Robin Schumacher on The Clown in the Pulpit

The Danish Christian theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard told the story of a festival big top that was filled with people prepared to see a circus. Unknown to the crowd, a fire broke out behind the scenes and began to spread quickly.

A circus clown was told to run out to the main arena and tell the audience about the fire so they could escape. The clown quickly raced out from backstage and began frantically telling the crowd about the fire. But instead of believing the clown, the people just began to laugh at him.

The more the clown screamed at them to leave before it was too late, the more the crowd laughed at him. In the end, most of the people died in the fire because they didn’t believe the clown.

Courtesy of Robin Schumacher

But can you really blame them? Who takes a clown seriously?

These days, so many churches have teaching pastors whose priority seems to be making the congregation laugh at their messages. It’s not uncommon for humor to be injected throughout most sermons, with jokes, amusing videos, and more being used to keep attendees chuckling.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I like to laugh as much as the next person and am not advocating a dry, soulless style of preaching. What I’m saying is that pastors need to be careful about using the pulpit as some kind of Netflix comedy special.

Humor injected at certain points in a message can serve the speaker’s purpose very well when intelligently used. The former lead pastor of the church I used to attend was a master at this. His Biblical messages almost always had some lighthearted story or appropriate joke that fit perfectly with the core theme on which he was preaching, and each one served to give the congregation a momentary pause in what was usually a serious and eternal issue he was communicating.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robin Schumacher