By Jay Sanders
Brian Regan is a stand-up comic.
Pastor, you would do yourself a favor if you remembered him the next time you preached.
Regan is very funny and relatively clean compared to most well-known comedians. But that’s not why you should emulate his style.
Humor can be a good accessory for some preachers, but good sermons exist without it. I’m not encouraging you to turn into a stand-up comic.
Brian Regan uses an observational style of humor, but he also tells a lot of stories about himself. All of those stories have one thing in common.
Brian Regan is not the hero.
Instead, he’s the one who says, “You too,” to the waitress when she tells him to enjoy his meal. He’s the one who couldn’t spell in school. He’s the one who doesn’t know how to interact with people at social gatherings. He’s the one who got beat in tennis by a pregnant lady.
And it’s hilarious but not just because Brian is a great storyteller. It’s funny because we can relate. His act reminds us that there are other imperfect people like us out there.
I grew up listening to a lot of preachers who were the exact opposite of Brian Regan.
According to their sermon stories, when they went to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk, revival broke out. The cashier confessed his addiction to cocaine, the manager gave her life to Christ, and 6,000 people in the parking lot burned their Black Sabbath records.
One time I got lost in the grocery store. That’s about it for me. The comparison crushed me.
Pastor, you most certainly should not air all of your dirty laundry each Sunday morning, but the last thing your people need to hear is how perfect you are. Pulpit perfection will crush them, just like it did me.
Brian Regan played college football before he decided to go into stand-up. That means he was a pretty good player in high school.
I suppose he could have built his entire act around that time when he scored the game-winning touchdown and had the homecoming queen waiting for him when he walked out to his Corvette after the game. But who wants to hear that?
Most people can’t relate.
For some reason, we think that our public displays of perfection from the pulpit are doing our church a favor. They’re not. They are half-truths at best that wreck the faith of our congregation and eventually ruin our credibility.
Rather than believing the lie that their pastor is perfect, church members would benefit much more from hearing their pastor share a few of his struggles. The illusion of perfection glorifies us. The reality of sin and grace in our lives glorifies Jesus.
Pastor, if you use a story from time to time, tell the one where you said something dumb to your kid and had to ask him and Jesus to forgive you. Tell your people one or two of the sources of your anxiety and how you’re trusting in Jesus as you fight through it. Remind them that you need Jesus just as much as they do.
Perfect pastors don’t need Jesus.
Real pastors do.
That’s because real pastors are terribly flawed.
Thankfully, Jesus came for flawed people.
Even the ones who stand behind pulpits.
Jay is the senior pastor of Towaliga Baptist Church in Jackson, Ga.