A godly servant of the Lord started a church through the calling and commission of the Lord. The church grew for some time, moved to her own building and the founder died. His associates could not hold the church together due to infighting and wrong people in positions and the church nosedived seriously until only about 8 people were left. Then by miraculous intervention, a young dynamic Pastor was installed as the new head of the church. After about 5 years, the turn around was in full swing and recently when I visited that church, there were more than 350 people worshipping joyfully there. More than anytime in history, pastors and church leaders needs the art and skill of bringing turnaround to sick,small,stagnant and struggling churches today.
We need to understand that nearly 1,500 churches close every month and we are only planting about 1,200 churches every month across Africa. That leaves us with a short-fall of 300 churches, while population explosion shows that we need 4,000 new churches every month. We can therefore understand that turning around declining churches as well as planting new ones is very much a part of Christ’s mission.
A.Foundation and Facts – Rev. 3:1-3
Christ gave the mandate that church leaders must “Strengthen what remains” of the old, dying churches. Church Turnaround is the effort to bring life back to a dying, declining and downward looking church.
♦ 85% of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches are dying, plateau or declining.
♦ Many once vibrant and growing churches are now in a tail-spin.
♦ Lots of churches are closing down due to many factors.
♦ Lots of once growing churches are now empty and declined.
♦ Established churches of over 25 years are leading the way in stagnation.
♦ Churches with higher percentage of women than men will soon start dying from within.
♦ Churches settled in ritualism, dogma, lifeless and prosperous comfort zone.
♦ Churches with more members in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are declining and stagnant today due to avoidable factors. It’s time to wake up the dead and dying churches!
B.Conditions That Require Turn-Around – Rev. 2, 3
Jesus Christ is infinitely concerned with the condition of our churches. He when He sent messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor, itemizing their various conditions. As it was then, so it is today. When you find your church in any of these conditions, within or without, then you need a turn-around:-
1.A church that is losing members regularly, morale is low and things are looking very bleak, year in year out.
2.A church that was once full, but now empty due to scandals by Pastor and the Elders have taken over, yet things are going down gradually.
3.A church that is outwardly okay, but contends with lots of internal squabbles, infighting among leadership and calamities among the people.
4.A church that is full with people, but 90% are not truly saved, and full of carnal attitudes, ungodliness and witchcraft manipulations.
5.A church that has old, ultra-conservative leaders, who refuse to abdicate and hand over to younger leaders, in spite of the fact that things are fast going down.
6.A church that has the same attendance year in year out and growth is very difficult. People come, but they don’t stay.
7.A church where the brightest stars and future prospects are driven away and attendance remains same but growth is very difficult to come by.
8.A church where her past leaders have raped, abused and tore her down and the new leaders are battling with doubt and trust.
9.A small church with old Christians (65 years and above) who have been around for dozens of years, resisting change and is no longer growing, though materially wealthy.
10.A church that has literally shut her doors due to wrong foundation, leadership tussle, scandals and a new Pastor has just taken over.
If your church can identify with any of these 10 conditions one way or the other, then you surely need a turnaround.
C. Levels of Church Turnaround
To one degree or the other, every church needs a turnaround. The church is a living organism and has a lifespan. Without adequate care and skill, that life can ebb away and die prematurely.
❖ When a church is less than 15 years old, turnaround is relatively easy.
❖ When a church is over 30 years old, the culture is deeply rooted and turnaround is very difficult.
❖ A small church may turn around in a relatively short space of time, all things being equal.
❖ A Pastor that led a church to decline cannot bring it back to life, except in few instances.
❖ A larger church takes time to experience turnaround due to the influence of power brokers.
❖ A family church almost always finds turnaround very problematic
Turn around is bringing life, vitality and growth back to a deviating, downward spiraling church or ministry. It is stopping the losses, freefall and stagnation of a church or churches. When churches lose divine purpose, divine pattern, divine message, then turnaround is needed. The divine purposes for every local church are:
▪ Exalt Jesus.
▪ Evangelize the lost.
▪ Engage the enemy.
▪ Edify the saints.
▪ Equip people for ministry.
▪ Expand the kingdom.
✓ After 10 years, every church needs renewal of vision and life.
✓ After 15 years, there must be turn around of church departments.
✓ Without turn around efforts, churches move into monotony and lifeless work.
✓ Internal barriers to vitality are always present in churches.
✓ It is easy for churches to enter into rut, auto pilot and lose purpose.
✓ Unconsciously, retardation, weeds and obstacles to growth and health will find their ways into the church.
What kills churches usually grows up inside the churches, and without conscious effort to sanitize, fumigate and weed out those things, the church will deviate, digress and lose steam. (Acts 6:1-2)