Jumping The Shark

I always did like Happy Days and the Fonz. The show became a classic and the Fonz became an icon. Then something happened that changed it forever–the Fonz jumped the shark. The show was never the same again. It had reached its peak–I would say overreached. From that point on the show slowly declined. Take a look at Fonzie jumping the shark. I think that you will agree with the conclusion of media folks.


Today, “Jumping the Shark” is an expression that you often hear on TV or read in media circles. It means different things but here are two of the main usages.

Probably the idea that most fits Happy Days is that Jumping The Shark is the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in order to stay fresh. In a strange kind of way, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again.

The second idea is the exact moment when you know a program or person has taken a turn for the worse. The person or program has gone downhill and can’t be redeemed.

I have another take on the phrase “Jumping the Shark.” I apply it to churches and ministries.

It’s the time when a church or ministry really loses its relevance by trying to be “cool” or by doing some ridiculous stunt to get people through the doors. Usually it happens because we have forgotten our first love, ignored Scripture, and forgotten who’s in charge of the church.

It happens often in church life. I think people leave church having wondered why they came and wondering whether or not they will go back. It’s much like the pharisees who brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus. They came not because they cared about the woman or even morality, they came to catch Jesus. When Jesus showed their hypocrisy, they sulked away. They had “jumped the shark.” Who would want to listen to them again?

As church leaders, we have to get back to the basics, things like prayer, Scripture, and dependance on the Holy Spirit. I still remember the words that I read from a denominational leader in Georgia: “If the Holy Spirit left the church, would the church even know the difference?”

I don’t want to jump the shark. I want to be relevant to the needs of people and faithful to the call of Jesus Christ.

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  1. Ed Matthew
    Jan 19, 2012


  2. Martha
    Jan 19, 2012

    I can tell you won’t ever ‘Jump the shark’. I feel the Holy Spirit in every corner of FBC. Thank you for accepting us Episcopalians! We love it.

  3. Waylon
    Jan 19, 2012

    And we love you. The fellowship of God’s people is wonderful.

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. — 1 John 3:16 (NIV)