Awkward Ministry Moments

There have been many for me ! They are embarrassing, often funny (but not at the moment) and unforgettable.

There was this time when I was an after-dinner speaker at a church function honoring graduating seniors. One grad- a young lady- sang as a part of the program. Afterwards I congratulated the grandmother for having such a talented granddaughter.  Only the woman was her mother! I’ll never forget that look.

While I was in college I visited a church, preached and then went home to eat with a hospitable family.  After lunch I was asked to explain the trouble with the doctrine of premillennialism. Full of myself, I gave an impressive sounding discourse. Once finished, this dainty little sister congratulated me on my knowledge of the subject. Then she stated rather emphatically, “that is exactly what I believe..” She then begin to tell what troubled her about me! Looking back and recalling the grins around the table, I think I was set up. 

More recently, while preaching a revival meeting at a church a beaming young woman warmly greeted me and began chatting like we were old friends. Eventually the fact that I did not recognize her became evident. She reacted, “You don’t know who I am, do you?” I admitted that I did not. “You baptized me at camp! I can’t believe you do not remember!” she exclaimed disappointedly as she walked away. I thought about reminding her that the apostle Paul couldn’t remember everyone he had baptized either (1 Corinthians 1:16), but decided not to speak where the Bible speaks at that moment.

Awkward ministry moments don’t just belong to me. I recall a friend sharing the story of baptizing an older gentleman while a wedding rehearsal was going on in the church building. They decided to do it quietly behind the curtain to not disturb the rehearsal. As the man stepped into the baptistery he exclaimed loudly enough for everyone to hear, “D%@# this water is cold as h@&#!”

My most awkward baptism moment occurred when- while visiting a church- I had to dip  a petrified rat from their baptistery before a baptism. I asked the guy if he still wanted to be baptized and he did. I encouraged  him to be sure to tightly hold his nose and not open his mouth.

As long as we are around awkward ministry moments will happen!

Perhaps you have some to share.


4 Responses to Awkward Ministry Moments

  1. dannydodd says:

    This came via email from friend Lisa:

    Phil has a baptism story that involves Frank Thomann. Frank’s dad was overseeing the construction of a new church. Frank and Phil were playing around the construction site. At one point Phil looked up and saw Frank only feet away wagging his tongue and flapping his hands at his ears. Phil saw his chance to catch him and dashed at him only to discover very abruptly that the surface of the baptistery was covered in construction dust and only “looked” like a solid floor separating the two of them.

    Needless to say, Jesus was able to walk on water, but Phil failed at running across it.

  2. Danny says:

    When a youth minister I was filling in for the pulpit fellow one day not longer after becoming part of the congreagation. Just before preaching I got word that a member of the congregation’s sister had died and I needed to announce it. There was discussion filling me in on who the member was and her various relatives, etc. To make a longer story short, I got relatives and names convuluted. I made the announcement that ______ had died… which was quite a shock to her. I guess I was the first one to tell her of her death. She took it really well, and found it quite funny. I wound up doing the funeral for the family, but it was sure ackward that Sunday morning.

  3. mkjergaard says:

    Funny stuff Danny. We preachers could write a book about things like this.

    I remember baptizing an elderly gentleman. My custom was to say a few closing comments to the congregation as the newly bpatized person made his way down the steps to the changing room. Just as I started to speak, the old guy slipped on the top step and the congregation heard a loud “boom, boom, boom, boom” as he hit every step on the way down. I found out later that he cracked a rib. But he had a good attitude about it. He said, “Well, I guess the Lord wanted me to remember my baptism.”

  4. K. Rex Butts says:

    I might have been tempted to suggest after removing a dead rat from the baptistry, that we all go and find a lake or river.

    Any ways, one acwkward ministry moment came when I was preaching (without a pulpit to hide behind) and my pants were unzipped. An older gentleman in the church kept making this noise to grab my attention (apparently the noise was intended to mimik a zipping sound) but I did not understand what he was doing. So after I became a little disgusted with his outbursts, I asked him if everything was ok. Then an older lady promptly stood up at her seat and told me in these words “He’s trying to tell you the barn door is open and the animals are escaping.” I must of turn 10 shades of red in a second. How does a preacher recover from that?

    Grace and peace,


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