The Oprah Show was not just entertainment. It connected with people, encouraged them, challenged them, and made a difference in their lives. Perhaps the 21st Century church could learn a few things from Oprah.
* Allow spontaneity. The Oprah Show was allowed to flow like real life. It stayed fresh. It was not rigidly programmed into a same-ole-same-ole mold. It allowed unexpected things to happen. Church can be quite dull, however, Oprah kept things exciting.
* Show some emotion. Oprah and her guests showed the entire spectrum of human emotion. They cried, laughed, gushed, showed sadness, rejoiced, grieved, and on and on. Emotion is an important part of being human. Emotionless church denies the greatness of God’s image in humanity. Like someone has said: “If you’re happy (or any other emotion), notify your face. Church should allow people to express their heart rather than expecting them to look the part of a religious congregation.
* Take the high road. The Oprah Show started down the road of sensationalism and trash that much of talk TV has followed. However, Oprah realized that even though degrading things draw viewers, that focus would cause harm. So they began to focus on uplifting, encouraging, and caring ideas. The church needs to stand for something, for the ideals that Jesus taught and lived; and not fall for anything, no matter how popular it becomes in our society!
* Let people be involved. The Oprah Show allowed people to be more than passive spectators. The whole show was not about an Oprah sermon. Instead, it got people involved. People felt the freedom to respond — to clap, to nod, to laugh, to raise their hand. Oprah got many different people on the mike, both guests and audience members. Perhaps church should not be about one person’s presentation, but about mutual participation.
* Get beyond race. The Oprah Show embraced people of all races. It was multi-racial to the point that race was irrelevant. However, unfortunately in many places, church meetings are still some of the most segregated gatherings in a city.
* Change lives. When you read online reviews of The Oprah Show, you find that many people declare that it has changed their life. That’s the goal of Christianity, to change lives. The 21st Century church must find a way to be more than ritual and/or entertainment and to begin changing lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps it is time for the church to get out of the box of a programmed hour that features one person talking and the rest sitting passively by and struggling to stay awake. If you would like to experience a participatory church, check out The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center in Nashville at 225 Berry Street, 37207, Sundays at 10:45. Google us for more information and/or visit our facebook page.