Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is it OK to Laugh at the Church?

I just rented the movie Blue Like Jazz.  I may be wrong to admit it—but I especially liked the scenes where they poked fun at the church.  For example, in one of the first scenes, the youth pastor tries to explain the meaning of the cross to children while doing his best Spanish accent and using a Mexican puppet. Next, he brings down a cross-shaped piñata, and when it breaks open it’s full of pre-filled communion cups (the kind we use at our church).  The kids are very disappointed at the obvious absence of candy. 

In another scene, the assistant youth pastor is wearing some plastic armor in front of his church congregation, illustrating the armor of God.

This brought back memories of my days working in youth ministry--how many cheesy, non-relevant illustrations have I used over the years?  I apologize now to anyone who had to witness one!

Am I wrong to laugh at this?  A movie is making fun of the church—oh dear!

Actually, I have been laughing at the church my whole life.  I grew up a p.k. (preacher’s kid) and let me just tell you—we laughed almost daily at the crazy stuff that happened in church!  Here are some of the funny things I’ve witnessed in church:

  •         A visiting evangelist once got very “full of the spirit,” and he decided to come down from the platform and preach while walking back and forth across the front pew.  Unfortunately, his fly was down.  On top of that, pews 2-4 were filled with young people (the young people in our church always sat down front).  Let me just say, there were many stifled giggles that Sunday!

  •         One morning a woman in the congregation stood up and announced it was Flag Day.  Without missing a beat and before the pastor knew what was happening, she came up on the platform and led everyone in the pledge of allegiance and a song (I think it was God Bless America).

  •         Flag woman also brought her accordion one night.  For some bizarre reason, the pastor allowed her to perform.  Not only did she play and sing,  she made a grand entrance from the back, playing her accordion along the way.

  •         Another time, a very old woman came on the platform during “testimony” time and told the pastor that God helped her write a song.  The pastor made the mistake of asking her to sing it (before asking her what the song was about).  The song was about her dog.  She was a horrible singer.

The stories are endless.  I have funny stories about the Christian school I attended in jr. high.  In addition, I work at a Christian media company.  We have crazy stuff that happens behind the scenes all the time. 

In the end, Blue Like Jazz reveals a redemptive side of the church too.  And that’s the thing.  Even with our quirks, the church is still the best thing going.  I love every church I’ve ever had the privilege of attending.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t come across my share of hypocrites or serious flaws in each one (at times I’ve been the hypocrite and the flaw!). . . it just means that the good FAR outweighs the bad.

I think it’s time the church lightens up and learns to laugh at our own goofiness.  So what if we’re not perfect?  There’s a little “crazy” in all of us.  Do you have a funny church story?

*Blue Like Jazz is pretty intense (a Christian college student leaves his faith and explores other beliefs and lifestyles)—I would say, depending on the maturity, it’s appropriate for ages 15 and up.  I would recommend teens should watch with adults.  It will generate some good discussion.

1 comment:

  1. Geez Lori. I was there on most of those stories. Maybe our church was just funnier than others????

    Bob ---