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Church Hopping on "King of the Hill"

When I attended a class for church planters, the teachers showed us a portion of an episode of the not-for-kids, animated, satirical show King of the Hill.

For those of you who don't know, King of the Hill was an animated sitcom in the spirit of The Simpsons. It centered around a middle-class blue-collar family in non-urbanized Texas. Since animated satirical comedies don't have the best track record of respecting the Church, we wondered why a portion of an episode would be shown in a seminary class. The episode is from King of the Hill's tenth season. It's entitled "Church Hopping," and its content is funny and sad because it's true.

In the episode, the Hill family attends their longtime and traditional Methodist church, only to discover, to their horror, that the pews that they've always occupied were filled by visitors. The pastor's mild defense of the visitors fanned the flames of every past irritation the Hill family had with their church, so they left their longtime Methodist church and started church shopping. You can see a portion of the episode here.

They visited a very passionate, Spirit-gifted church, but there was no interpretation, and they became uncomfortable when Hank's inviting co-worker ripped off his shirt during prayer, threw it in the air, and it landed on Hank's head.

They visited a Spanish Catholic church, but they had a lot of trouble figuring out when they were supposed to sit, stand, and kneel quickly along with everyone else for the sermon.

They visited an opulent megachurch, where a greeter (a former drug addict) aggressively approached them and overshared his testimony. The facility and its technology was top-of-the-line, hospitable and attractive. The Hill family was leaning toward becoming regular attendants of the church. Hank, however, got annoyed when he got a follow-up call from the same greeter, giving him a church-required consumer survey. The greeter, using his drug-addict past, guilt-tripped Hank into answering every survey question with "Extremely Satisfied."

Hank started to miss his old Methodist church, so what happens? He meets with his old pastor and they have a negotiation. He agrees to return to the church if his family gets to return to their pew, and the visitors and a few other visitors leave. Hank gets his way.

There's so much truth and tragedy about what happens in America's churches today in this King of the Hill episode. I'd encourage ministry leaders and those aspiring to see this episode if it's available.

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