Oct 07 2009
Author Os Guinness once posed the question, “Is there a place for the court jester in the kingdom of Heaven?”
Over the years, I have tried to build trust with pastors and church leaders by not only being funny and making sure my events are enjoyable, but also by treating comedy as a legitimate outreach tool. To me, an outreach event should be geared toward opening the mind of the unbeliever, even if it’s just a crack.
Comedy breaks down inhibitions. Laughter opens the heart, especially when it’s the laughter of recognition. My humor about skirmishes with my wife and children is felt universally. When people are laughing hysterically at me and at themselves, I’ve gained credibility; I’ve earned their respect. So now when I start to share about how it used to be, how far I’d fallen, how I’d almost lost everything, they are with me. They get it. They can also relate. Maybe they were never on the brink of divorce and total despair, but each of us has had those really low times when we weren’t sure we’d ever again be lifted up.
Nothing opens up people’s hearts and minds more than when they can relate to the tragic suffering of a fellow human being they respect. Once I have that opening, I know they are ready to hear whatever I have to say. I’ve got the credibility and legitimacy to speak to them. When I tell them how far I’d fallen, they are with me. And when I tell them how God lifted me up, they stay with me.
The first time I took a chance and shared my testimony, I was very nervous, even though I felt God had laid it on my heart to do it. I received an e mail that evening following the show from a gentleman in attendance. He wrote, “Thank you for sharing your story. You and I have been through very similar things, and the fact that you got up in front of 1500 strangers and shared your struggles gives me the strength to share them with my wife tonight. Thank you for your honesty.” Since then I’ve received many stories about people who brought their unchurched friends to see my comedy performance, who wound up being moved to join the church.
An outreach event should engage as many different age demographics as possible, and nothing brings together multiple generations like comedy. Nearly every night, I can look out in the audience and see three generations of families enjoying a good laugh together. Christian musical concerts are typically subjective and age-specific, but hilarious, clean comedy easily transcends age, gender and background.
Comedy opens up the opportunity to share the love of Christ with people who might never have otherwise set foot in a church. Is there a place in God’s kingdom for a court jester? You bet there is.
What kinds of outreach events have made a difference for you and/or the people in your life?