Using Humor in Preaching

USING HUMOR IN PREACHING : A Few Tips From the Prophet:
Don Pringle

Hear O Readers! Moses, servant and messenger of Great Jehovah, addresseth thou. As thou seeketh to satiate thy seething sabbath thirst for this theistic sooth-saying sermon thesis by consulting thy truth thenceforth…hey, enough with that. As I once told the Lord, I am slow of tongue. That’s why, when I address an unruly mob of thirty or forty thousand Israelites, I warm up the crowd with a little humor. Sometimes it’s a life saver. Let’s say I’m laying down a heavy commandment on, oh, adultery. As the scriptures say, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down (Leviticus, right?). At the foot of Sinai I could just intone, “Thou shalt not Commit Adultery.” But I add, “…ie, take thy wife… please!” Hey, they’re chuckling too much to lynch me.

That’s why I’ve compiled just for you, the

Ten Commandments of Churchly Comedy

1. Thou Shalt Draw Forth Humor from Little Stuff. We laugh at things we recognize from our own lives. So modern comedians use express lines, ATM machines, and fast food over and over in their routines. You don’t need to be as clever if you know how to hit a common nerve. Make a list of common experiences: starting a difficult lawnmower or missing traffic lights. Use it.

2. Thou Shalt Learn to Tell a Story. Share an anecdote carefully. Lay on details carefully: they are your bricks. The more you draw folks into the story, the more potent your humor.

3. Thou Shalt Not Laugh at Thy Own jokes. Self-consciousness of your funniness kills it. Remember the prophet Jack Benny.

4. Thou Shalt Camouflage Thy Approach. We laugh harder when we don’t see it coming. Avoid “reminds me of the story about…” Avoid canned jokes, anyway.

5. Thou Scatter Forth Thy Humor. If you start each sermon with a joke, they catch on and stop listening after the punch line. Mix it up.

6. Thou Shalt Avoid the Cheap Laugh. Much of what passes for humor today is merely sarcasm. Steer clear. Laughter comes easy at another’s expense, but you make a negative statement about your personality and outlook.

7. Thou Shalt Be Self-Deprecating. Directing laughter at your own failings is both effective and healthy. Share thy bumblings.

8. Thou Shalt Speak in the Vernacular. Use slang and catch phrases. Like when I said in Egypt, “Go ahead, Pharaoh… make my day!”

9. Thou Shalt Not Judge by Audible Laughter. You’re so humorous they don’t want to miss a word. We can be amused without laughing aloud.

10. Thou shalt not overdo it. Don’t tell jokes (in sermons or teaching) just to tell jokes. Use humor naturally, organically, in
communication. Remember your main purpose.

(The source of the above material is unknown)

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