Turnaround pastors are distinguished by how they deal with one question.

Not by their answers. By how they deal with the question.

Turnaround pastors reframe the question because there’s no right answer

“Is the church for believers or unbelievers?”

Every pastor has to field this one.

Turnaround pastors reject the question as posed.

They know it’s a trap so they reframe it, putting the issue in proper terms.

And they come to the right answer.

“The church is for God, it’s not for us.”

Why does a turnaround pastor reframe the wrong question?

You end up embroiled in pointless debates about whether to frame worship and preaching to appeal to (translate, “touch the felt needs of…”) believers or unbelievers.

You end up becoming a purveyor of religious goods and services – one among many – in the hopes of attracting a crowd.

Mission ends up becoming one more program that is coordinate in value with various other identity-group-focus ministries. It loses its central place in the life of the congregation.

The church’s activities end up becoming commodities and the people in attendance become consumers.

What happens when a turnaround pastor asks the right question?

God assumes to his rightful place. You, the congregation and the community return to proper places.

God becomes the consumer; he is in attendance to receive the praise and adoration he richly deserves. He receives confession and restores fellowship. He hears petitions and dispenses grace. He sits enthroned upon the praises of his people, to his own great delight.

(If I was feeling cynical today I might go so far as to say what we get out of it is irrelevant)

The church members become the product. Recall that God is on a mission to bless the nations. The church’s role is to advance that work by making disciples. Jesus has given us the product specifications and the best practices.

You will cull out people whose affections are on themselves or some other idol and not on the Lord. It’s too bad that this happens. What pastor wouldn’t rather that everyone get on board? But the reality is that some, maybe most, will exfiltrate. Those who take their election and calling seriously will replace them.

The mission is restored to its rightful place. As people draw closer to the Lord, his passions become theirs. They move into the community and the marketplace bearing the message, motivated by love rather than duty.

Pastors are relieved of the ungodly, unintended burden of “marketing the church.”


What can you do, pastor, to help your congregation began asking the right question?