Sunday, November 30, 2008

Embarrassing preaching moments

A group of students came round to our house for a meal last week. One of them asked me if I had any embarrassing experiences in the pulpit. Eagerly they listened as I confessed I had. After I shared an early disaster, from when I was in seminary, the same student commented: "Oh, it's so good to you know that you've had such moments too." "You bet!" I answered.

And would you believe it - last Sunday at Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park another occurred? During the third service my throat croaked half-way through the sermon. An attentive church member dashed out, returning with a cup of water. I stopped, thanked him and sipped gratefully. Turning back to face the congregation, I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was in the sermon. No idea! My mind drew a massive blank (- no doubt confused by this being the third time of preaching the same sermon!) "Where was I?" I asked. Several people chorused back, but I was unable to interpret. For a minute (or so) I paused before God and his people. It seemed a very long minute! Eventually, my mind sharpened and I was off again.

Of course, in the long run such glitches don't matter at all, compared with the responsibility of speaking authentically for God (2 Cor. 5:20). Professional polished presentation can mask a profounder problem!


Michael Pugh said...

Exactly. Too much polish can come off as inauthentic. That's true even for me at work. Audiences seem to respond to genuineness most.

I was in the service you mentioned, and, in my eyes, it just made you more human. And it helped me appreciate the challenge of preaching entirely without notes.

(I'm sure it was a comfort to younger public speakers in the audience too. We're all still growing!)

Anonymous said...

As one that wanted to dash out and get the glass of water but hestitated, I was so glad when Wayne did and you were saved. Those of us that were there know you have amazing recall and like Michael said it's good to know you are just as human as the rest of us. Three services in a row may have had something to do with it too. It would be hard to keep track if you were distracted so by coughing. Glad you are better.