With Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible, Why Not Church Impossible?

I have a couple of new favorite television shows. Have you seen Hotel Impossible or Restaurant Impossible? The hosts of both shows partner with a declining or failing business with the intentional hope of turning the operation around. It’s intense. Personalities, old habits, perceptions, and assumptions battle against ideals and change. It’s a war against time – a real reality check. It’s like the owners blindly routinely continue non-product behaviors while hoping for a different end result. Yet each day it is the same thing – a lost battle. I think the property owners are so engaged in the daily drama they can’t see past the crisis. The immediate impedes the dream and sound business decisions are nowhere to be found. It proves the point that people in crisis rarely make good decisions.

Here’s what is so strange about each episode. Every time I watch, I can’t help but draw parallels to the church. In an era of significant congregational decline across our nation, I think we need a new reality show – I’m going to call it Church Impossible. Church leaders across American practice the same mundane unproductive behaviors while expecting different results. In the midst of dismal results, the pseudo-leader justifies decline by blaming everyone and everything else rather than take responsibility. In the absence of genuine evaluation, we’ll blame the convenient excuse. It’s time to take responsibly, own up to the real problem, and take appropriate intentional action. Here’s the reality, you can’t keep doing what you did yesterday and blindly hope to effectively engage tomorrow. It just doesn’t work. You need to reinvent yourself. It’s actually Biblical. Just read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Everything Paul references has to with relevance and the relating of the gospel to a lost and diverse culture – a context very different from his own. We’ve got to move past our sacred traditions and embrace the passion to relate.

Many of the lessons learned in Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible are applicable to the church. After viewing numerous episodes, I’ve compiled a list of some of the lessons that I think relate to the church:

  • Good enough is never good enough. If you think it’s good enough it is probably not. Seek excellence rather than good enough.
  • You need to reinvent yourself every ten years whether you think you need it or not. Get rid of the fade.
  • Make the hard decisions.
  • Look at things from the customer’s perspective.
  • Speak the truth.
  • Treat people with respect.
  • Don’t promote incompetence – confront it and/or remove it.
  • Communicate and negotiate expectations.
  • When you get comfortable, you’ve already started the decline.
  • Change is essential if you’re going to stay competitive.
  • Don’t assume you know, but learn the facts.
  • Ask someone who knows if you don’t. Find someone that’s been there and done that.
  • Never stop learning because you can never know too much.
  • Try doing it right the first time
  • Always give your best to the cause.
  • If you’re riding the merry-go-round at work, get off and become intentional about your schedule, actions, and behaviors.
  • Know what only you can do and then do it.
  • Centralize mundane tasks and delegate, delegate, and delegate.
  • Expect more from others – raise the bar.
  • Dare to dream and then go after them.
  • Offer new products and exciting experiences for people.
  • If it doesn’t work, get rid of it.
  • If you’re losing your customer base discover why. You may not like the answer, but you need to know.
  • A great past (history) doesn’t guarantee a promising future. In fact, if you’re always looking back, you’ll never move forward.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

4 thoughts on “With Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible, Why Not Church Impossible?

  1. Brenda May Sanders

    Pastor Brad,
    I have not watched either one of those programs. I like the church impossible ideas! I will have to read 1 Corinthans 9: 19-23. It is hard to change sometimes. We do get too comfortable, not only in the church but in our lives too. Thanks for inspiring us and the church.

  2. Justin Hatfield

    Brad – great post! I love what you said, “you can’t keep doing what you did yesterday and blindly hope to effectively engage tomorrow.” So much truth in this statement. It applies to every aspect of our lives, and especially in our spiritual lives. We have to challenge ourselves daily if we want to persevere in this wacked out world we live in. We need to stay one step ahead…..ALWAYS. If we don’t then we are at risk of becoming passive and ineffective. For me, this is a personal challenge! Thanks for keeping it real!

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