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Beware the Potholes in the Turnaround Road

The dream of being a turnaround pastor comes when a pastor looks at a church that’s not producing fruit and realizes that God wants him to do something about it.

Usually, he sees something in that congregation that others can’t or won’t see. It’s a glorious challenge that some pastors accept.

Sometimes, he has to work hard to get the congregation to simply recognize that changes need to be made. Then he must convince the people that things can be different and that they can, with God’s help, regain positive momentum.

Once the church agrees to be open to the pastor’s leadership, the temptation is for the pastor to think he’s home free because everyone is behind him and the church is on its way to new relevance, strength and growth. He thinks that since the church has decided to make the U-turn, things should be easy now.

However, as difficult as it is to get a declining or plateaued congregation to agree it needs to make changes, the would-be turnaround pastor should be aware that more opposition is likely.

There are potholes in the road after the church turns around.

Check out the book of Nehemiah. The project God assigned was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. This was the start of the turnaround for the city after its destruction by the Babylonians. Nehemiah received a vision from God. He got the OK from the king. He had every reason to believe that he would be successful, but he still had plenty of continuing opposition to overcome.

Turnaround pastors can learn from Nehemiah that even with assurance of success, you can expect opposition when you strive to fulfill God’s dream. It’s easier to deal with potholes if you know to expect them.

Here are some of the things you can expect to hear:

“This is not the right time.”

These folks will say they agree that the church needs to change, but this is just a bad time to make those changes. They will point to any one of a number of things as evidence—from a bad economy to the wrong time of year. Delay is their goal.

“It will take too much time.”

Those in opposition will say they don’t really believe it can be done because they believe either the pastor or the people will lose interest or become exhausted before the job is done.