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I remember when I was younger, my parents bought the Johnny Carson VHS Collection off of QVC one night. I had no idea who this guy was, but I remember watching it with my parents and watching as my parents laughed hysterically at “good ol’ Johnny.” I chuckled with them, but largely I wondered why we didn’t have anyone on TV like this today.
Well young Jonathan, the dark ages of late night TV have finally passed.
I have always been a fan of Jimmy Fallon, but it wasn’t until he started hosting The Tonight Show that I felt like I knew him. Now, I just want to be his friend. My wife and I have never followed late night hosts closely, but now we have had a complete shift and watch it nearly every night. I claim that it is research for my job, but really the guy makes me laugh.
One night, as I was “researching” (*cough cough*), I began thinking that maybe Youth Ministry has a little bit more to learn from Jimmy Fallon. Currently, we simply have adopted a few of Jimmy’s games in our ministries, but maybe there were a few more lessons to learn. My research is done and this is what it would be like if Jimmy Fallon was your youth pastor:
What is more exciting than the gospel? Well I don’t know about you, but Jimmy Fallon puts me to shame with his pure excitement for what he does every night. Sure, we don’t have a team of writers and a national audience, but that doesn’t matter. Every gathering we share the greatest story ever written. Every gathering, whether there is 1 or 100, there is an audience of students in desperate need of the gospel. The gospel truth being proclaimed to students is what makes every night important. Get excited, because students are going to show up to hear from you about gospel truth.
Jimmy is definitely excited, and maybe we should be too? After all, Jimmy has some good jokes, but we have been called to share the good news with a hurting generation.
Jimmy Fallon is unique to say the least. He has singlehandedly redefined an entire genre of tv that has been around for over 30 years. How did he do this? By being Jimmy. When Jimmy Fallon started his career he didn’t study other comedians, tv hosts, and actors to copy what they are doing. He studies the other talent to be a better Jimmy.
So many times I hear a youth pastor give a message or write a devotional that is not them. It is someone else’s personality, wisdom, and experience with a little bit of them sprinkled in. What a shame…
God called you into ministry for you to be you. How He has uniquely gifted you. How He has directly formed you into the image of the Son. How the Spirit guides you. As a youth pastor, don’t clothe yourself with Andy’s sermon, Matt’s jokes, and Steven’s style, clothe yourself with Christ (Galatians 3:27) and be you.
If Jimmy Fallon was a youth pastor, he would be excited about the gospel and he would embrace his unique gifts and strengths. But Jimmy Fallon is not a youth pastor, so stop doing “research” and prepare your heart to lead students to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
*The famous pastors listed above are examples of people we try to duplicate in ourselves. We will never be them. We can learn from what they do right (and wrong), but we will never be them. Your church didn’t hire them, they hired you.