Growing up I was a big fan of game shows. All summer my sister and I could be found watching The Joker’s Wild, $20,000 Pyramid, Tic Tac Dough, Hollywood Squares, Matchgame etc… This was before cable tv and so we didn’t have 20 channels streaming cartoons all day. Game shows were the best option for kid viewing in the morning in the 1970’s.
Most game shows have a clear distinction between contestant and audience. You have contestants who were preselected, and the audience who is supposed to remain absolutely quiet until a commercial break. You don’t hear anyone blurting out suggested answers for the contestants on Jeopardy. The expectation is that the audience will remain relatively passive.
The Price Is Right is an unusual game show because anyone in the audience might become a contestant. Everyone in the room actively participates. The Price is Right calls people out of the audience to join in the game. Bob Barker would ask Johnny Olson for another contestant, and I could almost imagine Johnny belting out “Chris Klingenfus, COME ON DOWN! You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right.” The person whose name is called invariably rises up with great enthusiasm and runs down to contestants’ row. If you come into the studio at the Price Is Right, you are actively involved.
The church should be more like the Price Is Right than other game shows. Everyone has an active part to play. No one is called to sit passively. The line between contestant and audience is blurred. Scripture encourages us to consider ourselves as “a priesthood of believers.” We are all together part of the larger body of Christ and are supposed to bring our varied gifts and talents to mix with other people’s gifts and talents to advance our common mission. Each of us should express enthusiasm when we are called to join in the game.
In the coming weeks, I will be preaching a series highlighting the importance of active participation in the life of the church. I will be discussing the vows we each have taken when we joined the church. We all promised to support the church with our “prayers, presence, gifts, and service.” The next month we will explore those themes in great detail. I want to invite us all to come out of the audience and take an active part in the ministry of the church.
Rev. Chris Klingenfus