Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
This article is not to criticize any particular church. It is written to prove that some things go on in church services that are not always planned or expected.
I have been to different church over seven decades and have been a leader in some churches for more than five decades. I have seen a lot of things and have heard a lot of things that could be considered strange.
1. Nose Blowing Pastor
A lot of people had come far and near to hear a sermon from a well-known visiting television preacher and author of many books. The facility was packed with standing room only.
The elderly preacher got up and moved to the pulpit. Before saying a word, the seasoned minister pulled out a very large white handkerchief and blew his nose very loudly. Since he was wearing a lapel microphone, the sound was amplified.
He preached a powerful message after he cleaned his nose. The image is something that cannot be unseen. The preacher will remain nameless, but perhaps you have seen him on television and heard him preach. You probably have some of his books on the shelf in your library.
2. Late Pastor
Once a prominent pastor in the community was scheduled to preach during an afternoon service at a local church. The musicians and choir from her church showed up in plenty of time to set up their instruments. When it was time for the service to begin, all the people were in their designated places except the pastor.
The choir sang a selections of songs while waiting for the pastor to show up. After half an hour into the service, a member of the preacher's church called her at home. She had forgotten she had been invited to be the guest preacher and was in her kitchen frying chicken..
The pastor arrived at the church one hour late. There was no shame in her game because she confessed that she was home frying chicken. She alluded to it several times during her sermon. She said she was going to preach about love because she knows so much about it. Besides, she didn't have a sermon prepared.
3. Pastor With No Sermon
A well-known pastor told this story about a custom he has. He said it is not unusual for him to not have a sermon prepared while waiting for his turn to preach. He doesn't mind asking the choir to sing another hymn of preparation while God speaks to him about what to preach.
Needless to say, that pastor cuts it very close when it comes to getting a sermon for the waiting congregation.
4. No Show Pastor
I attended an afternoon worship service where a guest preacher hadn't confirmed an invitation to preach. Because he was absent, someone in the congregation was invited to preach instead.
The minister's brother just so happen to be in the congregation. He volunteered to preach. He asked the congregation to wait until he went to his car to get a sermon he had prepared before but not for this occasion.
The brother who delivered the message was not a preacher, but he is a deacon at his church. He did a very good job delivering a message. I say "message" because he is not a minister licensed to preach the gospel.
5. Cursing Pastor
A well-known local pastor preached during a pastor's installation service during one Sunday afternoon. The pastor is a great orator, a great preacher who can rightly divide the words in the Bible.
He did something during his sermon that turned some people off, including me. He actually used curse words to emphasize his points. It is what he did next that make the situation worse. He chastised the people in the congregation for reacting. He said, "I don't know why you all are so upset. The people at my church are accustomed to hearing me use strong language like that when I preach." I intentionally never heard that preacher preach another sermon.
6. Chastising Pastor
This story might seem unreal, but it is true. I shudder every time I think about it. I once visited a church with some friends. At the end of the sermon, the pastor asked the congregation to stand in a certain line depending on the amount of money they were going to give. She specifically said the money would go to her. She never said it would go to the church.
People stood up in the designated lines for $25, $50, or $100 or more. I was the only one left sitting in the congregation. My friends insisted they would give me money to give the pastor. I did not accept money from them because I know the Bible well enough and have such a relationship with God to know the pastor was way out of line.
I am glad I was driving my own car that day. When I got up to leave, the pastor called me a "devil" for not sowing into her bank account. She added, "See, I need to look good. I have to get my hair done and my nails done and other things to stand before this congregation every Sunday."
Needless to say, I never went back to that church. After a few years, my friends confessed that the pastor was wrong for treating me that way. They apologized for her and said they no longer go to that church because they got tired of supporting the pastor's personal lifestyle. They felt good about sowing into the kingdom of God, but they didn't know the money was going directly to her until she told me in front of the entire congregation.
7. I Preached Without Advanced Notice
I was called to preach at a local church during an emergency when the regular pastor became sick on a Sunday morning. No associate minister at the church was available. Since I live close to the church. I was not only available, but I was also prepared
Another case also involved me. When I arrived at my own church one Sunday morning, I was told I was scheduled to preach. However, the pastor thought he had told me far in advance. However, he hasn't informed me at all.
What helped me a lot was that I had delivered a message during a workshop at another church the previous Saturday. The information was still fresh on my mind. So, I was able to deliver an appropriate sermon.
8. My Pastor Preached My Sermon
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving one year, I preached a sermon about the ten lepers that Jesus had healed. At the end of the worship service, my pastor complimented me. Then she added, "I am the guest preacher at a church on Thanksgiving Day. I think I will preach that same sermon."
I thought the pastor was going to use the same text or the same topic. I was shocked when she delivered the exact sermon on Thursday that I had just preached on the previous Sunday. I still had the entire sermon tucked away in my Bible. I pulled it out and noticed that she delivered the sermon verbatim. She even used my personal illustrations that didn't even apply to her.
There is nothing wrong with preachers using the material from another preacher because if God's word is worth saying once, it is worth saying again and again. However, there should be some wiggle room for God to speak to individuals so the sermon can become their own. Preachers should not be so lazy that they do not sit before the Lord and let Him lead them to messages He wants them to share with the congregation.
I was disappointed in my pastor and also in the people who had heard the same sermon just four days earlier. I could hear them saying, "That's good. Let me write that down."
The whole incident would not have been so bad if the sermon was preached months later instead of just days apart. Also, it didn't seem to matter to the pastor who knew I would be at the service.
9. Preacher Came From Jail to Officiate My Wedding
When I got married on June 8, 1968, the minister had to be escorted from jail by officials to officiate my wedding. He was handcuffed and in shackles. No one could see that under his robe. As soon as the wedding was over, the minister was transported back to jail. In fact, he was allowed to do that on Sunday mornings for the church's regular worship services.
I don't remember what crime the preacher had committed or any details about the special arrangements for him to be escorted to and from the county jail. I just know I was married in a country church under unusual circumstances.