19 Mar 2014

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Years ago, I’d get in trouble for laughing in church.  Now I get to write things to try to make everyone else laugh in church. Don’t tell me Jesus doesn’t love irony. Here at GCC, our leaders and arts team truly believe in the power of comedy to connect people, ease tension on tough topics, and, most importantly, open up hearts and minds so they’re ready to receive the truth of the gospel. Here are seven quick tips and examples that might help you get that combover-sporting, easily-offended, scowl-wearing elder to loosen up and let that potluck potbelly shake like God intended.

1.)  Hyperbole- Exaggerated characters make it safe to call attention to behaviors that are outside the character of Christ. Sample: our leaders wanted to call attention to how our culture is tribal and has made sports and entertainment our new religion. They longed to help our people move from just a “fan” of Jesus to a fully committed follower.   So, in the fall at the height of college football (we live in Notre Dame-ville), we developed a series called “Not a Fan”. This piece “Fansanonymous” was written with exaggerated characters to illustrate some of the concepts in the series.  https://vimeo.com/71764878

2.)  Fish out of Water-Place a character in a scene where he is out of his comfort zone and trying to figure out his place. This is a common comedy technique you’ve scene in several films like “Mr. Mom”, “Big”, ”Elf” etc. Everyone chooses a character to “ego-identify” with in a scene. This is a vehicle for helping people discover the truth of what the speaking pastor is trying to deliver. In this sample, we were doing a family series and were aware that single people often feel left out when we address topics on marriage and parenting. One of our teaching pastors is single and wanted to devote a weekend to letting single people know that they are valued, that the church is their home, and that family comes in many forms. He also wanted to help married people understand that singleness is not a state to be corrected or looked down upon. Thus … “The Single Guy.” https://vimeo.com/28947827

3.)  Specificity-Sometimes we make the mistake of trying to please everyone and keep things general. This can actually create distance for the audience. Your people are more engaged when you’re specific and allow them to make their own connections to the topic. Recently, we wanted to take some time to thank our volunteers in a service. We chose to use the vehicle of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Cards but with our own spin. We weren’t able to thank every single volunteer team, but it was element enjoyed by all. https://vimeo.com/88669615

4.)  Juxtaposition-Calling attention to every day tensions we have to manage in an unexpected way is cathartic. We want to honor God in every area of our life, but relationships and differences often make simple things too complicated. A few Christmases ago, we wanted a “me too” moment of Christmastime is complicated before we went into the beauty of the simple story of what Christmas is really about. “Opposite Day: Girls Night Out” was a hit. https://vimeo.com/55287049

5.)  Randomness-A huge trend in comedy these days is pretty simple. Being random. Completely committing to something that is totally ridiculous. A few years ago, we wanted to inspire our congregation to invite their neighbors to our Easter services so they could meet Jesus in the midst of dying eggs and scarfing chocolate.  We also wanted to acknowledge, that it can be awkward, even though it’s still worth a try. “Easter Invite” was our answer. https://vimeo.com/39649479

6.)  Soften Hard Topics– We all have tough topics we’re assigned to address. They’re risky, but worth it. One of our least favorite topics to address as a team is money. There’s a reason they call it the “Almighty dollar. “ We tried to find a funny, childlike way to address a very serious, adult topic. “Chasing the Carrot” promo was a soft spot to land and a fun project to create. https://vimeo.com/46982840

7.)  Heighten-Take an every day issue or situation and simply up the ante. When the situation is heightened, the audience can relate but in a safe “well I’m not THAT crazy” kind of way. It’s a “me too” moment that doesn’t judge or criticize while allowing room for a willingness to grow and become more like Christ.  We did a “Meat and Potatoes” series a couple summers ago where we were given a list of tough verses that our speakers would address (the “meat and potatoes” verses of the bible). Since it was summer, we created a group of guys, similar to our target that were facing issues related to the verses we were given. It created a great series of episodes called “Grill Guys.” https://vimeo.com/44682299

I hope these tips are helpful as you ask yourself what comedy looks like for your particular congregation and target. Pray for good ideas, listen to your life for funny scenarios you face. Find some people around you who are naturally funny and tell good stories at parties. We’re surrounded by hilarity, and it’s a powerful tool for reaching people for Christ. So next time your find yourself LOLing, jot down a note. It might be exactly what you need for your next series. And most of all, have fun!

 

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”- Victor Borge

“Let me run loose and free, celebrating God’s great work, Every bone in my body laughing, singing, “God, there’s no one like you.” Psalm 35:9

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