From the Pulpit to the Pew

After worship one Sunday I asked a young man who had been carrying on a conversation during my sermon what had been so interesting. He looked at me as if in shock and replied, “You can see me?”


Over the years I have seen quite a bit. At one small church in the Mississippi Delta I saw a mom reach over the pew with a song book and swat rather loudly her misbehaving son on the head. He was sitting on the first pew- right in front of me. I think I stuttered through the rest of the sermon.

Another Sunday I had just returned from a Lithuanian mission trip with a bunch of goodies for some kids at church including a stretchy toy- a balloon filled with talcum powder- which I gave to one of the boys. About mid-way through my sermon that morning I saw a giant white mushroom cloud ascend near where this young man was sitting. Then I saw him completely covered in the powder. Immediately the laughing erupted. I just stopped and laughed too. It was a short sermon that morning.

Then there was the time when a man came into worship as I was preaching and interrupted everything to see if a particular person was there. Upon locating that person he knelt down beside him, whispered something and then left, but not before waving goodbye to me. Go figure.

From the pulpit I have seen people reading newspapers, tossing babies in the air, adjusting make-up, clipping fingernails and of course sleeping- sometimes rather noisily.

Twice my sermons were stopped by men suffering what was thought to be heart-attacks (thankfully neither were) and once while in the pew listening to a sermon I witnessed the preacher faint. (He was diabetic)

Now you know one reason why I included the word “adventures” in the title of this blog! lol

What are some of your memorable pulpit and pew experiences? I would love to hear them.


15 Responses to From the Pulpit to the Pew

  1. lesjr says:

    Once at the Jackson church in downtown, I saw a blue-haired lady reach up in front of her and snatch a girls pony tail so hard her head snapped back and banged the pew. I could hardly continue as I waited for the next bit of action.

    Terry Downs had some of the funniest of these kinds of stories

  2. Brian says:

    if you haven’t heard Jimmy Allen rant and rave about all the people not paying attention, it is hilarious and spot on.

    I had a lady have a seizure during my sermon. we stopped, prayed. called an ambulance. after things settled down, I continued but it was wierd. she was fine

  3. mkjergaard says:

    Had an elderly lady get into some physcial distress (or perhaps she had to use the restroom). She was sitting up front and it was obviously going to cause some commotion (and nobody was paying attention to me since they were all watching her). At that point I said, “Hey, let’s all stand and stretch and say hello to someone we haven’t greeted yet this morning.” Afterwards one of the guys said, “That was cool. Did they teach you that at preacher school?”

  4. That Girl says:

    Years ago, I was telling my preacher about a noise I kept hearing during his sermons. Every week, the same clicking noise. He told me that it was the same man who clipped his nails every Sunday. He wouldn’t tell me who…

  5. mattdabbs says:

    I was preaching one time and a lady’s legs locked up and it scarred her tremendously. The EMT’s were called and I had no idea anything was wrong until I saw the ambulance pull up and EMT’s with a stretcher come in the auditorium and take her out. I stopped the sermon, had a prayer for her and then preached long enough for them to clear out and not get mobbed by a dismissed crowd. That was really nerve wracking but I was more worried for her than I was for my sermon! She is okay now.

  6. Trey says:

    I had a youth minister walk to the back of the auditorium and collapse during the middle of a sermon once. No one saw him except me for a few seconds. Then a couple of men noticed him.

    I kept right on preaching. They still give me a hard time for not stopping. All I can tell you was I was right in the middle of making a really good point and I hated to just stop. 🙂

  7. Gordy! says:

    When my wife was younger and in a youth group, she and her friends were talking and they apparently were doing it in a disruptive manner because the preacher stopped his lesson and came over to them. He asked them to their faces, “What is so important over here and should the entire congregation know about it?” Needless to say they were stunned into silence.

    I wish I would have been there for your “mushroom cloud” story. That would have been priceless.

  8. johndobbs says:

    LOL @ Trey. So much for friendship.

