I hope your pastor got the memo that because of the economic crisis, we’re all supposed to start the New Year with a sermon series on money. The message was sent by dove and that dove was gorgeous. Not at all like those grimy ones that hang around my house and are going to turn me into the cops when I trap the squirrels in my yard because they are baaaccckkkk, which only happened because I told my Peruvian neighbor that there was a hole in his roof and a family of squirrels living there through a series of animated hand gestures since I forgot the Spanish for “there is a family of squirrels living in your roof.” And he closed up the hole which means they are going to try to return to my house and move on up like the Jeffersons. (Breathe Jon. Be cool. It’s a New Year. We were going to be laser focused in 2009 and you are rambling because you’re so excited to write again. Be cool.)
But when the financial series is over you’re probably going to be tempted to do a series on the ABC show Lost. That’s understandable. It’s a really popular show. It’s broad enough that you can tie a spiritual message to it and it’s been on hiatus for what feels like 319 weeks so anticipation is building for its return in January. But lots of churches have already done a Lost themed sermon series. In fact they’ve done a lot of different shows like Desperate Housewives, the Office and 24. I think it might be time for some new shows we can transholyize into sermons. Here are a few I would like to see:
1. Survivor Man
There are essentially two versions of this show and I’m not talking about the one where the guy that looks like a model gets dropped into the wild. I’m talking about the grittier one where the guy that looks like he could be your plumber crashes into the wilderness and has to survive without a camera crew or food or a blow up mattress for seven days.
The obvious thing to do some sort of “men are warriors and life is a jungle and here’s how to survive” angle. Instead I would do something about what it takes to ignite a fire for God in our communities based on the 37 ways the host of this show teaches you how to start a fire in the woods. I’d skip the one where he uses the sparks from shooting a rifle to ignite his kindling because that just seemed like an awesome way to shoot yourself in the big toe. You could give everyone in the crowd a piece of flint that had the great commission printed on it and call it a day.
This Doctor’s depth of sarcasm makes me seem straight forward and direct. Every week he solves crazy medical mysteries with his wit and deep wisdom, while dealing with a somewhat bumbling staff.
One word: Moses. I think you do a series that relates Moses to Doctor Gregory House. You think traveling around in the desert for forty years with millions of grumbling Israelites wouldn’t make you a little sarcastic and sharp tongued? Think about the scene in Exodus 32 where Moses comes down from the mountain and finds everyone worshipping Baal and Aaron tries to tell him the golden calf magically sprang out of the fire.
Moses: “I was gone for like two seconds, two seconds and this is how you get down when I’m out of town?”
Aaron: “It wasn’t me! I just threw the gold in the fire and out came a golden calf.”
Moses: “Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I threw some gold in a fire and voila, golden calf? You are killing me. God brought you along to be my mouthpiece because I have a problem with speaking and that’s the genius logic your wicked fast mouth was able to come up with? Ugh, we are so going to get poison snaked one day, they are going to rain down from the sky, I just know it.”
3. Amazing Race:
I call this show “Amazing Panic Attack” because that’s what it gives me whenever my wife watches it. So you’re telling me I get to watch an hour of people missing their flights at the airport and not being able to hail cabs in the rain as they claw their way through sleep deprivation on an international quest for money? Awesome.
This has Jonah written all over it. He gets the word from God that he’s supposed to go “love on” Nineveh and he bolts. He immediately goes on his own Amazing Race. And unlike CBS which is constantly putting people on rickshaws or motorcycles or camels, Jonah’s adventure includes a ride inside a whale. Inside. That’s great sermon television right there.
4. 30 Rock
Fine, I’ll say it, 30 Rock is the new Office. I didn’t want it to be, I didn’t think it would be, but it is. You can even ask your friend that’s usually about three years late to any pop culture reference and told you the other day that he recently got a “Myface page.” Even he’ll tell you the same thing, 30 Rock is the funniest show on television right now.
Since the show is based on a behind the scenes look at a television show being made, you could probably do a three part series on a behind the scenes look at how the church works. Alec Baldwin’s power struggle character could be an elder trying to secretly control the church. Tina Fey’s character could be the quirky, but cool communications leader that is trying to get a year’s worth of church marketing done with a budget of $14. And Tracy Morgan’s crazy character could be, I don’t know who he could be, but if they made a 24 hour Tracy Morgan channel I would never sleep.
Whoa, right turn out of nowhere. We’re joking about silly television and then all of the sudden we take a curve ball into seriousville. In this A&E show we see the pain and heartache of addiction as families intervene with loved ones.
God staged the ultimate intervention.
6. ABC Extreme Home Makeover
Some churches have done this one, but I don’t know if they added the twist I think we need. In this program, ABC finds a family with a desperate situation and builds them a new house. At the end of the show they have the family wait behind a huge bus and then yell, “Bus driver, move that bus!” at which point the new house is revealed. If you don’t cry at this show you might be dead inside.
None really, I just want us to take a note from this show when we do our baptisms. Let’s bring a bus in the sanctuary. I saw Lanny Donoho do it at Catalyst so I know it’s possible. We’ll park it in front of the baptismal. Then we’ll show a video where the person tells you how horrible their life used to be and then everyone in the congregation will yell, “Bus driver, move that bus!” The bus will lumber away, we’ll see the person, who Biblically speaking is a new creation, and we’ll all cry. I would anyway.
Those are my ideas although I also really want to see a sermon version of the show “The Soup” but that’s only because I’m trying to be the Christian Joel McHale.
Has your church done a television themed sermon?
What show would you like to see turned into a sermon?