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Peter Mead
 

Pulpit humour: 5 pointers

Some churches get very upset if the preacher uses any humour in the pulpit. Other churches esteem humour above all else that comes from the pulpit.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTHOR Peter Mead 14 JUNE 2017 10:00 h GMT+1
church Photo: Ben White (Unsplash, CC)

Some churches get very upset if the preacher uses any humour in the pulpit. I suspect heaven will be a shock to their system! Other churches esteem humour above all else that comes from the pulpit. This is also a problem position. But what of the rest of us somewhere in the middle?  We know that humour is neither inherently sinful, nor the point of preaching, but it can be a minefield.



Here are some pointers:



1. Be authentic in your humour. That is, don’t pretend to be something you are not. If you are not a joke-teller in conversation, then don’t tell jokes in the pulpit (it won’t work). As long as it is appropriate, go with your natural style of humour.



2. Be joyful rather than silly. We have so much to celebrate and should be a people marked by “Easter joy.” However, the dynamics of a responsive crowd can stir our flesh into looking for laughs. Don’t make that your pursuit, you will be selling out on the great goals of preaching!



3. Be loving to all. Don’t use humour that is critical, destructive, racist, sexist, etc. Don’t use restrictive humour, that is, humour that only those on the “inside” will understand. It can be okay to say something that some will find amusing, but it is not okay for those who don’t to feel like they are being left out.



4. Be selective. Don’t always use the same kind of material. For instance, it may be the cutest thing you ever heard, but not everyone in your congregation wants to hear what your child said this week at bedtime. For some a continual diet of those comments can be like rubbing salt in an open wound.



5. Be humble. If it goes wrong, don’t hesitate to apologise. I inadvertently mixed up two brands when giving an illustration and managed to reference something highly inappropriate… it certainly got a laugh, but I needed to both apologise and explain how I ended up saying what I did!



What would you add? Any pointers you’ve found helpful?



 



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. This article first appeared at his blog Biblical Preaching.


 

 


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