A lot has been said about comedy in the church in modern-day Christianity. Years back, I stumbled on a Rev. Olusola Areogun’s view about this controversial topic and it got me thinking deeply. Here is what he has to say:

“You can’t play with Quran and the Muslims leave you alone, why should we let it be done with the Bible? have you heard of a comedian going to Osun shrine before? Or have you heard of a comedian doing comedy in the mosque and begin to joke with verses of the Quran? WHY ARE WE DESECRATING THE ALTAR OF GOD? Where have we gotten these pastors that didn’t understand the terms and the consecrations of the calling?”

On the other hand,

Hell was literally let loose in a new generation Church a few weeks back. The general overseer was fuming. He was livid that the youth department had spent a whopping N750, 000 on honorarium to invite a popular comedian for its annual summit. The comedian, who requested for N1million to anchor the occasion, was persuaded to accept the cut.

The general overseer, who was away on a foreign trip when the deal was sealed, was furious such amount was expended on someone “who is only interested in cracking ribs.” He wondered if any spiritual enrichment took place when the star comedian featured and castigated his pastors for allowing such ‘ignominy’ take place right under their nose.

“I thought with all the teachings here and the seriousness we attach to the gospel, none of you will think of such infamy. How on earth can you bring a comedian to our pulpit? How can you expend N750, 000 on a comedian who did nothing but make jests? How much value did that add to you as a Christian? I am ashamed to be your general overseer,” the church founder stated.

But the youth leadership was unimpressed by the stance of the general overseer. They felt he was too conservative and outlandish. “With due respect sir, I don’t see anything wrong in bringing a comedian to the church,” the youth pastor mildly started.

“These youths come to church when they are happy. All we wanted was a bait to bring them before we preach the word to them. What we paid is very inconsequential sir if you consider what having five steady members from the summit will bring to us. Besides, we paid from our purses and did not approach the treasury for the fund. We were just trying to help and we see nothing wrong in what we did.”

The general overseer was boiling by the time his youth pastor finished. He castigated the exuberance displayed by the department and insisted using a comedian in service was inimical to the church’s health. The youth pastor, utterly disappointed, tendered his resignation. The general overseer was happy. According to him, the pastor was a bad influence polluting the youth department.

Using comedians as anchors and comperes in churches has become a trend these days. It is not uncommon to see A-list comedians in churches, cracking ribs, and smiling to the banks. The trend, our correspondent observed, is prevalent among new generation churches, especially model parishes.

Those who embrace the idea confided in our correspondent that it is simply to shore up attendance, especially among the youthful elements. “You need more than persuasions to bring youths to church these days. You have to go the extra mile and use popular faces to interest them,” a youth leader, who craved anonymity, said.

He argued that it is just like using popular singers and artistes to drive membership. “If you ask me, I don’t see anything bad in this. I mean we invite gospel artistes and singers, so why not Christian comedians? They light up the atmosphere and bring humor to play.

“They make people relax and give room for the church to reach people through some other means other than the preachy angles. It is just as simple as that and we should not spiritualize things in this direction,” a female member of a Pentecostal church in Abeokuta stated.

The parish priest of St Peter’s Anglican Church, Lekki Lagos, Rev. Asoliye Douglas-West, sees nothing wrong in the practice. He said: “Obviously, and without doubt, the art of comedy is a talent. Every individual has benevolently received some gift of endowments from God. So do the comedians.

“Then why should we restrict the choice of the arena where such talents could be displayed? The church is a very dynamic institution that is not alienated from the environment but in a due manner connected to the world, otherwise, atrophy would encroach on its fabric.

“The church is also a platform where potentialities could be identified, nurtured, and energies channeled into a creative and profitable enterprise. There is nothing out of place inviting comedy artistes to anchor programs in the church for as long as they do not poke obscene fun at the revered personality of Jesus or diminish the Holiness of God.”

Douglas-West added: “Comedy contains satires and caricatures which mirror ills and contradictions of the society. Beyond the rib-cracking jokes and wisecracks, the issues bordering on the wellbeing of society highlighted should provoke the thoughts and conscience of the listening audience to cause a change in our attitude and relationships.”

But the general overseer of House Favour Church Egbeda, Rev. Bayode Olubo, frowned at such practice. He said: “I hate it because it is a means of desperation. I know they want to use them to invite youths but Jesus would never do that. When comedians come, they offer no inspiration, even if they are Christians.”

He said a pulpit is a sacred place that must be protected by all means. “The church is the only property of God on earth and it must be protected with consciousness. The Holy Spirit has left many churches because such comedians pollute the altars.”

The General Secretary of Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Rev. Toyin Kehinde, said there is nothing wrong with inviting comedians to social functions organized by Christians. He, however, said comedians must never officiate in services because they don’t instruct Christians on righteousness.

“There are Christian comedians, but are they teaching us to be better Christians? Are they praying for us to be healed? Are they coming to instruct us to be disciples? There are also Christian bankers and drivers who work elsewhere and come to church for instructions. Should they also start functioning in churches because they are Christians?”

Kehinde, who is general overseer of Agape Generation Church Maryland, said churches must rededicate themselves to instruction in righteousness and leave inconsequential acts that tend to subtract as against adding value to their mandates.

To the President of International Church Growth Ministries, Dr. Francis Akin-John, humor is a necessary ingredient among Christians. He pointed out that even God laughs and is humorous. “God has a good sense of humor. Even Psalm 2 says that God laughs. We can be humorous but we must never be jesters.”

Comedians, he explained, are jesters who trivialise serious issues of great values to the church. “Bringing comedians turn churches to commercial and entertainment centres. People just laugh off serious issues of eternity. These comedians jest on pastors, the church and even God.”

He pointed out that Ephesians 5:14 warns against jesting that is not convenient, warning to get over the practice of bringing comedians to anchor their services for whatever reasons. “It is wrong and God is not happy about it,”

Akin-John maintained.

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