The other day I was thinking what would happen if Chef Ramsay came to your church? Obviously he doesn’t travel around church to church going through them with a fine tooth comb. But what if someone did, what would he or she find? I have eaten in truck stops and eaten in one of Ramsay’s restaurants in London. I can tell you this, there is a big difference.
We could learn a lot about our churches and ministries from the strategies Ramsay uses in Kitchen Nightmares. The cogs in the wheel would be different from kitchen to church but the examination might stay the same.
1. Curb appeal would be… well curb appeal is that simple. Our churches give off an impression from the outside. But these days the curb has moved inside to see the lobby. Is there electricity or do you feel like having a nap? Do you want to spend time there or get out quick?
2. The dining room or sanctuary is where you spend most of your time in the worship experience. This needs to be a place that attracts you. When you walk in what is the first thing you see or feel? The atmosphere. You might not realize it but you are paying attention to the atmosphere from the first moment in the doors. The atmosphere can be made up of many different things: music, paint color, seating arrangement, lighting and even that old church smell that seems to lurk in from time to time. Positive or negative it all tells the story of your church.
3. Then the food starts coming out, this is when Ramsay usually starts talking about how prepackaged, old, and un-authentic the food really is. What if we took a legitimate look at what we are serving people from the stage. Is the menu so large that you never know what to expect or is it simplified and easily accessible. Does the food try too be to many things to too many people? Or is there a subtle theme that connects everything together under one culinary or in this case spiritual vision. How is the worship and preach connected? Or even worse are they? Is the Sunday package culturally relevant to our congregation? This section could be five pages long, so I will cut it here. You get the idea.
4.What are the prices like? We don’t obviously believe that tithing is a fee you pay to sit in church. However our time is something we pay, and is more valuable than money. Are we still expected to sit through a 1990’s two hour sermon or do we get to hear something actually prepared, refined and ready to go for us today. How about the worship set, are we sitting through hours of worship as the leader tries to create an emotional tug? Or how about my personal favorite, long winded announcements that go on and on and on and on. The time of the congregant is very important and should be paid attention to. All to often elements can be cut from our service that have no hinge on the spiritual success of the church.
5. Of course Ramsay is going into the kitchen, usually here he finds old food that goes straight into the garbage, oversized dishes, a bad chef and of course a menu that needs tweaking and possibly throwing out. How is our vision, mission and direction doing? The rest of the experience means nothing if we don’t have a refined kitchen, efficient, directed and motivated to getting the goal accomplished.
6. Last but not least we have the staff. The Chef, su chefs, random kitchen staff, hosts, waiters, cleaning staff, possibly even some occasional entertainment. Is everyone a good fit? Is everyone working towards one direction or is everyone pursuing an individual goal?
So forget about Gordon Ramsay, we have hundreds of Ramsay’s coming in and out of of churches every week. Some come back and some will never darken the door of our church again. The idea is to take an objective look at the presentation our churches are putting forth. Often we don’t understand why we see no growth or even worse decline. But maybe the answer is simplicity, like the old saying “less is more”. But what if it’s true and less really is more. What if by simplifying for one goal and one message we can reach more people, instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
After all there is not just one church that is going to reach each people group in a city, it will take an army working together.
Obviously this is a very practical look and not so spiritual, and obviously not every church can reach everyone in their community. But there is always room to look at how we are presenting the most powerful thing on earth today, the Gospel.