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2009 Conversations

2008 Conversations

2007 Conversations

2006 Conversations

2005 Conversations

2004 Conversations

Alicia Chole: The truth about joy (12/28/03)

Cookies and Christmas: A roundtable discussion (12/21/03)

John Tesh: In pursuit of passion (12/14/03)

AGWM's L. John Bueno: Bread of life (11/23/03)

Teen Challenge's John Castellani: Christ breaks addictions (11/16/03)

Christian humorist Justin Fennell: Justifiably funny (10/19/03)

Representative Marilyn Musgrave: The role of Christians in government (10/12/03)

Dennis Gaylor: Fifty more campuses (9/28/03)

Kathy Troccoli: A message of hope (9/21/03)

Kristy Starling: Dreams come true (9/14/03)

CeCe Winans Love: Of Gospel and Grammies (8/31/03)

Gary Heavin: Faith and fitness (8/24/03)

Gracia Burnham: Grace in the jungle (8/17/03)

Seattle Mariner John Olerud: Hope when your health fails (8/10/03)

Chris Maxwell: Pastor recovering from memory loss (7/27/03)

Wayne Warner: Today’s Pentecostal Evangel: a historical view (7/20/03)

Paul Drost: Every church a parent or a partner (7/13/03)

Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger: What can be learned from history? (6/29/03)

Ron Drye: Ministering to the whole person (6/22/03)

Matt McPherson: Doing business by the Golden Rule (6/15/03)

The difference (6/8/03)

Fory VandenEinde: Fulfilling the Great Commission (5/25/03)

Tom Greene: The church's new generation (5/18/03)

Lisa Whelchel: Former sitcom star now an advocate for moms (5/11/03)

Tony Lamarque: Warden speaks about unconditional love (4/27/03)

Ann Graham Lotz: Just give her more of Jesus (4/20/03)

Lee Strobel: The case for Christ (4/13/03)

Randall K. Barton: Extravagant stewardship (3/30/03)

Bishop Gilbert Patterson: Bringing people together under Christ (3/23/03)

Pat Boone: A unique celebrity speaks out (3/16/03)

St. Clair Mitchell: God in Washington, D.C. (3/9/03)

Kay Gross: Ministry by women, ministry to women (2/23/03)

Thomas E. Trask: A historic General Council (2/16/03)

Denise Jones: Girls of Grace (2/9/03)

Doug Greengard: Beyond the NFL (1/26/03)

Three pro-life advocates call the church to action (1/19/03)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: The gospel in uniform (1/12/03)

2002 Conversations

2001 Conversations


Justifiably funny

Justin Fennell, 40, is a Christian humorist, Assemblies of God minister and president of Just-In-Time Communication Inc. He talked with Associate Editor Kirk Noonan recently about using comedy to share the gospel. For Fennell, telling jokes and being funny is serious business for one reason: eternity is in the balance.

PE: A lot of comedians are notoriously unhappy people when they’re not on stage. Are you?

FENNELL: Most comedians have had tough or dark times in their lives, and it’s true that most of us have lived our lives on the outside looking in. We developed a coping mechanism and that was being funny. But I am happy and at peace whether I am on stage or not.

PE: So you don’t have any skeletons in your closet?

FENNELL: Let’s put it this way, I’m not scared to run for public office. So, no, I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. Well, maybe a couple of packs of bubblegum from the Rexall Drug Store, but come to think of it I made reparations for those when I was a kid, so my closet is pretty much empty.

PE: Why did you go into comedy?

FENNELL: Comedy came to me. I never pursued it. I got my first taste of it when I wrote puppet sketches at my church. I guess we all have to start somewhere.

PE: When did you become a believer?

FENNELL: I feel like I have loved Jesus all my life because I was raised in the church and can’t remember ever not having a passion for Him. It would be easier for me to tell you the exact date when I was called into the ministry or baptized in the Holy Spirit. But I’d estimate I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was in kindergarten.

PE: Why do many Christians hold comedy at arm’s length?

FENNELL: Most Christians’ only experience with comedy has been bad. They see comedians saying or doing things that should not be said or done. But good, clean Christian comedy is powerful. You can get whole families laughing together without inappropriate remarks or putting someone or something down.

PE: Why are some comedians always taking shots at people?

FENNELL: It’s called bully humor, and yes you can get laughs doing that. But it’s not really comedy. There doesn’t have to be a victim in good comedy.

PE: What’s your take on comedians who are vulgar?

FENNELL: Comedy doesn’t have to be filthy to be funny. Comedians that use blue humor or sexual innuendo haven’t developed their craft. They use shock value to get people to laugh, but it’s only nervous laughter.

PE: Most comedians perform in clubs — do you?

FENNELL: I’ve never played the club circuit and I don’t feel like I need that validation to feel good about my comedy or myself.

PE: Can the church use comedy to share Christ’s message of love and hope?

FENNELL: As a church we need to offer more evangelical events that have good clean fun. When we do, non-Christians will see that Jesus can meet their needs. They’ll also see that Christians are in touch with reality and a relationship with Christ is the answer to life’s most pressing questions.

PE: What is your favorite joke?

FENNELL: Ed and Jed are walking down the road. Ed says to Jed, “If I can guess how many chickens you have in that sack will you give me one?”

Jed thinks about it for a moment and says, “If you can guess how many chickens I have in this sack I’ll give you both of them.”

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