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Beloved, there has been a lot of discussions on the merits and demerits of using Stand Up Comedians (stand up Comics) on the altar of the Lord Jesus Christ. The proponents claim that stand up Comics enhance the “flow” of the spirit of God and create a more relaxed atmosphere for the message of the gospel to be received in the Church. On the other hand, those who are against featuring stand up comedians in our Churches argue that the jokes mostly made by them profane the grace of God on the altar. Making jest of the things of God and the people of God does not edify the body of Christ. In essence, the uncommon should not be permitted on the uncommon sacred altar of the living God.
Interestingly, there is an economic perspective being introduced into what is essentially a spiritual matter. There are people who argue against discouraging stand up comedians in the Church because it will lead to the loss of income and employment for those who are full time Christian Comedians. Such people point to the fact that a lot of “big men of God” invite the stand up comedians to perform in their churches. Since there are a lot of “anointed men of God” who seem to be comfortable with the emerging trend of having Stand up Comedians perform during “special” church services where should the Church draw the line?
It is important that we have a good understanding of the issues around those we call comedians on the altar. Although I do not subscribe to profanity on the altar comedy (a genre of drama) itself is not the problem. It is the half baked or untrained people who appear as professional comedians who we must worry about.
Human beings do not all assimilate when the atmosphere is tensed. Generally the attention span of an adult does not go beyond ten minutes at a stretch. That is why a lot of people’s minds wander away during long sermons (if the listeners don’t dose off). The speaker (preacher or teacher) occasionally needs a dose of humour to sustain the attention of listeners if he or she is not the hyper active shouting type.
The definition of comedy settles this immediately. Comedy is a play, movie, etc., of light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending. It is a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion. The core of the gospel is to draw people to Jesus Christ who is the sure guarantee for triumph over adverse situations on earth.
Jesus used a lot of parables (story telling based on what listeners were familiar with) during his earthy ministry to get the attention and enhance the understanding of his listeners. He was also dramatic at times in driving his message home. When Jesus scribbled something on the ground when confronted by people who caught a woman in the very act of adultery, he was using drama. When Jesus showed babies off as the picture of those who are desired in the kingdom of heaven he was being dramatic.
Each time Pastors like Pastor Jesse Duplantis, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and Pastor JT Kalejaiye make people laugh during a sermon they simply employ the tool of comedy. Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s legendary story telling approach is in itself dramatic. So what is the challenge then? It is the mushrooming of STAND UP COMEDIANS in the kingdom of God through our churches. The origin of Stand up Comedians (Comics) is rooted in using jokes for cynics and selfish leaders to tell the reality without censorship. A cynic is a person who shows or expresses a bitterly or sneeringly cynical attitude. Whereas court jesters entertained the king in ancient times in the King’s court, the stand up comedians criticised the people in leadership where the people entertain themselves in club house, pubs and theatres.
So, Stand up Comedians started as critics who used humour to convey their messages. It is therefore impossible for a Stand Up Comedian in the church, based on the origin of the act, not to make jest of people (People and things of God in the Church).
So what is the way out? The solution can be borrowed or adapted from history. The way out is to, like it was done in the ancient days of classic Parrhesia in 400 BC, make a rule that all comedians in the Church, should be mandated to submit their acts or scripts in advance for censorship. The profane sections should be underlined or highlighted as unacceptable for use.
The comedian would then be obliged not to deviate from the approved portion. For human rights activists who will like to cry foul and stand on the dictates on the freedom expression, they are advised to take their jokes to club houses, pubs and theatres where Stand up Comedians naturally belong.
If the church will not be able to ensure compliance then there must be a mechanism that should be depkoyed to prevent stand up Comics from performing in the Church altogether. Whoever does not respect the culture of the kingdom of God has not business staying around the church.
However, it is counterproductive to classify drama in the Church in the same category as Stand up Comedians. Understandably, some Pastors and Ministers of God draw a parallel between drama and stand up comedy. Drama, as an illutrative message, plays a similar role that Newsletters play in the Church. People learn by hearing and seeing the visual illustration of the message. Unfortunately, since my days as a Christian worker more than two decades ago, there have been Pastors who treat drama and editorial team members in the Church as lepers or intruders. A Pastor once described writers and drama people in his church as satanic agents who are not needed in the church. We need more information, spiritual (not stereotypical) insights to handle emerging challenges in the body of Christ.
My conclusion is that the Church should regulate what is permitted to happen on the altar based on the nature and the word of God through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Wale Adeduro is a Minister of Writing and Drama in the body of Christ.
He is also the CEO, Thrones and Tones Consulting/
Founding Chairman, Centre for Productivity and Financial Growth.