First Steps in Turnaround - Part 2: Organize

First Steps in Turnaround – Part 2. ORGANIZE


This is the second part in a series which comes from the 2016 Turnaround 2020 Plan Book. A full version of this plan book is available by download at or by hard copy from Congregational Ministries, 573-785-7746.

A. Improve Your Worship Service

☐ What do we do well?
☐ What is confusing or threatening to guests?
☐ What is goofy and needs to be changed?
☐ What needs to be updated?
☐ Is there a growth barrier we are facing?
☐ Do we consider the first time visitor to be a guest?
☐ Is our worship dynamic small group or large group?

Since worship is THE entry point to almost every church these days, what we do in worship will set the stage for our success or failure to reach people. It is always nice to lead with your strength. So honestly ask yourself “What do we do well in our worship?” By asking that question you must also determine what you do not do so well or what you do poorly.

B. The Ministry of Record Keeping

First steps in evangelism, outreach, and turnaround begin with the behind the scenes ministry of good records. Record keeping strategies may be complex or simple. It really doesn’t matter as long as they are effective!

A quick look at the Bible illustrates the historical importance of numbers. There is even an Old Testament book called Numbers! The New Testament records the numbers of people who had lunch with Jesus—4,000 on one occasion; 5,000 on another—and even how they sat in groups of 50 (Luke 10:14).


Some of the most important numbers only rarely make a ‘public’ appearance. That is, they are generally not communicated openly. However, they remain very important. The leader of a growing congregation will undoubtedly be aware of them.

1. The Size of the Crowd.

“If everyone had been here.” This statement often consoles us on low attendance days or celebrates a full house that would have been beyond capacity if everyone had been present on a high attendance day.

The crowd is composed of those folks who attend at least once in a while. One convenient measure of the crowd is to identify those folks who attend at least once every 6-8 weeks.

Why is it so important to know the size of and the identity of the crowd? The size of the crowd indicates the potential the church has to grow and impact people. The identity of those who make up the crowd indicates who it is that we are most likely to win to faith in Christ and faithfulness to His church.

The size of the Crowd2. Total Weekly Participation.

In the Family Based Church everyone attends everything. These churches function like an extended family. They are generally smaller in size. It is not uncommon for activities to be cancelled if even a few cannot attend.

A Program Based Church will have a more developed and diverse program where no one attends everything but everyone attends something. Total weekly participation, then, is a measure of who attended at least one ministry activity in a given week. It is determined by a cross reference of attendance reports so that everyone who attends at least once in the week is counted but is only counted one time per week for the overall participation level.
3. Percentage of the Congregation Present for Five Years or Less.

“I’m on my third congregation!” reported the pastor of a middle sized church. Having been pastor there for nearly 20 years he had discovered first hand that church folks are mobile. They move away. They drop out. Others drop in. Every year there are funerals!

Other measures of tenure could be used. A very important one is the percentage of folks who have become part of the congregation since the current pastor arrived.

Each of these measure the likelihood of leading change and maintaining relevance. Change is most likely when enough newer folks with newer ideas come into leadership roles. The pastor is most likely to lead change when a large percentage of the congregation has come into the church since he began his ministry.

Numbers will not track themselves. Use of some church management software or the development of a spreadsheet will make the task easier. In the church of 200 or fewer a good notebook and clipboard will cover most of the bases. Volunteer office helpers can do much of the record keeping. Whatever system is used, however, must ring true to the old adage “We count people because people count!”

C. Prepare for Guests

☐ Develop a Standardized Welcome
☐ Use Communication cards or other non-threatening means to gain guest information
☐ Greeter Training
☐ Hospitality Teams
☐ Be User friendly: park in the back—move to the front—scoot to the middle
☐ Plan for Follow-up

Note: Remember, regardless of music performance or message deliverance, a person must be welcomed into the church in a friendly and helpful way or the first impression of the church will be a negative one, and it will be unlikely that the guest will ever return a second time.

1. Develop a Standardized Welcome

“Good morning. Welcome to __________ church today. It’s so good to see you here! We have an engaging worship experience planned and I trust you received a worship folder (or program or guide or bulletin) as you entered today. If you didn’t receive one please raise your hand and one of our greeters will bring you one.

