Church & Culture
When Hollywood Goes to Church: 18 Stereotypes
A lighthearted look at what we've all learned about church and the ministry from TV and movies.

Pastors are used to being misunderstood. It goes with the job description.

But what if the only "facts" we knew about churches and pastors were what we saw on TV and the movies?


Hollywood has been telling stories that include churches and pastors for almost a century. You'd think they'd get it right by now. I'm still waiting.

Not only do they keep getting it wrong, they regularly get it really wrong. Laughably wrong. What-in-the-world-were-they-thinking wrong.

Hollywood doesn't even get the everyday church stuff right. The things every nominal church attender knows.

It's probably just as frustrating for cops, doctors and soldiers to see how the media portrays them. The same goes for lawyers, teachers and nuclear power plant employees (d’oh!).

So I'll give the media a pass on the inner workings of a minister's life. You can't know that unless you've done it.

But Hollywood doesn't even get the everyday church stuff right. The things every nominal church attender knows.

What we have here is failure to communicate.

18 Stereotypes

Sure, we can get mad at this. And yes, we should pray for people who are so ignorant about Christianity while being in such powerful places of influence. With great power comes great responsibility.

But, just for today, let’s have a little fun with it.

Here are 18 stereotypes about church and pastoring that Hollywood regularly portrays. See how many you recognize.

1. If you walk into a church in the middle of the week, the pastor is always tending to the altar.

Usually a flower arrangement. Maybe Hollywood directors have never seen a church without flowers. Christmas, Easter, wedding and funerals.

2. The most prominent feature on a pastor's desk is a large open Bible on a wooden book stand.

3. Pastors are always shocked, shocked! when someone objects at a wedding – even though they always ask "if anyone knows any reason why these two should not be joined, speak now or forever hold your peace."

Pastors either need to come up with a response, or stop asking that question. Not that I know of a single pastor who's ever actually asked it. We know better. But the movies need an opening so the guy she's "really" supposed to marry can carry her off.

4. Preachers are usually judgmental jerks in the movies, but naive simpletons on TV.

5. Deacons are always self-righteous prudes.

Because anyone who goes to church every week has to be a legalistic jerk, right?

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August 14, 2015 at 7:27 AM

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