Does it “Take a Church” to Make a Match?

A recent press release caught my eye. Following on the success of the game show “The American Bible Challenge”, a new series entitled “It Takes a Church” promises to help “unattached fellow parishioners find their partner”.

I have to admit, I’m intrigued by the idea of a faith community help one of their own singles find love. I’ve been known to mentally “match make” — at least in my mind — among my single Catholic friends. Do we need to make a tv show out of the process? Probably not. But should faith communities endeavor to create an environment where single believers can discover one another? I would say yes.

Here’s a press release that offers the details on “It Takes A Church”. It airs tomorrow night on GSN. I’ll be watching!

May 9, 2014, Santa Monica, CA  — GSN, the home of classic game programming and competitive entertainment, premieres its new original series, IT TAKES A CHURCH on Thursday, June 5 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), following new original episodes of THE AMERICAN BIBLE CHALLENGE at 8 p.m, the network’s highest rated original series of all-time.  GSN also revealed an integration deal with ChristianMingle, the largest online community for Christian singles for the new series.  

Hosted by Multi-Grammy nominated Curb Recording Artist Natalie Grant, IT TAKES A CHURCH features Christian congregations across the country who play matchmaker in a competition to help an unattached fellow parishioner find their partner.  Each one-hour episode features a different congregation from across the country including Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore, MD; Goshen, IN; Milwaukee, WI; Rock Hill, SC; Oxnard, CA; and Tempe, AZ.

Each week, one unsuspecting single who has a desire to find a mate, is surprised to learn that their church is coming together to help them find love, led by their own Pastor, who speaks to the situation and gives advice on the potential suitors. The partnership provides ChristianMingle with in-show integration throughout the season; plus all of the daters who are not ultimately chosen will receive annual memberships to the dating service.  In addition, GSN will produce a custom short form micro-series for ChristianMingle that will air as interstitials throughout the commercial breaks of the show. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

IT TAKES A CHURCH is produced by Authentic Entertainment for GSN, with Tom Rogan and Lauren Lexton (“Flipping Out,” “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”) serving as Executive Producers along with Richard Hall (“The Amazing Race”) of Great Blue Productions. Sean Kelly (“Minute to Win It”) is Consulting Producer.

Natalie Grant was nominated for two 2014 Grammy® Awards, in the categories Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and Best Christian Music Song for the single Hurricane.  A Christian vocalist and multiple Dove Award winner, Grant is a singer-songwriter currently residing in Nashville, TN. Grant’s work has gained international acclaim, including five GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards for Female Vocalist of the year.  A mainstay on the Billboard Christian Songs chart with numerous #1 hits over the past decade, Grant has affirmed her status as one of gospel music’s most popular artists, enjoying out of the box success with the recent “Hurricane” #1 debut on the Christian and Gospel Billboard Albums charts (and #17 on the Billboard 200 chart). The infectious, double Grammy-nominated title track and single, Hurricane, quickly hit #1 on iTunes and added to the list of Grant’s chart- topping radio hits.  Grant will also be seen in a supporting role in the upcoming film, “Persecuted.” Produced by multiple Oscar®-winner Gray Frederickson (“The Godfather” Trilogy, “Apocalypse Now”), the independent thriller – set for release in July – sees Grant co-starring alongside James Remar, Bruce Davison, and Fred Thompson.

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  • Episteme

    Pardon the slightly-late response. I think that the truth behind the *concept* is that parishes and congregations have gotten away from playing that pastoral role in helping single members meet each other and learn about each other — even beyond proper ‘match-making.’ The Catholic singles who one sees in a parish (or the other Christian singles seen in other denominations’ congregations; I’m approaching this from a Catholic perspective while the show looks at it apparently from a Protestant perspective — frankly, we all face the same problem on this issue in the modern world) are those who didn’t meet a spouse out of a Catholic college, having likely gone to a secular university, and probably doesn’t know how to locate a fellow faithful young person in the ‘outside world.’

    Especially as we age in parish life and more of our peers leave or marry (I’m about to turn 35, many of those in the same boat are even older), we realize how little attention is paid to this issue. It’s not that those around don’t want us to be happy, it’s just that they either don’t think about it, assume that we’re out there being secular between masses (hearing about “young folks today” on the news and the Internet), or imaging that internet dating and imaginary diocesan young adult programs will pick up the slack. Really, since we lack the distinctive clothing choices of other moral-conservative subcultures like the Amish, many Orthodox Jews, or even some Mormon groups, the modern young/youngish devout & chaste Catholic or conservative Protestant isn’t going to trip over a potential relationship or spouse, and it’s less likely over time that we’re going to have friends with extra singles lying around (to coin a phrase), so having the pastoral support of the community to connect with a wider range of people’s family and friends (meeting the single niece of that friendly married couple who you grew up knowing within the parish helping out on the coat drive is very different than meeting that same young woman cold on the street by accident). It’s a fine point, but an important one, whether for marriage formation, keeping tangential members within the parish, or even connecting members of the parish together via that age-old method of marrying-together families within the community instead of far-flung strangers!

    • lisahendey

      Such thoughtful comments. So what suggestions would you offer to someone like me who may be in a position to make introductions… I never want to appear nosy or pushy in any way. Seriously, thanks for taking the time to write!

      • Episteme

        Probably the best way for any member of a community to build that community is to make sure to make sure to get to know people around the community. I have the fortune, even if I’m a single guy in a parish without single women around my age (it’s just a demographic game of chance sometimes and sometimes there are real issues at play), that I’m second-generation so I’ve had time to get to know people over the years and get settled in ministries. As such, I’m more comfortable at least taking the initiative at saying hello to new singles or young couples popping into the parish (even if, as a private introvert, I don’t chat a whole lot — I think much of my appreciation of Catholicism is that I can do things like lectoring according to form rather than spontaneity). I’ve tried to convince more settled-in-the-society members of the parish to do the same, as well as tried to talk the pastor into starting up ministries for young adults or singles, but I’ve hit passive resistance of the “do we really need to?” sort by folks who don’t really see the issue from their perspective.

        Just being friendly and broadening the connections between the ‘invisible’ members of the parish and the more connected members will do a world of difference of bringing the younger single members both closer to the heart of the Church AND bring them closer to those members of their parish who CAN make introductions (“hey, this young man I’ve been talking to the past few Sundays seems nice — maybe we should introduce him to your sister’s daughter, dear…”). We Catholics play the long game, and Catholic singles have learned that truth really well, so seeing progress week-to-week in the pastoral role of the parish community as a whole as a few more families make sure to remember to say hello or shake their hand at the sign of peace? That’s the sort of progress that’s a lot better than just staring at an empty Internet Dating mailbox week in and week out waiting for spam! :D