So can we all agree that a tv show is just a tv show? Because if we can, we don’t have to get all fired up about the existence of a Christian reality dating show. And if we can agree that it’s just a television show, then we can try to suspend our cynicism and enjoy an hour-long program with decent, family-friendly content.
(Of course, if a tv show is just a tv show, then the opposite is true for shows that offend us. But for a moment, let’s don’t go there. Let’s just bury our heads in the sand and dwell on the positive for the purpose of this review…)
In the first episode of the GSN’s It Takes a Church, we meet Angela, a 30-year-old process engineer living in Charlotte, North Carolina, when host Natalie Grant calls her out of the audience and into a game show where her church helps her find a suitable match.
“Your church believes they can help you find true love,” Grant tells her.
Pastor Frank and the First Lady of Rock Worship Center then take the lead introducing Angela to a host of matchmakers who have eligible, church-going bachelors to nominate. We were introduced to 8-10 of them, but there were far more than the few we saw. Eventually, it was narrowed down to four suitors.
Here’s what we liked about It Takes a Church:
- The people of Rock Worship Center were fun. The ladies who play matchmaker were adorable, and they were hard core about the task they were given. Granted, some of them were a little overzealous, but we’d love to go to church with any of them—especially since all but one of them know good guys who are single.
- It Takes a Church reminds us of all the cringe-worthy moments of the The Bachelor(ette) that we love to hate—cheesy pick-up lines and songs, bouquets of flowers, uncomfortable flirting, good guys coming in last. And instead of hot tub scenes, coarse language, drunken stupors, and elaborate marriage proposals, there’s (loose) Scripture quoting, saying grace before a meal, clothing drives, and occasional Natalie Grant solos.
- Because it’s still a bit of a game show, it was an interesting twist to let the church vote for the three guys Angela would get to know better. The fourth guy was chosen by Pastor Frank and the First Lady. For a moment, we were disappointed by this—mainly because if we were Angela, we’d want to make the choice ourselves. But then one of our friends reminded us: “All she’s gotta do is wait until the show is over and then go find her real Boo.” Agreed. Quality dates with the church’s picks and a back-up plan if those bombed—it’s a win-win for Angela.
- After the Clothing Drive where Angela interacted with each of the four chosen matches, one had to go. And bless Him, he was given the parting gift of a one-year subscription to Christian Mingle. (Same is true for all of the rejects.) Pastor Frank then led the other three through some trust exercises with Angela, and he spent one-on-one time with each of the guys in order to learn more about their previous relationships. Getting wise counsel from her pastor and his wife about the guys before her was refreshing and certainly not something we see often on television.
Here’s what we didn’t care for:
The entire conversation about Nick’s celibacy was awkward—and not just because they called him “celibate” when they probably meant he was simply abstaining from sex. Pastor Frank intentionally makes a point about Nick’s abstinence, Angela seems surprised, and we’ve got a million questions. We’re disappointed in the lack of clarity in this particular area because a lot of negative assumptions could be made. Like, why is this only discussed in regards to Nick? And why is Angela taken aback? And what does it mean when Angela says she bought a house with her last boyfriend and he dumped her before the first mortgage payment but when Nick says he used to be that guy but he’s not anymore, why does Angela worry Nick is going to be like her last boyfriend when it’s obvious he’s changed greatly? And then we remember that this is just a television show so we try not to dwell on it too much, but it’s bothersome to say the least.
Ultimately, there are little things here or there that irked us about the show or its participants. (Pro Tip: Maybe asking every guy about kids while you’re having your first conversation with them isn’t the best idea. Yes, Angela, we’re looking at you.) And we’re pretty sure we’d never sign-up to participate in It Takes a Church ourselves. But in a day when Christians are looking for decent television programming, one could do far worse.
We’ve seen the comments on social media from the super holy who want nothing to do with the show and think the sky is falling because of its invention. And that’s fine. The seriousness of the church getting involved in helping singles find love is a good question to ponder—that’s why we talked about it on Wednesday. The way we see it, that’s a separate issue from whether or not this is simply a fun show to watch.
It’s not for everyone, but if your guilty pleasure is reality television, It Takes a Church will probably be right down your alley. Not that you’d ever admit it of course…
Did you watch the premiere of It Takes a Church last night? What are your thoughts on the show?
Photo credit: James Vaughan