get to the REALLY good stuff…….

  31. Scott Shaver says

    In 1985, while a student at East Texas Baptist University, one of my professors (Dr. Franklin Atkinson) recommended to the church he was serving as interim pastor in Shreveport LA that I be called on board as youth minister.

    I was interviewed by the committee, introduced to church members and instructed to stand before the entire congregation that Sunday evening to give my testimony.

    At the conclusion, I left the platform, walked back to my seat (about 8 or 9 rows back) and scooted in close to my wife on the pew. I put my arm around my wife, fixed my eyes on the platform and waited for Dr. Atkinson to have the next word.

    Atkinson said nothing as he approached the pulpit, wiping tears from his eyes.

    It was then we heard a low but growing rumble of laughter coming from the back of the sanctuary. As the laughter began to reach a deafening crescendo, the lady who had my arm on her shoulder whispered in my ear: “If you’d like to sit with your wife, she’s sitting three rows back on the left”.

    Atkinson was moved, but alas, not from the spiritual power of my testimony. The tears rolling down his cheeks were the result of laughing so hard it would be impossible for anybody to speak.

    That walk 4 rows back to my bride felt to me as the Green Mile.

    And to this day I still wonder if the church hired me on the basis of potential or if the voting members that night just felt sorry for me.

  32. says

    Just a little thing but don’t you hate turning blood red with embarrassment in front of people?

    I was filling in for my pastor, I was in my 20s, and a young lady who had attended our church but moved away after her marriage a year before, came back for a visit. I hadn’t know the man she married though I had been at the wedding.
    So I said its good to see “Mary” and her husband here today. (This was small church, maybe 50 there.) And she says, “This ain’t my husband.”
    Well he looked familiar, but I didn’t really know him and I was speechless.
    I was thinking, “Well who the heck is this?” But I didn’t know what to say. After a minute of pure silence while I Blushed, like blushing on steroids, she said, “its my brother, you know my brother.” Well I did but I hadn’t seen him in a couple years, then I see the look of hurt and disgust on His face like his best friend (Which I wasn’t) had forgotten him. And I just mumbled, “OH yeah, I thought I knew your brother.” but that didn’t sound right either. So I said, “I’m going to shut up and read the Bible now” and went on as if I wasn’t blood red.
    My pastor was there on the back row enjoying it immensely.

  33. says

    At a prayer meeting, one of our men had just had a back injury and it was discovered that he’d had a lower back problem for a long time that he was probably born with. And not being very smart I confused the words genetic and congenital and said, well, “Pray for ‘Bob’ he has a genital problem.” A lady near me lets out a short giggle while she smiles and I said, whats so funny. She said, “Your wife knows what I’m laughing at”, so I glance at her and shes fighting not to laugh outloud and says, “I’ll tell you later.”
    Most people there didn’t pick up on it but I was glad I finished the prayer mtg./bible study in the dark.

  34. Cody Busby says

    My waders sprung a small leak during a baptism. The leak was enough to soak part of my underwear and my socks. My first solution was to put my slacks on over my wet undies, however water from my underwear immediately began to soak through. My second solution was to make a quick run to my house and get a change of clothes. My momentary feeling of victory was quickly dashed when I realized my keys were on the front pew. So I did the only thing I could do…I left my wet garments behind, put on my slacks, untucked my shirt, and preached with more freedom than I’ve ever known.

      • volfan007 says

        That’s why I always wear my speedo, body suit, swimwear under my robe while baptizing! :)

        David

    • David Tuten says

      I am paranoid, from way back. Even though I have had waders to use at the last couple of churches, I always take a change of clothes anyway. Leaks, sloshes, (heaven forbid) falls – not being prepared wouldn’t be prudent.

  35. says

    A retired pastor shared with me that his former associate pastor was preaching one time and said the wrong word; he was trying to say the church is an “organism.” But, he didn’t say, “organism.”

  36. Jess Alford says

    I can tell you what is funny, it is some of the comments that Chris Roberts makes after reading some of these comments. LOL. He is champion of the one liners.

  37. Garibaldi McFlurry says

    One Sunday evening a student minister was preaching at our church. While my colleague did the notices before the sermon the preacher popped out to use the bathroom. Suddenly, we heard the trickle of water, then the loud noise of the flushing toilet coming over the sound system. The preacher had his radio mic on the whole time…

  38. says

    I was in the middle of a sermon when the worst case of diarrhea hit me low and hard. I had to call the worship leader up for some spontaneous singing while I ran out for relief. After taking care of business, I finished the sermon amid the people’s smirks.

