There’s an old saying that it’s the little things in life that make a difference. At least I think that’s the saying—it could be something else. I wasn’t really paying attention.

At any rate, The Washington Post recently published an interview with Bill O’Reilly, author and Fox News host, about his view of faith. In that interview, he talked about his own Catholic upbringing and his approach to church attendance. He said, “I was blessed with a lot of things. Can I give back an hour a week? I mean, is that too much to ask? That time is well spent for me, by the way. I’m sitting there thinking about spiritual things. You know, getting outside myself and thinking about the big picture, what I can do better, projects I can launch that will help people. I do that in church.”

OK, so far so good. Bill finds church to be a productive experience, though it appears mostly because it gives him time to work on his to-do list. Then he adds:

“Then I read the scriptures. I read them, and I think about them and then, when the priest is boring me into shreds—and these priests are ridiculous. They don’t make it relevant. I don’t even listen to them. I just do on my own little deal. But I think it’s worth an hour a week for me to get out of myself and go into the church. I like the whole ritual. I think it’s worthy. I think it’s good for me.”

I’m not Catholic, so I’m not going to defend the priests—though I’ve heard my share of Baptist preachers who have bored me to shreds—but I was taken by what Bill said he does instead of listening to the priestly homilies: “I just do on my own little deal.” (I think the “on” was for emphasis, or maybe it was a slip of the tongue. However, O’Reilly is a highly paid commentator, so I’m not about to delete what could be a very important word.)

OK, I think I’ve had Bill in my church, or maybe it’s just some folks such as Bill, who like to “do their own little deal” while the sermon is underway. For some of them, their own little deals involved snoring, but it did get me thinking about what might be some useful little deals to work on during the sermon. Without objection (or with a few) allow me to suggest some possible little deals your folks can try the next time they are ready to opt out of the sermon:

• Rewrite the main points of the sermon in haiku.
• Write a letter of recommendation for your pastor to the neighboring church, which is currently without a pastor. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.
• Create crossword puzzles using the names of Old Testament characters—extra points for finding a way to work in Mephibosheth.
• Draw a map to the restaurant you plan to rush to as soon as the preacher is done.
• Crumple the church bulletin and subtly throw it at your least-favorite deacon.
• While you’re at it, make up funny alternate names for the deacons, but be sure you don’t crumple that page and throw it at any deacons—they aren’t known for being very understanding.
• Write a list of things you can do as your own little deal during the next cable news talk show. After all, some of those guys are, as Bill would say, “ridiculous.”

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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