How is everybody doing tonight? You look great. You’re less sober than the people I usually talk to.
I’m surprised to be at the Comedy Cellar because — and I know how this sounds — I’m a minister.
Saying that you’re a minister shuts down conversations with barbers, waitresses and the person sitting next to you on the plane. That last one is helpful.
I’m not a minister who thinks he’s cool enough to fit in anywhere. I’m not the Unitarian campus minister at NYU. I don’t wear a tweed jacket and a turtle neck. I don’t run a soup kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t do nearly enough of the stuff I tell everyone else to do. I’m not the chaplain for U2 — which is not a real job — but I can dream.
You might be surprised to learn that churches talk about some of you a lot. How many of you went to church more often when you were 9 years old? You’re the ones churches talk about. Churches think they can get you back. Churches are your mother trying to get you to come home for the weekend by promising the beef noodle casserole she insists you loved when you were a kid.
Some churches think they’ll get you to come back with bad drummers. They believe there are 20-year-olds who wake up early on Sunday mornings and say to themselves, “I feel like singing along with a 60-year-old drummer playing 18 century hymns.”
Some churches have started meeting in pubs for “Theology on Tap,” where they drink beer and talk about God. They hope you’re looking for an inebriated minister to explain the meaning of life.
Some churches have changed their names with you in mind. If a church has a name that sounds like a ’70s band — Journey, Passion, The Bridge — you’re the target audience.
We know the church can be disappointing, but we also know the church can be wonderful. If you decide to give us another chance, we’ll try not to act cooler than we are. We’ll learn your name and ask how you’re doing. We’ll find gracious ways to say that we find hope in believing in something bigger than we are, and think you might, too. You can help us with hard questions about meaning and purpose. You can help us do things rather than just talk about them. You might find that you enjoy being part of a group of friends trying to live better, more authentic lives.