A Man Called Jon: Being True While Finding Acceptance (Movie Review)

John FarrellBy John Farrell5 Minutes

“Look, you’ve always told us the place you’re supposed to fit, you don’t. And the place you don’t is where you do the most. God uses unusual people and methods to deliver His messages. Including you, Shouting Jon.” – Meagan Carson to her dad Jon Terrell Carson in A Man Called Jon

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt out of place? Where you didn’t fit in and you couldn’t be yourself?

Shouldn’t the church be the one place where all are accepted and everyone can be themselves? What if it’s the pastor who doesn’t fit in?

Unfortunately, Pastor Jon Terrell Carson knows that feeling all too well. His struggle to find acceptance among his church’s congregation is the premise for the light-hearted 2015 film, A Man Called Jon, starring Christian Heep, Liz Cardenas, Sharice Henry Chasi, and Mathew Greer.

Pastor Jon (Heep) has a problem. It’s not a big one or something that is dangerous to him or anyone else; however, it’s embarrassing for his family and friends. The problem is that Jon’s style of worship is not what you would normally expect to find in a traditional church. His loud outbursts and passion-filled sermons have earned him the nickname “Shouting Jon.”

That’s not all. In addition to his boisterous worship, when the Holy Spirit so moves him, Jon is sometimes prone to run wildly around the sanctuary, shouting the entire way. Funny enough, Deaconess Robyn Harris (Chasi) has two appropriate names for Jon’s method of letting the Spirit move through him – the “Running Shout” or the “Track Star.”

Unfortunately for Jon, his first church, where he serves as an Associate Pastor, is more accustomed to a traditional style of worship. His outbursts and lively sprints around the church on Sunday mornings do not sit well with the congregation and are often a source of embarrassment for his family. Even his own wife (Cardenas) trips him, causing him to fall on the altar.

Rather than accept Jon and his unique worship style, several church members start a petition to have him removed. When Jon is presented with the petition, all but five members of the congregation have signed it.

At the same time that Jon’s being relieved of his duties, he’s informed that he’s been reassigned and given his own church. Although Jon and his family are rightfully disappointed about having to move again, it’s a promotion.

His new appointment, however, is not what he anticipated … or what his new church expected. The church has a predominantly African-American congregation, and the church’s deacons are surprised when a Caucasian pastor shows up apparently unannounced.

Deaconess Harris takes Jon under her wing, shows him around the church, and helps him navigate the various issues and resistance that will arise at the church. He understands that getting everyone to accept him will require a great effort on his part, but it helps having someone like Harris in his corner.

While the current regular churchgoers warm up to Jon and his worship style rather quickly (they actually embrace and encourage his passionate, spirit-filled outbursts), Pastor Gerald Dickens (Greer) is not a fan of Jon’s presence. Dickens does everything he can (e.g., starting a petition to have Jon removed, encouraging members to throw water on Jon) to stunt Jon’s progress in gaining acceptance at the church and growing the congregation.

Will Dickens’ efforts to remove Jon from the church work? Will Jon finally find a church family that he can call home and feel free to be himself without judgment? Will Jon ever tame his vivacious worship style? You’ll want to check out A Man Called Jon to get the answer to all these questions and more.

While A Man Called Jon is a fun film with plenty of laughs the whole family can enjoy, what I loved most about the movie is its message. God sometimes places you in the most unlikely of situations and while you may not fit in or find immediate acceptance, it’s those situations where you often do the most good … as long as you stay true to who God made you to be.