Effective parody: How to make fun of people and get away with it

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My first blog post was posted on April 30, 2008. I’ve learned quite a bit since that first, horrible post–about writing and blogging–what works for me and what doesn’t. I think everyone has to decide their own formula based on trial and error.

One of the things I’ve really tried to avoid are posts that have the potential for intense debate or that may otherwise cause people to get stabby–with me or with other commenters. I’ve either accomplished this goal, or y’all are just too polite to tell me if I’ve offended you.

When my pastor forwarded me the following video, I immediately wanted to tweet the link. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. But then I got to thinking about it, and thought it might be better to present it here with a little disclaimer. By posting this video, I am not doing so as a way to bash big churches or how they present the gospel on Sunday morning. I’ve been to a few big church Sunday “productions” and while they’re not for everyone, if the church is teaching the Word of God, helping those in need and making disciples, it’s not for me to judge their tactics. I suppose we could debate that, but I’d rather not. Besides, as someone who has been involved in planning worship, I can tell you that when I laughed at this video, I did so while identifying with most of what I saw–the worship leader in particular.

Okay…Just so you know where I’m coming from. Without further ado, I present to you, Contemporvent!:

You may find that video less amusing than I did. I think the old saying “It’s funny because it’s true” applies mostly because I’ve seen (and been involved in) so many worship services EXACTLY LIKE THAT. But like I said, this was mostly just for fun.

For a most excellent description of how someone can feel lost within a big body of believers, I would highly recommend stopping by my friend Jake’s blog and reading Huge Church: Lost(ish) souls. He pretty much nails it.

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20 Responses to “Effective parody: How to make fun of people and get away with it”

  1. Jake January 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I go to this church.

    I was talking with one of my nerds today about community and Church and we decided that churches that have big weekend productions and put a TON of emphasis on them are missing the point and misinforming their church.

    We need to measure a church by what it does between Sundays, by the change we see or hear about in people’s lives, and by the community impact. Who gives a fat crap about big lights, drums, trendy people and a superstar pastor?

    And I don’t even mean that to be offensive, so forgive me if I break your non-offensive rule, but it. isn’t. about. those. things.

    And yet, some people are deceived into hunting for those elements when they hunt for a church.

    Sorry. I kind of vomited I think. 🙂

    • katdish January 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

      “Who gives a fat crap about big lights, drums, trendy people and a superstar pastor?

      And I don’t even mean that to be offensive…” SNORT! You’re the best, Jake.

      • Jake January 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

        I have to say in all my critical persnickety rambling, that I go to a big church that does all of this. I think that the minute that this kind of stuff got to me more important than Jesus, my pastors wouyld yank it all and we’d sing without instruments or lights. Just sayin’… none of it is BAD in itself, but it’s not the point 🙂

  2. Louise January 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Ok. So I found that very funny. I went to a ‘big’ church once and was so excited about the pastor and his oratory abilities, I convinced a friend to come with me one Sunday — he was searching for a ‘home’. Well, wouldn’t you know it, that was the sunday they outed the pastor for having two affairs blah blah blah.

    Yup. Big churches got big issues sometimes!

  3. Wendy January 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I could never do the do the church announcements – I don’t have a tattoo.

  4. Michael January 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    I think I just peed a little from laughing so hard.

  5. PeterP January 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    That’s one of the funniest and scariest video’s I’ve seen this century!

  6. Jason January 20, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    I saw that video a few months ago and didn’t laugh once…I thought I was watching a documentary. When I realized it was a parody, then I laughed.

  7. Annie K January 20, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    The dude that does announcements at my church is on the comedy circuit. Seriously. And he’s actually funny. And yeah, the brothers that lead worship have their own band and they are awesomely metro sexual, hip, edgy and all that whatnot. I do prefer to go to the 8am service though with all the older folks where worship is one guy with an acoustic guitar and we meet in a side room. (With Jon and I combined, by attending the 8am service we bring the average age down to about 62.)

    I know the heart my pastor and his staff have for others, especially with their community outreach programs – so I have a problem lumping them in with other large churches, even though it can seem kind of production-y. And of course, I wouldn’t go to a lame church anyway. Like Joel Osteen’s or something ridiculous like that.

