On Monday evening, June 18, 2018, actor Chris Pratt was awarded the Generation Award at the MTV Movie & TV Award ceremony. His acceptance speech has created quite the buzz in all forms of media, social and otherwise.
Pratt took the opportunity to share what he entitled “Nine Rules from Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner.” He proceeded to count down these rules, mixing his trademark absurd humor with some profound statements of a spiritual nature. Here is a link to his Nine Rules so you can read them for yourself.
Almost immediately, armchair analysts and theologians began dissecting his speech, carefully turning over every word to speculate on what he meant. I’ve heard and read from both those who applaud his advice for turning attention to God, our brokenness, and the need for grace as well as those who complain that his speech was either not explicit enough about the gospel, or a false gospel altogether.
I saw a few Facebook posts about the event on my feed, but didn’t click on it at first. Then I did and listened for myself. I honestly felt pretty encouraged by what Mr. Pratt said. Now, I don’t know with absolute certainty that Chris is a believer, though a piece in Relevant Magazine in 2017 reports that he did have some sort of faith experience. However, from his Nine Rules I see some wisdom concerning speaking the gospel to others.
Use Your Platform
Chris Pratt has one of the most visible platforms from which to speak in the world–the entertainment industry. He could use that platform to say anything he wanted, and he chose in this moment to offer some truth.
You and I have platforms, too. It may not be as visible and public as being an A-list Hollywood actor, but we have them. We all have circles and realms of influence in which we can choose to either dabble around in small talk or speak the gospel in compelling ways. Are you using the platform God has provided you to declare and demonstrate the good news of Jesus?
Know Your Audience
Chris knew exactly who he was speaking to. He understands the way they think and what they believe. That’s why–if his intent was truly to share gospel truth–he said what he said the way he said it.
For those complaining he wasn’t explicit enough, if he was more explicit and detailed in talking about Jesus and our brokenness, his audience would have tuned him out pretty quickly and labeled him as some sort of evangelical quirk (maybe even a closet Trump supporter). He would likely have lost his audience among his peers overnight. Pratt’s creatively worded rules were presented in such a way that he managed to get across some strong gospel points without alienating those he was speaking to. His technique leaves the door open for some of his entertainment colleagues to approach him later and ask questions about what he meant, and then he would have opportunity to share more detail.
Lesson: communicate gospel truth in a way your audience can understand, but in such a way that you don’t unnecessarily turn them off and close the door for any future conversations about Jesus. We have to earn the right to speak into someone’s life, and we must learn to give the good news in ways that it actually sounds like good news.
Trust the Holy Spirit
If Mr. Pratt’s intent was to speak some gospel to his audience, then hopefully he understands that he can trust God to continue working in the hearts of those who heard his speech.
Too often we try to do all of the heavy lifting in evangelizing, thinking we have to “set the hook and reel them in” on the first cast. Or, we dump the whole gospel package on someone in our first encounter to seal the deal. We try to do the Holy Spirit’s job.
We have to learn to trust the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do once we have spoken gospel truth to someone. People choose to follow Jesus, not because of your detailed, persuasive, and impassioned presentation of the gospel, but because the Holy Spirit convicts them of their need for Jesus and he convinces them that choosing to follow Jesus is the absolute best choice to make.
Will some of those who heard Chris Pratt’s Nine Rules eventually decide to follow Jesus? Will Chris Pratt be a growing effective influencer for Jesus in Hollywood? I pray so on both accounts. Meanwhile, I learned some pretty profound lessons about sharing the good news.