Senior adults of Arlington’s Tate Springs Baptist Church filed to fellowship hall for a luncheon following Sunday morning services a while back.

Upwards of 200 signed up for the feast, followed by a program, then a benediction voiced by Pastor Bart McDonald.

It was 1:30 p.m., and the parson might now wish he had let well enough alone with a final “amen.”…

But no. He had a final question, posed with a smile: “How many of you intend to go home and enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon nap?” Most hands went up; Jim Behringer’s hand didn’t.

“I thought you enjoy a nap every day,” Rev. McDonald said.

“You’re right, preacher,” piped up Jim’s friend, Larry Carter, “But he doesn’t need two, and he got a good one during the sermon.”…

Lucien Coleman, long-time preacher and retired seminary prof, has offered tips by the tons to preachers in training. “Particularly in the early going, ‘do church’ the way they’ve always done it,” he advised.

Dr. Coleman remembers countless times when “unannounced alterations” to “the way they did church” went awry.

One, for example, occurred when a young preacher substituted for the long-time pastor at a small country church. When it was time to take the offering, four ushers came forward…

The sub, remembering one of the ushers by name, asked him to voice the offertory prayer. There was a noticeable pause before “Joe” cleared his throat, then managed to get out a few hushed words—four, in fact: “I pass to Henry,” he said.

The next three ushers uttered the same four words as they “passed” to Robert, Charles and Milton. The latter passed the “hot potato” back to the preacher.

“Call for voiced prayers only from folks you know will pray and not pass,” Dr. Coleman instructed…

“Uh-ohs” involving prayer remind Dr. Coleman of another foul-up worthy of many chuckles in the faculty lounge.

A middle-aged Vietnam veteran whose experience was long in the military and short in the ways of Sunday school, joined a men’s class. Soon, the teacher asked him to dismiss the class.

His response, in a commanding voice: “All right, men. Dismissed!”

Many’s the time that folks with no speaking parts at church and who don’t get there often make promises they don’t expect to keep. One man, call him “Pete,” is an excellent example. He’s in a sweat, having circled the block several times looking for a parking space. He’s due at an important meeting and is on the cusp of being late.

Looking up to heaven, he prays, “Lord, have mercy on me! If you’ll just give me a parking place right now, I’ll go to church every Sunday from now on, and I’ll give up whiskey and gambling.”

At that very moment, a parking place miraculously appeared. Pete looked up again, saying, “Never mind, Lord. I found one by myself.”

Some of the most repeated church stories concern funerals.

The conclusion of one graveside service coincided with a tremendous burst of thunder accompanied by a distant lightning bolt and more rumbling thunder.

The little old widower nudged the pastor, saying, “Well, she’s there.”

It’s but a hop/skip/jump from country church stories to weekday chuckles that pop up regularly in small town America, often down at the feed store. At one such store, a youngster, home from college after his first year there, is working at the loading dock. The lad is happy to have a summer job.

As he loads a truck with feed, the customer surveys clouds gathering overhead. “Them are serious clouds, young man,” the farmer says.

“Sir, I mean no disrespect, but I must disagree with you,” the student counters. “I’ve been studying meteorology in college, and I am certain that these are not Sirius clouds, but are Cumulus clouds instead.”

“I admit, son, that I’ve never been to college,” the farmer responds. “But a man can know stuff without college, and I know about clouds.

There ain’t but two kinds of clouds—clouds that are serious, and clouds that ain’t.

And them moving in here today are serious clouds.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send e-mail to or call 817-447-3872. Visit his Web site at