    We’ve had a lot of weird things happen at church since Katrina. I’ve had people stand up and interrupt me to make a point … actually the point I was going to make – so they were paying attention.

    I recently had a man respond to the invitation that is very nice, but a stroke has rendered him nearly unable to talk. I could only make out that he wanted to talk to the church … but that was all I could get out of five minutes of him talking. I asked him to wait until next week.

    The last living widow of Elvis brought her grandchildren to church one night and they came up and stood by me while I taught…wandered around the stage, all while she urged them in ‘stage whisper’ to get back to their seat. She never got up to get them. As you might guess she is not the last living widow of Elvis (except in ‘her world’) and they were not her grandchildren (long story).

    And for many years we had an elderly gentleman who always had to go to the bathroom during the sermon. Instead of discreetly getting up and going out the back, he would hold up one finger in the air, make his way to the front and out the side door. I won’t name the friend of mine who said he would never make it without cracking up if the gentleman held up two fingers. You might have to think about that.

    Les mentioned Terry Downs…he was the best at these stories.

  9. johndobbs says:

    The fingernail clipper should be banned from the assembly.

  10. Frank says:

    One Sunday night a struggling alcoholic walked the aisle. After the song was over, I asked him why he had come forward. He said he wanted to speak to the congregation. I had an inkling and asked, “Have you been drinking?”

    He responded as though I has asked, “Have you been drinking much over the last few weeks?” “No,” he said.

    I wasn’t convinced. So I got more specific. “Have you been drinking tonight?”

    “Oh, tonight?” he asked. “Oh, yeah, I’ve been drinking tonight.”

    “In that case,” I told him, “we’re just gonna pray for you. You’ll have to speak another time when you’re sober.”

    “Okay,” he said.

  11. Royce says:

    Once as a preteen I and two buddies were whispering as we sat on the very back pew during the sermon. The preacher abruptly stopped, walked back to where we were and marched the three of us to the front pew where he could keep an eye on us.

    After the service he gave us a loving lesson about respecting the assembly and the man of God. After a warm bear hug from preacher Jay I never doubted his love for me and believe me I got the message.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  12. Adam G. says:

    I don’t think I have anything to compare to what I read in this post and the comments that followed. Here are three, though.

    I agree that fingernail clippers should be banned. One year I attended a particular local church for Sunday services where I attended college (I preached for a little country church Sunday mornings, which is why I only went Sunday evenings to this other church). Every blessed Sunday evening the same man clipped his fingernails during the sermon. I didn’t realize how fast fingernails grow until then.

    In Brazil I was frequently interrupted by drunks. They wandered in off the street. One apparently thought I should be talking faster, because he kept giving me that rolling “speed-it-up” gesture.

    In college I was supply preaching for a rural church on Sunday when I noticed a man sound asleep with his head rolled to one side (people really don’t understand that we can see them from the pulpit). After the service I was shaking hands with people as they left, and the drowsy fellow, looking much refreshed, firmly shook my hand and said “Wonderful message!”

  13. dannydodd says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories.

    Adam’s post reminds me of a episode of the Andy Griffith Show. Andy, Barney and the crew were in church and a guest speaker preached on “What’s the Hurry?” Barney napped throughout, but as he exited the church, walking by the preacher he complimented him on his sermon on sin! The looks exchanged between him and Andy after that is classic comedy.

  14. ROD WILLETT says:

    We had a lady disrobe down to her bra at the end of the service and walk to the front of the church. The pastor had previously asked everyone to stand and close their eyes. His wife was sitting near the front. He frantically caught her attention and she walked the lady out with only the irreverent aware of the whole escapade.

  15. Jennifer H. says:

    I remember as a kid this lady’s dog had gotten out of the yard and made his way to the church building. They lived close by and usually walked to church. It must have been summer because the doors were open and that dog when right in straight to its owner and jumped in her lap. She was very embarrassed!

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