    That was my second most embarrassing moment. The most embarrassing moment was when it happened a second time…

  39. says

    OK, this one wasn’t something I said, but the powerpoint that I created for the sermon…and it was just two weeks ago. My three main point were that Jesus has called us to radical submission, radical transformation and a radical mission. Unfortunately the auto-correct had changed whatever my misspelling of “radical” was (I’m not sure how I had originally spelled it) to “racial.” I looked over at the screen when I noticed the congregation grimacing as “racial mission” came up on the screen.

  40. says

    This has been a fun read! Thanks!

    I’m guessing it’s OK if pastor’s wives chime in and share their husbands funny/awful ministry moments? :) One night we were at evening service and, as usual, my husband had come to stand with us during the singing, and was holding one of our sons while we sang. During the last verse of the song RIGHT before my husband was about to return to the pulpit to preach, our toddler barfed ALL over his Daddy. There was no warning. We just stood there shocked for a moment or two, but unable to conceal our grins. After returning from the bathroom with a “cleaned” but quite wet-looking shirt, my hubby played it off well and simply said, “Well, folks, I wasn’t really expecting a baptism of that sort right before preaching, but…”

  41. tom bryant says

    My wife reminded me of this one. I was preaching through the life of David and got to Bathsheba. I found a hand drawn picture that showed David on top of his palace looking at Bathsheba over on another rooftop.

    I copied it and pasted it on the power point. I had to make it larger to be able to be seen. But never really checked it out afterwards. When I was preaching and got to this slide, some people did double takes and others got that wide eyed look. I turned to see what it was and it did show David looking at Bathsheba who was nude from the waist up. I joked about showing more than i wanted and quickly got the slide off to the next one. And made certain that it was cropped before the next service started. Now I check all slides very carefully and so does my wife.

  42. Darrel Taylor says

    I was using the familiar illustration of the geese flying in V-formation. The lead goose sets the pace and the others encourage him with honking, taking turns at flying the lead position, etc. I thought the story was going along pretty good until I shared that the lead goose always breaks wind for those behind him! There’s not much you can say after that!

  43. says

    Im pretty bad at remembering names, unfortunately even to those whom I always see in church, and not just the visitors.

    So at one portion of our youth service when the entire congregation would just encourage and pray for one another, one of our younger active youth members went up to me so we could pray for one another. I knew the kid, it ideally shouldnt be a problem for me. When he finished praying for me and it was finally my time to pray for him i just completely blanked out: I forgot his name and even the main gist of his prayer request. My mind was on overdrive just trying to remember his name, praying a lot of things that he didnt even ask me to pray about, just to stall more time for me to figure out his name. To make it more awkward and worse, In place of his name, i kept referring to him as “brother in Christ.” It was a disastrous prayer time, so Finally at the end of my prayer, i was relieved that i finally figured out his name. So to save myself at least from further embarassment, I mumbled in silently in my prayer his name just to make him feel i did know him beyond just being a simple “brother”. The prayer ended, he smiled and thanked me afterward.

    So i shared the story to another co pastor about how bad i felt about what just had happened, and i was just relieved that at least, i still remembered who he was. My co pastor smiled at me and replied, “bro, that was not his name.”

  44. Keith Price says

    Once while getting a bit wound up during preaching I mixed up some letters in the words “fuss” and “ruckus.” Somehow that sermon recording got deleted…

          • Keith Price says

            Since the first year you were there “the speech” has become a yearly tradition. I suppose it can be a bit embarrassing to some so that is another thing I’m glad that doesn’t get recorded.

  45. Dan says

    There I am preaching on the need for us to observe a Sabbath of some sort, especially for our bodies and I say this instead:

    “…Look, sometimes you need to take a breast…uh your body needs rest…”

    I was speaking really fast (not good usually) so most didn’t really hear the slip. I think. My wife did though. :)

  46. says

    I just would like to say thank you to all of you who have provide your stories so far. As someone who has long struggled with a very STRONG phobia of crowds and public speaking, it has always been one of the very real fears that I am going to “mess up” and hurt any future ministry in someway, somehow, with some type of mistake. These stories help comfort me, making me realize that it HAS happened before, it WILL happen to me, and God can work through anything. Thank you.

