Everybody loves Jimmy Fallon.
In addition to making us laugh uncontrollably, he (unintentionally) taught us a few lessons about sharing the Gospel.
Here are 6 things Jimmy taught us about evangelism:
1) Don't let someone's response be the source of your fear
We are in no position to judge another person’s answer to a question that has yet to be asked.
How easy is it to let someone’s potential reaction keep you quiet, especially if you expect that reaction to be rejection?
In Jimmy’s popular interview with Nicole Kidman, Nicole confessed that when she met Jimmy years before, she thought she was meeting him to potentially date him.
Jimmy was oblivious and “played video games” the entire time. So Nicole stayed quiet about her intentions for fear of being rejected.
And now, years later, seeing Jimmy’s reaction to the news, it's safe to say he would have more than happy to date Nicole. :)
Obviously, dating is not the same as sharing your faith, but there’s an important lesson to take away: you and I are in no position to judge the response of someone when the question has yet to be asked.
That person may be looking for the hope you've found. And if they aren't? That’s OK.
You aren’t a failure for them saying, “No thanks.” You are faithful for saying, “Here's my story…”
So don’t let someone’s response be the source of your fear.
2) Be clear about your intentions
Be clear that you are more concerned with conversation than conversion. (Click to Tweet)
This is an important shift to make (conversation vs. conversion) because it makes clear your intentions.
In the same interview, Jimmy thought Kidman was coming over for a movie; she thought she was being set up on a date.
Neither of their intentions were clear, and so neither achieved their goal-- Jimmy didn’t land a role, and Nicole didn’t get her date.
People sometimes think that when faith is shared, someone must be converted, or that they must “win the argument.”
I suggest, rather, that the goal should be to start a conversation with someone about something that's important to you-- much like if you had just found a show on Netflix worthy of binge watching, or found an outlandishly funny YouTube video.
By talking about your faith this way, you're able to share the Good News without being confrontational...or pushing someone away.
After all, what good would it do to talk about your faith all the time, if no one would listen?
3) Do everything with excellence
Excellence removes distractions.
You know what blows my mind?
Every. Single. Night...a Fallon video goes viral.
Every episode of Jimmy Fallon is incredibly well produced. The music, props, and lines are perfectly timed and razor sharp---they crush it every night.
There's nothing to distract you, or to make you question why you're investing your most limited resource--your time-- into this show.
The excellence with which Jimmy Fallon executes makes you want to watch the show, then talk about it the next day.
And it’s not just true for The Tonight Show...
At Team Impact, we emphasize excellence throughout each element of our program.
From the videos we play before the program begins, to the transitions between our feats of strength...this is all done so that when our evangelist stands up to share the Good News, with very intentional and specific language, those in the audience will think:
“Everything that has come from that stage has been excellent. Why would this portion be any different?”
By being excellent, you're able to remove distractions and pave the way for the Good News to be heard in a way that makes people want to talk about it (the Gospel) the next day...and hopefully, for the rest of their lives.
4) Be authentic
If we’re authentic when we interact, and if what we say about the Gospel matches our lives, people’s interest will be piqued.
Jimmy looks like he actually enjoys doing the show---he’s genuinely laughing and means what he says when he’s interacting with each guest.
As far as we can tell, his (onscreen) life matches what the show describes.
This is attractive to more than just TV audiences. When you're authentic about your faith, you don’t have to convince someone that you are in fact, authentic.
It seeps out of you and it's evident in your words, actions, and thoughts. This gives you credibility that money can’t buy-- it makes people curious.
It’s been said, “Christianity wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for all the Christians.”
This, in many ways just furthers my point. People don’t want to be around people (specifically Christians who are evangelizing others) whose lives don’t match their words.
5) Meet people where they are
We need to be in tune with culture and understand where people are...then meet them there.
Jimmy’s show didn't change much from late night to prime time.
He knows what people like:
Jimmy doesn't decide for his audience what he thinks is good.
He meets them where they are, then delivers.
The same is true in evangelism.
Now, to be clear, that doesn’t mean we change our message with every cultural whim. But it does mean we should go “into their world.”
Ray Sanders once said, “An empty stomach has no ears.” (Click to Tweet)
Ray's statement is so true, and so powerful.
If the spiritually destitute are in bars, then we should be in bars. If our community rallies around farming, we should put on our overalls; if the Main Street square is a center point of our city, we should be there. If people need a shirt on their back, we should be the first to give them ours.
We must meet people where they are.
Team Impact tries to mirror this idea in the way we partner with churches.
We understand there are two things that cross every socio- and economic-boundary: music and athletics.
Now, most of Team Impact can’t sing to save our souls, but we do have an athletic platform. So we use that which people want, to share what many don’t know they're missing. Which brings me to my next takeaway.
6) Use what you have
There are people like you. Use what you have, especially your own story.
Jimmy doesn’t try to be David Letterman or Jon Stewart. He uses his own personality and team to put together a very personal, entertaining show.
By doing that, he’s gained influence, which he’s been able to leverage for social good.
Individually and corporately, we all have gifts that are specific to us.
So use what you have: your own story, gifts, and voice. Yours doesn’t have to be a dramatic story: it just has to be you. You were born with a unique set of skills, preferences, and circumstances that were given to you with purpose.
Leverage your story and share how Christ has transformed your life.
The great thing about being authentically you, is that there's always someone who can relate to your story.
Your voice can make an impact.
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is solely focused on entertainment, and far from a seminary course in evangelism training. But wisdom can be found everywhere; hiding out in flat-screens or the coffee shop down the street.
This post was written by Team Impact's Lead Evangelist, Stephen Mackey. When Mackey isn't speaking in schools and churches around the world, he's hanging out with his wife and two kiddos in Dallas, TX.