The CIA's first post on Twitter got over hundred 75,000 favorites. The FBI's first use of Twitter got one favorite. One of these organizations used humor, and one did not. If a government agency charged with safeguarding the United States' secrets can be funny, so can your church. Your church personality and humor can live and breathe on your website and social media outlets. This article will show how and where you can use tasteful comedy to show your brand and culture.
A church choir sits down for the last practice before Christmas. They quickly pass around fake reindeer antlers and red clown noses. The organist walks in, greets everyone, and sits down. The moment the organist dips down to turn on the organ, everyone sets to work donning their antlers and noses. Upon resuming his post at the organ seat, the organist bursts out laughing at the array of happy singers in front of him. This is a choir that make a joyful sound of worship, as well as one that knows how to have fun.
Unfortunately this event went completely undocumented. They were not sure if this display of humor was appropriate for their website. I say an event such as this is certainly appropriate. It is even helpful for conveying the atmosphere a choir member can enjoy during their practices. Yet the possibility of offending a group increases when joking about anything related to a religion or faith. Here are some fairly safe subjects to have fun with on your website and social media.
Laughing at Yourself
As the previous story illustrates, self-deprecating humor is one of the safest you can have. A church that can laugh at itself is often a church people want to be part of. We can all agree that we should take God and his word seriously. But joke about your culture and antics from time to time.
Many ministries in your church are out having fun. Of course, youth ministries are the biggest supplier of interesting photos to share. Photograph or record those happy times in a ministry. This includes scenarios where a ministry is having a celebration, or enjoying a holiday. Show everyone that your church is about learning, serving, and laughter.
Pastors are another fairly safe space for poking fun. Everyone has their quirks, and sometimes a pastor's can be especially funny. Does every sermon involve bullet points that start with the same letter? Maybe a pastor has a unique accent or mispronounces a word on a regular basis. Poking fun at a pastor can bring lots of laughs. Just be sure to keep it in good taste. One safeguard is to have another pastor or church elder approve the material.
Instead of trying to hide or cover up mistakes made during a service, try to turn them into a bit of a blooper reel. Did the power go out at your church? Maybe the sound cut out for a moment or two. Did a light bulb burn out an inopportune time? Did your camera person zoom in the kids choir to find that one child picking their nose? Whatever the case, compile these "great" moments and have a laugh with your audience.
There is a fine line between Biblical humor and blasphemy, but many Christian comedians have found it. Are there comic strips you can share? How about video clips of a Christian comedian. Explore your options and see if there are ways to partner with these humorous individuals. If they know there is an audience, they may create special content just for your church.
Churches are part of a community. Every church adopts part of that local culture; even if they are a multi-site church that spans several counties or states. Maybe your congregation consists primarily of one demographic. As long as you do not offend and stereotype people, you can have fun with this. My church, North Way Christian Community, was lucky enough to partner with a local YouTube phenomenon. Pittsburgh Dad is a popular series that pokes fun at families and neighbors, framed in the Pittsburgh culture. The show even blessed us with our own episode "Pittsburgh Dad at North Way". So how can you have fun with your local culture?
Humor has the distinct possibility to make people laugh or offend them. Please pray long and hard about what you decide to post. Remember that laughing at yourself is the safest topic. Note that humor is often lost on visitors from foreign countries. This is especially true for those with English as a second language. But I encourage you to take a light-hearted approach to your online content. Take God seriously, but have fun at your church and with your website.
Photo courtesy of Niels Rameckers