How to do a Church Turnaround


Many churches talk about turning around after a long period of decline, but there is much confusion about what it really takes to do this.

Below are some of the essentials to actually do a church turnaround.

  • Stabilization: If a congregation has been in decline for a significant amount of time, the “bleeding” has to first be stopped. This process may take anywhere from 2-5 years depending on the situation.
     
  • A “new pastor”: Every turnaround begins with a “new pastor”: either a pastor newly called to the congregation or an existing pastor who has had a transformation and is “new”. If the pastor is not excited and motivated about the faith and reaching new people, turnarounds do not happen.
     
  • A team of lay leaders who are willing to lead change: It takes a team of people who will work with the pastor and make changes. Business as usual will not turn a congregation around.
     
  • seatsNo financial secrets: The pastor and a few key lay leaders need to know the giving patterns of the church and to have in leadership only those people who are financially committed to the church. Financial secrets kill congregations.
     
  • Nominations: The pastor and a few key lay leaders have to take control of the nomination process. As Jim Collins says in the book, Good to Great, “get the right people on the bus”.
     
  • Mission Field: The pastor and leaders of the church have to prayerfully discern who they can reach in the community and spend time with the unchurched and/or de-churched people. This requires that a Pastor spend at least 33% of his/her time in this mission field. Preaching and programs: Based on the mission field discernment, preaching and programs have to be on target to the needs of those who the church is trying to reach.
     
  • Culture of Invitation: 87% of the people in this country who go to church do so because someone invites them. Turnaround churches develop a culture of members inviting guests regularly to events, mission efforts, programs and worship services.
     
  • Balancing Act: In turnaround congregations there is a need to balance pastoring to the existing church while also reaching new people. Pastors and lay leaders should be spending at least 33% of their time involved in the community surrounding the church. Pastors and leaders have to learn how to be nimble in balancing a variety of needs.

Turnaround work is not easy! But congregations all over the country are going deeper in faith and reaching out in powerful new ways. Go and build God’s Kingdom.


For further information, please contact Don Remick at remickd@macucc.org.