Wayne Cordeiro: Preaching on the Edge of Laughter
“Congregations that never laugh find that forgiveness comes hard. In a church that laughs easily, forgiveness also comes easily. Allow your spirit to be lifted by laughter. It will do more than just improve your communication, it will change your church.”
Envision that life is like a large, flat plain. At its edge is laughter, where life giggles and belly laughs without much effort. This is called the “Edge of Laughter.”
A lot of people build their lives too far from the Edge of Laughter. So it takes someone to do the best comedy act in Vegas to get them to crack a smile.
Live on the Edge of Laughter. Congregations that never laugh find that forgiveness comes hard. In a church that laughs easily, forgiveness also comes easily. Allow your spirit to be lifted by laughter. It will do more than just improve your communication, it will change your church.
Humor of Jesus
Jesus laughed. Where you might ask? Plenty of places in the Gospels if you have any kind of funny bone left in your body. Listen to these words of Jesus:
“It’s easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than rich man to get into heaven” (Matthew 19:24).
How do you get a camel through the eye of a needle? Do you start with the tail and start pulling him through? Of course people laughed. Jesus wanted them to, so they would not take themselves too seriously. As ambassadors of the King, you and I must also utilize humor to awaken people’s minds and hearts.
When people laugh, it reboots their computer and gets them thinking again. Have you ever experienced a computer crash? You wiggle the mouse, tap at the keys, maybe even kick it, but it doesn’t react. Well, that can happen during speeches too! You must jiggle your audience awake with joy.
When people laugh it opens their receptivity. As their mouths hang open, the preacher can drop in truth for them to chew on. What a preacher says immediately after the laughter is the most important message he can speak. Laughter makes hearts vulnerable and the words he will speak will sink deeply and be reflected upon.
How can a preacher develop his humor?
1. Watch Life
Watch life for unique experiences. Develop eyes to see humor every day. How much life goes by and we are oblivious to it. I went to a collegiate game where the University of Oregon played UCLA. The people were wonderfully alive and sparkling with joy. They had painted their faces and their bodies! They wore clown wigs and just went nuts. It was such a joy to watch them!
2. Watch Comedy
One of the best tactics for developing humor is from some of the most funny people in the world, stage comedians. A comedian will plan his routine, crafting his lines and adjusting his timing. These are the professionals of laughter. If their humor is clean, watch it and take notes! Watch every gesture, tone and technique they use to draw laughter out of people around them.
3. Practice Laughing
Right where you are, wherever you are, laugh! That’s right, laugh. Yes I do mean you! Don’t hide behind your screen. Just laugh.
You may need some practice. We need to practice joy so that it becomes a natural reflex in life, not just in the pulpit but every day we live.
If we don’t laugh we’ll be more painful to live with. Those who don’t laugh are often the first critics. If you don’t laugh very much, it does not mean that you are holier than others. It might make you a Pharisee but it will not make you holier. Somewhere along the line, church people began to look like they had been baptized in lemon juice. We have become known for our deep-furrowed frowns. Holiness is not best advertised with seriousness but with joy.
One of the first Sundays after we planted New Hope a somber man sporting a scowl and crossed arms glared through me during the service. So I went over to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Good morning!” He was as rigid as a phone pole. He scalded me with a look that could blister skin. In a low growl he said, “If you would stop being such a funny guy, and just preach the Word, then maybe I’d come more often!” He left that Sunday and we haven’t seen him since.
In those early days we only had a handful of people attending. But since then 34,000 people have made first-time decisions for Christ through New Hope . We’re going to keep laughing! As Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). A church that understands the joy of the Lord is a strong church.
Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii with over 14,500 in weekend attendance. New Hope is also listed as one of the top ten most innovative churches in America with Outreach magazine, listing them as one of the “top five churches to learn from.” New Hope is known for redeeming the arts and technology. Over 3000 attend services each week via the Internet, and New Hope has seen over 73,000 first-time decisions in Hawaii since its inception 26 years ago.
Wayne is a church planter at heart with over 108 churches planted in the Pacific Rim countries of the Philippines, Japan, Australia and Myanmar. Nationally, he has planted churches in Hawaii, California, Montana, Washington, and Nevada.
He has recently accepted the role as President over his alma mater, Eugene Bible College, now known as New Hope Christian College. NHCC is now part of a consortium of Pacific Rim Christian Colleges with locations in Hawaii, Oregon, Myanmar, and Tokyo.
He has authored ten books, including such classics as Doing Church as a Team, Dream Releasers, Seven Rules of Success, Attitudes That Attract Success, Divine Mentor, Leading on Empty and The Encore Church. Wayne is also the author of the Life Journal, which is being used by thousands of churches worldwide, is bringing people back to the Word of God.