Monday, February 16, 2009

One of the Funniest Pastors I Know on Humor in the Pulpit

Humor in the pulpit can be very dangerous. It's like a narcotic. Your people will love it (how much more entertaining to hear you riff on something than to teach Leviticus or talk about sin). You'll love it (less sleeping, more laughing at how hilarious you are!). And the temptation will be for you to give the people more of what they want and less of what they need. I listen to about 10 sermons a week, and some of the guys I listen to are both funny and really good teachers. But here's what I notice... they have to tell three jokes for every one that really lands. Two out of three just kind of linger there and die. And so the whole sermon feels like it's being interuppted by second rate comedy. Over time, my fear is that the people will come hungry for your humor and not necessarily for the word of God. They will be dependent on you and your charisma and your sense of humor, and you'll never be able to plant churches because you can't find anyone else as funny as you are, and so you'll have to pipe your sermons into other locations.

Read the entire list of theses here.


Greg Breazeale said...

I think a deep resolution to be yourself in the pulpit is a must. If you have to spend time each week working on your humor and not on your exegesis and application, its likely you are using humor in a wrong way. I think men like John Piper are hilarious at times, because his natural sense of humor comes and its never staged or rehearsed.

The best way I know how to guard against this is to preach the word and let your own personality come through. Some people are just funny, some are not.


Anonymous said...

I have been a pastor to Youth for 10 years now and during that time I've also had the time to preach at various churches around my state... I say that not to boast but to establish my history... When I first began preaching I held myself up to the typical youth evangelist pattern of trying to have a funny or interesting story from my life to illustrate whatever I was preaching on... It wasn't long before God brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to the fact that preaching is most effective and most engaging when we exposit the Scriptures... line by line, verse by verse.

I have been humbled now and stick strictly to this type of teaching and what I've found is that sometimes a funny line comes into play naturally or a quippy brief story that enforces the message.

I think it was John Piper that said there is a huge difference between light hearted levity and whole bodied humor...

you are spot on with your comments man... our congregations... our flocks need to be "attracted" to our preaching based on how well we divide the word of truth and not how good our shtick is..

Anonymous said...


The curse of the preacher!

The need to please the flesh is one of the THE biggest thorns in the flesh of the preacher, from the devil!

The character and makeup of most congregations, are folk who eat sleep and drink in comedy all day long. In the car, at the office and then again at home.

It is easier to maintain that same atmosphere, for comfort sake, than to usher people into the presence of God, and a serious time of sound, sober, and occasionally joyful, worship in the exaltation of our Savior,which is what true preaching is 1cor 2:2

It is virtually impopssible to model, Pauls determination for true preaching,which is Christ and Him crucified, and go overboard with intentional jokes for humor sake. The two are so incongruent, at the time, every serious Christian knows it, and hungry sheep, are very very diappointed when it's done!

This is far more of a problem than we will admit!

Ver important post!

By Grace, Alone

Southern Dreaming said...

I listen to quite a few sermons. Humor is padding. If I want a comedic routine, I'll go to a show. I give a preacher no longer than five minutes. If they are still entertaining, off they go.

pastorbrianculver said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I have heard too many pastor's that feel they "must" be the greatest joke tellers of all time. Sad that they don't realize that the power is found in the Word of God and comes from Him and not of himself!