Friday, July 07, 2006

Buechner on jokes

I'm still making my way through Frederick Buechner's Wishful Thinking, which I bought with part of a monetary gift from a blogging friend. The book's format is like a short encyclopedia of matters of faith. The entry for "Joke" should be of particular interest to preachers:

Many ministers include in their sermons a joke or two which may or may not be relevant to what the sermons are about but in any case are supposed to warm up the congregation and demonstrate that preachers are just plain folks like everybody else.

There are two dangers in this. One is that if the joke is a good one, the chances are it will be the only part of the sermon that anybody remembers on Monday morning. The other is that when preachers tell jokes, it is often an unconscious way of telling both their congregations and themselves that the Gospel is all very well but in the last analysis not to be taken too seriously.

See why I like the book?


Blogger Bob Spencer said...

Yup, I do see. I read that book a while back and loved it. Happy reading!

9:21 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Bibliomike said...

Buechner's right, of course. On the other hand, jokes in preaching have their place. Research shows (or so I've heard) that people remember points made immediately after they are laughing better than they do points made at other times.

Nothing to excess, but I don't think a well-placed, relevant joke actually makes people think the Gospel is not worth being taken seriously. If every sermon were a David Letterman or Jon Stewart monologue, that would be a different story.

11:09 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Kim said...

I don't mind the occasional moment of humor if it fits in with an object lessons or something of that sort, but I don't like it when every sermon must begin with a joke.

3:58 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Bob!

7:05 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Good points, bibliomike. Thanks for the input.

7:06 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I agree, Kim.

7:06 PM, July 08, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home