Adam Ford makes the church laugh. We’ve been sharing his “curiously Christian” webcomic Adam4d.com for years, and many are now discovering—and laughing out loud at—his new Christian satire site, The Babylon Bee. But few know that it was a major personal crisis that led him to use his pen and wit as tools for ministry. Ford recently spoke with The Local Church about his calling as a humorist, why Christians need satire, and how pastors can use what is funny to communicate what is serious.
Did you always aspire to art and humor, or were they things you picked up later in life?
I've always been inclined toward art and humor, but never thought it would be my "thing," really. After God saved me about 11 years ago, I was pretty sure I would be a preacher. That's what I saw myself doing. But then about 6 years ago, I was blind-sided by a serious generalized anxiety disorder/panic disorder/social anxiety that changed my whole life. I went from an extrovert to an extreme introvert, and things like speaking in front of people now terrify me. But I still had the strong desire to speak the truth to people. The webcomic and news satire site were born out of that.
Evangelicals seem uneasy about satire at times, but you've helped us laugh at ourselves in ways we didn't before. Why is this so important?
It's important to look at what we're doing, to "examine ourselves." Satire acts like an overhead projector, taking something that people usually ignore and projecting it up on the wall for everyone to see. It forces us to look at things we wouldn't normally look at and makes us ask if we're okay with them. And sometimes it just makes us laugh. That's all healthy stuff. Also, the more our culture sinks into absurdity, the more important satire will be as a cultural critique.
How can humor serve the local church? How would you advise pastors and church leaders incorporate humor in their preaching and teaching?
Humor can help everything. Here's a quote from one of my heroes, Spurgeon: "Sometimes when I have said a humorous thing in preaching I have not asked you to excuse me, for if God has given me humour I mean to use it in his cause; many a man has been caught, and his ear arrested, and his attention won by a quaint remark . . . it is a faculty of nature, and it ought to be consecrated and used for the cause of Christ."
How can Christians write satire that is both redemptive and prophetic?
By holding up the truth and letting it do the work. Satire is just a way to articulate ideas. We use it to illustrate the truth, and the truth always affects people.
What is one message you'd like readers to take away from your comics or the Babylon Bee?
Correction: Changed intro to reflect that Adam Ford is not a former pastor or preacher.