My wife and I had a subscription to the meal delivery kit Blue Apron for a little over a year. (Unlike mosts podcasts, this blog post isn’t sponsored by Blue Apron—but it certainly could be.) During that time, we really enjoyed every meal we cooked with them—all except for the first one.
Blue Apron uses garlic in most of their meals. Because garlic is cheap, plentiful, and adds lots of flavor. If you don’t measure it properly, garlic can add too much flavor. I know this because I added way too much garlic to the first Blue Apron meal we cooked.
I think it was a pesto pasta dish. At least it was supposed to be. We could barely take a bite of the meal because it tasted so strongly of garlic. I quickly learned not to make that mistake again.
For whatever reason, this reminded me of humor in the church. (No, that’s not a joke.) Let me explain why.
It Adds Flavor
Humor, just like garlic, is meant to add flavor. Without spices, a meal is bland. Without humor, your church’s messaging can be bland. There are other things you can do to add flavor—emotionally heart-wrenching stories, pop culture references, etc—but humor is one of the most universal.
It’s also important to remember that a meal isn’t supposed to just be spices. Your church message cannot consist of humor alone. That’s not what people come to church for. As much as your pastor may want to be, he’s not a standup comedian. (But there may be some things he can learn from them.)
Don’t Use Too Much
Garlic can easily overpower a dish. Humor can easily overpower a message. Be careful and intentional with how much you use. Don’t add too many jokes into a sermon or church bulletin, or it won’t come across the right way.
It takes time and practice to know the right amount to add. Thankfully, you can cheat off others to get an idea. Use the recipes of others to see how much humor is too much or too little. Air on the side of less and then gradually increase over time.
Don’t Use it Everywhere
It’s important to remember that garlic does not belong in every meal. It may be great in a soup, but would be terrible on breakfast cereal (feel free to try it at home). In the same way, humor doesn’t belong in every aspect of your church.
Humor can work great on your church social media, but it probably doesn’t belong in prayer. Jokes might go over well in your children’s ministry, but maybe not in the senior adult Sunday school. Know the situation and the audience you’re dealing with.
Again, this takes time and practice to know when to use humor. Test it out in small ways to see how people react. Learn from the example of others. And don’t be afraid to ask when it’s appropriate.
It’s Not For Everyone
Not everyone likes garlic in their food. Just like not everyone likes their church to try and be funny. And that’s OK. People can choose to leave the garlic out of their cooking. And if you’re selective with where you use humor, those who aren’t interested can avoid your jokes.
Leave the comedy in places where you know it will reach people who don’t mind it—like on your website or social media. But just realize that it’s also OK to experiment with adding it in new places. When taken in small doses, some people may even learn to like it.
It Repels Vampires
This last example might be a stretch, but bare with me. Garlic is known to repel vampires. In the same way, humor can be used to repel people who can try to suck the life from your church.
Some people are overly serious. They’ll never be happy with what you do. They seemingly complain about everything. But if you add the right amount of humor, it can serve to lighten the mood a little and diffuse the tension.
This tactic takes care (you are dealing with a vampire, after all). Humor can make some of these situations worse. So know when to use garlic, and when you need to use a crucifix on that vampire. Just don’t stab anyone in the heart.
When does your church use humor?