I am unashamedly pro-laugh. Now don’t misunderstand me. I know there are times we shouldn’t laugh. I’m not going to laugh if your cat dies. I don’t think we should laugh at funerals or natural disasters. There is a soberness that must characterize the preacher. But I am also pro-laugh. The context of this blog is church. I am in my 15th year of vocational ministry. I have been to church virtually every Sunday (AM/ PM) and Wednesday of those 15 years. That’s a lot of church.
It hasn’t been easy. There have been great and wonderful seasons. But there have been trying ones as well. I can honestly say that some of the meanest people I have ever met, I met in church. To be fair, some of the best people I have met have been there as well. But it’s those mean ones that really stick out. Let’s be honest. No one leaves the ministry because of all the nice folks. Frustration comes from the difficult people.
There was a time when I really let things get to me. I still allow some things to get to me more than I should. But I have learned to cope. Now I allow myself to laugh at what I see in church. I can almost feel the critical eyes reading this blog:
“People missing heaven ain’t funny!”
“Sin ain’t funny!”
“Spiritual ignorance ain’t funny!”
“Heresy ain’t funny!”
Chill out man. No one said it is. Good grief. But here’s a head’s up for us all. Church is full messed up people. I wrote about that in “Hello My Name is Church”. These people are going to aggravate us. Really dumb things are going to happen at church. Some of these dumb things are done to us, others are done by us. Dumb things are going to happen. Let me give you some examples:
* A guy shows up for the first time at your church. He is wearing a Dolly Parton T-shirt and carrying a guitar. You ask him “What are you doing?” He explains to you that he is going to play for the church. You tell him he isn’t. He tells you your church is horrible and he will never step foot into it again.
* Your wife misses a little church because she just had a baby. A rumor starts that you don’t allow your wife to attend church.
* You are sitting in your home (the pastorium) and a church member just walks in without knocking. After all she is a church member and the house belongs to the church.
* You mention a secular song to make a point in a sermon. Afterwards someone asks that you never do that again because it tempts them to go back into the world to live a life of sin.
* A church member says to you “That’s the reason me and you can’t agree, because you believe that book.”
These are just a few. All of those things were frustrating to say the least. I could let them really get to me. I could stew and stew until I burst. I have been tempted to do that. I have almost done that. I know folks who have given up because of the silliness and frustration of ministry. By God’s grace I have been able to hold on. I think one of the reasons is because I am pro-laugh. I’m not happy that any of these things happen. My laughter is more about the silliness of people. I’m a thinker. So I will sit back and analyze a situation. Almost always I am able to come away with a smile.
Social media is a lot like church. The Unappreciated Pastor gets rebuked regularly. In fact I just got rebuked as I was writing this. I tweeted earlier:
“ I’m convinced if you can’t laugh at what happens at church you’ll leave because of what happens at church.”
Some guy said
“Church isn’t a place to be “at,” but Christ’s Body on Earth. And when it meets, it should be no laughing matter.”
I have no idea what he is even talking about. He looks like a sensible person. So I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I have to assume that people at his church laugh. I would hope they do. So how am I going to respond? I’m just going to laugh. In fact I find that I laugh the hardest when someone yells at me on social media. That’s a lot better than starting a Twitter war.
I had a Calvinist bid me farewell and yell at me today because I said last night “I guess one of the strongest arguments for Calvinism is The People’s Choice Awards.” She went off on me about straw man arguments and such. I was baffled. That tweet is a Pro Calvinist Tweet! The point was “Look what you get when you give the people a right to choose.” She just didn’t get the tweet.
I think that is usually how it is in church. I think most people don’t get how silly they are being. It takes patience to be in ministry. It takes courage as well. But I am also convinced that we must be willing to laugh at ourselves and others. Not “Ha, Ha” but more of a “Oh man, this is so crazy” laugh.
I’m pro-laugh. If you’re not I’m sorry. But I’m going to keep laughing. Laughing takes the edge off of the tough parts of ministry. Look at Twitter. Why are church parody accounts so popular among believers? Because they help us cope. They make us laugh. And not many people quit while they are laughing. Let’s be serious about the Lord, but not take ourselves too seriously.