Leadership Lessons from “Restaurant: Impossible”

January 15, 2013 — 6 Comments

One of my favorite TV shows is “Restaurant: Impossible” on Food Network.  If you are not familiar with the show, let me give you a quick overview.  With two days and $10,000 Chef Robert Irvine goes to a failing restaurant with the hopes of turning the business around.  Chef Robert chats with the owner, the staff and patrons to find out why the restaurant is failing.  Then, after ordering several dishes off of the menu (he has rarely liked anything on the original menu), he outlines the problems that he’ll address.

Most times, the owners don’t have a clue how to run their business.  Other times, the owners have lost their passion.  They have been failing for so long that they have little hope of ever recovering.

I love the show for many reasons but what I love most are all of the leadership lessons that the owners learn.  I learn a lot too.  Aside from serving really bad food, the reasons why most of the restaurants are failing can be narrowed down to four areas:

1.  Poor service

2.  Poor leadership/management

3.  Outdated decor

4.  Poor marketing

Sadly, these things are often true of Children’s Ministries.  Sometimes, leaders can get stuck in a rut or get accustomed to flying on ‘survival mode’ that we don’t give thought to the details that make our ministry shine.

Use the checklist below to see what areas your ministry might need to address.

Poor Service

  • Do you have friendly greeters stationed to greet families as they enter your children’s areas?
  • Do you have a check-in system?  Is it efficient?
  • Do you try to alleviate long lines at check-in?
  • Do you walk new/visiting families and their children to their classrooms or do you just point them in the right direction?

Poor Leadership/Management

  • Do you have enough staff to cover each classroom?  If not, are you working towards that goal?
  • What are your ministry’s strengths?
  • In what areas does your ministry need to grow?
  • Do you have key leaders (volunteer or paid) in place to help shoulder your ministry’s responsibilities?
  • Are your volunteers aware of what is expected from them?  Do you have written job descriptions in place?
  • Do you hold regular volunteer training opportunities that equip your volunteers to do their job effectively?
  • Do you appreciate your volunteers?  How do you show them?
  • Are you growing as a leader?  Are you reading, taking classes, and/or attending conferences/workshops to become better in your craft?
  • Do you have a mentor, someone who can pour into your life and hold you accountable?
  • Are you mentoring someone?

Outdated Decor

  • Does your ministry area scream “1980”?
  • Are your classroom spaces kid-friendly and kid-appealing?
  • Are your classroom spaces clean and sanitized?
  • How can you spruce up your ministry area, even on a limited budget?  A coat or two of brightly colored paint?  New tables and chairs? New flooring?
  • Are the books and toys in good condition?  Do you have working batteries in all of your battery-operated toys?

Poor Marketing

  • Does your ministry have an informative, eye-catching brochure?
  • Does your website have up-to-date information?
  • Is your signage clear and visible?
  • Does your ministry have a logo?
  • How do parents and those in your church body and neighboring communities view your ministry?

These are just a few things to think about when leading a Children’s Ministry.  Help your ministry grow in 2013 by addressing areas that might be pulling your ministry down.

I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list.  Share your thoughts below!


6 responses to Leadership Lessons from “Restaurant: Impossible”


    Thanks for these questions! I’m passing them on to my pastor. Our kids’ ministry is going through some growing pains right now. Thanks for the help!



    This is really insightful. And challenging. I wonder if the children and parents who are served by the children’s ministry would answer these questions the same way the leaders and volunteers of the children’s ministry would…


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