Q: What about preachers and humor? Some of us are prone to begin our sermons with a joke or light story, is that a good way to start a sermon?
A: I’m very intolerant of jokes from the pulpit, if that’s what we’re talking about. I would say: be sparing. And you do have to keep in mind that that first minute or 30 seconds is crucial to keeping your audience, and you don’t want to put a joke there. That seems to promise something that there not gonna’ get. You’re not going to be doing a standup routine for them, and simply to put one there to get people’s attention is to get it on the wrong premise. People hear all sorts of jokes in the course of a week; people are submerged in entertainment and satirists and late-night television and they’ve heard jokes. That’s not what they come to church for.
Q: My father was taught in seminary never to use the first person. The current trend is for preachers to splay themselves all over their congregations. What do you want to hear from your preacher - personal, poetic, or prophetic?
A: Well, I guess I don’t want my preacher to have given too much thought to the question of what I want to hear. I’m not there as a consumer. I’m not shopping around. I want there to be some authority behind what he or she is preaching.
- Garrison Keillor in an interview at the 2008 Festival of Homiletics sponsored by mainstream Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations