Top Ten Actual Stories of Preaching Distractions

UPDATE: Listen to the podcast episode about this post.

With the exception of a few overly serious commenters, my blogpost on preaching distractions last week was a lot of fun. In that post, I reported categories of preaching distractions from a number of pastors I surveyed. Over the past week I have received numerous actual stories of distractions.

In honor of those great stories, I have compiled my own top ten actual examples. Some of them came from the 100 plus comments; others were shared with me via Twitter, Facebook, and in-person. I have put the stories in my own words while trying to be true to the facts.

Feel free to add your own stories to the list. Your story may even move into the top ten. Enjoy!

10. Crazy as a bat.

“A bat started flying low while I was preaching. Many people were screaming. Finally some of the men captured the critter. They actually had prayer over him and released him toward the Methodist church.”

9. Lazarus come forth!

“While I was preaching on John 11, the story of Lazarus, a 100-year-old woman lost consciousness. Our organist, a nurse, went to attend to her, and whispered ‘no pulse.’ The story does have a happy ending though. The lady survived.”

8. Don’t Pledge the pews!

“Our new custodian decided to impress everyone by putting Pledge on all the wooden pews. While the preacher was preaching, there were repeated sounds of crashing and thuds as people were unable to hold their posterior on the piney Pledged pews.”

7. Chemical spill!

“I was not the only one who smelled the chemical odor while I preached. Indeed I started getting worried, as I got more and more lightheaded. I would learn after the service that a woman was taking off her nail polish with nail polish remover while I preached.”

6. UFO spotted.

“A child kicked off a tennis shoe and it landed right next to me while I preached. The kid claimed it was an accident.”

5. How many men does it take . . . ?

“During my sermon everyone was distracted as one man after another disappeared from the sanctuary. Finally I learned that we had a leak in one of the restrooms. Eight men were trying to fix it and ten men were observing them.”

4. Semper Fi.

“Everyone has experienced cell phones ringing during sermons. What was unusual about this one was that it was playing the Marine Corps hymn, and no one could find the phone while it was ringing.”

3. No it’s snot.

“During a point of real emphasis in the sermon, a choir member let go of a huge sneeze. That was distracting enough, but she failed to cover her face, and a huge pile of mucus landed on the shoulder of the preacher’s coat. He didn’t realize it at the time. Many in the choir had to leave as they couldn’t stop laughing.”

2. An arresting moment.

“The pastor was ten minutes into his sermon when two police officers came in the service, pointed to a deacon to come out of the pew, handcuffed him and took him away. I thought the amazing thing was that the pastor kept preaching, but I was even more amazed that the deacon’s wife stayed for the entire service.”

1. It’s a gas.

“The seven-year-old preacher’s kid was a bit of a troublemaker, but he was in rare form on this particular Sunday. Right in the middle of the sermon, he stood up, then bent over and yelled ‘Thar she blows!’ It was one of the loudest moments of flatulence I’ve ever heard. The service ended at that moment with the preacher exiting with his precocious son.”

Thanks for the great stories. I hope you readers can add even more.

Posted on April 22, 2013

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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  • One sunday at the small rural church I pastored, we were reading Psalm 42 when everyone in the church started lokking out the window, as I was the only one reading I looked out the window and there was a buck standing outside the window looking in at us.
    When I finshed reading the deer quietly turned around and left.
    I had the perfect illustration for my sermon.

  • Brad C. says on

    My dad was preaching one Sunday morning to a packed crowd. He was giving an illustration about the “Great gulf” between heaven no hell. He said, “Let’s say that I really wanted to get to the other side, so I backed up and took off running as hard and fast as I can. When I reached the edge if the gulf I jumped as high as possible, but I came up about a foot short.” Well, during this illustration he got the attention of a young boy who had come on the church bus. This boy, fully immersed in the story couldn’t contain himself, so right at the point where dad said he “…came up short and fell to his death,” this young boy said, in a very clear and audible voice, “Well, WHY did you jump?” Needless to say, the whole place lost it.

