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INSIDE STORY: Sermon titles you won’t soon forget

Even now, Danny Dodd chuckles at the title of one sermon he preached in the arrogance of his youth.
“Three Reasons to Commit Fornication,” he called it.
“I still have not lived this one down in some circles,” said Danny, pulpit minister of the Gateway church in Pensacola, Fla.
(For the record, the reasons were: 1. It feels good. 2. Everyone else is doing it. 3. It will send you to hell!)
Don’t you love sermon titles?
Strange choice of topics, I know, but my interest was piqued when I came across one that minister Bill Greer preached recently at the Soddy church in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.: “Why Does Church Have To Be Boring?”
Raised in the church, baptized at age 9 and faithful to my assigned pew, I felt fairly certain I knew the reason: Because that’s how God prescribed it!
Nonetheless, I e-mailed a preacher friend, hoping he might provide chapter and verse to verify my answer.
Instead, my friend replied with his own list of reasons why — some humorous and others just plain true:
• Because the elders always go on and on with “just one more announcement.”
• Because the preacher thinks his illustration didn’t get through to the glassy-eyed brethren, so he desperately tells a few more.
• Because the preacher wants to make sure every man, woman and child is aware he studied Greek.
• Because “We’re Marching to Zion” is led so slowly you’d think a herd of turtles was doing the marching.
• Because the man leading the opening prayer decided to sit on the back pew and doesn’t start toward the front until every head is bowed.
Uncertain if my friend’s elders share his sense of humor, I am withholding his name — for now. I reserve the right to change my mind if he fails to provide witty anecdotes the next time I need them.
On a serious note, I called Bill Greer to ask about the true nature of his sermon.
His message: Many suffer from “spiritual attention deficit disorder.” In a society obsessed with cell phones, instant messaging and other techno-gadgets, we get bored in five minutes if we’re not entertained.
But the truth is, as Bill explained, church is boring only if we allow it to be. What we get out of church — and whether it’s boring or not — depends on our own heart and devotion to worshiping God.
I enjoyed visiting with Bill about his sermon and chatting a bit about his beloved Tennessee Volunteers.
Like Bill, a lot of ministers seem to have a knack for catchy titles.
Jimmy Waggoner, an elder at the Sanger, Texas, church, recalls that his friend Hollis Adams once preached on “Sittin’ on the Premises.”
Bill Litman, co-minister at the Route 230 church in Elizabethtown, Pa., titled a lesson about the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 “When the Jailhouse Rocks.” “I’m sure I got it from someone else like all my other stuff, but it’s my favorite,” he said.
Clyde Slimp, minister at the Lakehoma church in Mustang, Okla., said he preached on “Would You Call a Woman a Cow?” God did just that in Amos 4, as Clyde pointed out.
Our editor, Lynn McMillon, remembers Terry Rush preaching “You Can’t Skate in a Buffalo Herd” at the Tulsa International Soul-Winning Workshop one year.
Steve Puckett, senior minister of the Melbourne, Fla., church, directed me to a list of “strange sermons titles” at www.sermonstore.org. Among them:
• “I’m So Sick of Frogs I Could Croak” (think Pharoah and the 10 Plagues).
• “Dumber Than A Donkey” (recall Balaam’s experience in Numbers 22).
• “Seven Ducks in Muddy Water” (as in the number of times Naaman dipped in the Jordan to be cured of leprosy).
At budget time, the “Sermon on the Amount” can be catchy, noted Dale Brown, an elder at the Golf Course Road church in Midland, Texas.
Jeff Foster with Manuelito Navajo Children’s Home in Gallup, N.M., has a list of favorite titles he has preached.
A few of the ones I liked best:
• “What Hole Did He Crawl Out Of?” (based on Satan in Genesis 3).
• “One Small River, One Giant Leap (on Deuteronomy 4 and the challenges facing the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan).
• “Sex Is Not a Four-Letter Word (on the biblical view of sexuality).
David Duncan, minister of the Memorial church in Houston, once titled a sermon “H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.”
He, like Danny and his fornication sermon, has not soon lived that down.
I feel their pain. Both David and Danny can rest assured I would never do anything to add to their embarrassment.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

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    Rodrick Robinson
    church of God sevent day
    kingston, Jamaica
    January, 13 2013

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