Does Your Congregation Need a Makeover?
Sometimes even the best churches need a facelift. That's the task of the "Church Hoppers," a reality TV team that visits places of worship that need an outside opinion on how best to accomplish their missions.
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
Across America, congregations are in distress. Sometimes it’s because the members are elderly and can no longer take care of their beautiful, 100-year-old building. Other times it’s because the members are young, the church is vibrant and alive, but they’re meeting in a cold and drafty barn.
Then there are distressing situations in which the church treasurer has absconded with all the funds and there’s no money to pay the preacher, catch up on the mortgage or purchase Sunday school material.
So, what do you do? Sometimes the answers are obvious, says Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, one of the stars of a National Geographic TV series, “Church Rescue,” which takes the successful idea behind “Extreme Make-Over: Home Edition,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “Bar Rescue” and “Restaurant: Impossible” – but focuses on rehabilitating churches.
The show follows Annas and two friends, marketing specialist Anthony “Gladimir” Lockhart and pastoral counselor Jerry “Doc” Bentley, who call themselves “the Church Hoppers.” Traditionally a church-hopper is a discontented attendee who constantly switches from one church to the other in search of the perfect congregation – which, regrettably doesn’t exist. This church hopping trio accepts that reality and goes from one house of worship to the next as consultants – offering solutions to boost the ministry’s effectiveness.
“We simply go around the country working with religious organizations focusing not on their belief system but on their business, their staff and their marketing,” says Annas. “National Geographic follows us through that process, giving viewers an opportunity to see inside the different religious cultures, to watch a construction makeover and to observe an internal makeover – as we explore how each ministry works.
“In a week’s time, believe it or not, we will make over a church – and in one case a Jewish synagogue – uniting volunteers from the congregation with our own team to do a business makeover.”
What challenges has the team faced?
“From the construction perspective, probably the worst-case scenario is going to be an episode where we worked with a cowboy church. The reason it was a worst-case scenario was not necessarily the habitable condition of the space but the bland condition of the space.
“This cowboy church, not to give too much away, shares a facility with a saddle club, common to the east coast and especially to western North Carolina. It had a rodeo arena where they perform rodeos – an outdoor facility. They also had an indoor facility in the event of inclement weather. When we arrived there, we were challenged with