    • Dave Miller says

      Actually, on a more serious note – people kinda like it when the pastor makes a fool of himself and takes it with a little grace and humility.

      They don’t want us to be crass, or to treat the sacred in a profane way, but they do love it when we biff it and laugh it off.

  47. Dave Miller says

    Wow. I go to a Baptist Convention of Iowa board meeting for a couple of days and this place gets kinda busy – and crazy. Welcome to all of you who have stopped by.

  48. Hans Stout says

    While at seminary, my wife told me that I should quit spitting out the car window, because I was going to be a pastor someday. Several months later, I got a cold and had to pick up my sons from school. While driving to school my throat got clogged and I un-clogged it by throwing one of my prohibited “huck-phtoooeys” out the car window. After arriving at school, I went into the gym to wait for my sons with all the other parents. After entering the gym with a big smile, I meet one of the other parents, who kindly mentioned that I had something on my beard. After brushing my beard off, I looked in horror at my hand, and found that the “something” on my beard was actually the loogie that I had “hucked out the window”. Bummer. I should’ve listened to my wife!

  49. Chris says

    I’ll leave one of my father’s…

    He was beginning his sermon with an illustration from the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

    He said, “You’ve all seen the advertisements for the new movie, ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose.’ There’s something very wrong with Emily Rose, and she needs help. So when the priest arrived at her house to perform the circumcision-”

    At that point, the congregation burst out in laughter. After laughing himself for a moment, he did recover quite nicely by saying, “See, I told you there was something very wrong with Emily Rose.”

  50. Ben Thorp says

    A number of years ago I was doing a talk at a youth camp. I had based my talk around illustrating the Christian life as with marriage – that when I got married I had a special day, a special book (of photos) and a special symbol (my ring), but that none of that made sense without a relationship. I was then going to parallel this with the day of Good Friday, the Bible, and the Cross being meaningless without a relationship with Jesus. In between the 2 sections, having shown some wedding photos and things like that, we were going to show a short clip of the crucifixion, but with Dido’s “Thank You” playing in the background. But the audio guys got the track on the CD wrong, so having just waxed lyrical about my marriage, Dido launched into “So you’re with her, and not with me…..”

    Amazingly (particularly for a group of 12-15 year-olds) there wasn’t much laughter, and I got to finish my talk….

  51. Larry Geiger says

    I’m not a pastor.

    I was conceived during my parents honeymoon. I was born 9 months and 6 days after the wedding. One day my mom was at church at the women’s group and got her numbers mixed up. She told them that I was born 6 month and 9 days after the wedding. Of course a long silence followed this astounding statement. It was weeks later before someone would tell her what happened :-)

  52. says

    When I was preaching my very first sermon, and the first of 3 for that Sunday morning, there was a friend near the front who kept making an odd motion to me as I was preaching. I though he was telling me to move the lapel microphone upward, so I acknowledged him and did so. He did a face palm and I continued. At the end of the service a young man who was visiting with us for the first time came up and said, “Your message was really good and all, I really enjoyed it. But somebody needs to tell you… your fly is unzipped.”

    • Dave Miller says

      That is a phobia of mine – why I like a nice big pulpit to stand behind.

  53. Pastor Al Brodbent says

    I picked up an evangelist in Memphis and as we drove back to Wynne, Ar., we talked about the different crops (rice, wheat, cotton, beans) and he shared he had never seen rice harvested. I told him I would ask that night if anyone had not harvested theirs.

    That night I asked and one fellow raised his hand. I turned to the evangelist and said: Bro Collins if you don’t step too hard on Brother —–‘s toes tonight he will take you for a ride on his concubine tomorrow, to which his wife stood up and said: “He better not have one of them”.

    • Dave Miller says

      Truth – I had nothing to put up last Thursday, and no time to write something substantive. So, I dashed off a couple of stories and put this up. I had no idea it would be quite as popular as it has been.

      I’m glad, though, that other preachers have humiliated themselves in the pulpit as much as I have over the years.

  54. Ray Bucciarelli says

    Just last month, I was a guest speaker at another church. I was referring to Rev 7:9 when I said “…there before me was a great multi-turd (not multitude) that no one could count.” I realized what I had said, but kept going as not to draw attention. I did see more than a few snickers, but most of the congregation kept their cool. Probably because I was a guest. However, at the fellowship afterwards it made for some good laughs by EVERYBODY. I was embarrassed to have said it though.