Church Funnies.

If you've been going to church all your life then over the years you'll undoubtedly have had some good (if slightly irreverent) laughs at the expense of others.  Whether it's at a church that practises some weird stuff that you're not used to in your own, or whether it's just one of those things that all churchgoers experience, there's something to make everyone smile.  While my PS3 downloads yet another update, allow me to list just a few of the things that are always going to raise a smile during a service:

Trying to get everyone singing from the same hymnsheet (sometimes literally) in church is sometimes an uphill struggle.  Couple this with temperamental technology operated by people who saw the back end of the First World War and you've got a recipe for hilarious mistakeage.  Whether it be the words not matching the song the musicians are playing, or the PowerPoint slide operator dude falling asleep mid-song, leaving everybody humming and lalalaing whilst looking around for weapons with which to end this awkward life they're living, there's always scope for a good laugh here.  Add to this the potential for surprise repeat-choruses and key changes (sometimes mid-verse), and we're in for a right laugh-riot.

Big Pimpin' - Horatius Bonar

Kids' songs featuring actions are fair game for laughs - especially if the adults of the congregation are encouraged to join in.  There's always one dad who seems to be enjoying doing the Father Abraham 'right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm, wave your hands, nod your head, sit down, turn around....' a little too much.  But that song's like the Christian equivalent of Black Lace's 'Superman Song' as heard at a gazillion school discos... 

Also, songs with the words 'throng', 'trump', 'breast', or anything written by Horatius Bonar are also near unlimited sources of mirth.  The modern worship classic 'As The Deer Pants For The Water' is one of my personal faves, as it's the only known usage of the phrase 'deer pants' in the English language...

Generally, songs in church can be an un-ending source of potential laughter, especially with a lot of modern worship songs attempting to be sung in churches that really don't have the means (or desires) to pull them off.  And some worship songs are SO modern that they'd be better off being sung at a Lady Ga Ga concert.  Peanut's top tip - if in a song you can replace the name 'Jesus' with the word 'baby', it's probably not for church.

Churches where freedom of 'spiritual expression' is encouraged are also prone to sneak-attack ninja hymnals, usually piped up without permission or warning, usually by an old lady during a quiet prayer time.  These can range from utterly inspired and soul-affirming to utterly bizarre and potentially terrifying.  Case in point, my 5-year-old mother was in her church as a kid, colouring in under the pews during a quiet prayer time, when one of the elders pitched up with a very low-register and Jacob Marley's ghost-esque 'Holy, Holy, Holy'.  She jumped up, hit her head on the underside of her mother's pew and bit her tongue in two.

The other form of spontaneous song weirdness is that thing where at the end of a song, usually under the encouragement of the leaders, everybody starts singing their own songs to their own words and their own tune, usually resulting in a cacophony of brown noise.  I have nothing against these moments, I just find them utterly hilarious and like to join in by trying to sing lines from famous songs, the more offensive the better, without being detected.  Try it yourself - the next time people break out into spontaneous and supposedly spirit-led self-worship, crack out a few lines of Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, or, if you think you can get away with it, rap a few verses of NWA's classic 'F*ck Da Police'.

The church I grew up in held communion one Sunday a month where we all shared from the same cup of wine/loaf of bread (seeing as there were only about 20 of us....).  This led to a competition arising as to who could slurp their wine the loudest but not have it seem intended (you could get away with this stuff as a kid; we also had games like 'who can hold the last note of the song the longest' or the famous 'who can say Amen in the weirdest voice post-prayerage'....).

In some churches I've been to (usually the ones with the word 'vine' in the name...dead giveaway...), they actually use REAL WINE in the communion ceremony.  In fact, in one church, they even let the little kids take part.  I'm not sure which concerned me more; the blatant disregard for laws regarding alcohol consumption by minors or the blatant disregard for Biblical teachings about only those bought by the precious blood of Christ being permitted to take of the wine.  Anywho, this pales in comparison to one denomination of church where the wine, considered to have actually 'morphed' into the blood of Jesus, was to be taken by the congregation but not wasted if there was some left, resulting in the chief elder having to finish the dregs of the cup all by himself.  If you can stifle your cries of 'down it! down it! down it!' then you're a more disciplined man than I.

The church I now attend has a larger congregation and therefore dispenses bread and wine in already proportioned squares/mini-shot glasses.  However, the window for humour is still slightly ajar.  We take the bread as it comes to us, but then we hold our wine shots until they've all been distributed, at which point we all drink together as an act of corporate reflection and gratitude.  Still, there's always a potential for out-of-towners to miss the instruction to hold off drinking the wine til the end, resulting in a panicked look when they realise they've jumped the gun, akin to that of the wino at the wedding who always finishes his champagne before all the toasts have been raised.  I witnessed one guy pouring some out of his wife's cup into his while she was praying with her eyes closed.  I saw another guy FAKE DRINK the second time with the rest of us - bonus points for trying.  This is always worth a little smirk.

There are bound to be more church funnies, but I shall save them for another night. If you have any suggestions or comments, please suggest and comment below.


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