Strange Pastor Tales

Hey, pastor, what's the strangest thing that's ever happened to you in the course of your ministry?

I've had more than a few odd experiences in my thirty-plus years of public ministry. The bride who showed up for an outdoor wedding in a pinned-up lace tablecloth as her gown. The odd crunching sound as a funeral director closed a casket (was the casket a size too small?). The Christian kids' show host who called the kids in the studio her little "sugar boogers."

But perhaps the strangest was the young man who insisted on meeting with me at Kofenya coffee shop in Oxford, Ohio (which I think was the meeting that gave rise to my general rule that I would never again meet with someone without knowing the purpose of our meeting). A few minutes into the conversation, he told me he had a prophecy to share with me.

I don't remember what his prophecy was, though. In fact, he may never have gotten around to it, because I started asking him questions and soon discovered that he was David.

King David.

Not metaphorically. Not symbolically. As I probed and prodded, he revealed that he was THE shepherd-king of Israel, David son of Jesse, the forebear of Jesus the Messiah, who slew Goliath and sinned with Bathsheba.

My skin started to crawl. I did my best to reason with him, to ask searching questions, to ask why he thought this, etc., to try to lead him to recognize the theological and biblical difficulties inherent in his claim. He would have none of it.

Finally, I just leveled with him. I remember saying something like, "I believe I can say to you, in Jesus' name, that you are NOT King David. But I can also tell you that whoever you are, you are loved with the same love as God ever loved David." I think I also urged him (as David did with Nathan) to make himself accountable to someone older and farther along in the faith than he. It did no good. He was incensed that I would speak to him that way, and fail to be impressed by his claim. He told me that I was disobeying God and standing in the way of prophecy, or something like that. We parted abruptly. And I was creeped out. And very, very sad.

I think that ranks as probably the strangest "pastor" experience I've ever had. I don't know if I'll ever forget it. It disturbed me for many days and drove me to heartfelt prayer for him. But to my knowledge, I never saw him again.

What about you? Any strange pastor tales to tell?


  1. I remember being held up at gunpoint by a police officer in Ukrine. I also remember getting stuck in the middle of the river in a bus with water coming in up to the seats before we got pulled out. I remember being in an earthquake 7.9 and seeing the people real open to the gospel the next day. I remember throwing off 8 suitcases and then having all the family jump off the train in Romania because the train wouldnt stop completly for our town. It took some time to collect all the suitcases. I remember collecting the sound equipment in a hurry in a riot in Haiti and then hiding with the doors closed. These are a few of my memories.

  2. I remember traveling in an old red school bus from virginia to costa rica. It took us 10 days, only stopping two or three nights to sleep at a "hotel"-i remember traveling in mexico in this bus, having to stop for the police. It was either unloading all our belongings in the middle of the night or giving the policeman a few dollars and a cold coke-i chose the latter! we did this all the way through mexico..good thing my mom had fixed us a large cooler of goodies:)

  3. Wow, so many to choose from.
    1. The death of a child is tragic and once Bonnie & I were called upon to do a funeral for a stillborn child. It was to be only a graveside service where we were to meet the family. Upon arrival at the funeral home to travel to the cemetery the director put me in the front and Bonnie in the back and said he return. He did was a small white box that looked like one of those styrofoam coolers. He put it on the back seat and told Bonnie to put her hand on the lid so it wouldn't move in transit! Freaky.

    2. I had a guy who would come in and share "scriptures" from the Gospel of Ed...his name. He simply had really wacky ideas including that the anti-christ would be in the form of an African-American pope who would rule the world in partnership with RCA!

    3. Met the family of a WWI vet who had died and finalize plans for the funeral. Apparently the children did not care a lot for their father for when the director asked who would be presented the flag from the coffin they nearly came to blows because each insisted that the other had to take because that didn't want anything of the "old man's." I finally suggested the flag be given to the Army (Salvation that is) and the fight ended.

    4. Having Bob Hostetler as a Sunday School teacher in Montclair, NJ.

  4. Wow, Don and Christie, you guys make MY strange experiences sound....boring! Thanks soooo much for commenting.

  5. Tom, I'm honored to make your list of strange pastor tales. I think. Thanks for commenting. I think.

  6. Charles Stone commented via Facebook: Teaching a group of men on marriage--I threw up in front of them all. Fortunately a guy on the front row grabbed a trash can for me. To amplify matters, I was miked so the gross "sound" of throw up was magnified.

