Laughter In The Pews – Part 1

There are differing views on the place of humor in the pulpit.  For some, the somber reality of the occasion precludes any place for humor.  For others, humor is considered one of the most effective tools in the preacher’s toolbox.  I naturally find many reasons to laugh throughout the day.  So naturally there will be some humor in some of my messages.  Filter these comments through your own theology of humor and laughter in the preaching event:

Joke-telling is a very complex skill, assume you don’t have it.  Hershael York would go so far as to instruct his students not to tell jokes.  I tend to agree with him.  Most people are not effective joke-tellers.  The necessary combination of clarity, timing, demeanor and so on require very fine tuning.  Often a joke will be placed at the start of a message, which is actually a risky moment for something that needs such precision.  I am not a joke teller.  I’m thankful that I know that.  If you think you are, then it is probably worth getting the honest opinion of several others (preferably those gifted in bluntness  and tactlessness) before you exhibit your skill from the pulpit! 

Humor does not have to come from jokes.  Often the most effective humor relates to subtle comments, passing observations, sometime bizarre comparisons.  If an element of a passage is funny, simply recognize that and help others to see it (most Christians need help not to read the Bible with a stained-glass voice!)  An attitude of delight in a passage, a message and a group of people will often result in quite natural and appropriate humor during delivery.

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