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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  • Debbie Mikel says on

    Maybe you can have an explanation for what happened to me in church one morning. As I was sitting silently in the pew, an listening to the preacher, I was suddenly hit between my eyes with a very hard hit that knocked me head backwards momentarily. Yet there was no Pain, an it came from out of nowhere. What happened to me?

  • Kelley Iain says on

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  • Timothy Nicholson says on

    Our Pastor was illustrating the different techniques for “casting out devils” he had witnessed others use; stating he preferred quiet authority over bombastic jesturing! However, At the very moment he was illustrating a bombastic move my wife began to choke on a breath mint!! Needless to say this completely interrupted his message; his train of thought; and his tenet premise! My wife quickly recovered, but The congregation and Pastor were left laughing hysterically. Our pastor moved on to his next point by saying, “well, maybe it does work to be bombastic!”

  • Earlier this year a few Sundays before Easter we had one last bit of snowfall on a day that saw an extreme variation in temperatures. It happened to be in the middle of my sermon. Me being the ADHD preacher that I am, in mid-sentence exclaimed “wow I can’t believe it’s snowing,” and without missing a breath or stride finished my sentence.

  • I was speaking as the ushers were receiving the offering on a sunday morning, when the usher on the far side of the auditorium began to laugh uncontrollably along with nearly everyone in that section. I found out that my son, who was about 8, was picking gum from underneath the pew and had leaned over too far, tumbled head first, and was looking up from between his legs on the floor, with his feet against the hymnal rack. This was just as the usher got to him. It pretty much haulted everything as the usher and a couple of others extracted him.

  • My pastor once used the illustration of a piece of metal becoming a sword to explain the refining process. At the end he meant to say, “Aha!” or “Voila!” but he actually said, “Allah!” My friend leaned over and asked, “Did he just summons the Muslim god in church?!?”

    When I was in college a gentleman was doing announcements and leading the morning prayer. He accidentally said, “Please pray to me,” and was met with a chorus of chuckles from all across the sanctuary.

    My favorite one, however, came from some friends of mine. A guest speaker had been asked to preach at their church one evening. He was an older gentleman who apparently stopped himself mid-sermon saying he needed to use the restroom. They said he walked a couple of steps, stopped, then said, “It’s too late.” He continued to preach after having pooped his pants on stage!

  • John Montour says on

    This may be a bit gross for some, but….. I was a 14 year old alter boy and our church was holding a funeral. It was an extreemly hot July afternoon and all the windows were open. I was sitting about 8 feet from the open casket when a fly landed on the nose of the deceased, proceeded to crawl in and out his mouth. This gave me such a case of the giggles I had to disrupt the occasion and beat a hasty retreat.

  • At an interdenominational service which included Baptists, Methodists, Mennonites and others took place in a small town where everyone knew each other pretty well. The scripture passage from the Old Testament included some negative reference to the Midianites and how evil they were.

    The man reading the passage to the congregation said the word he was more familiar pronouncing “Mennonites” where the passage said “Midianites” which drew laughter from everyone.

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