Spurgeon, Driscoll and Tickling the Oyster
I wish I had a better sense of humor--and ability to use it in the pulpit--for the purpose of grabbing people's attention. Can a minister go too far in this? Absolutely; but there is an effective and, I believe, beneficial use of humor in the pulpit that often gets dismissed out of hand. Having listened to Mark Driscoll's sermons on the life of Jacob and Joseph, I have to say--his use of humor is incredibly effective. I relied heavily on them as I worked through the book of Genesis at New Covenant Presbyterian Church's mid-week Bible Study. If you want an example of how to effectively use contextualized humor in a sermon series, listen to Driscoll's series on Genesis. You may still conclude that he goes too far at times, but remember what Charles Spurgeon (another really funny minister) once said about keeping the listener engaged with humor:
When they do come in, we must preach interestingly. The people will not be converted while they are asleep, and if they go to sleep they had better have been at home in bed, where they would sleep more comfortably. We must have the minds of our hearers awake and active if we are to do them some real good. You will not shoot your bird unless you get them to fly; you must get them started up from the long grass in which they are hiding. I would sooner use a little of what some very proper preachers regard as a dreadful thing, that wicked thing called humor--I would sooner wake the congregation up that way than have it said that I droned away at then until we all went to sleep together. Sometimes it may be quite right to have it said of us as it was said of Rowland Hill: "'What does that man mean? He actually made the people laugh while he was preaching?' 'Yes,' was the wise answer, 'but did you not see that he actually made them cry directly after?'" That was good work and it was well done. I sometimes tickle my oyster until he opens his shell and then I stick the knife in. He would not have opened for my knife, but he did for something else; and that is the way to do for people.11. Charles Spurgeon The Soul Winner pp. 63-64 .