Many Baptist churches find their new pastor by a process which includes 'preaching with a view'. The first time it may actually be preaching with a squint to be followed by interviews with prayer and a second more formal visit. In my last year at seminary a church in Northampton invited me to preach with a squint.
With great excitement I prepared for this occasion knowing that it might result in a call to my first church. I arrived on the Saturday and met some of the leaders and was shown around the church and its area, and was told much about the church family. The more I heard the more enthusiastic I became.
On Sunday morning at their main service the church was packed to the seams. It was a parade service and the church's Scouts and Guides processed to worship with their band leading the way. At the beginning of the service the four standard bearers marched to the front. Once all the uniformed young people were in their place, I had to take the flags and place them to the side of the front platform in specially designed holders. With such a mixed age range I sought to lead and preach appropriately though I have no recollection of my theme. I remember something else!
At the conclusion of the final hymn before the benediction was given, the standard bearers came to the front again for the flags to be returned. In the silence I swung one of the flags out of its support through the air only to hit a china lampshade which I had totally failed to observe was in the flight path. To my chagrin the contact sounded out loudly like an out of tune bell, though it had surprising resonance. Dust that had lain undisturbed for years filtered down through the air. Convulsions of laughter rippled through the ranks of Scouts and Guides into the congregation. Only the most deaf were unaware. I gave the benediction against a background of sniffles and sneezes caused by the dust. I have never had so many smiles at the door afterwards. As one person said: 'Nobody has ever done that before - it takes some skill to hit that one lamp!'
In spite of this the church was willing to give me another go though, in the end, the Lord led me to the North of England.