I worked as a youth ministry leader for two years. I was a wild “on fire” 19 year old, full of passion for the Lord, and everyday felt like a freefall. To put who I was at the time into perspective, the reason I was asked to serve in youth leadership was that the youth pastor saw me jumping on and off the stage during a particularly powerful moment of worship and he said “we gotta get that guy”. I had no direction or sense of church etiquette; I was just passionate about Jesus. The youth pastor had to quickly bring me up to speed on a number of small things, like what the Bible says and what not to joke about in front of the head pastor. Eventually, I would become an unofficial right hand man of the youth pastor and was given the task of speaking when he was gone. Occasionally things went off the rails…
This is perhaps my most notorious sermon. I spoke out of Hebrews 11, “God had planned something better for us.”. I was encouraging the students, basically saying that God has an amazing plan for their life and that they can change their schools, community, etc. The part that I vividly remember is shouting “GOD IS BIRTHING A BUNCH OF FREAKIN’ RADICALS IN THIS PLACE TO GO AND CHANGE THE WORLD” and that energy continued for another 10-15 minutes. I can still see the wide eyes of some of the students as I was pacing back and forth. I thought at the time it was because they were so impacted that they were in shock, but now I realize they probably thought I was crazy. According to somebody who snitched to the youth pastor, I used the word over 30 times in my 15 min sermon. The cherry on top of this “freakin’ sundae” is that I totally ripped off the sermon from this minister Jeremy Johnson. After the service another youth leader told me it sounded like I had a weird accent and that’s because I was unconsciously imitating his voice the entire time. To quote Dwight Schrute, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
In high school, I was wild and did a lot of crazy things, many that I am not proud of. One of my biggest struggles as a newly saved person was guilt and condemnation for the things I had done before. It was very intense. One Wednesday night, I was asked to share my testimony and preach off of it. It was all going good, and I was sharing how God changed my life and then I started talking about some of the sin I was wrapped up in. I ended up referencing “being with” different girls and how hard it was once I got saved to not feel guilty when I saw them. I was told it sounded like I was just listing girls off, kind of like the DMX song “What They Really Want” where he raps “Marina (uh) Selena (uh) Katrina (uh) Sabrina (uh) About three Kim’s (what?) Latoya, and Tina (woo)”. That’s a joke, but it was kind of taken that way. The worst part is I didn’t even want it to sound like that, I just felt that condemned. It took me years to fully accept grace for what it is. Like it says in Romans, “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more”. RIP DMX Ruff Ryder ‘til I die.
This is the sermon I learned the most from and I didn’t even speak. The pastor was gone, and because it was a nice day he told me that rather than a normal service, do worship or a quick sermon and then take the students to a nearby park to hangout. I showed up with nothing planned and neither did any of the other leaders. One of the older leaders suggested we just pray and go out, the rest agreed. I began to feel God speaking to me that we should do worship without any music, just lyrics on a screen. The older leader, and by older I mean 25, immediately shut it down and said the students wouldn’t do that and they would feel awkward. I started to doubt it and was going to let it go while the rest prepared for service to start, until another leader spoke up and said “If you feel that God is telling you that we should do worship like that, then I think we should do it.” And so we did it. What followed was one of the most powerful worship experiences I ever had. We all stood in a group facing the empty stage and I just started singing and the rest followed until it was a full on worship service. A student walked up to me at the end of the day and talked about how much he loved it and hoped we did it again. I’ll never forget that. It was proof that a lot of my crazy passion was truly from God and not just a personality thing or a “honeymoon” phase. If God gives you a vision, stick to it and don’t let anybody elses doubt sway you.
I am a comedian and writer born and raised in Chicago. In my late teens and early twenties I worked in youth ministry as well as helping lead several missions trips to Central & South America. After playing in a rock band during my
college years, I switched to comedy and have been performing all around the city for the last 3-4 years. To make money I trade stock options, so I basically gamble all morning and then joke about how stressed I am at night. I got saved at a “charismatic” meeting in a dirty Holiday Inn Express when I was 17 and it’s been a wild ride since then.