Gaffes and the Gospel

I was amused by Pope Francis’s recent slip of the tongue.  He was speaking to thousands in St. Peter’s square when he said the word “cazzo” instead of “caso.”  Caso means “example” in Italian, while cazzo is the Italian word for…well…in America we just call it “the F word.”


Years ago, I went on vacation.  One of the dedicated men of our church (I’ll call him Joe, which is not his real name) preached in my absence.  Upon my return, I asked several people how Joe’s sermon went and was met with giggles and guffaws.  “Haven’t you heard?” they asked.  “No.  What happened?” I said, dying of curiosity.

In seems Joe preached a passionate, heartfelt message about Satan.  He compared Satan’s reach and influence to the many coiling arms of an octopus.  Apparently, it was a decent sermon right up until the very last line.  Joe looked out over the audience and said, “So I’ll say it again…you better be careful or the testicles of Satan will get you!”

He meant tentacles.

On another occasion, my parents were visiting our church.  Just before the service started, I saw my dad, seated about halfway back in the auditorium, laughing hysterically.  His face was red and he was heaving.  My mom was elbowing him, trying to get him to straighten up.  I mouthed the words, “What’s so funny?”  He simply held up the bulletin and pointed to it.  I picked up my bulletin and started reading through it quickly.  About halfway down on page two I saw it.  A typo.

One of the men serving communion that morning was named Wilbur Whitehead.  In the bulletin, his name was “Wilbur Shithead.”

Double ooops.

I went to Wilbur as soon as the service was over and apologized profusely.  Wilbur was a very nice, laid back man.  He graciously smiled and said it was okay…he’d been called that before when it wasn’t a mistake.

For the record, Wilbur was also the guy who was presiding at the communion table one morning when his alarm watch went off, loudly playing “Dixie.”  Wilbur had just gotten the watch and had no idea how to silence it.  Thinking quickly, he put his left wrist under his right armpit and clamped down, muffling the song.  When it ended, he resumed his normal stance and, through it all, never cracked a smile.

One thing about being in ministry for almost 40 years is that you have a lot of stories like this.  Believe me, I’m only scratching the surface.

I concluded long ago that being imperfect and prone to mistakes isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes our stumbles and bumbles make for some belly laughs…if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  I’m convinced that God has a sense of humor and laughs right along with us when things like this happen.

Got any similar stories of church wackiness you’d like to share?


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8 Responses to Gaffes and the Gospel

  1. Klaus Roetsch says:

    Pastor Mark,

    With the explosive, though provoking, warm sermons you preach, each and every Sunday, any inadvertent gaffes you might stumble upon just reinforce that you are human. I’d trade a 100 gaffes from one of your sermons; for all the wonderful meaningful Sunday message; they are that good! And no, I’m not sucking up for an apple from the teacher. Thank you Pastor for entering my live. You are the Lord’s messenger. Praise Jesus..

  2. Susan McIntyre says:

    A pastor was preaching one Sunday with his text being Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” At the conclusion of his message he prayed, “Dear Lord, please forgive us our falling shorts.”

    Another one was when the pastor admonished us to “feed the naked and clothe the hungry.” Oops!

  3. Rosan says:

    Mark I am laughing so hard, tears are streamng down my face. Thanks so much for the laugh, I really needed that.

  4. Steve Jones says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Mark, I needed it. I was preaching in Norfolk, Va about Abraham who “Pitched his tents”(Genesis 13:18 NIV) only I said, “Pinched his tits.” Now, I have to tell you that since that time I’ve read where other preachers made the same gaffe which leads me to believe that its one of the phrases in the Bible particularly prone to that twist of the tongue. Also, I once attended a Preacher’s retreat at Lake Aurora where the Friday night theme was “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Church.” It was a contest for the funniest true church story. I laughed that night until my sides literally ached. The contest was won, hands down, by a preacher from Mt Dora Christian Church named Dan (but I can’t remember his last name). I do remember his winning story…but not enough room here to share it.

    • Mark says:

      That’s so funny, Steve. Thanks for sharing. I imagine you’re referring to Dan Douglass and his story about how the communion cups were prepared on Saturday and put into the church freezer by mistake instead of the refrigerator. On Sunday morning they had popsicles for communion. That is a hilarious story that I’ve heard Dan tell.

      • Steve Jones says:

        Yes, it was Dan Douglas and that was INDEED the winning story. I wish you could have been there and if they ever did another one I’d PAY to attend.

  5. Barb Atteberry says:

    Mark, Dad and I had another big guffaw remembering the nice Mr. Wilbur Whitehead. Poor guy!
    I hope he didn’t see your blog! He probably thinks that was forgotten….never to be resurrected again. The entire column was hilarious. Thanks for the laughs.

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