Occasionally CT receives a fiction piece that is an obvious spoof. This one will stab preachers where it hurts—their difficulty in holding the interest of their audience. But as has often been said, truth sometimes is stranger than fiction.

I could feel it happening again. Hundreds of people in the room began to get blurry, and I started to slump in my seat. The drone of a man’s voice echoed inside my head. I struggled to regain control of my body by sitting up, crossing my legs, and taking a deep breath, but it was no use. I felt my head bobbing, and then everything went black.

A jab in the ribs jerked me awake. “Bob!” my wife whispered, “wake up—you’re sleeping again!”

I looked up. Row upon row of people’s heads, all facing forward. A man in front talking in a monotone. Finally I knew where I was: in church. Glancing at my watch, I saw it was only 11:35—the sermon would continue for another 20 minutes! How will I make it through the rest of the service? I thought. I’ve fallen asleep during the sermon for five straight Sundays.

In the following weeks I made a real attempt to be more attentive. I studied the sermon text ahead of time, and I meticulously outlined the pastor’s message on Sunday. Nothing helped. I could outline a telephone book and make it exciting compared to the stream of consciousness prose I heard each week. The conclusion was inescapable: my pastor’s sermons were a crashing bore. So were scores of others I heard as I traveled around the country.

The situation depressed me, and I felt I had to do something. But what? How do you tell a preacher his sermon had no unity or progression? Or that his transitions didn’t work? Or that ...

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