Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stand-up Comedy

I have been strangely addicted to Last Comic Standing this summer. I have always like stand-up comedy but recently, to my wife's annoyance, I have really like it. There is something about it that rings in my heart. Maybe it is the similarities between stand-up comedy and preaching. Both stand up and talk to an audience. You are trying to convey a message that will connect with them. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. There are tons of similarities and differences but something has drawn me to watch these people do their 'thang,' to use a cultural colloquialism.

I think I also envy how some comics can let go on stage. Once they get out there they enjoy the audience, the lights and the attention. That is were I differ from stand-up comics though. I am dragged up there by God and would rather listen to someone else preach than myself. I envy these comics who get up there, put their whole being into a set and leave it all on the stage. I wonder what worship would be like if I were able to let go and do that?

When I stated to wonder about myself letting go up there behind the pulpit I also thought of the difference between the audience. If you go to a comedy club you pay the $20 a head and two drink minimum to laugh. You go there to forget your worries and laugh until your crotch is wet a little. Those who come to church are similar yet different. The congregation files into their normal seats, so pay for them (give offerings) and others don't and never will. They come to forget their worries and hear something uplifting and moving. But do they come with the same presuppositions as those who go to a comedy club. When I have gone to a comedy club I am always ready to laugh. When I go to church, I am not always ready to worship.

People attend church out of habit, guilt, and peer pressure. Some come ready to worship and they are the ones who get the most out of worship. I have been struggling to get to know my congregation at this new church. It has been six weeks of preaching now and I still do not 'get a lot out of the congregation' during my sermon. Some of it is the sound system is different and I am getting use to hearing myself directly behind me and not being able to hear the congregation. The other things is most of them sit in the back and I have to reach way out to reach them and they are not necessarily always reaching back. It can be exhausting. If I were a comic I would shrug it off and go to the next club, but I have been sent here to play this club week in and week out.

I am the last comic standing behind this pulpit for the next couple of years. It will take a while to understand this congregation and to get them to loosen up so I in turn can give more from behind the pulpit. I hope I can have the connection that I sense during those TV comic performances, but of course those can be faked and I am not about to fake it from the pulpit. It will come in time.

Enough rambling and brain dumping for tonight.

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