Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Humor in Preaching

To put it quickly: I'm not a big fan of it. A little is okay occasionally. But delivering the Word is a fundamentally solemn task.

We need a whole bunch of counter-cultural preachers who do not read Easy Tips For Public Speaking Excellence or some such drivel. That's not an actual title, but I'm sure there are tons of books out there that lots of pastors read in an effort to "communicate effectively." How about "preaching truthfully?" Or try this one: "speaking faithfully?"

You don't need a joke to warm up the crowd. You don't need to splice in humorous and silly anecdotes. You shouldn't tell heart-warming stories that have no relevance to your story, no matter how melting a public speaker you esteem yourself. You should walk to the pulpit, deliver the Word without distraction, and sit back down. Preaching is not an opportunity for sanctified entertainment. Preachers are not entertainers. They are not paid to be charming or witty. They are paid by the labor of the congregation to preach the true and living Word of God such that the redeemed forsake their sins and the unrepentant find the way to forgiveness. They will naturally present a certain type of personality, and that personality may and should be infused with a love for people, a joy in preaching, and a passion for God and His gospel. I am not arguing for personality-less preaching, and I am as bored by passionless preaching as you are. My point, though, is that preaching is delivered in the context of personality and is not a forum for personality. That is a subtle and important distinction. Preaching is about the Word, not about entertainment, fun, and silliness.

We need less comedy and more reverence. We need a whole batch of Lloyd-Jones type of men, who might even growl before they'll smile but who will preach with the passion that only the gospel can produce. If you're not a charming speaker, if you're not quick with a joke, if you don't extract a sob with every illustration, don't despair. You're not wrong for the job. If you preach the Word truly and passionately, you're probably just right.


Blogger Dad said...


Dad (not Owen's dad or that other "Al".)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

What "dad" said.....

I used to be the other way, looking for that zinger illustration or antidote. The sad truth is that the "old" me would get hired faster today than the "new" me. I'm stuck, I guess. If I get fired from where I am now, I'm done as a preacher - and there's a few others int he same boat.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Paul Cable said...

Would you recomment RTS or Westminster to a Baptist who wanted an MDiv from a reformed perspective before persuing further study (ThM, etc)? I'm thinking of those as my two other choices than SBTS, and I'd like some advice from a student. Thanks!

6:16 PM  

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