Mar 102016 7 Responses

Jerry Seinfeld’s Advice About Preaching

Jerry Seinfeld knows something about preaching.

His advice was brought to light during a Twitter back and forth with GQ magazine. Seinfeld, known for his love of wearing jeans, forgot his favorite pair at a hotel. When he arrived in a new town to do his show, he realized his mistake and went to the store to buy a new pair. He posted a picture on Instagram documenting the events.

Seeing a chance for free adveritising, GQ magazine used one of its Twitter accounts to poke fun at Seinfeld for his 90’s style jeans. They made some suggestions of how to update his style. In response to the Tweet, Seinfeld gave a comedy tip which clearly applies to preachers. (See: Three Things that Exhaust a Pastor)

He tweeted: “Thanks @GQStyle for the jeans help. Comedy Tip: If Jerry and George are cool in any way, show’s over. Love GQ but cool is comedy poison.”

As it is for comedy, so it is for preaching. Cool is preaching poison.

The Problem With Cool

Cool is the current trend in preaching. Maybe it’s always been the trend, but it seems especially heightened in today’s culture. It can be tempting for preachers to think that they need to be cool in order to have their message heard.

But there is a problem with cool. It separates us from those with whom we are speaking. Cool never says, “I am like you.” Cool is separate, aloof, better than others. (See: Warning–Objects in the Pulpit Often Appear Holier Than They Actually Are)

From our school days we learn that the cool kids table is occupied by those whom have a near perfect life. “They’re invincible” is how Echosmith sings about the cool kids, but the perfection and invincibility is a mirage.

When preachers seek to be cool, they are attempting to create an image which is not accurate. They are trying to set themselves up as having their lives put together. When a preacher projects coolness, the audience is often left desiring to be like the preacher instead of being like Jesus.

Real Trumps Cool

There is a better pursuit than cool. The appeal of Jesus was not that he was cool. By no measurement would Jesus have been considered cool. It’s why the powerful of his day were repulsed by him and the outcast were drawn to him.

Jesus wasn’t cool; he was real. He was the same in every crowd. He treated everyone fairly. The life he projected was the life he lived. There was no sense of hypocrisy or division. He was real.

This should be a pastor’s pursuit. We want to accurately portray ourselves (in our preaching, online, in our day-to-day lives) so that people understand we don’t have our lives together. We should never project a mirage of invincibility, but continually show the true picture of our own struggle to live out a life of faith as fallen people in a fallen world.

This doesn’t mean we publicize private things. It is possible to be “too real.” Transparency requires discernment. Some, in the name of realness, have turned preaching into a time of crudeness. That’s not our goal.

But genuine realness, in which our audience understands our humanity and sees God’s work in the midst of our brokenness, should be the desire of every preacher.

Cool Is Preaching Poison

I assume Seinfeld is right regarding the danger of cool within comedy. Good comedians have an “every-man” persona that draws a crowd to them. We are amazed at how well they see the world we do, but then have the ability to draw humor out of it. (See: Fear Leads Me Too Often)

I know Seinfeld’s comedy tip applies to preaching. Cool is preaching poison. When a preacher is seen as cool, they might draw a crowd, but that crowd’s ear for the gospel is lost.

7 Responses to Jerry Seinfeld’s Advice About Preaching
  1. Kristopher Reply

    Good article. Not that there is anything wrong with it but I hate when preachers don’t preach the whole gospel separating the muffin tops from the stumps. Just like plumbing where different pipes that go to different places, so do a preacher’s sermons. If we could come together like a black and white cookie, we would all be better off. But my number one advice for a preacher is never wear a puffy shirt while being a low talker.

  2. Kimberly Reply

    This is why I love Community Bible so much. It’s full of uncool people which makes me feel like I belong lol. Kevin, you are the epitome of un-coolness! Who knew that could ever be a compliment! LOL But in all seriousness, I think this is a good lesson for all of us. Jesus didn’t follow the crowd and neither should we. When I first began coming to CBC 10 years ago I was just learning to find myself in all this God stuff. I’m still learning but one thing that has been a huge motivator in my life is that none of you ever portray yourselves as these perfect people. I think there is a huge misconception in this world that people believe pastors have perfect lives because they are “closer” to God than we minions. LOL From my first time at CBC I saw men who did not try to make me believe in a lie of perfectionism. You have been transparent in the fact that you have questions, doubts, concerns, fears and faith struggles just like myself. I was taken aback in a way when I first heard pastors talking about those things because I bought into the lie that pastors are perfect because they are “closer” to God than I am. They don’t have those problems because they are perfect. Then I realized you are humans too, sinners…just like me. And you didn’t hide from that. I felt more comfortable knowing that those thoughts are normal and a big part of my faith now. When those doubts creep in I remember to pray. So thank you for listening to Mr. Seinfeld. Thank you for baring your soul (or most of your soul anyway lol) for the world to see. It’s not a cool soul but I’m ok with that!

  3. Kristopher Reply

    You may never be a chocolate babka but you will always be our cinnamon babka. Lol

  4. […] While the pastorate consists of several hard things, for my personality mix there is one difficulty ... kevinathompson.com/greatest-difficulty-pastorate

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