Christian Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

My wife and I started watching the fantastic show Kitchen Nightmares.  The famous British “Chef Ramsay” goes into a restaurant and offers brutal criticism.  Amidst a decent peppering of bleeped-out explicatives, he systematically picks apart the people and relationships behind each establishment.  He spends no time on pleasantries and minces no words.

The normal episode unfolds like this– Ramsay shows up and orders two dishes.  After chewing a few bites, he sends them back (mostly) and makes his way to the kitchen.  He asks the obligatory “Who cooked this?” and “Why did you serve me this?”

From the cook to the kitchen, Ramsay takes in the scene.  This is where “nightmares” starts to make sense.  Fridges filled with spoiled food, unsanitary storing practices, thousands of wasted dollars on unused stock, and evidence of shameful mismanagement, even when these kitchens knew they would be on national television.

The state of the kitchens aren’t even the worst part.  Three fourths of Ramsay’s job is addressing the dysfunctional relationships between managers, co-owners, cooks, and waiters.  Accounting for the assumed juiced up theatrics, most people have serious issues with one another.  Working through staff difficulties, rearranging the dining room, and revamping the menu gives the restaurants a much needed impetus for growth, sometimes even change.

I can’t help but think, what if we did this with churches? What if we created the show Christian Nightmares?  What if someone went into a church office, sat through the service, listened to the teaching, sang in worship, visited the small groups, and brutally critiqued us?  I’m not talking about assessing church health when a church is between pastors (God knows enough churches hire statisticians without listening to them). I mean inviting an impassioned, unhindered, godly leader to tinker around in our kitchens.  My friend laughed at me when I wondered this out loud during an episode; “Are you kidding?  Most pastors are way too insecure for that!”

What would someone find if they stepped into your church’s kitchen?

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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  • Vicky

    It seems biblical for us (as a Church) to be doing this to each other, regardless of denominational differences; we could definitely asses shortcomings in the important things, and show others where they are being so blind – things like making church an avenue to sell kitsch knick knacks/shallow books, etc., spending most of our money on ourselves for statues/royal-esque seating etc., and using our pulpit for nasty political/patriotic purposes while steering away from who/what God has truly called us to. I would definitely love to see the super-narcissistic and people-pleaser pastors be picked apart a little. Of course, these things would not be nationally televised. 🙂

  • I’d definitely watch such a show. 🙂