Our evening’s fun and games tonight takes the form of an informal interview/conversation between Jim and Kate. We’re all sat with a pint or a glass of wine and enjoying some snacks and nibbles while the conversation drifts mainly around chaplaincy at Guy’s Campus, King’s College and, later, the role and place of humour in the Church.
I won’t try and capture the essence of the flow of conversation but I will take the opportunity to share some highlights and moments which seem either particularly poignant, interesting or even, heaven forbid, funny!
One thing which was interesting is the balance between recognising a pastoral need in a community, and the community not necessarily knowing how to access that pastoral support. As such the integration of the chaplain or pastoral worker into the situation in such a way that they can actually minister is something which needs to be negotiated, often through forging a relationship with someone to bridge the gap. It’s easy to say, but can be hard to do.
Jim recently did some stand up comedy stuff in a Waterstones in Tottenham Court Road in Waterstones — a bookshop with a bar!
Kate shared her experience of writing a script and doing an open mic with a dog collar. One of the challenges which she has faced of the pressure to be ‘the church’s jester’. The purpose of communicating like this is to connect with people who we are unlikely to connect with at a Church, not to ‘preach to the choir’.
One of her stories was of a time when she was doing a set in a slightly sketchy pub, and, to the audience’s surprise, made people laugh. Afterwards a young man asked for a selfie because, ‘My Dad would never believe that a Vicar would come to our club!’
One person rightly observed that comedy isn’t the preserve of the comedian. The key is banter in the work place for any Christian who wants to connect with others. Doesn’t need to be specific jokes but more a willingness to be open to genuine connection without necessarily having to lead those conversations to issues of faith.
There was a lot more discussed but it would be hard to outline. However, it was a stimulating conversation, and the beer didn’t hurt either!