Apple Watch mistakes John Piper's exuberant preaching for emergency fall

John Piper preaches a sermon titled 'The Lord Governs My Good and Is My Good: All of Psalm 16 for a New Year' at South Cities Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, on Dec. 11, 2022.
John Piper preaches a sermon titled "The Lord Governs My Good and Is My Good: All of Psalm 16 for a New Year" at South Cities Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, on Dec. 11, 2022. | YouTube/Desiring God

John Piper experienced a brief snafu during an Advent sermon after his Apple Watch mistook his dramatic preaching gesticulations for an emergency fall.

On Dec. 11, the theologian and bestselling author preached a sermon titled "The Lord Governs My Good and Is My Good: All of Psalm 16 for a New Year" at South Cities Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, when his Apple Watch began beeping mid-sentence.

"God is God!" the pastor declared, waving a fist in the air, prompting his Apple Watch to beep. 

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"You know what? My phone is telling me that I fell down," the 76-year-old pastor said as he attempted to silence his watch. "I'm OK. I did not fall down. Did you hear it? This has happened twice in my life. I'm preaching and they think I fall down. I'm not falling down. I'm standing up. I'm preaching. Good grief, Apple."

Piper's sermon focused on finding the fullness of joy through God as part of South Cities Church's Advent Series. The church was previously known as Bethlehem Baptist Church, South Campus, one of Bethlehem's three campuses, but was launched on Dec. 1 as a new distinct church.

Following the mishap, the Desiring God author challenged the church to embrace the reality presented in Pslam 16:10: "because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay."

"My sins and your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus if we trust in Him. Therefore, there's forgiveness in the blood, and there's a future in the resurrection. And therefore, Psalm 16 is yours because of Christ. Verse 10 is true. He did die; He did rise; His flesh did not see corruption. And therefore, you can bank on these promises," he said. 

"So what should you do? You should set Him always before you. You should keep Him at your right hand. And if you do, and if your good pastors do, and if your council of elders does, if they and you keep God in Christ clearly before them as their treasure and good and Lord and cup and inheritance and portion, and God cherished and loved and honored at their right hand, this church will not be moved away from Christ, away from salvation, away from the Bible. It will be strong until He comes."

This is not the first time Piper, one of today's most well-known pastors, experienced a hiccup from the pulpit. 

In 2009, he spoke at the American Association of Christian Counselors gathering at the Gaylord Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. He vulnerably shared some of the sins he struggled with throughout his life. To his evident bewilderment, the crowd began uproariously laughing as he recounted his sins.

Piper was confused and commented on how strange their reaction was. The incident, which went viral on social media, has been analyzed by other pastors over the years. 

"My thought was that I would begin my talk by listing my most besetting sins so that they could get some sense of whether this speaker was in touch with his own reality," Piper later explained on his website. 

"Now, what was disorienting to me was that there was laughter from the audience at points in this litany of my failures — a good bit of it. It took me totally off guard. I wasn't sure what to make of it, and I still don't know what to make of it."

Piper chalked up the experience to the likelihood that participants had been trained to expect comedy from conference speakers. 

"Our culture thinks that if you're a happy pastor, you're going to tell jokes. If you're a happy pastor, you're not going to talk about serious joy, but only the happiness in joy. You're not going to have this sad strain running through your life. The world doesn't compute with that very easily," he said.

"I suspect that I walked into a set of expectations at that conference — given the way it had been flowing, and given the American culture of Nashville and the world. I walked into a set of expectations that were so different from my own, that I didn't help people make the transition as well as I might have."

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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