Oprah changed daytime TV forever. Her show was enormous in its power and influence and, if we were honest, we would all love to have the "reach" that her show had. But when she retired her 4:00 spot left a vacuum. And in her place came a better day time talk show vice; Ellen! But unlike the cult following that Oprah attracted, or the crazies Jerry Springer attracts, or delinquents Judge Judy attracts, Ellen has managed to put together a show that is relevant, fun, and making a genuine impact on the lives of people. The more I watched, the more I am convinced that I want my youth ministry to look more like the Ellen Degreneres Show. Here are the 10 reasons why:
Top 10 ways I want our youth ministry to be more like the Ellen show:
1) Highlights the best of culture: Culture is not always something we need to be afraid of or shield our kids' eyes from. Ellen always highlights the most positive and quality parts of pop culture. Everything from youtube videos to concerts, to actors and actresses. I love that she also interviews these guests and allows us to see the best of these artists and their heart for different causes. I, too, want to find touch points with my students and the media that shapes them.
2) Doesn't take herself too seriously: Ellen is incredibly gifted and respected in her field. She could, and maybe even should, relate to people as a media icon and be showered with praise and adoration. Instead she laughs at herself and works incredibly hard to make every guest feel welcomed and valuable. She laughs, play tricks, and genuinely enjoys her job. It is easy for youth workers to have big heads and think we are more important than we really are. If Ellen, who has an incredible amount of influence, uses humility to connect with others, maybe I can do that too.
3) Has a relationship and respect for her audience: Being a youth worker, numbers are the most important thing to me. The more the merrier. It is so easy to begin to think of the crowd as a commodity and not see them as individual people. Ellen never treats her audience as a mob of supporters. She has a relationship with them and actually attempts to connect with them individually. Ellen isn't a numbers person. The numbers are actual individuals with individual stories, hopes, and dreams.
4) Has a killer DJ, tWitch: Music makes everything better. Good bumper music is key and Ellen's show has some of the best. I can't even imagine what would happen if I had DJ Tony to spin the bumper music between games, transitions, before and after youth group. Everything would be better!
5) Has a dance party every show: Ever since the dawn of time, people have danced! Every day Ellen takes a moment out of her show and dances with her peeps. During commercials, people dance, no matter what people dance. I am all for bringing the dance party back to youth group! It is a crime that dance is part of every culture, everywhere in the world, except in the church. Let's get our dance on!
6) Never passes up an opportunity to do good: I am amazed that Ellen seems to take every chance to be generous. Every story she hears she finds a way to help. Every whiff of need, she finds a way to meet. And for no good reason, she finds ways to bless others and her audience. How different would the vibe be in our ministry if I saw every need as an opportunity for God to show up, for the church to prove how generous she is, instead of getting in the way of my plan for the night?
7) Adopted a specific project: It is great to find people here and there and to give to causes. But lasting impact always comes with relationships and longevity. Ellen has picked Whitney Elementary School in Las Vegas, NV to be the focal point of her generosity. She even got Justin Bieber to do a special concert there. I want to have a ministry that commits to a specific place with real people and develops real relationships. This is where lasting change happens. Ellen does it, I should too.
8: Uses her influence for the good of others not her own glory: It is true that Ellen has a ton of pull and influence. And while her peers use their influence to gain social status, she seems to continually deflect her glory for the good of others. She amazes me at how she uses her relationships, access, and money to bless others. So many youth workers, including myself, want to gain influence and power and then seem to use it to inflate our egos and our own power. Ellen always turns her power and influence on its head and hooks up others. And in such an example of the Kingdom of God, humility and generosity actually gain influence rather than ego and self-centeredness.
9) Understands her role on television and does it well: Ellen knows that she is a host of a day time talk show. By its very nature it is not supposed to be heavy, political, or agenda driven. It is supposed to brighten the viewers day after a long day of work or the lull before the dinner rush. She lives into this roll well. Some of her peers have tried to develop this platform into politics and power, only to actually diminish their influence. In a similar way, youth workers have a very specific roll and calling. When we begin to try and use our power and influence further than our mandate, death and destruction follow. I want to do what I do to the best of my ability and let others in their rolls do theirs.
10) Be kind to one another! This is Ellen's signature sign off and a rule of thumb that would serve our ministries well. I would love for my life and my ministry to be known for its kindness and grace!
Thank you, Ellen, for such a fun way to wrap up my afternoon and for sharpening me in the unique calling God has called me. May we all strive for excellence and grace in whatever job or task we find ourselves engaged in.
Be kind to one another!