Sixteen Really Strange and Funny Things Pastors Have Been Asked to Do

“Pastor, I have a rat in my house. Please come get it!”

It’s a true story. I was the pastor. And I was over 30 minutes away from the senior adult who made the “request.” I tried to call several other church members on the phone to get them to help.

I could find no one. Strange.

I chased a rat in the senior adult’s home for over an hour.

I love pastors and church staff. I love hearing their stories. And, on occasion, I like to provide a bit of levity. Such has been my theme this week.

Today, I let these pastors and church staff persons speak for themselves. I made minor modifications to a few so the story does not inadvertently reveal the church members. I don’t want the pastor to get fired. No comments on my part are necessary.

  1. “A church member asked, during the Lord’s Supper, if we could have a prayer for her dog that had died earlier in the week.”
  2. “A church member called, telling me her neighbors sheep were out in the road. Of course, I was supposed to help since I was her shepherd.”
  3. “I officiated a funeral where the family did the wave and hit beach balls during the service.”
  4. “A lady called me to let me know her son-in-law wasn’t praying long enough before his bed time. She felt I needed to counsel him.”
  5. “A church member was a funeral home director. He called me frequently to help him pick up just-deceased bodies.”
  6. “A church member called to request I euthanize an injured rabbit.”
  7. “I was asked by a church member to bury a dog.”
  8. “I got a call from a church member asking me to inform a lady she has grandkids she didn’t know about.”
  9. “I was asked to baptize a body at a funeral.”
  10. “A lady brought a chirping bird into a worship service and asked me to ignore it.”
  11. “I was visiting a member of our church in the hospital. He insisted I hold his kidney stone. I was young, so I did.”
  12. “A church member asked me to do a funeral for his horse.”
  13. “A deacon, after checking on a clogged toilet in the men’s room, told the pastor, ‘You need to go to the men’s room with me. You’ve got to see this!’”
  14. “A church member asked me to put her mother’s funeral on my calendar. She wasn’t dead.”
  15. “I was asked to wear a crushed velvet hat for a wedding.”
  16. “A church member asked me to do an imitation of a character from The Princess Bride during the wedding ceremony.”

I have no doubt these stories are true. I’ve had many weird requests made of me as well.

Let me hear from you.

Posted on May 4, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • David Highfield says on

    One day a member called me to ask if I knew the height of the Fellowship Hall ceiling.

  • Mike R says on

    Put someone’s socks on. Still am traumatized!

  • Did a 50’s themed wedding with the bridesmaids wearing poodle skirts and carrying mini bowling bags, the groomsmen wore bowling shirts. I was asked to wear a poodle skirt. I politely declined.

  • Rev Adam Oellermann says on

    I was asked once to collect a methadone prescription (we have some quite ropey characters around the edges of our congregation).

  • Ed Scott says on

    Thom…take a look at my friend Randy’s story at his blog site. Randy was asked to remove a dead possum from a rain gutter! He has since started the “Dead Possum Society” for such unusual pastoral tasks! I use this story in my Pastoral Ministry course at The Baptist College of Florida.

    Ed Scott

  • Rev. Debbie Early says on

    Bail someone out of jail…this happens in Street ministry… Do a memorial for a man living on the street when he died because the “family” won’t let his friends he hung with for years come to the funeral. Keep a dog while some did 10 days in jail. Pray for someone’s girlfriend to get out of bed.

  • I once was asked to frequently go to an old lady’s house to let her dog out. The person requesting this was not a relative or a friend of the lady, it was a small town and they just heard that someone needed to take the dog out.

  • I would love to hear the pastors’ responses to all these crazy requests. Especially 3, 8, 9 (I hope the answer was “no”), & 14-16!
    And yes, May the 4th be with you!

    • They are on the way.

    • I was asked to do number 16 at one of my best friend’s weddings. I started the service that way, everyone laughed, and then I got on with the beauty of the wedding ceremony.

      I’ve had to do a lot of funerals. While at my last two churches, I was also the chaplain for a local funeral home. While we never had beach balls and the wave, the thing that struck me the most was the difference in music requested. In recent years, the most popular song has been “Go Rest High on the Mountain” and, of course, “Amazing Grace” is always a popular choice. However, I’ve had everything from a 70s-80s rock review (after which I was told that was the most fun funeral that person ever attended), bluegrass bands, scottish bagpipers, classical music, and Native American Flutes to the traditional hymns of old.