  8. A Simple Country Girl January 20, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Land sakes, my pastor plays the hand saw for special events and our our 123-year old wooden pews are covered with all manner of colorful homemade yarn blankets (are they called Afghans?). We even have a man who occasionally plays the harmonica from the pew during hymn-singing. Then, following the service, we gather in the ancient basement for fellowship and food. Uh, yeah, I want nothing to do with what I just saw up there.

    P.S. I didn’t reckon anyone else says “fat crap” on a routine basis. Good to know.

    P.S.S. I had already read Jake’s post and it inspired this blog post of mine. Jake, you are welcome at my country church any ole time. Well, so are the rest of ya for that matter. Just don’t hog all the blankets, kay?



  9. sherri murphy January 20, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Made me smile, then squirm.
    I think I need to update my look….maybe get a tattoo if I’m gonna “make it” in the church world.

  10. kristinherdy January 20, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    That was awesome. I laughed through the whole thing, because I know that church – and parody works because lots of people can recognize it.

  11. Alise January 20, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    I go to a big church and play on the worship team and this absolutely slayed me the first time I saw it. I admit, I like the big production. We have fun and I genuinely believe that the others that I serve with have a heart to reach people with the love of Jesus. So I just want to say that up-front.

    I’m of two minds about the whole relevant thing. I mostly just don’t like the term being applied to style. I feel like there’s more that makes a church relevant than style and I don’t like to think that a church that has a less contemporary style is no longer relevant. It’s just my nit-picky self.

    But mostly I just love this vid. Totally funny.

  12. bman January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I love this video. You are awesome.

  13. jasonS January 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I’ve seen this before and thought it was funny, but like you said I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who does it this way like I hope no one would begrudge us for doing it our way. We all have our own peculiarities that’s for sure! Thanks Kat.

  14. Helen January 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    You all know that I’m Catholic (I think). I could probably do another sort of parody on the people who FEAR some of these things…

    Years ago I was at my husband’s cousin’s daughter’s Confirmation. She was in High School. They all were, and they planned the Mass themselves. It included modern instruments and a drum cage! We Catholics are mostly musically polarized between those who think God prefers organ music, and those who thinks He likes one acoustic guitar and a tamborine! It was so hard to keep from laughing at the stunned faces I saw around me! A couple of times I raised my hands (Charasmatic Catholic influences) and my husband had to put them down for me and shake his head! Then I’d look around at the faces around me and CRACK UP!

    We did not get to sit with my husband’s family. Later on, they were surprised that I liked it, since I have a reputation on both sides of the family for being a “conservative Catholic”. Perhaps I am, but I can’t help but think that God doesn’t really care what genre of music we praise Him in any more than our mom’s and dad’s cared about our musical abilities when we’d sing Happy Birthday to them. “Really dear, couldn’t you manage a three part harmony in rounds?” It’s just about putting our whole selves into thanking and praising Him…

    Okay, this comment may have been a tangent and gotten away from the meaning of your post. So what else is new?

  15. ed cyzewski January 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    I saw this a while back and sometimes have the songs in my head during our opening and closing songs. Though, we usually end with something that rocks.

    As a former worship leader, I think we need to talk about long term goals for our services that sometimes mix up the format so that we aren’t always putting on a huge show. That’s why I love formats such as Taize (spelling?).

    • katdish January 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      We always try to choose worship songs that tie into the sermon. Of course, there are key changes to consider, flow of the songs, etc. But more than anything else, when I start feeling like people are more focused on the praise team than they are on worship, I know we missed the mark.

  16. Tony Alicea January 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    This is so funny. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

    I’m sure a lot of these types of churches are super effective. The only issue I have (and this parody demonstrates clearly) is that it is formulaic and sometimes it comes across as inauthentic…even when it’s not.

  17. Hazel Moon January 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Makes me wonder Where is Jesus in all this! I enjoy some of the new worship chorus rendations, but I also love the old hymns. I plan to post a blog this Sunday about “We never did it this way before!” This video causes one the think again! I enjoyed Helens remarks about raising her hands and her husband being enbarrased. My church does not raise their hands, and I do sometimes. Especially the song, He lives within my heart! (Raise hands if he lives there)

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