There are a large number of reality TV shows in which businesses of every kind are rescued from their own demise. Everything from beauty shops to bars to restaurants. And the clergy in me cannot help but think, what about churches.
Well, the National Geographic Channel has the answer. Church Rescue premeires Monday, November 11 at 10pmET. The reality TV show features the trio of men who make up the church consultant group Church Hoppers (@churchhoppers). There is Rev. Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas who is the business analyst; Rev. Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart who is the marketing specialist; and Rev. Jerry “Doc” Bentley who is the spiritual counselor. Together they will tackle the challenges of running a faith community in various locations. From a Full Gospel church to a biker church to a synagogue.
From the press release:
The Church Hoppers have just seven days to assist the struggling faith-based institutions, and must identify strengths and weaknesses quickly so they can work hand-in-hand with the church leaders to improve their prospects for survival. Every job they take starts with a reconnaissance mission. They visit the churches and blend in as best they can at first, to get the real experience from the churchgoer’s unique perspective. In North Carolina, they visit a motorcycle biker church decked out in biker gear and sport cowboy hats when meeting with the congregation at a cowboy church. They travel to California, meeting with a pastor in Compton whose church is struggling after the economic collapse, and venture to a synagogue in Venice Beach to help a rabbi attract much-needed younger people to his congregation.
The premiere episode is “Country Salvation.” The Hoppers visit a Bapticostal church in rural North Carolina. After worshiping for four hours on a hot day in a sanctuary with no AC, they meet Pastor Larry Roseboro. Through missing teeth, Roseboro expresses his dream of a larger sanctuary. When asked by the three North Carolinan pastors why he has not been making improvements on the current building, Pastor Roseboro exclaims, “If I have to spend money on this old building, you might as well forget it!”
The Church Hoppers are faced with a bit of a challenge. They are able to get the Pastor to a place where he accepts that the way to reach his dream, is to grow the congregation. And one of the ways to grow the congregation, is to take care of the building they have. So, while the construction crew works on the exterior of the building and the interior of the sanctuary, the three men ride around in their Land Rover with Pastor Roseboro teaching him to preach and lead worship within a structured time frame, as well as reconciling with a former church member, who has the skills to be a key leader in the church.
The format of the show is typical of other “rescue” reality shows, which is surprisingly becoming a new genre of reality television. The only difference is that immersed in the commentary is scripture verses that speak to a particular situation at the time. As the episode ends, it gives an update on some of the key situations, similar to the end of the A&E show, Intervention.
Exploring faith communities is not new for National Geographic. They have researched and presented on various topics. As the first season of Church Rescue gets underway, we are sure to see a wide range of cultures. And this is what National Geographic is good at. So it will be interesting to see how viewers respond to this first season.