I remember in the early 90’s when “Yo mama jokes” started catching on. We would meet at lunch and watch kids in “Yo Mama” battles to see who had the funniest jokes. They were from “Yo mama is so fat” all the way to “Yo mama is so poor.”
Then God being Who He is finds His way into everything so there were jokes with even yes, God as the topic. Jokes such as, “Yo mama is so old, when God said “Let there be light, yo mama flipped the switch!” or “Yo mama is so old, she had Jesus’ beeper number.” (Of course, this was back when everyone had beepers)
I don’t know about you, but back then before ‘Yo mama’ jokes caught on, talking about someone’s mom was fightin’ words, no matter how good or bad of a mother your mom was.
As soon as someone would say, “Yo mama” a fight would be on. Somehow, somewhere, someone turned something ugly into something that was hilarious, and brought everyone together to tell jokes and laugh instead of argue and fight.
Even the teachers caught on. They would catch our attention by meeting us where we were at. I remember my science teacher. He was a young teacher fresh out of college, and would say, “If you don’t learn the table of elements, you will grow up to be so dumb, the only question you’ll ask is, “You want fries with that?” Yeah, he was corny, but it worked.
Whatever had our attention at the time, is the very thing he would use to relate to Science and draw it right back to what he was trying to teach. Needless to say, for a girl that hated to sit in class, I got an A in his class.
God reminds me of “Yo mama jokes.” First, He turns everything meant for bad into something beautiful. He specializes in turning sinners into saints like Paul and prostitutes and tax collectors into disciples like Mary Magdeline and Matthew.
He also will meet you where you are at. Whatever has your attention, he will use to get your attention just like my young science teacher. He understands that we all need a teacher that speaks our language. If they are just ranting and babbling in a language that is foreign to us, how can they win students?
Jesus even told parables to reach the level of understanding of the targeted audience. If He spoke to fishermen, He talked about fish. If He talked to farmers, He talked about crops.
So for you pastors, ministers and teachers, find out who your audience is and capture them with what they can relate to. If you are speaking to football players, use football. If you are speaking to inmates, use street terminology.
Many are still babies in Christ who need to eat puree and are often choked with solids. Don’t dissect complex doctrine when they need basic bible study and life application.
Finding out what triggers their spirit is the key to drawing them near God. If you dig deep enough, you can capture someone’s attention with something that has their attention and then lead them slowly to God’s word.
It will naturally pique their interest, and they will want to know more. If we are too afraid to go in the dark, how can we ever pull them out?
Some of the most beautiful things that I have seen in the midst of the dilapidated neighborhoods of the inner city… is the graffiti. At one point, kids had nothing to utilize their talents with so they used spray paint.
They were tired of seeing the dismal environment so they brightened it up with color. The city would come and paint over it but the next day, something else would appear.
Now the city gives in and allows kids to paint murals and their talents are nourished. Something that originated as vandalism now leaves messages of hope and community. I often walk up to the messages and stand in awe.
Sometimes, we can be too ‘super-spiritual’, like the Pharisees, and often preach the same message to the same audience, so the lost sheep wander off the cliff…while we are preaching to the shepherd.
Love and empathy convicts, self- righteousness and arrogance condemns. We can get so focused on law and order, that we forget that we are Disciples of Christ and fishers of men. You can’t catch fish without the right bait!