Reshaping the Church

Christian comedy helps heal church wounds

Posted April 26, 2024

by Jenna Mindel

Photo courtesy of Lacy Abercrombie

Lacy Abercrombie, a Dallas native, is an influencer in the Christian comedy content space. She is known online by both Christians and non-Christians alike for her character, Jezziebath.

Abercrombie started posting on TikTok a few years ago but has always had a level of comedy and performance in her life, she said. She grew up participating in theater and making up different characters to entertain her friends and family — Jezziebath just happened to resonate with her audience online.

Jezziebath is the stereotypical, overzealous Christian woman, Abercrombie said. She preaches with a big canvas hat and her thumb in her Bible, all while using Christianese

Abercrombie first introduced this character to the internet a few years ago after joking around with her friends, she said.

What started as a riff on a stereotype has turned into a ministry where she can highlight the sort of language and type of person that can be triggering for somebody who walked away from the church and help them laugh about it, Abercrombie said.

Some of Jezziebath's most popular videos include "Jezzie preaches on Spotify Wrapped," "Jezziebath pulls you aside in the church lobby" or "Jezziebath is your camp counselor." Abercrombie riffs off of the typical youth pastor's tendency to try to relate pop culture to Scripture.

Jezziebath originated from Abercrombie and her friends’ collective frustration toward women in the church who would over-spiritualize their advice when they were yearning for empathy, she said. For example, someone may share about a devastating breakup and receive a response centered around the message that “God has somebody waiting for you.” While it may be done out of good intentions, gliding over the painful parts of people’s stories and skipping to a Christian phrase or verse to comfort people can be dismissive of a person’s hurt or pain.

Despite her making light of this sort of attitude, Abercrombie believes everything is spiritual.

“But don't miss me on this — everything is spiritual. I do believe that," Abercrombie said. "But, I think sometimes we tend to over-spiritualize things, and we make ourselves less relatable.”

By playing this character, Abercrombie makes light of Christian culture. Through humor, she acknowledges that when Christians try to minimize people’s hurt, doubt or experience through the behavior that Jezziebath embodies, it can be harmful.

Photo courtesy of Lacy Abercrombie

Abercrombie was surprised at first because she thought the character would only resonate with people who were Christian, she said. It was only later she discovered that people who no longer practiced Christianity were liking and commenting on her videos too.

A Christian being the person playing this character provides her credibility to point out harmful aspects of Jezziebath and point to the fact that while Christians and Christian culture is imperfect, there is a God who will never dismiss you or let you down. This gives her an opportunity to share the gospel, particularly because these videos can rake in up to hundreds of thousands of views.

When she first started posting on social media, Abercrombie was excited when one of her videos blew up, and she was not thoughtful about sharing the gospel in her content, she said. Since then, she has made it a point to add a gospel message to each of her videos.

“So, I think when we lose sight of the Great Commission and we're just worried about clout, worried about being famous, or we're worried about being the funniest person in the room, we're not doing that right,” Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie sees comedy as a bridge and a way to connect with people who have been hurt by the church, she said.

Christian comedy is a way to bring people in and not push them further away, Abercrombie said. By making light of this stereotypical Christian woman, she is able to connect with people, no matter if they have deconstructed their belief system or if they are practicing Christians.

“What good Christian humor does is it allows people to get their walls down and take almost like a sigh of relief, like, my gosh, I can laugh about this," Abercrombie said. "So, I think good Christian humor is a bridge. It's a bridge so that people can say, 'I can actually laugh my way back to the cross.'”

Photo by Solen Feyissa for Unsplash

Christian comedy is at its best when one can make something that was profoundly painful and turn it into something that they can laugh at and face confidently, Abercrombie said. Processing church hurt can be emotionally taxing, and Christian comedy offers a way for people to release some of that anger and frustration healthily.

Christians can be unsure of how to engage with people who grew up in the church and are no longer a part of the faith, particularly if there is church hurt involved. Abercrombie said she has seen firsthand how humor can be a way for Christians to break the ice and connect with people who may otherwise not want to hear from another Christian.

By addressing Christian stereotypes from a Christian perspective, Abercrombie brings awareness to the kind of behavior that leaves people bitter about Christianity. She is also able to spread awareness to Christians on how their familiar, redundant patterns of comfort can come off to others as disingenuous.

Having accountability as a Christian posting comedy content online is important, Abercrombie said. 

One way she does this is by turning to her friend and fellow Christian comedian, Josh Benson, for support and accountability in the content realm, she said. Abercrombie says that she and Benson will sometimes send drafts of their videos before they publish them to get another set of eyes on their content — this helps prevent her from posting something just to get views or likes.

Over the past year, Abercrombie took as many speaking engagements as she could at different conferences and churches, she said. At these events, she would sometimes play her Jezziebath character before going into a message. She is also involved in her local church and serves in the student ministry.

Abercrombie uses her character online to spread the gospel and build bridges with those who have been hurt by the church.

Jenna Mindel is a senior journalism student at Biola University who is passionate about storytelling. Originally from Washington State, but now a California resident, she hates the rain but loves coffee, books, long walks (preferably on the beach), podcasts and any chance she gets to share a meal with her friends. Jenna hopes to shed light on meaningful work the Church is doing around the world as a journalist.