      My favorite funeral, however, was for a friend of mine. He was very active in our community in the arts and theatre. He hadn’t told anyone that he was sick, so his passing was a surprise to his family and friends. He loved to act in and direct plays and had written two wonderful musicals that centered around the history of Virginia. The day after he died, I received a call from a member of our players group. She informed that she’d just gotten a call from his attorney and that he’d left stage directions for his funeral. I had two parts in the funeral. I had been in the second musical that he’d written and he wanted the original cast to come back together and sing the main theme song. He also wanted me to be one of two pastors who would deliver the homily. It was, by far, the most interesting funeral I’ve ever attended. It had singers, speakers, and parts from his favorite plays and musicals. The entire service from start to finish lasted almost two hours, but it was definitely not boring.

      • Thom Rainer says on

        That’s a first for me.

      • Rev. Cindy Antonuk says on

        I’ve also done the Princess Bride thing, at 2 weddings this year. Same way, I opened my message with it, the bride and groom laughed and relaxed, and the rest of the ceremony was beautiful.

        I also wouldn’t have a problem praying for a deceased pet or doing a memorial service for a horse. However, I wouldn’t do the memorial service in the church. And it wouldn’t be a funeral because our aisle is not wide enough for a horse casket.

      • OK, just wondering, but what would I pray for the dead animal about? Resurrection, advancement from purgatory? I have prayed for sick animals, and their owners, but dead ones?

      • As an animal lover myself I would ask that you would pray thanking God for creating that life that gave joy and companionship to his owner and for peace and comfort during the grief of the one that loved the pet.

  • Peter J Roy says on

    Also asked to remove a bat from the church.. but that seems rather common from the circles I run in. I issued a certificate of confirmation and a set of offering envelopes, have not seen the bat again, not even Easter of Christmas Eve.

    The other more unusual call was for a “lift assist” out of the bathtub. I think I was called more for my previous life as an EMT than because I was their pastor. We use our skills in different ways in this vocation.

  • Johnathan Taylor says on

    I was asked to do a wedding with a Star Wars theme. I drew the line when they asked me if I could talk like Yoda when I preached.

    • I am tempted to say the force was with you, but that will get me too many emails.

      • Peter J Roy says on

        But would be appropriate today… May the 4th be with you!

      • There you go.

      • I was asked to bury a dog. Did it. On holy ground. . .
        I was asked to bury a member’s mother, personally bury her. Fortunately, she had been cremated. It started when I went to the home of a member whose mother had just died. I was told there would be no service of any kind. I then asked, “Is there anything I can do?” The straight forward husband said, “Do you know somebody who has some post hole diggers?” I answered, “I probably could find some at home. What do you need them for?” He said, “Would you bury her mother?” I paused. I asked again to be sure. my hearing wasn’t playing tricks. “She is cremated and the box is at the funeral home. All you need to do is tell the undertaker and he will give you the box. You can bury her beside her husband. Here are the directions to the headstone.” “Don’t you want to be there?” “Nope, we’ve said good-bye.” I picked up the box that was wrapped in heavy black plastic and took the remains to the cemetery. A worker for he funeral home went with me. I told him, “I can’t just stick her in the ground like I have cleaned out my fireplace. Let’s have prayer thanking God for her life.” We did, got into the car, called the daughter to tell her what we had done. That is all that was ever said.
        Also, I spent a day on a tracker, having never driven one before, because the farmer, a great guy, had to do some other urgent matter. I made a mess of the field but I got ‘er done.

      • Now that’s a story.

    • It was my first wedding, 30 years ago and money was not discussed. I introduced the new bride and groom at the end of the ceremony and half way down the isle the bride turned around and said: “How much is that Pastor?” I simply said don’t worry about it. LOL! I did get a check in the mail later.

      • I actually had the same experience at a funeral. When I said “nothing,” some of the family members applauded.

      • Chaplain Michael says on

        And for me the check that they paid me with bounced, there answer was they bought a new computer.

      • Wendell says on

        I was once promised $10 for a wedding in their home, but when I did the wedding 2 days later they said they were sorry, they had to spend the money on diapers, The wedding was in time to have the parents officially married on the birth certificate.

    • Pronounced husband and wife you are. Kiss the bride you may.

    • Mark griffin says on

      I was asked to say a prayer for a dead aguana lizard named today!

  • James Lambert says on

    Two words: Bat and tennis-racket. That is all.

  • Move and reassemble a hydrolic hospital bed.

    Help get a cow that was stuck in the mud free

    And my personal favorite I was hounded by our custodian to start a dirt track racing team for the youth. (Yes cars going 100mph around a dirt race track)

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