The judging panel for the new reality show 'Calling the Called'. Picture: Facebook

A new reality TV series, "Calling the Called", which talent-scouts pastors, has been launched.

For 13 weeks, contestants will be put through “rigorous challenges” for over R1 million worth of prizes, which includes a new car, a television contract and a chance to study towards a degree in theology or related studies.

All hopefuls need to do is to prepare a five-minute sermon and they could be in the running to become a preacher with a TV show, joining the likes of Pastor Alph Lukau, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Pastor Tshifinwa Irene, who are currently ranked high on SA’s richest pastors list.

Zallywood director Ruth Mabona said: “This is one trailblazing show that will impact the lives of many South Africans.

"We have seen shows about talented singers and soccer players, but this is unique in this category of television content. We are looking for an anointed and gifted preacher, someone who is called to preach the gospel but don’t have resources to start a church.

"Some of these people we find preaching every day on the streets, trains, buses, so the show wants to give that person a chance to continue their ministry on a different platform.”

The public’s vote will count as viewers will be given an opportunity to help choose the winner. There will also be judges, comprised of the apostles, bishops and renowned preachers, who will during the show guide and mentor the contestants.

The auditions started at The SA State Theatre in Pretoria on Tuesday with a panel of judges that included Dr David Molapo, apostles Ralegoelela, Bishop Paul Schell (US) and Ayanda Ncwane.

The show is set to be screened from November on a yet-to-be confirmed channel.

When asked if the show's producers were prepared for a backlash, especially with the plague of fake pastors that had hit South Africa in recent years, Mabona said: “We are aware that there will be a backlash, but we want also would like to encourage dialogue around the word of God. 

“This show is going to get the whole of South Africa on its knees, which is what our country needs right now. We know there will be criticism but we cannot worry about naysayers because we believe that this mandate is from God.”

Addressing the concerns around preachers “commercialising religion”, Mabona said: "Let’s not get it twisted, at the end of the day we live on earth, and the resources are needed to propagate the gospel. God will not call you to preach under a tree forever,.

"He’s not the God who does not provide for his children. There is a person out there, who’s been praying to God saying, ‘I’m ready to preach your word but I do not have the resources, and God is saying, ‘Here is the opportunity’."