My Top 5 Awkward Preaching Moments

If you have been in the public speaking game for any length of time, you will no doubt have experienced some awkward speaking moments.

Here are mine.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.

5.  The first sermon I ever preached in my homiletics (the study of preaching) class was brutal.  I think everyone in the audience felt awkward for me.  Choppy words, not looking up, rushing through my thoughts, and even shaking a little bit.  If I wasn’t so nervous I likely would have fallen asleep while preaching my own sermon. Worse yet, the night before I was up all night dry heaving and throwing up because I was so nervous.  Even worse yet, the sermon was recorded and I got to experience the awkwardness everyone else felt when I watched myself.  Brutal.

4.  One Sunday, the Sunday School of the church I was at put together medical kits for kids in Africa.  I thought it was brilliant.  So during my sermon I kept alluding to the brilliance of these medical kits, even used the imagery at the end of my sermon to hammer the point home.  Turns out they were school kits.

3.  Once I was speaking at a tiny church in a rural Manitoba town.  There were about 30 people in the church building that fit around 50.  Many younger families with kids.  Half way through the sermon one kit stood up on the pew, screamed at the top of his lungs and flung his soother all the way across the sanctuary nearly hitting an older woman in the head.  They tell you in preaching class to preach through it… but sometimes you just gotta laugh.

2.  Because I was so nervous preaching my internship supervisor suggested I preach as much as I could in senior homes to get a feel for speaking in public.  One time this older gentleman fell asleep in his automated chair and starting driving, while sleeping toward me.  It was like in slow motion yet  I stood in shock not knowing what to do.  Thankfully a nurse slowly walked to cut him off and turn his chair off.

1.  I had really bad gas once while I preached a sermon in my old church in Winnipeg.  So I was farting… a lot.  I felt bad for the people in the choir loft as I was sure they were both hearing my farts and, worse yet, smelling them.  It is certainly a strange experience preaching a sermon and smelling, you know…

I do not want to offend with this short video, but at least I wasn’t this guy.

Pastors and public speakers alike.  What are your awkward public speaking moments? 

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14 comments

  1. Jordan · December 6, 2012

    Preaching is so weird. I don’t think I like it that much… It’s not a terribly effective way of transmitting information, at least compared to alternatives. I wish our churches could be more of a guided conversation, but I have no idea how that would work.

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 6, 2012

      I think preaching has value. How we engage the material is just as important as the sermon itself. I would like to see discussions based off common teachings like sermons. It offers a place of engagement in the context of community and discernment.

      Sermons need to be done well, and yet people need to have the grace to walk with those who are just learning the craft.

  2. Jamie Arpin-Ricci · December 6, 2012

    Sorry, I can’t resist, given the topic at hand. This sentence made me laugh out loud:

    “One time this older gentleman fell asleep in his automated chair and starting driving, while sleeping toward me.”

    How in the world does a person “sleep toward” you? Awkward…

    😉

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 6, 2012

      Haha, obviously when the person sleeping is in an automatic wheel chair thingy and coming toward you… Shessh, authors! 😉

  3. Robert Martin · December 6, 2012

    Recently, as in the last month, I was doing the morning announcements and prayer time. My family and I have just started attending this new congregation after 17 years at a previous one where I performed the same duty pretty regularly.

    One of the announcements was on membership classes being held after service. I goofed by indicating folks come out to hear about how we do things at the church and used the PREVIOUS church’s name instead of the current one.

    Good thing we have such an open and relaxed congregaton…the next 5 minutes of laughter allowed for a recovery…and then I was able to weave it into the intercessory prayer time, thanking God for grace to make mistakes. 🙂

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 6, 2012

      Ba hahahahahaha. I am thankful God offers us grace even in the midst of mistakes too. Blessings Robert!

  4. Andy J. funk · December 6, 2012

    Candidating at my present church, I began my sermon with introduction to my family, and made observations about my first impressions of this church….I pointed out how they seemed to be a “night tit” community…I learned a thing or two from that “pinch his tits” guy, do I have a humble chuckle, paused, and corrected the slip so as to move on. Still makes me chuckle at times.

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 7, 2012

      HAHA. Andy, that is hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

  5. David Warkentin · December 6, 2012

    First sermon as pastor at current church. Two things, I’ll let you put the rest together:
    1. Grey shirt
    2. Tendency to sweat even in low-pressure occassions

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 7, 2012

      Haha. Lets just say I can kind of relate. I keep an extra deodorant stick in my office. 😉

  6. Maria · December 6, 2012

    I was reading from the Psalms in our morning church service when my three year old son escaped from my husband. He came up to the front, onto the stage and proceeded to wander around. He checked out the instruments, the display on the communion table and then came over to hug me. I kept reading while trying to figure out if I should laugh or cry. I finally came to the end of the passage which fittingly ended with a very heartfelt, “Oh Lord, save me!”. Everyone laughed, I picked up my son, and walked back to my seat. That has been only one of many times that I have called on God to save me in my parenting and church work, but it certainly was one of the most memorable and most public cries for help.

  7. len hjalmarson · December 7, 2012

    When became an official pastor in 2010 I had to take years of learning writing as a communication form and translate to speaking. Much harder than I expected! I discovered that speaking is as much an art form as writing. Last year found this article.. http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/spring/preachingperformance.html

    • Chris Lenshyn · December 7, 2012

      Yes, I too learned that preaching is a craft that takes work and effort and practice and all those things that require substantial effort to make preaching look easy. It is an art form. It needs to be done well.

      Thanks a bunch for the link!!!

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