Inside the worship folder you will find an order of service with some information about what we will be doing, a sermon guide so you will be able to take notes and a communication card. We ask that our regular attenders please print your names and e-mail addresses along with any updated information and prayer concerns. If you are our guests today please complete as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. I want to assure you that we will not embarrass you or use this information irresponsibly but we will attempt to provide you with more information about our church.

I know there are a number of fine churches in our community that you could be attending today and that there are any number of other activities that could have taken your time, so I want to say “Thanks” for sharing the day with us.

Would you please stand with me as we being our worship with a prayer? Then please remain standing as we will sing together.”

The Communication Card2. The Communication Card

The best communication cards will include

  • An obvious way to respond to become a Christian.
  • A customized means of response to the day’s worship service.
  • An opportunity to volunteer or sign up for special events.
  • An avenue to report prayer concerns and praise reports.

A collection process at the conclusion of the service, even if the offering has been collected earlier, will also enhance the response process.

3. Greeter Training

Greeters should be organized and trained. Greeters should be friendly, knowledgeable people who are placed at strategic locations to meet and greet those who attend the worship service. Churches that do not have parking teams may find benefit to placing greeters on the parking lot. See the book Fusion by Nelson Searcy for more information on greeters. Another handy, targeted resource may be found in Church Greeters 101: Putting the Pieces Together for an Effective Greeting Team and Ministry by Christopher Walker.

4. Hospitality and First Impressions Team

Will refreshments be served? If so who will provide, prepare, serve and clean? Perhaps hospitality features should be introduced on special days or once each month. First impressions helps us understand how to make maximum impact on the guests the Lord sends to us. A handy resource will be found in First Impressions (Revised): Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church by Mark L. Waltz.

5. Be User Friendly

View everything through the lens of the first-time, unchurched guest. Announcements and church language need to be minimized or eliminated if they confuse the first-time guest.

D. Plan for Follow Up

Follow-up is essential if we are to conserve the results of our outreach efforts. Since each guest is a gift from the Lord each one should be treated as a special person.

Six Steps to Make Worship More Inspiring

STEP 1: Start with the sermon.

Sermons that engage real life questions and issues with real life application help make worship more inspiring.

STEP 2: Involve more people.

Worship is not just a spectator event. Members of the congregation can be intentionally involved by planning for testimonies, encouraging a variety of special music, enlisting greeters and ushers, and arranging Scripture readers.

STEP 3: Visit other churches.

While every church is unique and no church should simply copy what another is doing, every church can learn from other churches what works in worship in their settings.

STEP 4: Look at the music.

Worship leaders are often surprised by how few hymns and songs are used when the list of music that is used is compiled over a year or so. While a steady diet of all new songs can be difficult, so can a steady diet of 10-12 hymns and gospel songs that are repeated throughout the year.

STEP 5: Use seasonal themes.

When the worship planner looks at the church year and the civil calendar and includes these elements in the worship service it becomes more inspirational since it connects to elements of life that are common to our culture.

STEP 6: Recognize time constraints.

Every local church will develop its own worship culture as to what is an appropriate length of time for most worship services. Worship that inspires will therefore be worship that is planned to fit within the accepted time frames of the participants.


First Steps in Turnaround – Part 1. RECOGNIZE


This is the first part in a series which comes from the 2016 Turnaround 2020 Plan Book. A full version of this plan book is available by download at or by hard copy from Congregational Ministries, 573-785-7746.

What Is Your Church’s Redemptive Potential?

Suppose your church became all that the Lord intended it to become? What might result? What is the full redemptive potential of a local church? Is it measured by attendance, programs, life transformation or some other metric?

A variety of factors impact the redemptive potential of any local church. Some of them are simple and practical. For example, megachurches are always found in large population centers. Villages do not contain the level of population to produce a megachurch.

Other factors are more complex and elusive. Craig Groeschel wrote a few years ago about having “It” and while sometimes “It” can be identified, it is often more obvious when “It” is missing.

In our Turnaround 2020 strategy we first take stock of the current reality. By recognizing where we are, we should be better able to chart where the Lord will lead us as we endeavor to become all that He intends us to become.

