by Dale Reeves
This past weekend in Casey County, Kentucky, pastor Jason Coulter took an unexpected fall while performing a wedding. Coulter, the music director at Green River Pentecostal Church in Hustonville, was performing a wedding on the edge of a pond. As the bride was being escorted to the pond-side dock—and all eyes were on her—a gust of wind carried Coulter’s notes into the pond. The pastor leaned over the rail and tried to quickly retrieve the notes by reaching down, only to fall into the water himself.
The wedding officiant says he wasn’t hurt, nor was his pride. The bride, Whitney Carmicle, says that moment helped break the ice and bring some levity to a very nervous moment for her. After his tumble, the pastor emerged from the water, still wearing his sunglasses. With drenched notes in hand, in his soaked shirt and pants he finished the ceremony, and became a social media sensation.
To see a few pictures and a video of this plunge, click here to see the story:
Embrace the Plunge
I’ve performed lots of weddings during my years as a pastor, with a number of them being outdoor weddings, including one on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat in Galveston, Texas. But I can honestly say this kind of thing has never happened to me. I “took the plunge” in a cold, unheated baptistry at the age of nine, I’ve been in the river in several places while baptizing people, but I’ve never fallen into the water while wearing street clothes at a public ceremony.
I applaud the attitude of pastor Jason Coulter, who said, after the incident last weekend, “When my notes blew into the pond, I had no idea how I would finish the ceremony. With the attention on the bride, I knew I had a moment to fish my notes out to save the day. . . . I think everybody kind of looks to something special at wedding occasions. At the time it was chaotic, but after it was over, this is a good thing.”
The pastor could have been embarrassed and vowed never to perform an outdoor wedding again (especially on the bank of a pond). . . . . But he chose to embrace it and laugh along with total strangers who have commented on social media and sent him personal messages. It’s a good thing for us to be able to not take ourselves too seriously. It’s good for our emotions and our hearts. Wise King Solomon said in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (NLT).
Just Get Wet
It seems like every other week in either a sermon, or something I’ve read in my daily quiet time, someone is always challenging me to be like the apostle Peter and get out of the boat. Of course, these teachers and writers are referring to the incident in Jesus’ ministry when he shocked his disciples by walking out to their boat on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night (see Matthew 14:22-33). Peter, always the impetuous one, cried out, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water” (v. 28). Peter hopped out of their boat and began to walk on the water until he focused on the strong wind and the waves, then he began to sink, and he shouted to the Lord to save him. But we affirm Peter for his willingness to get out of the boat. None of his companions in the boat that night attempted it.
I wonder today, in what area of your life do you need to take the plunge?
In his book, Deep Like Me, my friend and author Rick Bundschuh illustrates:
“Let’s imagine that Christianity is like a huge swimming pool. This pool has a shallow end with broad steps gently leading into the water. . . . This pool gently slopes down toward a very deep end. . . . Between these two extremes is a vast length of pool where one can move freely from waist-deep to barely touching on tiptoes. . . . I believe that God does not care all that much if we get deep or shallow in the great pool of Christianity. What He does care about is that we get wet. . . . God wants to envelop us with Himself, with His love, His mercy, His fragrant grace, His saturating joy.”
According to the Roys Report, in an extensive national survey conducted by Lifeway Research, two-thirds of all Americans now believe worshiping alone or with one’s family is a “valid” replacement for regularly attending church. In the survey, of those with “evangelical beliefs,” 54% of them affirmed that statement. That is a whopping increase of 15 percentage points from a similar survey taken in 2020! Commenting on the impact COVID-related restrictions have had on the church the past two years, executive director for Lifeway Research, Scott McConnell, stated, “When in-person church attendance behaviors were interrupted and habits were broken, it affected some Americans’ beliefs about the need to gather with other believers to worship.” To see more data from this survey, click here:
At Christ’s Church, we are constantly talking about the need for all of us to do more than just be spectators of a worship experience—either in person, or online. To get off the edge of the pool and decide to get wet means that believers take the initiative to get plugged into some kind of community life in the church. We are committed to small groups in our church because we know that often that is where real spiritual growth takes place. Right now is the perfect time to jump in as a number of groups have just relaunched with a fall session. There’s a Moms’ group, Man Church, women’s fall Bible studies, a young adults’ group, and many others. We have something available for everyone. To find out more, go to christschurch.community/join-a-group.
Unlike the water in the Kentucky pond on that wedding day or the water I was baptized in as a child, I would tell you, “Come on in. Take the plunge. The water is warm!”