Dad-Joke Baptist Church
Lighten up! It’s Ok to Laugh.
How funny should we be? No, seriously. Should I be funny? Am I the only one who sees irony in a question about humor being a serious question? By the way, if that title photo doesn’t instantly make you smile you need to be resuscitated.
People are sometimes surprised at my affection for humor. As a child, I was not known to be very serious. I was the kid who read joke books and tried to memorize them. I was a slap-stick kind of kid too. I mean, really, what’s funnier than finding different ways of falling down? Am I right?
When I was in 5th grade in the public school, I remember at the end of the school year, they gave out achievement awards for grades, conduct, physical prowess, and other things. My name was called!
I won the “Class Clown Award”. I remember it being the first time in my life that I regretted my sense of humor. Kids were no longer laughing with me. Now they were laughing at me. I was secretly embarrassed, but of course, I accepted the award with a big smile and several theatrical bows for comedic effect. That event didn’t exactly set me on a path to seriousness, but it did teach me a lesson that I would not be able to articulate for many more years- the cost of too much humor is that no one takes you seriously when you want to be taken seriously. I can only presume that lesson was intentional.
I know people, even pastors, who have great senses of humor, but because of unwise and injudicious use of them, people are always waiting for a punchline when they speak. In the absence of one, people will usually then stick one in for them turning their attempt at serious conversation into a banter of one-liners in the room. The first guy can then never get his point across in any meaningful way because the cacophony of laughter is now too entrenched to be broken without being a kill-joy.
As an adult, I don’t feel quite like the person I was even up through my mid-twenties. Ministry has changed me even further. Some have told me that I’m too serious now. Perhaps I could lighten up a little. After all, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). And I’ve even heard people refer to church as a “hospital for sinners” if we’re sticking with the medicine theme. So, shouldn't there be a merry component to church? I want people to enjoy church and even find it fun. But I also realize it’s a serious place with serious things going on. I think we can have it both ways. See 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8 and 2:2 for the Biblical use of the word “Sober” (σώφρων sṓphrōn, from sōphronéō) which implies a state of mind that is discreet, temperate, and sound/sane. We might use the word “serious”.
I just realize that as a Christian, especially as a pastor, I have seriously important truths to convey. I’m just sometimes concerned that too much humor might undermine them. It’s especially hard in preaching to say something that strikes you funny and try to recover the peoples’ attention afterward. I wouldn’t say that’s immoral, it’s just most of the time not the right setting. It’s tough finding the right balance in all this.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Verse 4 goes on, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”.
I suppose the right answer is timing. If I’m honest, there are times where I feel like the books of Scripture I’ve been preaching through keep stretching me and my church family for weeks. Without doubt, books of the Bible deal with very serious things. There is an inherent growing pain that comes from a holy book being regularly presented to unholy humans. It’s more often uncomfortable than it is comfortable. But after a while, I start to desire a refreshing and uplifting message. There’s a place for those too. We implemented a monthly Praise and Testimony service just for this reason in which we just sing hymns and give testimonies, and read some Psalms without comment.
I still love to laugh. I still love to make people laugh. I recently joked about our church changing it’s name to “Dad-joke Baptist Church” because of the frequency with which such jokes and puns emerge between the services and over lunch. I may or may not be responsible for some of those. Honestly, I love that I have a church family that can come together for preaching and corporate worship that honors the Lord in holiness and with reverence. Yet, we can have fun together and make each other laugh in clean and wholesome ways.
It really is like a medicine. Speaking of medicine, did you hear the one about the Yogi who opted for his root canal without Novocaine? He was trying to TRANSCEND DENTAL MEDICATION!!
I’m sorry. I had to. I’ll slink away silently now.