  7. Larry Shade commented via Facebook: one of my strangest moments as a pastor was having a Black Lab come to the funeral of his owner and wearing a bowtie

  8. Janice Howard commented via Facebook: The time I asked the group of young people if they wanted to be enrolled as Junior Soldiers and one boy said "no, my mom is making me". Long story short - I did not enroll him that day...and my husband did not ask the adult members if they wanted to be enrolled; he just did the ceremony for risk of a similar response.

  9. Jim Watkins commented on Facebook: The time the baby fell out of the balcony and landed on the hardwood pew below. Okay, it turned out to be a baby DOLL, but really threw my sermon delivery!

  10. George Hood commented on Facebook: My first appointment - Fitchburg, Mass. I got a panic phone call one day from one of our kids from the Corps. Their father had been shot in the head and would I come quickly. I drove to their house to find their father flat out on the street by his car. He was bleeding from a self-inflicted shot to the head. I get down on my knees next to him to counsel and pray and try to make sure he accepted Christ. About 3 minutes into my top quality crisis evangelism, I suddenly realized that he didn't understand a single word of English and didn't even know who I was or why I was there, compounded by the fact that he was unconscious. Duh.

    I prayed for him and then got out of the way for the emergency team to get him to the hospital. By the way, he lived.

  11. Karen MontgomeryMarch 3, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    While I have experienced several "strange" moments as a pastor...the following is by far the strangest & the funniest, too!

    I had just been appointed to serve as pastor of two rural churches in Indiana. I was new in the role of pastor, but understood the importance of connecting with current leaders in the church & building relationships.

    I called the home of an elderly couple (80ish)who were both active in the church. The husband of the two answered the phone and after I introduced myself, he told me his wife was standing near the phone and we then had a very interesting & lengthy conversation between the three of us.

    After about 30 minutes or so, the husband suddenly said, "Well, I guess I better go...I'm getting cold. I'm standing here in my birthday suit...I was just getting out of the shower when you called."

    Of course, I was shocked at his revelation, but since he had been so funny earlier in the conversation I was hoping he was just kidding!
    Just in case, I decided it would be a good idea to speak directly to his wife and I asked him to let me talk to her.

    As she was laughing when she answered I said, "I sure hope he was kidding...because the visual my mind has conjured up is a scary one!" She replied, "Well, that might be, but I'm sure the view from here is much worse!"
    Sure enough...she confirmed that I had indeed been speaking to (via telephone) a "naked" 80 something year old church member.

    Now that I have written about this account...I have to follow by saying these two folks were in fact two of the most devoted and faithful followers of Christ that I have ever met. A bit "flamboyant" in the humor department...but terrific people.

  12. Norman Voisey commented on Facebook: I had a funeral to do in Painesville for a family I didn't know. I asked John Myers to come over to the Corps from the local bank where he worked to play organ. I huddled with him and said, I am going to open with scripture readings. I will have a prayer and then to provide a break to the one voice, if you would play a tune which they may recognize after which I will give the message. After the prayer, I sat down, and John started on the gospel tune on the piano. As I was facing the congregation I was astonished to see them getting up, filing out of the chapel piling their songbooks neatly on the table as they exited!

  13. Paul Cranford posted on Facebook: I was touring England in 1985 with the New York Staff Band. The band was specialing at Regent Hall where they have a busy Sunday Schedule. Sunday School, Open Air, Holiness Mtg, Open Air, Afternoon Praise Mtg, Open Air, Salvation Mtg, then we did a mini concert. I was scheduled to speak at the afternoon open air. The parade to the open air included, the NYSB, Regent Hall Band (40 strong), Songters, Timbrels and the whole corps. We marched to Carnaby Street where we formed an extra large ring. The bands played, sang a couple hymns and then it came time for me to speak. As I took off my cap and opened my Bible, I shared that I was speaking on "God's Wonders of Nature." Just then, the biggest pigeon in London swooped down and let loose all over me, my notes and Ron Waiksnoris. Needless to say, God has a sense of humor and certainly provided a vivid sermon illustration!