the words of tim walker

awkward church moments

my younger brother, marc, is the cutup. he was the one who would make my aunts and uncles and grandparents laugh. i was not. i don’t know why i was so intense as a kid, i think it just took everything way too seriously. i probably still do.

but there were a few scenarios when my serious face would collapse into laughter. and most of the time, those moments involved marc. and most of the time, those moments happened at the dinner table.

now in some families, dinner time is a loud event with people talking, laughing and yelling. but in our family, dinner was mostly quiet. except for when i would make eye contact with marc.

i didn’t even know why i was laughing the majority of the time, but as soon as i looked into his eyes, i would lose it. my dad would tell us to quiet down, and then that made it even funnier.

i know, it was complete silliness. but it makes me smirk just thinking about it. and if marc was sitting across the table from me right now as i type this sentence, and i looked up at his face and we made eye contact, we would probably both just chuckle for no apparent reason.

maybe it was the moment. or just some unspoken joke we share. regardless, dinner time wasn’t really the best place for giggling, at least not in our house.

and that’s probably what makes it still so funny. there’s just something hilarious about laughing at things that we know we’re not supposed to laugh at.

and having spent most of my life in the church, i’ve had some moments that were just funny—even if the setting really didn’t lend itself to the gut laughs it produced.

like the time a man named dan got on the stage and sang “o, holy night.” dan liked drama. this was back in the day when drama was relegated to an annual kids’ production and maybe a Christmas play. when dan hit the line “fall on your knees,” he literally fell on his knees—with such a loud thud that it would have sent an orthopedist to the altar with business cards. not exactly the best time to laugh, but it sure was funny.

or the time we were hearing an older woman read a special poem for father’s day. the poem told the story about a sunday school class in which kids talked about their dads, but one kid was silent because he didn’t have a father. the poem was meant to be emotionally moving, and convey that God is our Father. but in the poem, the lines “who’s your daddy?” were recited repeatedly. most of the over-50 crowd were oblivious to this one, but every teenager in the church had his/her head down staring at the floor and their bodies shaking from containing the laughter. i lost it on that one as well.

there are so many more.

like the preacher who told of Satan’s attacks on believers, describing them as the “dire farts of hell” instead of the fiery darts of hell.

or the time my friend was supposed to blow a “shofar” in the church service (you have to be pentecostal to get this one), and instead of sounding like she was summoning the Lord, i’m pretty sure a couple of stray moose wondered in from Canada.

got any funny church stories? i’d love to hear them. they happen because we’re all humans who sometimes say and do stupid things. and most of the time there is someone around to hopefully extend grace, but also enjoy a good laugh.


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image courtesy of flickr.com/creative commons/by flamk

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6 thoughts on “awkward church moments

  1. Ok I literally laughed out loud thinking about these times and so many others we have experienced together over the years.

  2. Oh my, that sounds just like me and my sister. Even now when we attend the cog homecoming once a year our husbands won’t let us sit near each other. They know if we make eye contact then we have to leave the church because we cannot stop laughing! Cherish those memories!

  3. This really made me laugh! Several years ago ( I was an adult and should have known better!) I was at an Easter play with one of my sons – who was about 15, The choir member portraying Jesus was a middle age guy with a fake beard, and a body that would have been best served by keeping his shirt on….but during the scene of his arrest, he was attired in just a sarong type garb. I made the mistake of looking at one of my kids, and then prayed those around me would think my shaking shoulders as I looked intently at the ground were a result of me being overwhelmed by sadness…instead of laughing so hard I was crying, still a great memory in our house that makes us laugh!

  4. Tim this is hysterical! I love these moments. Ok, I grew up quasi-pentecostal (that means our church had running and screaming only about one sunday a month). One of our trusty runners and shouters had Bells Palsy which meant that, on random occasions, he would wake up and lose the use of only one side of his face—including vision.

    One morning, despite his palsy having shown up, he took off running and shouting and must have forgotten that his vision was affected. He ran as fast as he could into the wall behind the choir loft and hit so hard that he fell backward, slammed into the floor, then got up and kept going like nothing happened. Most people compassionately kept quiet, or solemn, (or shouted along with him). I, on the other hand, was about 14 and still remember the sharp looks from my mother as I laughed so hard I had tears streaming and wasn’t doing a good job of just looking like I was moved by the spirit 🙂

  5. I remember ole brother Conners who would sense God’s calling to be Jesse Owens in the middle of service. He would take off and startle everyone. I could never look at you in the midst of his sprint. Good times.

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