Does Your Church Need A Turnaround?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:00:00 AM
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Churches often struggle and, sadly, they often also die.  This doesn't have to be the case.  Don Ross is a coach who understands how hard it can be to lead a church from decline and obscurity to impact and influence.  We thought it would encourage you to hear what he has to say about turning churches around.          ~ChurchTeams


What is a Turnaround Church? Turnaround Churches are churches that experience a decline nearly impossible to reverse, but somehow reverse direction anyway. Most churches in similar situations simply go out of business. What are the critical aspects of a church and pastor that see terminal decline turned into growth?

1) Admit The Painful Truth. A church must recognize that, due to consistent decline, it will be out of business soon. A turnaround church is one that has courageously decided to face this truth and makes a commitment to do whatever it takes to reverse this trend This includes making a series of extremely difficult and painful decisions to reverse that trend.

2) Have Only One Agenda.  Both the pastor and church leaders need to work together to “Strengthen what remains and is about to die” Rev. 3:1-3. This is hard work, but it is necessary.  People in Turnaround Churches intentionally lay aside their own agendas and wants for the sake of the mission and for the betterment of the whole.   When the leaders and church are willing to pay the price, the church will to not only survive, but also begin to thrive. 

3) Clear Communication.  For a Turnaround Church clearly and repeatedly communicating the vision is a must!  Clear communication is not possible without opening every line of communication.  Therefore, Turnaround Churches address every blockage of communication from software, to Sunday announcements, to conflict resolution.

4) Stick It Out.  Being a turnaround leader is rewarding, but much like a parent who waits years before being appreciated by their children, you will need to be willing to wait and endure to see the results you are working towards. There is no “quick fix” to seeing a declining church reverse direction, but it can happen, and it needs to happen. Turnaround Churches are always shepherded by a leader who has enough grit to stick it out through the difficult years.

No one can guarantee that a turnaround is possible.  However, without intervention, a church-death is a guarantee.  If you’ll hear God’s call and lead a declining church you can be used by God to breath new life into a struggling congregation. Are you up for it? If you are, there are thousands of opportunities, as America is filled with declining churches. Which one will stay alive because you said yes to Jesus? 

Donald Ross is the founder and lead coach of the Turnaround Church Coaching Network, where pastors are taught to navigate the critical decisions in helping their churches turnaround.  Don has served as the lead pastor of the Creekside Church in the Seattle area since 1995. This 60-year old church, once 2000 in attendance, declined over fifteen years to a painful Sunday attendance of 150 people. Don first served as a consultant to the church, and then became pastor.  After 10 years at Creekside the church has 600 weekly attenders.  For more information about Don and his coaching network go to