31 July, 2007
Pastor Puts Mistakes in Sermons to See if Anyone is Listening
HATTIESBURG, MS - Rev. Jason Gill, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, has decided on a new strategy to find out if anyone is listening to his sermons. Lately, the congregation has seemed bored and disinterested when Gill proclaims the Word of God. What is his plan? He has been inserting mistakes into each sermon to find out who is listening and who is not.
Pastor Gill explained his rationale to TBNN this way, "If no one is listening to me, then I have to do something to get their attention. Right now I am just trying to figure out what percentage of the members are bothering to pay attention. When I am up in the pulpit, I routinely see people whispering, passing notes, and just plain sleeping - and I'm not just talking about the youth."
Gill's "experiment" began about two months ago. At first, he just changed up names from O.T. passages. For example, he would switch "Ahab" for "Ahaz," or "Abishai" for "Asahel." No one noticed at all. Then, two weeks ago, when preaching from Romans 3:26, Gill told us that he referred to Christ as, "just but NOT the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Still no reaction from anyone.
Gill informed us that he took it to a new level last Sunday. When preaching from Acts 1:8, he told the Hope Presbyterian congregation that when Luke wrote "the ends of the earth," he really was just referring to Texas. No one in the church body even blinked.
We decided to ask around the church to see if anyone had noticed. Wilma Francis, a long-time member of Hope, was pleased to talk to us. We simply asked whether or not she had been hearing anything odd or different from the pastor during his sermons. She responded, "I often have trouble staying awake at that time of day. However, I did make it through last week's service without dozing off. When the pastor said the thing about the ends of the earth referring to Texas, it did seem a little strange. But, he is the pastor with the bible training, so he must be right."
We received much the same response from five other members of the congregation. We quickly went to Pastor Gill to tell him about this. He responded, "I never thought this would happen. I just assumed that if the people heard a mistake on my part, that they would tell me. I never assumed that they would just believe me because I am the pastor. Now I don't know what to do."
It seems that Pastor Gill is now addicted to making mistakes. Whenever he approaches the point in the sermon when his error is coming, his adrenaline starts to flow. "Quite honestly, it is the most exciting time of my week. I get such a rush. There is nothing like it."
Despite the problems, Gill is determined to find out if people are listening. We suggested that he try a different approach. Unfortunately, an addict has a very difficult time breaking a bad habit. As we were leaving, Gill told us, "This Sunday I will begin preaching through the book of Revelation. The people always like that one. I haven't decided yet what to do, but I'm thinking of naming the four horsemen of chapter six after Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Yoda, and Darth Vader."
At TBNN, we do have a little integrity. We felt like we had to tell someone about this. As we were leaving Hattiesburg, we were able to meet with Harold Simpson, who is a leading member of the church. When we told him about the problem, he responded, "Well, he is the pastor so he must be right. I always did like those Star Wars movies. Now I know why."