  • Thanks for all the stories.

    Sorry to hear about preacher’s wife that did not speak up for her son.

    Breast feeding done properly should not be much of a distraction–or barely detectable.

  • A friend told me just the other day about a guest speaker who lost his pants right in the middle of his sermon. They fell all the way to the floor. I think it was red and white checkered briefs. He reached down and drew them back on and kept preaching. I suspect nobody remembered what he said but I doubt they ever forgot that!

  • Our church had a mission outreach last December where the church volunteers spread out and each one talked and share the Gospel to groups of 5 ~ 6 persons. From the corner of my eyes I saw one of my friend started sharing the Gospel to his group when 2 of the women, who were both holding their baby, started breastfeeding in front of everyone. Boy, am I glad they were not in my group.

  • Stephen Russ says on

    Last week, I was prepared to preach a message on the origin of Satan and his purpose here on Earth. Lo and behold, a wasp was getting comfortable on the ceiling above the pulpit. As our song leader was directing music, the wasp began to hover over him, continuing to drop lower. I was distracted reading over some prayer requests, when suddenly I heard a loud BANG! The wasp had landed on the pulpit, and the director open-handedly pummeled him…on the downbeat. Even better, he went on and finished the song in spite of the ordeal.

  • About 30 years ago our church was having a “God & Country” service on a Sunday evening. A patriotic singing group was our guests for the service. They showed several slides and movies throughout the night. From my location at the front of the church I could see behind the screen that they had set up. Somehow a kitten had made its way into the church, had crawled in through the baptistery into the choir loft and he kept poking his head up over the pews in the loft. My friend and I (we were 8-10 yrs old) thought that was the best part of the service so we kept watching where the kitten would poke his head up next and laughing every time we saw him.
    My dad, the pastor, was not happy with our snickering, so he moved over to where I sat. When I told him why we were laughing, which by this time the kitten had crawled back into the baptistery, he sent his associate pastor to get the “cat” out of the baptistery.
    What we didn’t know at the time was that the associate pastor thought he said get the “kid” out of the baptistery. So while he is walking up the back stairs in the dark to get the “kid” out of the baptistery, he steps on the “cat.” The ensuing scream – both from the cat and the associate pastor – even made my dad snicker.

  • My husband was preaching “in view of a call” and a friend at our old church said, “I hope the little one does something embarrassing so they won’t call you.” Sure enough as we were standing for prayer before the sermon, I heard my older son gasp. I looked down and my bored preschooler had unzipped his pants. Thankfully the only distraction for my husband was seeing us walk out just as he began preaching. No one else ever mentioned seeing it, and they called him as pastor.

  • Adrienne D. says on

    I was at a large conference where a nationally recognized preacher was speaking. During his evening talk a mouse appeared and began to run, alternately, back and forth across the platform, then back and forth across the floor in front of the platform, then back again to the platform. From my seat on the front row I could see people in the first several rows quickly putting their shoes back on and women were picking up their babies and purses off the floor and drawing their feet up to their chair. The speaker, realizing why he’d lost the attention of his audience, spotted the mouse on one of its platform runs and took off after it, stomping and shouting, then took a flying leap off the platform hollering “Be gone!” or something along those lines. He thought that would be the end of it, but the mouse returned a short time later until finally it was given an escape route through a door which opened into “the outer darkness” of the night. Memorable!

  • As a teen, I was sitting with the youth group and one of us fell asleep during the sermon. At the conclusion of the service the pasor would always call on someone to pray. No one him to embarrassed so another student elbowed him a couple of times and whispered “Dude, pastor called on you to pray.”

    He quickly jumped up and began to pray. The only problem was the pastor was only about half way through the message. Ooops!! Needless to say the next week the student section was extremely thin as just about everyone was sitting with their families.