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Basketball Blunders—Preaching Penalties of a Different Kind

By the Refereeing Team of Jared Alcántara, Scott M. Gibson and Joel Gregory
Basketball Blunders—Preaching Penalties of a Different Kind
Image: Lightstock

Editor’s Note – This article was supposed to be released during March Madness. Well, we all know what happened to that. But this article is too good to let sit for another year, and we at Preaching Today think we all need a laugh right now. So we hope this article brings a smile to your face during this tumultuous time!

Also, if you missed their football edition, be sure to check it out!


The Final Four is upon us! As basketball players traverse the court arms flail, elbows are thrown, and referee whistles shriek as fouls are exacted. The keen eye of the official spots the transgression. For the preacher, there are penalties of a different kind, violations that can get in the way of sermon communication and listener apprehension. Below is a list of the fouls that we as veteran officials have spotted over the years. These are the basketball blunders that prompt a sharp whistle signaling a foul.

Technical Foul

Technical fouls include instances when you don’t know that the Sea of Galilee is fresh water. When you can’t tell the difference between the Marys of the New Testament. When you teach that John the Baptist wrote the Gospel of John.

Personal Foul

Calling out the board chairman’s favorite sin.

Team Foul

The entire worship team or orchestra tries to play you off when you’re still preaching.

Holding Foul

A holding foul takes place when you preach on a point too long before moving on. Or when the last two points only last four minutes.

Pushing Foul

When in your sermon there’s too much exhortation and not enough encouragement. Or when there’s too much imperative and not enough indicative.

Illegal Use of Hands Foul

When the preacher’s constant gesture is finger pointing his or her listeners. Another form of illegal use of the hands takes place when throughout the sermon the preacher habitually touches his or her face.

Blocking Foul

A blocking foul takes place when the preacher blocks the worship team from singing. This same foul occurs when the Easter lilies, floral arrangement, or poinsettia pots get in the way preventing the congregation from being able to see the preacher.

Charging Foul

When the preacher knocks people over while trying to get to the back door during the benediction.

Traveling Violation

A traveling violation takes place when the preacher is gone from the pulpit too many Sundays. Or, if you’re the visiting preacher and while greeting the congregation you use the name of the last church in which you spoke instead of this one.

Double Dribble Violation

When the preacher takes a drink of water and dribbles all over. A double dribble violation can also take place when a preacher preaches too many two-point sermons.

3 Second Violation

A three second violation occurs when the preacher pauses too long between subject and verb without a reason. For example, “Lazarus…………get up!”

10 Second Violation

A ten second violation takes place when a preacher pauses too long between points.

Closely Guarded Violation

An in your face application.

Shot Clock Violation

A shot clock violation occurs when a sermon goes so long that youth and children have already been let out of their classroom and are swarming in the lobby.

Out of Bounds

Unauthorized use of family illustrations—in which you come off as hero.


Preachers want to avoid fouls. Causing them can make preaching challenging and difficult—for the preacher and for the listener. We know that we foul up, but hopefully not foul out. Be encouraged! Preaching is hard work, exhausting but worth it, even if on occasion we’ll have a penalty placed on our own preaching. Get up! Get into the game! Preach again!

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