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Meeting the challenge: Clearview turns off the TVcomment (0)

October 2, 2003

By Susan Chaffin Goggins

When is a good time for a pastor to challenge his congregation to turns off their television sets for a week? Is there a good time?

Pastor Bill Bigham would say the best time to issue a no-TV challenge is when God leads you to — even during the first full week of college football action.

At Clearview Baptist Church in Pinson, Sept. 1-7 was “TV Challenge Week.” Clearview members were urged to turn off TV sets and find new ways to fill their family time with games, reading or going out together.

“We really felt like it would revolutionize some homes in our areas,” said Bigham.

A native of North Carolina where football takes a backseat to basketball and auto racing, Bigham quickly discovered the importance of football in Alabama.

When he announced the dates for the TV fast, he was bombarded with reminders of what time of year it is — football season.

That particular week saw both Alabama and Auburn facing out-of-state opponents in nationally televised games.

Auburn played the University of South California Sept 2, and Alabama played Oklahoma Sept 7. “More than once I was told we should do this in the spring, but, of course, that’s basketball season,” joked Bigham.

The Clearview pastor’s idea for a TV challenge rose from a personal conviction.

“It just hit me one day while watching TV. It was a program I really  wanted to watch — a NASCAR race. My wife and daughter were in the dining room eating, and I had my plate alone in the den watching the race. Suddenly I thought, ‘Something is wrong with this picture,’” Bigham said.

On Sept. 8, Clearview members shared testimonies of ways they spent their TV-free week.

Melinda Wilson admitted it was difficult for the first couple of days, especially with school being out for Labor Day. They filled their time playing games like UNO late into the night.

“We realized we give too much time to the TV. I remember having quality time with my family, and I want to pass that on to my two children,” she said.

Darrell Ingram, a deacon at Clearview, was surprised by his children’s responses. “Our children were resilient. They found other things to do with the TV off. But we adults are used to turning it on the minute we get home from work. We hear the noise all evening and don’t even remember what we watched. It was probably harder for us.”

A TV fast was not new to the Johnson family. Four years ago, they became so disgusted with TV programming they turned it off for two weeks.

“Since then we don’t watch it as much anymore. TV is no longer the primary attention-getter in our house,” said Dorinda Johnson. Their previous experience made this fast easier. They spent the week cooking together and reading.

Overall, Bigham was pleased with his church’s participation in the challenge. “I knew we’d have some people choose not to take the challenge because like all churches, there are those who are just addicted to television. But I think this can make a difference. I know my wife, Suzanne, and I have decided to designate one night a week a no-TV night.”

Bigham plans to make “TV Challenge Week” an annual event at Clearview.

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