What Can the Church Learn from the Glee Project?

It’s summertime…and that means a slightly slower pace, summer jobs, warm evenings and yes…summer television.

My daughter and I have greatly looked forward to “The Glee Project” since last summer. It’s sort of a cross between American Idol and The Apprentice; the contestants are high school and college students vying for a guest role in the upcoming season of “Glee.” The focus is largely on musicianship and teamwork, which makes it appealing. In addition, viewers get a glimpse into the personal triumphs and struggles of each contestant. The show has provided a springboard into some interesting conversations for our family. And, beyond that, the music is terrific, and it’s been fun summer viewing. (Please note: This show contains LOTS of mature subjects…Parental Guidance is strongly suggested!!)

One of the contestants this summer is Mario. According to his bio on The Glee Project Website, Mario performs with choirs, enjoys acting and dancing and even writes music.  In addition, he plays guitar, piano and drums. The bio also states that Mario “was born with Morning Glory Syndrome, which caused him to go blind at the age of nine.”

Throughout the Glee Project competition, the director, choreographer and vocal coach have made accommodations for Mario so that he could learn his part for each song and music video. The other contestants assisted him as well. However, Mario was treated as a valued member of the  team. When he did well, he was praised. When he made errors, he was corrected. And, when he needed an attitude adjustment, his castmates and directors gave him direct feedback.

Two weeks ago, Mario was eliminated by the judges. As he made his exit, he said,

When people watch this competition, I hope that they see a talented, fearless, inspirational young man that happens to be blind and NOT a blind person that they let on the Glee Project.

 I’m so much more than that.
Blindness is the last thing on my list.

My heart beat faster as I heard him say this. “What if he were talking to the Church?” I thought.  “What if we could always see abilities and possibilities first? What if disabilities were the LAST thing we noticed?”

In my line of work, I’m trained to look for needs, and to be keenly aware of areas of weakness so that I can respond with solutions. Mario reminded me that I need to be sure my “default setting” is on strength-finding…because EVERYONE has gifts, and the Church is incomplete without the gifts of ALL.

At the end of each episode of The Glee Project, the departing contestant sings a verse of Avril Lavinge’s “Keep Holding On:”

You’re not alone
Together we stand
I’ll be by your side, you know I’ll take your hand
When it gets cold
And it feels like the end
There’s no place to go
You know I won’t give in
No I won’t give in

There’s nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There’s no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
‘Cause you know we’ll make it through, we’ll make it through…

When I first heard this song, I thought “What a pretty love song.” Now, it sings like a Psalm, hinting at heaven.

Keep holding on~


2 thoughts on “What Can the Church Learn from the Glee Project?

  1. “Mario reminded me that I need to be sure my “default setting” is on strength-finding…because EVERYONE has gifts, and the Church is incomplete without the gifts of ALL.”

    My wife and I heard a great sermon yesterday…the senior pastor had been looking at the topic of gifts while teaching through 1 Corinthians and publicly repented in front of the church because he recognized the error in his thinking that his gifts were superior to those who attended his church and served in other ways. Excellent reminder to the church as a whole.

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