Innovative Ministry
3 Surprising Misunderstandings About Church Turnarounds
What one person means by church turnaround might be completely different from what another person means.

Do you want your church to experience a turnaround? If so, why?

There are a lot of good reasons. Among them, you might want to see your church move from:

  • Unhealthy to healthy
  • Inward-obsessed to outward-focused
  • Stuck in the past to excited about the future
  • Unloving to loving
  • Uninviting to inviting
  • Legalistic to joyous
  • Shallow to deep
  • Passive to active
  • Struggling to vibrant
  • Hurting to life-giving

But there are some misunderstandings on this subject. What one person means by a church turnaround might be completely different from what another person means.

So here are three things I don’t mean when I talk about a church turnaround.

(Today is the first post in Turnaround Week here at the Pivot blog.)

Turnaround Does NOT Mean…

1. Bigger

If you’re looking for ways to make your church bigger, the turnaround posts this week are not for you. In fact, almost nothing I write will be helpful to you.

It’s not that a numerically growing church is wrong. It’s great – especially when it’s also kingdom growth. It’s just not what I do. I tried to grow my church, and failed at it. So I won’t pretend I can help you do it.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your church has turned around just because it’s growing numerically. Or that it hasn’t if it isn’t. They aren’t necessarily the same thing.

2. Reboot

Some churches need to be stripped down, emptied out, and started all over again.

Turnaround is not about that.

Very few churches need a total reboot. The need is rare enough that I wonder why anyone would bother with the dismantling process, at all. Why destroy an old church, when you can just plant a new one? If it’s because you want to use a pre-existing building, I’ve never seen a building that’s been worth that hassle.

Turnaround is not about destroying one church to build another one.

Turnaround is not about destroying one church to build another one.

When I talk about a church turnaround, I mean taking an existing church, using its DNA, working with its congregation, re-discovering what drew people to it to begin with, then building on that core to see something new spring up.

Sometimes it means tweaking and redirecting existing good ideas to better uses. In other situations it means years of lovingly nurturing an all-but-dead plant back to life again.

This is spiritual healing, not spiritual demolition.

3. Predetermined

One of the biggest turnaround mistakes I see pastors make is thinking they know what the final product should look like.

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November 31, 2016 at 11:31 PM

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