God Created Audience Psychology

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Have you ever listened to a sermon on Sunday morning, and wonder how the pastor can elicit consistent laughter from the jokes they tell? I’ve often wondered that also.

I’ve attended church now for around 13 years and have heard many a sermon. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why the pastor got laughs. Was it be a case of the congregation being nice and laughing even the joke or story they told wasn’t funny? I mean, you’d have to keep the pastor happy, right? Otherwise, why would the pastor stay if he wasn’t getting a reaction at all?

I finally figured it out. God knew what he was doing. It’s all about two words.

audience psychology

Yes, one of the most basic, yet essential elements of stand-up comedy is utilized by pastors every Sunday morning, whether they know it or not.

Remember that laughter, in a psychological sense is a form of release. In that moment of laughter, you are surrendering yourself to the performer/speaker. Laughter is a form of surrender. Why do you think my comedy coach is now teaching about laugh triggers to Fortune 500 companies? It’s a simple answer. When you get the customer to laugh, they will be more receptive to listen to you and more likely to be persuaded.

Also, customers in a sense are just like the congregation of a church, or a customer going in to buy a car. They all want the person on the other end to succeed. They are rooting for the performers success, whether they be a speaker, pastor or salesperson.

I mean, think about it. How many of us will go into a place of business or a comedy show to spend money and hope that the person fails? That doesn’t make any sense. You go to that place of business, to that comedy club, in the hopes that you will get something in return for your money. But, how does this relate to a pastor on a Sunday morning at any given church?

Well, laughter is a form of surrender. I once heard it said that the deeper the surrender, the greater the freedom you will experience. So, its logical to conclude that a congregation that is hungry for God, desperate for change and to seek what their purpose in life is, the deeper they surrender. When you get that hungry to completely surrender yourself, I believe you will laugh easier and harder with the pastor’s stories.

Is the pastor at my church funny? Absolutely. He has a self deprecating manner at times, and sometimes he will poke fun at some of the congregation. But he says “we joke and tease you because we love you.” Would he make a good comedian? Well, he does know how to deliver a message for a solid hour or more, stay on point, have a natural flow and have the ability to pull his audience back towards the middle to keep their attention.

There are some pastors that may not do well on a comedy stage, and that’s okay. They get laughs on a Sunday morning because they understand audience psychology, whether that’s their intent or not.

Also, I believe that delivering a sermon is easy. Its way easier than doing stand-up comedy. Why? It’s because of an undeniable fact that’s proven itself throughout history.

It is super easy to write a sermon than do comedy because it’s easier to inspire people than make them laugh.

Think about this for a moment. Take the KKK. Yes, they are racist. However, an organization like that works because they are inspired towards a cause based on their shared beliefs. They may be too racist and hate filled to ever laugh. But really, why would you need laughter when you’re inspired?

My point is that it’s easy to inspire anyone, whether it’s for good or bad. I believe that people crave inspiration, they want to submit themselves over to the speaker in that moment. Even for an organization to do evil deeds, laughter never has to be part of the equation. They just need to be inspired. Generally, if people come together who share a common belief or desire, it’s because they are inspired. People who are hungry or inspired will follow you easier and surrender themselves willingly in that moment.

That doesn’t mean that pastors have an easy job, because they don’t. Many leave the church due to burnout, some even have their marriages end in divorce. It also doesn’t mean pastors would kill it on the coemdy circuit either, because not all of them would. It simply means that pastors have an easier time winning their crowd over.

A crowd at a comedy show will take a while to warm up to the comedian. It has nothing to do with needing inspiration. It’s about being funny and manipulating the laugh triggers to make it happen.

I’m kinda rambling a tad here, but if you go back and read this a few times, and think about the motivators that lead people to attend church or a comedy show, it should make sense.

What do you think?

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