National Geographic Channel to Premiere New Series CHURCH RESCUE, 11/11
Religious institutions are the foundation of many communities across America. The United States is home to more than 300,000 religious congregations, and nearly four out of five Americans identify themselves with some type of religious belief. In order to practice these beliefs, people from all walks of life descend upon urban, rural and city houses of worship that come in a wide array of shapes and sizes.
But running a church takes more than faith, and even the holiest of institutions can fall victim to harsh realities. In fact, in 2012, Reuters reported that banks were foreclosing on churches in record numbers leading to tough consequences for communities across the country. Thankfully, struggling congregations and the families who flock to them have a place to turn when times get tough.
Enter the "Church Hoppers" (@churchhoppers) three business-savvy ministers and best friends who travel the country helping faith-based organizations reestablish themselves in the marketplace, not so they can turn themselves into profitable enterprises, but so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers and helping those who are struggling in their faith to find a foothold. They use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions featured in the new series Church Rescue, premiering Monday, November 11, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and follow us on Twitter at @NGC_PR.
Based in North Carolina, the Church Hoppers trio includes Kevin "Rev Kev" Annas (@churchhopperkev), the resident business guru with years of experience as an entrepreneur. Rev Kev helps pastors understand that the more success they have, the more lives they can touch through their ministry. Anthony "Gladamere" Lockhart (@churchhoppergla), a sales and marketing specialist with 15 years of experience, is more interested in how the church conveys a sense of belonging to the congregation. And Jerry "Doc" Bentley (@churchhopperdoc) is a pastoral counselor who focuses on the human relations aspect of each organization.
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.
When it comes time to prescribe solutions, the Church Hoppers start with a healthy dose of Tough Love for the pastors and reverends, most of whom are resistant to change even though their ministries are on the verge of collapse. One minister refuses to spend any money to repair his sanctuary because he wants a brand new church instead. Another is unwilling to admit he needs training on how to give an engaging sermon, even though he puts many in his congregation to sleep every week. And a third preaches messages so devoid of the hope of his religion that anyone walking in off the street is bound to turn tail and leave immediately.
Once the church leaders put a little faith in the Church Hoppers and let them do what they do best, the guys make quick but effective changes to draw in more worshipers to help turn the churches around. Something as simple as a new sign out front that clearly lists the times worship services take place goes a long way. Instead of a three-hour marathon sermon, two sermons split into two services draw twice the crowd. Putting in a play area for children gives parents added incentive to attend a service. And installing a cross on the side of the building lets passersby know it's a church they're passing. By playing to the strengths of the church, the congregation will follow.
The Church Hoppers use common sense and the guidance of biblical Scriptures to make a miraculous amount of difference in a short time and help put these potentially doomed churches on a righteous path.
The way they see it, the souls of the faithful are ultimately at stake, so failure is not an option.