Note: Some readers may find the following true story amusing (one of those stories where you cup your hand over your mouth as you quietly chuckle under your breath) . I witnessed this in a church in North America.
We have a children’s sermon, a short message especially geared to the children, although presented to the entire congregation. We call the children up front and various members of our congregation take turns and often use an object lesson to illustrate their point.
An older retired minister in our church volunteered to take a turn. In his late eighties, he is very much loved and esteemed by our small congregation. He and his wife have such an earnest servant’s heart and willingness to serve wherever needed. He had used children’s messages in a previous pastorate so we looked forward to his message.
He showed the children a card with three 3′s on it (333) and asked what they saw. Next he turned the card so that it appeared to be 3 M’s and shared a short point on “Meandering”. As I recall he then turned it so that it formed 3 E’s, then turned it once again so that it formed 3 W’s, each time suggesting a new meaning and a Scriptural principle. So far so good.
Then he inexplicably told a joke that his brother had shared with him over the phone and this is where it got very interesting.
Most of us preachers know what it’s like to have an illustrative story or joke that we really want to tell and we will try somehow to fit it into a message. We may at times develop a spiritual point that relates to the story so that we can use it. (Not the best sort of sermon prep but I confess to doing it on more than one occasion.) In the case of our daily encouragement ministry, stories from our life often find their way into a message, but that is a different format, similar to a blog.
He proceeded to tell this story to the children and the entire congregation:
His brother had called to tell him he had a prostate exam. During the exam the doctor used two fingers. His brother said after the exam, “Doctor, I felt two fingers instead of one. Usually you use one finger. Why did you use two instead?” The doctor replied, “I used two just in case you wanted a second opinion.”
Now, for the life of me I’m not sure what he was trying to illustrate that related to his message, perhaps that’s because the TMI illustration overpowered the principle he was trying to teach. I’m afraid the adults will remember the children’s sermon and its illustration much longer than they will remember the adult sermon that day! I also don’t know whether the parents might have had some questions when they got home.
We have had some funny moments in church but I didn’t think we would ever top the prayer request from early in our ministry but this experience may very well be just as memorable.