Just in case your ever thought a dissertation on writing humor is fun I thought I would share this with you.
Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research
Very little, if any, quantitative research has been completed on the use of humor in the local church. This study focused on the pastor’s use of humor and also investigated the pastor’s ethos and the interpersonal solidarity between the pastor and the listener. All of these constructs were demonstrated to have a positive correlation with affective learning—one of the primary aims of preaching. This study lays the groundwork for future studies. Other constructs of preaching and their correlation on affective learning can be examined in the future. Other constructs include, but are not limited to, the perceived intelligence of the preachers, the preacher’s immediacy with the listener, the preacher’s pathos, the conversational style of the preacher, and the preacher’s use of multi-media. The surveys used in this study are thorough and somewhat lengthy. Further studies may need to be more lengthy, but many possibilities exist for future quantitative studies that can serve as a great resource for preachers, listeners, and churches.
This study focused on five pastors who have above average perceived humor orientations. Additional studies can examine pastors with average and below average humor orientations. Also excluded from this study were Roman Catholic and Charismatic Churches. Three of the five churches in this study were in large Midwestern cities. The remaining church were in Atlanta and Dallas. The review of literature described differences in humor in different regions of the country. This study was not able to draw any meaningful conclusion based on regional humor differences. Future studies can expand on the variety of pastors, churches, and regions of the country that are surveyed.
Another limiting factor of this study is the perceived ethos and relational solidarity of the preacher that occurs outside of the preaching. Two of the churches are new churches in their first three years. Both congregations average worship attendance at the time of the survey was around 100 people per week. Two of the churches are downtown congregations in large Midwestern cities. Both congregations average worship attendance was between 500 and 700 people per week at the time of the survey. The fifth church is a church that has an average worship attendance of about 1,300 people per week, but the preacher studied is the primary preacher at the contemporary worship service that had an average attendance of 300 people per week at the time of the survey. She is the primary pastor to the people of this worship service. All of the pastors have served these congregations at least three years when the surveys were distributed. Therefore, all of these pastors, to various degrees, have relationships and have developed a perceived ethos and relational solidarity with many of the survey respondents outside of the worship environment. A suggestion for future study would be to survey pastors of mega churches where the listener has very little exposure to the pastor outside of the worship environment.
Another suggestion for future study would be to examine the listeners on a more detailed level. This study did not consider the age and gender of the survey respondents. It grouped all survey respondents into a single pool. In the review of literature, it was demonstrated that age and gender play an important role on how humor is processed. Future study could investigate the role of listener’s age and its effect on how they process and respond to the pastor’s humor and how the pastor’s perceived humor effects perceived ethos, relational solidarity, and affective learning. These studies could prove useful for pastors serving congregations that have a majority of older congregants, younger congregants, and to pastors to middle school, high school, and college aged students. Likewise, the gender of the listeners can also be investigated. This study could be useful to male pastors who preach females and female pastors who preach to males. Also, the study could provide insight to pastors who preach primarily or exclusively to men or women—for example—prison or military chaplains.
A final suggestion would be to do this study or a similar study in a college classroom, political campaign, or other setting. The review of literature extensively discussed the differences between sacred humor and profane humor. In the local church, the expectation is that if humor is used then the humor used is the sacred variety. It should be noted that pastors do use profane humor such as excessive self-deprecation, satire, sarcasm, and teasing, but the expectation in the local church is sacred humor. The expectation of the prominent use of sacred humor does not necessarily exist in other environments where more aggressive and profane humor is commonly used and is often appreciated. The application of this proposed study could provide useful insight to sacred humor vis-à-vis profane humor and its effect on perceived ethos, interpersonal solidarity, and affective learning.