My Preaching Freak-Out Moment
Within the first minute of the sermon on Sunday, I was freaking out between my ears. Outwardly everything was normal, but on the inside I was in full panic mode – at least for a moment.
Our time of singing together was coming to an end, so I bent over to pick up my Bible off the chair next to me. Our worship leader began to pray, which was my cue to get ready to preach. While she was praying I slowly walked up to the podium, just as I do most every Sunday, and opened my Bible to organize my Bible, notes and bulletin/information guide.
But something was wrong. I observed that I had both pages of the sermon, but something was missing. Or were things just out of order? Nope, this was a real preacher’s crisis: I could not find my introduction:
Take your Bible and turn to Acts 14 and get ready to turn to Matthew 18
- My name is Brent, I am one of the pastors of this local church
- We are glad you are here and you are welcome to be here, no matter who you are and what you have done
- At the end of this preaching time, we will have a response time – meet us in the back.
- May God’s word move you to embrace God’s people as you surrender to Him, because He surrendered His life for us.
The intro is practically the same every week. It reminds me to introduce myself by name to our guests. It’s how I start every sermon, but it wasn’t there and the worship leader was about to say, “Amen.” What has happened and what am I going to do?
And then I realized what I had done, I had taken a duplicate copy of page two of my notes. In the process of fine-tuning and transferring notes I had two pages of the same notes. I had thrown my introduction away!
Truly, I was having a moment of preaching-panic.
What do I do? Should I just be honest and call timeout and tell everyone what has happened and I need to go to the recycle bin to get my first page of notes? Sometimes people need to know us preachers are human. I could ask them to pray – to pray I find my notes. And by the way, I worked really hard on that introduction. Do I just jump to the notes I do have, surprising everyone with a short sermon?
I have to make a decision. I have to say something. What do I do?
I have already preached this sermon three times to an empty room as a part of preparation, so I could try to preach the first page by memory. I am about to find out if my preparation has been adequate. I decide to go for it.
Here is the link to the sermon audio (A Defense of Church Membership and A Plea for Committed Community) and here is a copy of the first page of my notes:
Take a listen and look to see how I did. I left off a few things and mis-remembered a few references, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad.
What would you have done?
I have been regularly preaching for seven years and this is the first time that has happened and I hope it never happens again.
And by the way, pray for your pastor. He sometimes loses his notes.