Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Easy Humour

One of my favourite tasks as General Secretary is to worship with one of our 225 congregations across Canada. It gives me plenty of food for thought. One of those snacks occurred recently during a speaking assignment.

I arrived at the congregation location and parked beside the cemetery. A quick scan revealed that one particular surname was very prominent. Conversations inside the building confirmed this as a current reality as well.

As I waited for my invitation as the morning speaker, I thought it would be funny to introduce myself by pretending to stumble on my name, by incorrectly using the prominent surname. “I would get a laugh out of that,” I smiled to myself.

But I hesitated. I noticed that the Song Leader in the service did not have the prominent surname. I realized how my little joke, although not intended, could easily make that person feel disassociated.

It would be easy humour. But easy humour that relies on insider knowledge or prior shared experiences always carries the possibility of making people feel excluded. We never intend to disregard anyone, but easy humour can make it difficult for others to fit in.

So, I abandoned the’ sure winner’ opening line and contemplated something more subtle and complex. I momentarily considered a seamless transition into one of my best “Knock, Knock” jokes. In the end, I opted not to share my humour, and instead chuckled to myself behind the pulpit.

Most of my humour is best appreciated by myself anyway. Besides, it’s easier that way.


  1. An excellent reminder, Willard. I always wince when we sing one verse in German purely for nostalgia.

  2. Sometimes the easy way to some people's hearts is not the best way to the congregation's heart...thanks for these thoughts Willard. Carol Penner, Vineland.

  3. Sorry for taking so long to respond. But I do appreciate the comments and support.