Saturday, September 3, 2011

What the Church Can Learn from Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay is the guy that screams and humiliates wanna-be chefs who take it for a chance to work for him (and take even more of it I suppose) on "Hell's Kitchens" and tells people their food is crap and they have their heads up the wrong part of their body before saving their failing restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares.  What on earth can the church learn from him you may wonder.

I've been watching back to back episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, where failing restuarant owners ask him to come and turn their business around.   They always think they have wonderful food and are always shocked when he tells them their food is crap.   He always asks them "What is wrong with the restaurant?" and the answer is always  "We don't have enough people"   The look on his face when they tell him that is really worth watching it over and over even though it's always the same story.

So when you ask a congregation what do they need to do to improve, what do they always say- "We need more young people!"  What's wrong with the church?  Not enough young people!

If you push it and ask "Well why aren't their more young people?", the answer is "they are too busy, their priorities are screwed up, they were not brought up right"... blah blah blah.  There is nothing wrong with the food we are serving, it's just that the people don't appreciate it....

Just saying...


  1. so I have a question. Lately I have been told that some people don't come because our service isn't contemporary enough.

    So, I'm thinking about that.

  2. I've been pondering the same thing. Lately, I've been sitting in the back of the church, due to church being changed to 8:30 am, which is too early for me on a Sunday, but we are worshipping at the Catholic Church building until our building is reopened. So...sitting in the back, I can see everybody. And I see grey hair. And I see the regular summer visitors, which is a pretty faithful group. And I see no (or 2) people younger than about 40. Yep, what are we serving? We sometimes have liturgy lite, due to various reasons, so, for me that is "worship lite." And we have the liter hymns, which I don't think wear all that well, and we have a short sermon, which usually has depth and sticking power, but not always. Yep, I wonder, why would a young family get up early for summer church?

  3. Well you can hurt yourself trying to twist with every way the wind blows but I think it is a deeper question than what kind of songs we sing...are we getting a message out that makes sense to people where their lives are today?

  4. My last parish was (and in my absence still is) growing rapidly, largely because of young singles and families. Most of this had to do with the changing demographics of our neighborhood. But, on the other hand, several other churches in the same area were failing to thrive. So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we offered that they didn't, on the grounds that if we could bottle it and sell it we would all live in a better world.

    I never got very far. Some of what we offered was the externals: a beautiful faux-Gothic building, a long tradition of appropriately high-church liturgy, a good location. Some of it was a little subtler: a core group of highly committed members with excellent social skills, who very deliberately made visitors feel welcome (and collected their contact info).

    I like to think that there was something along the lines that Joelle is pointing to -- something about the message. But it's hard to say. I don't think I said anything all that different from my neighbors -- certainly not my Lutheran and Episcopalian neighbors. The new pastor is a great guy, but has a very different style, both conversationally and theologically, from mine.

    If anything, then, I think the secret of this church's success was that small group of highly committed people with excellent social skills. If there is anything that I have found missing in the churches which are failing to thrive, it is a group like that. They enjoy being there, and other people enjoy being around them; and by their presence, they create an environment that no pastor by him or herself can.

  5. hey, I agree with you. I think the committed group of people who enjoy being there is actually quite key.

    Perhaps it is they who really want to have a more contemporary contemporary service, so they don't really enjoy it.

  6. Of course, nobody expects people to actually believe any of this.....
    The fastest growing group in religious life in the usa among those 20-35? "None of the Aboves".