King of the Hill is fox’s second longest running animated sitcom. It follows Hank Hill, a proud propane salesman, his family and friends in everyday life. It is very grounded and could have worked as live action show unlike many other fox cartoons. Despite the fact it was created by Mike Judd of Beavis and Butt-head fame, the show features a conservative Methodist family and occasionally focuses on religion. It is fondly remembered and thankfully available on the Netflix Instant Que.
In season 10 episode 11, “Church Hopping” the hills have an episode that heavily focuses on their church attendance. The Hill Family attends a local Methodist church, but a new couple takes over their regular pew and it leads the Hills to go church hunting.
The following summery and commentary do contain spoilers, you’ve been warned.
The Hills tried different seats but were dissatisfied. When they complained to their pastor Rev. Stroupe, (was introduced in another more controversial religious episode) she informed them (correctly) that it is God’s house and his seats. Hank and Peggy could not accept the answer and they began to look for a new Church. Hank’s boss, Buck Strickland, is a dubious character, in fact the next episode begins with him getting kicked out of a strip club, but he is the first to invite them to a new church. Buck’s church is extremely charismatic and emotional, he chants the name of Jesus, strips and twirls his clothes around. The Hills, gave another Strickland propane employee’s church a try, and it was a Spanish Catholic church and the Hills humorously never could figure out when to stand, sit or kneel.
The Hill settle in a Mega Church. The church is so large that they have a coffee shop, book store, and even a tram inside. The Hills at first love the large amount of options to be involved, and Peggy quickly climbs the ladder the start helping the Pastor with his phone calls and additional paper work. Hank slowly grows tired of all the invites to different groups and feels he has no free time, and the Pastor starts getting a little tired of Peggy’s steamrolling approach.
Ultimately the Hills return to their small church, but let the new couple now about the Mega Church’s day care options, and half threatened to let the singles in their small Methodist church know about Christian speed dating at the Mega Church unless Rev. Stroupe lets them have their old seat back. She reluctantly agrees as the new couple had already started attending the Mega Church.
The episode has a lot humor, but also a lot of commentary on the American church life that we should examine. Starting with the small Methodist Church, it’s clear there are issues. Ignoreing the controversy of female senior pastors, the Hills themselves are the problem in this church. Sadly many are aware of the small church attitude that certain seats belong to them. in Acts 10:34 Peter said that “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.” This attitude drives potential new Christians away from church and is cold and unwelcoming. Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Luke 9:58), he certainly would not put his own habits over others. There are pros in smaller churches, they often can hold members more accountable, and encourage longer faithfulness as it’s easier to be missed in a smaller church.
The Flaws of the Mega church are fairly accurate. Those churches have wonderful pros, but it must be communicated by the leadership that every member is not expected to go to every activity. The purpose of multiple activities are so that more people can be edified, not so that you can run folks into the ground. While Christ certainly wants us to be alive and active churches, many suggest there is a church size that is too big. I would agree and point to the missionary activity in the book of Acts that plan numerous small churches. That does not mean churches should not be active and growing, but it does mean that a certain point, it’s time to plant a new church, not expand and add a tram.
It’s also worth saying that God does not support “vain repetition” (Mattew 6:7) nor is he the author of confusion. The show rightly points out how bizarre a church like that of Buck Stricklands appears to a lost person, how could they ever be saved? Non-Christian people would be running away at warp speed. Just as importantly when are they being taught so they can mature in Christ? Buck’s actions in the very next episode (as well as many others) shows he is not maturing in Christ. (Matt 7:16)
Hebrews 10:25 stresses the importance of the act of gathering together and it’s great to see that depicted on TV. As the character Lucky in the episode shows, many who believe in God fail to obey that verse or to see it’s importance. Church is place of refuge from the stressful work world, a time we can turn to God and give thanks, praise and worship, and learn how to handle the difficult areas of our life when they arise, how to serve our God and simply about God himself. Where a family goes to church is an important and should be chosen based on personal examination of the Bible. The show concludes that different people should go to different churches, and to some extent this is true, younger folks will feel more comfortable surrounded by other young folks etc. butt the most important aspect is the accuracy of what is taught.
This particular episode gives Christians something to laugh about as well church leadership and those seeking a new church home something to think about. I suggest watching the episode, and the show on Netflix, and if your looking for a church to try, I suggest starting here.