National Geographic aired the first episode of its new reality TV show, Church Rescue, this past Monday. Basically, the show follows three ministers/church consultants around the country as they visit real churches with real big problems. These three guys swoop in and help rebuild. At first glance, it appears to be Nat Geo’s version of Restaurant Takeover, only in this show its churches that get the makeover to entice people to buy what the preacher’s cooking.
Now, we’re taught not to judge a book by its cover. As a critic and blogger, it’s hard to take that mantra and apply it to ‘screen’ entertainment. It’s tempting to judge a movie or new show by its trailer. That’s the first impression we get, and we rightly make judgments based on them.
Granted, the promotional trailers before Church Rescue first aired were a bit intriguing, but they weren’t at all convincing that this show was worth time or DVR space.
Well, Church Rescue’s pilot episode, in some ways, exceeds expectations.
In Monday night’s show, Rev Kev, Doc and Gladamere (a.k.a. the Church Hoppers) make a surprise visit to New Hope Baptist Church outside Charlotte, NC. Pastor Larry Roseboro sought their help, but isn’t prepared to do what is suggested.
Without getting into ‘spoiler alert’ kind of details, some of the episode’s takeaways made the show worth watching. For instance, we’re introduced to the Bapticostal way of doing church, which is explained as being a fusion of Baptist and Pentecostal traditions. An understanding of other denominations, what they do and what they believe, is both enlightening and needed if we’re to be one people, the body of Christ.
The episode also exposes some sensitive issues when the Church Hoppers have their intervention with Pastor Roseboro. Rev. Kev hits the nail on the head when he points out a dilemma many churches are facing today. He says, “It’s not about building a bigger church to attract new members, it’s about attracting new members to build a bigger church community”.
Most reality shows feel staged, and this one has its moments where that’s evident. But it also has some touching moments where you feel like you’re getting a front row seat to the resurrection of a struggling church (it can be very Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in that way). Complaints aside, it’s wonderful to see a cable network show a house of God being repaired, on the inside and out, for the purpose of saving souls and ministering to the local community.
All right, National Geographic, you’ve got our attention. What’s next?
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