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Preaching with a punchline: clergy get comedy tips

Clergy are learning professional techniques of stand-up comedy at this week's Christian Resources Exhibition International (19/22 May, ExCeL, London) ...

Clergy are learning professional techniques of stand-up comedy at this week's Christian Resources Exhibition International (19/22 May, ExCeL, London).

Stand Up for Jesus is a one-day comedy workshop (19 May) at the show opened by the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Richard Chartres.

A survey conducted by Christian Research last month* discovered that almost two in every three church leaders believe that humour is a necessary part of effective preaching.

However, only one in three of those listening to them each week in the pews regarded their ministers as having a good sense of humour. Jokes were more likely to fall flat amongst churchgoers in the east of England. Overall 43 per cent agree that preachers should be given training in comedy techniques to improve their sermons.

Former pop singer Revd Cindy Kent (pictured), from St John the Apostle, Whetstone, London, said: "I was thrilled when the BBC asked me to take part in their recent Vicars Telling Jokes programmes – but terrified at the same time! It's one thing to tell a joke to a friend – or friends – but it's quite another thing to do it on the telly to a potential audience of thousands! Jesus must have used humour and he is the best role model of how to tell a story. I'm looking forward to learning more skills this week."

Baptist minister Revd Michael Page will join Cindy. Michael, who works as a prison chaplain, said: "My colleagues and I are always looking for ways to start to break down the barriers and laughter can be a great way to get good conversations going. I'm hoping the session will give me some practical tips."

At the end of the afternoon, participants will be invited to show people what they've learned on CRE's Spotlight stage.

Already firmly established as the leading annual exhibition of church resources in Europe, CRE International, often dubbed the 'ideal church show', was held at Sandown Park, Esher for 28 years.

"ExCeL provides us with a fabulous opportunity to go centre stage for the first time and to grow into a truly international event," said event director Bill Allen.

More than 300 organisations are expected to exhibit, displaying everything from computers to communion wine, printers to puppets, stained glass to sound systems. More than 100 seminars will provide advice on subjects ranging from preaching to self-publishing, church websites to social exclusion.

OPENING HOURS

CRE International at ExCel, London is open Tuesday 19 to Thursday 21 May, 10am-5pm; Friday 22 May, 10am-4.30pm. Inspire's publisher CPO will be at stand G1.

For more information visit www.creonline.co.uk.

* 1,791 church goers were surveyed online (Computer Assisted Web interview/CAWi) between 25-28 April 2015.

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