Your first action for Lent: Make someone laugh
Website shares the country’s best clean jokes while vicars take lessons in stand-up
The Church of England’s Love Life Live Lent campaign kicks into action today, 19th February, when the first in a series of text messages will be sent to subscribers – ‘make someone laugh’. The daily texts each suggest an action that will help spread generosity and neighbourliness, and to mark the occasion the Church is inviting people to share their favourite “good, clean” joke on the Love Life Live Lent website, www.livelent.net.
The Church is encouraging people to take a fresh look at Lent with a range of other initiatives designed to raise a smile - with the launch of a Christian comedy club, a training course for vicars in stand-up-style performance skills, and a website sharing the best clean jokes in the country.
Organisers hope to highlight that doing something positive can be as transforming as giving something up, and can help people reflect on their relationship with each other and with God.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus
In addition to the joke-sharing web forum, the Church has lined up other plans to help kick off the Lent campaign:
- ‘The Laughing Sole’ comedy club, in Birmingham, will provide an alternative to the coarse humour of regular comedy clubs with a unique blend of acts that will encourage the audience to reflect on the deeper themes of life. Helen Tomblin, founder of the club that opens for the first time on Tuesday 27th February, says: “I believe there is a gap in the market for a club with a 'cleaner' ethos. If you cut out the swearing and crude material you actually get a higher standard of comedy. Humour breaks down barriers, relaxes people, builds community and often prompts conversations about life, meaning, morals and maybe even God!"
- In Leicester, Andy Kind, a comedian from Stoke, leads a special training course for clergy to help them communicate the Gospel message in an engaging, relevant way. Commenting on the course, which ran as part of this week’s Leicester Comedy Festival, he says: “Christianity can be seen as something terribly serious, but Jesus must have been a great laugh to have had such a following. He used humour and so can we.” The course tackles issues such as body language, voice modulation and overall performance skills, and is aimed at building confidence and self-awareness. Andy’s top tips for making sermons more engaging are:
- Keep it simple, keep it short
- Start strong, end strong
- Play to the whole room, not just the front row
- Relax! A nervous speaker means a nervous audience
- Look happy – if you’re not enthusiastic, why should the audience be?
The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, says that comedy is an important ingredient in a Christian lifestyle: “Laughter is essential for our life together as the Body of Christ and I am convinced that the first disciples and apostles would not have stuck together through those years of intense joy and intense suffering without a good deal of fun and laughter.
“People joining in with Love Life Live Lent will see that today’s suggestion (Monday 19 February) is to make someone laugh. I am going to try and do that every day in Lent, and I hope it is a habit that lasts a lifetime. I recently read a statistic that stuck in my mind – it said that a child at nursery school laughs about 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day. Perhaps that is another reason Jesus urged us to become like little children!”
Love Life Live Lent is available as a full-colour booklet for just £1 (ISBN 0978 07151 41113, childrens’ version 0978 07151 41144) or buy 10 for £8 (0978 07151 41120, childrens’ version 0978 07151 41151), or a value pack of 50 for £35 (0978 07151 41137, childrens’ version 0978 07151 41168) from Christian bookshops including Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel. 020 7799 4064, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web (mail order available).