Every preacher should be required to stay home and watch Oprah occasionally.
During a recent afternoon, my wife was watching Oprah’s talk show on television and I couldn’t resist stopping to take a look. The queen-bee of TV talk shows had twenty non-married Alaskan men on the program, and they were getting the opportunity to ask questions of and set up dates with single women from the studio audience — all in the name of matchmaking.
It seems that there are lots more available men than women in the North country, and that has attracted considerable interest among single women in the lower forty-eight states. I’m not exactly sure why — what do women see in tall, ruggedly-handsome, outdoors-type guys, anyway?
After watching several matches-made-in-video take place, I got to thinking about the potential impact of expanding this format into other fields — such as churches and preachers, for instance?
Imagine the scene:
The lights come up on a studio audience of well-dressed Protestants as Pat Robertson (who else would you hire as host?) makes his way onto the stage. Pat calls eight blown-dry preacher-types onto the stage, and they begin to point out members of the audience to ask questions.
The show gets under way with Bob, a good-looking young seminarian who placed first in his expository-preaching class.
“Pat, I’d like to talk to the grey-haired gentleman in the Brooks Brothers suit sitting in row three.”
Pat makes his way to the third row as Jim — an orthodontist and enthusiastic committee chairman — pops to his feet, prepared to field questions about all the pertinent issues involved in such matchmaking: size of average attendance, book allowance, pension benefits and so on.
“Jim, does your church provide a wireless microphone for the preacher?” Bob asked, followed by questions about the budget, health insurance plan and annual convention expense allowance. After a few minutes, Bob said, “I think we should have lunch, Jim.”
At that, Pat raises his hands and exclaims, “I think we’ve got a match!” (Pat doesn’t do it as well as Oprah, but then he hasn’t lost all that weight recently, either.)
Pat brings forward a succession of young preachers with similar attributes — seminary degree, golden tongue, attractive wife (who plays piano) and 2.7 children — and each is eagerly grabbed by a waiting church leader.
The last contestant is a little different: Walter has white hair (or what’s left of it), clothes a bit out of touch with current styles, a well-worn Bible (not even the latest translation) in his lap. Realizing the excitement is gone, the producer signals Pat to wrap it up and go to commercial break. Already, the audience of eager preacher-hunters begins to shuffle out — some with their “catch” in tow, others looking forward to the next program and another chance to find a fiery young pulpit warrior for their congregation.
Alone on stage, Walter notices two or three people sitting together near the back, still seated after the others have gone. He moves back to speak with them, and they begin to make excuses: “This was probably a mistake. You see, our church isn’t like these others. We don’t have a very big budget or a beautiful sanctuary, but we do have a lot of needs and plenty of people to be reached all around us. You wouldn’t be interested in us, would you?”
Walter smiled, gripped his Bible tightly in his calloused hands, and said, “Let’s pray about this together.”
It would never make good television. The best stuff usually doesn’t.

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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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