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5 factors that can mess with your mind. Three | The O'Reilly Factor


Church isn't a no-spin zone! It's God's people gathered for the distinct purpose of worshiping him and hearing from him. The spin when the church is assembled is his. Faithfully declared, the counsel of God is his guidance touching every human issue, his truth applied to real life.

If I have to explain The O'Reilly Factor to you my first piece of advice would be to join the twenty- first century. Bill O'Reilly is the host of The O'Reilly Factor talk show that airs on Fox News each evening at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. He has popularized the no-spin zone, meaning a TV news spot without the typical liberal spin so characteristic of mainline media.

With Geraldo and O'Reilly in the lead, broadcast journalism has shifted from the mild-mannered talking head to the in-your-face sensationalist. Bill O'Reilly and his cohorts at Fox provided a fresh, more conservative approach to reporting, creating trust through the tag line, "we report, you decide". Of course, even a "no spin" media outlet exists for ratings, so the genre morphed from simple news reporting to shock-jock sound and picture bytes that brought reality TV into our homes for hours every evening. The conservative bent enlisted a corps of dedicated groupies because contemporary culture is in love with the hard-hitting truth of that style. The O'Reilly Factor, aired starting in 1996, is still very popular. But, his bombastic style, bullying of guests, and obsession with the camera runs a little thin with many viewers. What is more, the no spin zone O'Reilly has popularized is actually the highly visible staging area of his particular spin on just about every topic.

The O'Reilly Factor at church is the temptation to incorporate that styling into worship, preaching, teaching, and the more visible platforms of gospel ministry. It surfaces in church life in several venues---

(1) Pastors, leaders, and teachers often use the church platform to debut and air their own personal spin on the various topics of the times. Yes, God calls spiritual leaders to be his voice regarding the troubling issues of life. These leaders must rightly handle the word of truth and interpret Scripture as it defines human behaviors in the length and breadth of life. However, we must not permit the pulpit or teaching place to be our own individual soap box. The only spin must be his spin.

(2) There is an irreverence in the contemporary reporting of news that cannot define the worship and teaching ministry of the church. The trend in public discourse for edgy authenticity often skirts the outer parameters of decency. In-your-face reporting, interviewing techniques, and questioning is pro forma today. The O'Reilly Factor at church happens when leaders are compelled to push the envelop

in topics, language, illustrations, and even Bible interpretation.

(3) On television, The O'Reilly Factor imposes a need to re-create the ratings bonanza day after day, week after week. The gigantic episode has to be duplicated over and over again with even greater effect. You know, the show must go on. It's a dangerous template to super-impose over the worship and teaching ministry of the church. So, at church, The O'Reilly Factor is the shift from a biblical format to entertainment.

(4) Bill O'Reilly is the focal point of his news program. So are most of the other stars of broadcast journalism. Usually, on normal news days, the airtime isn't content driven but is produced around the on-camera person. When the news is sensational, the headlines draw an audience. But, even then, the star's spin on the news brings people to that spot on the dial, as we used to say. Media savvy churches increasingly know the magnetism of their stage people---the preacher or teacher, worship leaders, musicians, and even the one making announcements. The O'Reilly Factor at church is a shift to the single personality that upstages Jesus, the one we are assembled to worship.

(5) Just as the reporting of news and even the weather have become entertainment venues, those who fill those roles are more about performance than presentation. O'Reilly is very camera aware and understands the role of production and direction in in presenting the news. At church, The O'Reilly Factor is the performance elements of worship and teaching, the mechanics of stand-up comedy, drama, humor, staged hand-gestures, facial expressions, pregnant pauses, and other performance enhancements.

To say thaty this is the world we live in and we must adjust to it is to deny the peculiar role his people are to play in culture. Yes, we are strangers and aliens in it, and must provide the biblical counter-culture element to fulfill our unique role as his people. Yes, we must be open to change and maintain a new wine skins freshness as we engage the culture. I personally prefer new contemporary hymnology and the use of audio-visual technology in reaching younger people. It should always, however, be about the "new thing" (Isaiah 43:19) he is doing in us rather than a mere mimic of what is trending on TV right now. I'll be dealing with what I call THE WOW FACTOR tomorrow and will discuss what genuinely represents biblically fresh and exciting fare to engage the people around us.

The Jesus Factor is about single-minded worship and reverence of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One day he was attacked by the religious people because his disciples didn't wash their hands before eating. The Lord's instruction took them deeper than the outer elements of their practice. At the conclusion of his teaching, he quoted a favorite source, the Prophet Isaiah. He said, "This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9). In the mechanics of their worship, mostly traditions they had invented and perpetuated themselves, they had forgotten what was central. The Jesus Factor sharpens our focus on him.

He reminded them that genuine worship and teaching moves them deeper than the entertaining outer elements that appeal to the flesh. He's drawing us to worship him in spirit and in truth, beyond The O'Reilly Factor.


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