Friday, May 30, 2014

New game show comes to Charlotte, plays Cupid in the pews

We live in a time when religion intersects with politics, with media, with business ... and now with the Game Show Network.

It already brings us “Dog Eat Dog,” “Family Feud” and Jerry Springer’s “Baggage.”

Next Thursday night (June 5) at 9, it will launch “It Takes a Church.” And the first house of worship to get the spotlight: The Rock Worship Center in Charlotte.

The series lets Christian congregations around the country play matchmaker to one of its single members. People in the church nominate potential mates; the pastor offers wholesome relationship advice; and the finalists try to one-up each by, among other things, invoking the Lord.

After watching the debut, I’d say the makers of “It Takes a Church” follow this recipe: Mix “The Dating Game” with “Survivor.” Then sprinkle in some Bible verses. Stir.

Each week, host Natalie Grant, a Christian music singer, will show up in a different church and call on an unsuspecting single to exit the pews and join her up front.

On Thursday, the bachelorette is Angela Morgan, a 30-year-old engineer who attends The Rock Worship Center, a Pentecostal church at 1113 Fordham Road.

“Your church believes it can help you find true love,” Grant tells Morgan as the congregation roars its approval.

Next we meet the potential mates, as introduced and promoted by matchmakers in the congregation who, during the crisply edited hour, also suggest strategies on how to win over Morgan.

Among the suitors: “Dr. Bradford,” 32, a saxaphone-playing dentist who begins each workday leading a prayer in his office, and one guy whose matchmaking patron is his mother.

Then, as part of the whittling process, Pastor Frank Jacobs invents an exercise that challenges Morgan to trust and tests the mettle of the finalists.

There’s even a glimpse or two of Patrick Cannon – apparently he was still Charlotte’s mayor when the episode was shot.

I steer clear of spoilers, but I can tell you that Morgan is courted during a horse-and-buggy ride uptown, and that one of her dates blesses the food before their postgame dinner at Strike City bowling alley.

The show has some laughs, some tears and some good lines – including the teasers before cutting to commercials: “Will she listen to her church and open up her heart?”

On June 19, the show moves to Rock Hill’s The Well: Agape International Ministries, led by Pastor Maurice and Katie Revell. The bachelorette: Valerie Odom.

Click here for more info on the series -- and a preview video.

-- Tim Funk