A Preacher’s Worst Nightmare Comes True

26 07 2006

If you have ever prepared to preach you know exactly what I’m about to write.

This past Sunday evening I arrived at the church at an admittedly late time of 530 for our 600 evening service. I still had to print my notes on the color printer (I usually bring about 30 ½ sheets of fully manuscripted work to the pulpit so highlighting and variant fonts are pivotal).

So when I got to the church I noticed that the whole administrative area complete with printers is disconnected as our computer guy was doing some work and installing some new hardware/software.

This did not leave me much time. I quickly evaluated the risk of driving home and printing off my notes vs. the risk of preaching without notes. In evaluating the two, the prospect of getting in an accident or getting a flat tire seemed less likely and far less damaging then me trying preach without notes.

So after advising our drummer of my intentions with the comforting and vague instructions, “Dude, tell the guys to just improvise..” (I later found out that they were going to keep singing “Just as I am” until I walked the aisle…)

So off I went cruising home, retracing my steps back to my house. I printed off my notes at home, in black and white 8^(

I got back at 615 (about 10 minutes till go time). Terry (our usher leader) spotted me and quickly supplied the mic, while advising me that I had “plenty of time”. According to Terry “plenty of time” apparently is a song and an offertory song…or about 5 minutes. I quickly numbered and cut my notes and was ready to go.

Typically when I preach I have a little binder with my pages arranged in two’s; this enables me to scan both pages as I go. In this case I was preaching from a half sheet of notes, in retrospect it felt like looking through only one eye…weird.

So I walked into the auditorium just before the offertory song, thanking God for his grace and the circumstances that caused me to have my heartbeat and dependence increase. My wife looked at me and patted my back to find a drenched husband. I was red and sweating more than Paige Patterson at happy hour. It was hot out and I just couldn’t stop the perspiration.

Anyway, God’s grace prevails and he reminds me of my weakness and his grace, how it is magnified in boneheads such as me. Suffice it to say, I’ll be reviewing my notes on the way to the building next time. God is good.

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9 responses

26 07 2006
Tyler

So now you think you’re funny, or at least you categorized this post under funny. Fairly presumptuous I’d say. 🙂

I thought you’d make some comment when you took the stage, but nothin’. No one would even have known, but I smirked while leading the song you came in as you looked up and gave the “whew” look with your eyebrows raised.

Great job though and yes, God is gracious. He protected everyone on the road from the racing Mountie!

26 07 2006
obcroute66trip

I did notice you leaving as I pulled in and thought, that’s odd. Wonder why he’s leaving so close to service. By the way this is Jon Green. The site is for communicating my plans for my trip next summer to the others going, so I figured I’d just use it to comment here :).

26 07 2006
arlog

Your reference to Paige is classic. Made me laugh!

26 07 2006
Inthepursuitofgod

Talk to people who dont go to church instead of worrying about what people think of you speaking in church.

Too much focus on performance and how everything is only trying to protect and guard yourself from looking normal.

Keep yourself on peoples level

27 07 2006
erik

Inthepursuitofgod: not really sure where you are going on this.

If your referrence is to notes and preparation it is due to a fear of God and the fright of mishandling his word.

I’m curious how you can read people’s motives and minds:

“Too much focus on performance and how everything is only trying to protect and guard yourself from looking normal”

Curious indeed.

27 07 2006
Barry

LOL. I saw you come in and slide in beside your wife. She looked pretty releaved to see you. I thought that you were preaching that night and so I had to look again at the bulletin. (You made me look, dude.) Anyway, thanks for the look inside. Great is the Lord, the message was very good, glad you retrieved the notes.

27 07 2006
cavman

Sinclair Ferguson told us a good story in class one day.

It took place in an old Scottish church where the pulpit was above the choir. This pastor was known for using notes, and not all were pleased. As a joke during the pastoral prayer, one of the choir members reached up and pilfered the sermon notes.

The pastor, stunned, was speechless. A voice was heard from the choir section, paraphrasing Psalm 81:10, “Open your mouth, and I will fill it.”

Every so often I’ll have those long dreams about when nothing goes right. They stink.

28 07 2006
Jeff

Great story! That same Sunday I was leading worship at my church, and I had printed out a “Call to Worship” as well as a brief welcome for visitors. My plan was to review these two short pages before the service and memorize them.

Turns out I accidentally threw them away along with some other documents that I had, in a can just outside the sanctuary. I didn’t realize this until 2 minutes before the service, so I ran back to the trash can and found them… no memorization, had to read them, and sounded a little stiff I’m sure!

That, and I almost started playing song in the wrong key (capo on wrong fret). But God is always good, and He is always gracious. Hopefully these little mistakes didn’t distract from our focus on Him.

5 08 2006
mark

are these your friends to whom you were going speak? why so nervous? why were the muscians required to “improvise” and you couldn’t? is looking foolish really your worst ministry nightmare? my understanding of bible teaching is that people go to hell if they don’t know jesus. that seems worse to me.

organization and preparation make sense. frightful dependence on 30 pages of notes for a message that comes from the bible – I don’t get it.

i have to assume this is a tongue-in-cheek inside joke with friends.

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