A sketch for trainee preachers, by Heather Simm of Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

The actors enter from the vestry and move to to the front of the church.

3. It's alright, he hasn't arrived yet.

1 Who is it today?

2 brings out the circuit plan. All consult it.

2 Oh no! - it's him again.

3 Captain Cliché.

1 Have we got time to go home?

2 No, the congregation have spotted us.

All three lift their eyes to the congregation and do a double-take

2 But it's OK, I've got the cards. You know what to do, every time he uses one of his tired old phrases, tick it off on the cards.

Passes out cliché cards and pencil

3 But it might be different today. He might have, you know, new material.

1 Listen, in five years he has given roughly the same sermon. I can't see he'll have changed it today. We had better get settled.

3 Good luck everyone.

The preacher strides in, grim faced, and thumps his Bible onto the lectern. He glares at the congregation and starts his sermon.

Preacher:  Brothers and sisters in Christ, we sinners who have been washed in the blood of the lamb …

1 and 3 give the thumbs up to each other

I beseech you to listen to the word of the Lord wherein lies his salvation for the world …

3 and 2 give each other the thumbs up

Preacher: Many have been called but few are chosen …

1 and 3 smile and give the thumbs up

Preacher: … to spread the gospel of love written in Jesus' precious blood.

1 and 3 are getting excited bouncing in their seats

Preacher: Unworthy as I am, today I bring freedom from the Devil's tempting to all who will listen. Hear the word of the Lord all who are here. Let us stand to sing together of God's abiding salvation. Amazing grace how sweet the sound …

3 stands up


Sees every one looking at them and, sheepishly, sits down.