Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Christianity Needs to Be More Like Seinfeld

The motto of Boomers (when they were younger) was "never trust anyone over 30." For my generation, it might be "never trust anyone who isn't a Seinfeld fan."

There is a reason why this sitcom has been voted the best of all time. The casting was great, the comedic timing was perfect, and the writing was creative and original. But the reason it so resonated with people was that, despite its characteristic New York flavor, it was about real life. Hardly a day passes that I do not find myself in a "Seinfeld moment." The fans of the show know what I mean.

The churches, preachers, shepherds, and Christian books which are resonating with people today are a lot like Seinfeld--they illuminate real life and daily Christian living. I'll spare you the contrast between modernism and postmodernism. But most people don't have the time or the interest in high brow theories. That is not to say that "theories" are not important to learn, but simply that the interest level and need for daily Christian living is great. People need to know how to sense God's presence Monday-Saturday, how to be a Christian at work, how to make love to their wives (read Song of Solomon! and note the success of Rob Bell's book, Sex God), and a whole lot of other things.

I love theology and concepts. Our theology must drive our ministry. However, most people do not live there. So my suggestion to churches and church leaders as I give missional church seminars is to give members practical ways to be missional. How to bless people's lives. Some weekly spiritual practices. People are desperate for this, and they will often respond enthusiasticly.

Did you like Seinfeld--why or why not? Does Christianity need to become more practical?


Mr. E said...

My wife and I loved Seinfeld. We didn't like the sleeping around with other people part, but we liked the fact that the show was about everyday life. In effect it was about nothing.

Do I think Christianity should be more like Seifeld? As far as being practical and telling people how Jesus can affect their everday life; then Yes. As far as Christianity being about nothing; No!

Jesus can affect all of us on a much more personal basis than many of us realize. He is there every moment, every second of our day. He is in our past, present, and will be there in our future. If we can show people that the Grace of God, and His forgiveness is there then we would "convert" people in droves.

However if we do this in a shallow, judgemental nature, as much of the Seinfeld characters did, then we are doomed to fail. We cannot turn people away because they have "man-hands", or their "head is to big" or the various other reasons Seinfeld turned away his girlfriends. We must meet people where they are "right now" and present them with the ultimate gift from God, and then let God to the rest.

James said...

Mr. E.,

You bring up some good points. Obviously, the analogy with the show to Christianity breaks down when you get to specifics. The characters were very narcissistic in their everyday lives. We need to be selfless and God-centered in our everyday lives.

In the bizarro episode, Elaine meets up with the opposite of her current "friends." She finds that they are nice people. This episode showed the show's self-realization that the characters were messed up, selfish people.

Anonymous said...

Sad to say I was never a Seinfeld fan as during the time it was on TV was busy with kids and watching Disney. But to the point of Christianity being practical, if our faith isn't practical it will tend to be less a part of our daily lives. If it is less a part of our daily lives then our example to others is at best watered down and at worst perhaps compromised as we don't look as different from the world as we perhaps should.

Steve C.

James said...


Hey, I missed M.A.S.H and never really got into it. But you nailed the concept on the head.

Daddy Dub said...

I think truer words could not be spoken. The common man does not care about Bonhoeffer or Barth, even though both are excellent theologians. They want simple easy to use mandates. It's imperative.

Well spoken.


Anonymous said...

while I think your analogy is a fine one, and I also think that TV and fictional metaphors break down..the one thing that doesn't break down is the relationship that exists between Christ and his church. (i.e. us!) We must not forget that Christ is shown not just by humorous parallels, but also in the wonderful opportunity to show him person to person. No TV involved! May God touch your life greater blessing than that!

Art Vandelay said...

I love Seinfeld and I love the fact that our minister can see the humor in something like this. Each character struggles with the same things that we do daily... sin, ethics, selfishness, insecurity etc. YOU ROCK!!!!

James said...

Art Vandelay, of Vandelay industries, a lot of people think that Christians are weird and not a lot of fun. We need to let people see that we are relatively normal and definitely human.

Glad to find a fellow Seinfeld fan!