Extreme Makeover: Church Edition?
The new National Geographic reality series Church Rescue follows a group of ministers/business consultants as they go around the country and offer advice to struggling religious institutions. The trio — Kevin "Rev Kev" Annas, Anthony "Gladamere" Lockhart, and Jerry "Doc" Bentley — are known as the Church Hoppers, and offer their services to leaders across all religious faiths and denominations.
"We're not trying to change them," Bentley tells TVGuide.com. "We never have tried to change one ministry. What we do is empower it, enlighten it, and allow it to be what it is, because every church has its own identity. And that's what we do best: We help them to find their identity, and how that identity can make an impact in their communities."
Adds Annas: "We see churches serving a similar role to a local tavern, if you will. Folks are craving the relational aspect of a place to gather and feel welcome ... and that's what we believe the church or the synagogue should represent. It should represent a place that a specific group of people that feel like they connect can come to and not feel that they're judged."
In the first episode (Monday at 10/9c, NatGeo), the three meet with a pastor who's dead set on building a new million dollar-plus sanctuary. Meanwhile, the Church Hoppers want to focus on smaller-picture tasks, such as installing an air conditioner in the church and having the pastor shorten his sermons — which can last up to four hours. But their suggestions aren't exactly welcomed with open arms.
"Any time that you're dealing with change, there is going to be some resistance. Change is difficult," Lockhart says. "But the key point is, we're fighting for them. We're trying to get them to narrow their focus so that they can ultimately have the largest impact in the communities that they're serving."
Check out an exclusive clip from the premiere of Church Rescue, which airs Monday at 10/9c on NatGeo. Will you watch?