Tonight I was planning on going to bed a bit earlier than usual, so around 2am, but I got sidetracked by a Chris Rock special on the Comedy Network. For some reason I couldn’t pull myself from the screen. Sure he says the F word in a minute more than I’ve said in my entire life, and he usually touches on issues that are a bit uncomfortable when trying to bring humour to them. He brought up racism (he always does), abortion, consumerism, politics, religion, God, poverty, guns and even did a little bit of motivational speaking.
I found it odd that I couldn’t pull myself away from the TV screen of a guy spitting of curse words and humour but have no problem falling asleep in a room full of 300 other people my age, on an uncomfortable pew, with live speaking. In fact, a lot of the times I have a hard time staying awake even with people on either side of me hitting me every few minutes. What is Chris Rock doing that preachers aren’t? I’m going to generalize and talk about the 80-90% of pastors that I’ve seen. I know awesome communicators and I’m not bashing them. I’m sure we could all do better though.
For one, Chris Rock is not afraid to use humour. Some preachers for some reason think that putting in a funny illustration (that usually has nothing to do with the message) is all the humour that’s needed. We need to understand that humour opens people up to listen to you. Humour can get messages across that three points never could. It can’t just be a knock-knock joke before each sermon; it needs to be actually funny and relevant to the topic.
Second, Chris Rock has his transitions down smooth. You’d never know that he just covered 5 subjects, but he did because he moves from one to another with thought and precision.
Third, Chris Rock tells a story. Every joke, everything that he says is a story about what he is seeing or what has happened to him. He is able to use these stories to illustrate his points and he doesn’t have to tell you what to think, he just tells a story, and it’s funny. It’s funny because you know what he’s talking about. You can connect. You’re story or stories you’ve seen connect with his stories. He doesn’t have to draw the parallels for you. Why? Because it is your story. For some reason Pastors think we are stupid and feel that they need to tell us everything and lay it out for us. They don’t give the congregation enough credit to interpret it for themselves. So we get these wannabe-dictator-pastors on our pulpits trying to take all the points out of the ultimate story (the bible) without telling the story. This causes congregations ears and brains to be filled with fifty-two sets of three to five points that are guaranteed to be forgotten like Chumbawaba. (that get knocked down song)*
Forth, Chris Rock isn’t afraid to point out or admit the faults in his own race. Sometimes I feel like we are afraid to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Sometimes we think that we need to say ‘just take it by faith’ instead of ‘I don’t know.’ Sometimes we like to hide our sin instead of reveal it so it gets dealt with, ok, all the time. Sometimes we feel that if we admit to something wrong that someone in our church did it means we are putting God down. Sorry to say it. Christians have the worst history of any religion. Take a course on the crusades. See for yourself.
Sure there is lots to not copy from Chris Rock, but obviously he’s got something that some of us communicators can learn from. When thousands tune into hear him make jokes, he’s got to be giving us some kind of message that can help us be better communicators to a culture that seemingly loves to listen. Shouldn’t we do our best to become the best we can be since we claim to have a message that is for everyone and we think everyone needs to hear?
* that was Rachel’s idea