2014

Struggling Houses of Worship Get a 'Faith Lift' In the New National Geographic Channel Series CHURCH RESCUE

Three Business-Savvy Ministers Help Religious Leaders Make Practical, Common-Sense Changes That Free Them Up to Spread the Good Word

New Series Premieres Monday, November 11, at 10 PM ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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.

Premiere episodes include:

Church Rescue: Country Salvation
Premieres Monday, November 11, 2013, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
A charismatic minister of a Baptist church calls on the Church Hoppers to help revive his decaying sanctuary. They discover that the pastor refuses to invest any money into repairs, plus his lengthy sermons and uncomfortably hot sanctuary make it a deterrent for any potential new members. The Hoppers put together a plan to help the pastor shorten his sermons and reconcile with a former deacon. Though the church makeover is seriously delayed by poor weather conditions, the final day arrives and the pastor is amazed by the changes that have been made. He delivers two short, meaningful sermons, impressing the Church Hoppers and his congregation. And he makes peace with his former deacon and gives him back the deaconship, allowing him to have more time to take care of the church. 

Church Rescue: Biker Church Reborn
Premieres Monday, November 18, 2013, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT 
The pastor of Freedom Biker Church calls on the Church Hoppers for help to increase his congregation and keep him afloat. After the Church Hoppers do a recon of the church, they realize that the pastor's sermon is not very interesting, he lacks leadership and does not take an offering during the service. No income means a dying biker church. The Church Hoppers come up with a game plan to get Freedom Biker Church back on track. The pastor does missions to increase his confidence, create outreach and draw in more church members. He encounters some rowdy bikers at a bar while spreading the word and visits a football coach who builds his confidence; on the final day, he's shown his newly remodeled church and delivers a stellar sermon. The Church Hoppers and the pastor's congregation are blown away by the drastic changes.

Church Rescue: Full Gospel Resurrected
Premieres Monday, November 25, 2013, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
The Church Hoppers come to the rescue of a cluttered gospel church and two bickering pastors. Despite the high energy these pastors bring to the pulpit, the sermon is filled only with lessons of negative consequence. In a hardcore truth meeting, the Hoppers confront the pastor about the severity of what they've seen and present a plan to help. They also begin putting a construction crew in place to give the church a much-needed facelift, including a more appealing baptistery. Later, they travel to a local prison to do outreach and teach the pastor the importance of preaching a more positive message. Sunday dawns with an influx of old and new parishioners, all of whom are moved by the physical and spiritual improvements. 

Church Rescue is produced by T Group Productions for National Geographic Channel (NGC). For T Group Productions, executive producers are Jenny Daly and Eric Lange. For NGC, executive producer is Michael Welsh; vice president, production & development is Kevin Mohs; senior vice president, production & development is Noel Siegel; and president is Howard Owens.

National Geographic Channels
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation's major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 48 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.

SOURCE National Geographic Channel



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