Comedian and show host Jeff Foxworthy wasn't completely sold on the idea of a TV game show contest about Bible facts when he was first approached about doing "The American Bible Challenge" that premieres next Thursday (Aug. 23).
"My first answer was no. I was thinking 'you can't do a game show about the Bible,'" Foxworthy recently said during a taping of the show for GSN (formerly Game Show Network). "I prayed about it. I was like, 'God, is this okay to do a game show about the Bible?'"
The one-hour game show in which faith-filled players on teams compete in an attempt to demonstrate their superior knowledge of Scripture is also about giving. The teams are all playing for winning dollar amounts to go to a charity or a cause.
"Here's the thing that sold me on it was that people weren't playing for themselves. Everybody that came on the show was playing to bless somebody," said Foxworthy, who among his many career accomplishments hosted "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
He pointed out that according to the Bible the only group of people that Jesus never got along with was "the religious leaders who only had head knowledge and did not have any heart knowledge."
"I think the fact that [the concept for the show[ was head knowledge and it was heart knowledge is what sold me on the show. I thought 'yeah, that's cool,'" he explained.
A group of contestants from Plano, Texas, who call themselves "Team Minnie's Food Pantry," will play for a charity that provides healthy food for families in need.
Foxworthy said a team leader pointed out that a win for them would provide thousands of meals through their organization.
"These people are out there every single week trying to gather up food for people so they can eat," he said. "She said '$20,000 dollars gives us 80,000 meals.' And so it was like how can God frown on that?"
The most difficult group of people to convince that the show is worthy may be Christians, Foxworthy said.
"I know some people are going to say, 'It's about the Bible. I'm not going to watch it.' But it's a fun game," he explained. "Like '5th Grader,' I think everybody can play it because even if you never had faith or you've walked away from it, you're going to know enough of this stuff to keep it interesting. And for the people that really know it, it remains interesting.
"Sometimes Christians aren't as joyful as we should be and I think people on the outside look and think 'you guys don't seem very happy.' If this really is the Good News you don't wear it on your face. God made us in His image. We have all of his attributes and one of them is joy. He gave us the ability to laugh and so if you can present the material and not take away from the material you can have fun doing it," he said.
Foxworthy said there was also an evangelistic goal for him to want to be the host of the show.
"Here's part of my heart in doing it. I figure if you are a Christian and you are channel surfing and you come to watch, it's going to be interesting enough to stop, but somebody who is not a believer or maybe they are a seeker and they come across it and they stop and say 'this looks fun,' I mean really that's who you would want to stop and watch it."
The tournament starts with 18 three-person teams – three teams in each of the first six episodes. The winning teams from each of those six episodes will advance to play in two semi-final games. During the final round, one team will be named champions of The American Bible Challenge.