A Fragmentary Thought on Humor in the Pulpit

post date: March 18, 2007
In general, a sense of humor in the pulpit is not a bad thing. Sometimes humor by itself helps to release tension. And a funny story often helps us see a truth in a new way. We’ve all heard sermons where the preacher made us laugh and then came the "zinger" that flew in under the radar, sort of "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." It is said that Spurgeon had a well-developed sense of humor that often came out in his preaching. Once when a woman told him he used too much humor in his sermons, he supposedly replied, "If you knew how much I held back, you would compliment me instead." Using humor in the pulpit is like adding spice to the soup. A little spice improves the taste. Adding too much ruins it.
I suppose the real lesson is, know yourself. Be who you are, not someone else. Use humor where it fits or where it comes naturally. A merry heart does good like medicine–and a happy preacher is certainly better than a grouchy one. But don’t ever "try to be funny." People will know what you are doing, it won’t work, and it won’t be funny either.


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