A. Church Life Cycles

Churches, like the people who comprise them, move through cycles in their existence. Some of these cycles a church moves through are life cycles. People are born, grow to maturity, then they age and die. Churches, too, are born and grow to maturity. Churches age. Some churches complete their life cycle and others discover new periods of growth and development.

Learning where a church is on its life cycle helps church leaders develop appropriate strategies. Learning life cycle status often provides a sense of urgency for church leaders as they plan for new cycles of growth and development to avoid the life cycle of decline. Life cycle may be measured by attitudes, chronology and comfort zone.

Because the life cycle is not always as predictable and smooth as many may think, it is important to avoid alarm over short periods of plateau or decline. The best possible advice for any church is to remain vigilant. Once a problem is spotted, ensure that all possible measures are taken to reverse decline before it leads to drop out and death. Continue reading

First Steps in Turnaround

First Steps in Turnaround – An Introduction

First Steps in Turnaround: Recognize, Organize, Mobilize

This is the first part in a series which comes from the 2016 Turnaround 2020 Plan Book written and compiled by Dr. Franklin R. Dumond, Director of Congregational Ministries. A full version of this plan book is available by download at or by hard copy from Congregational Ministries, 573-785-7746.

I received an unusual combination Father’s Day/Birthday gift this year. The gift was a print out of plans for a new picnic table for the backyard along with the promise of assistance with the labor to construct the project. The plans had been selected based on seating capacity and the design features that would allow an umbrella to be placed in the center of the octagonal shape of the picnic table.

Investigating the plans for shaping rectangular boards into an octagonal pattern revealed a series of angled cuts and pocket holes for screws that seemed a bit complex but manageable. Further investigation of the size of the table and the amount of lumber included suggested that it would be heavy. Indeed, it appeared it would be very, very heavy. Since we planned to place the table in the backyard to take advantage of shade from our large pecan tree, it appeared that the very, very heavy table would need to be moved several times each year to mow the grass.

Evaluating the plans against our carpentry skills and with the notion of mobility in mind led us to scrap the elaborate octagonal shaped table in favor of a traditional rectangular picnic table.

Churches and their leaders who plan and work toward turnaround must use the same kind of process to discern the right plan to both take advantage of the human resources available in the congregation and reach the unchurched and dechurched population in the community.

Turnaround 2020 will assist General Baptist churches to discover and to achieve their full redemptive potential by the year 2020. Many participating churches will see significant increases in attendance. Others will double or triple in size as they realize the potential the Lord has placed before them. Still others will see revitalized programs and more effective ministries as a result of Turnaround 2020.

Turnaround 2020 - First StepsTurnaround, by simple definition, results in something different. Change can be awkward and frightening or it can be pleasant and rewarding. Undergirding our overall approach to turnaround in existing congregations are four core principles that will always show up in turnaround.

  1. An outward focus will be regained or intensified.
  2. Members will display responsible, high-expectation behavior.
  3. A clear discipleship process will be in place.
  4. Leadership and relational skills will constantly improve.

Continue reading

Turnaround 2020

Turnaround 2020 – A Challenge from Clint Cook

2016 marks the first year of a five-year General Baptist initiative called TURNAROUND 2020. Turnaround 2020 will assist General Baptist churches to discover and to achieve their full redemptive potential by the year 2020. What if…

  • What if more of our General Baptist churches would double or triple in worship attendance over the next five years?
  • What if our General Baptist churches experienced the largest number of conversions and baptisms ever in our history? Would we be a healthier church? A healthier movement?
  • What would happen in the communities where our General Baptist churches are located if we went outside the walls of our buildings and ministered to the hurting, the needy, and the underprivileged, just like Jesus did when he walked the dusty streets of his hometown?
  • What if, as church leaders and members, we started praying intentionally for the lost and unchurched people of our communities to come and visit our churches for the first time?
  • What would happen in our General Baptist churches if we wept and prayed over our communities as Jesus did over Jerusalem?
  • What would happen to all of our General Baptist churches if we once again relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and bring a fresh wind of revival and renewal to every General Baptist member’s heart?

If this initiative called “TURNAROUND 2020” is going to happen, please allow me to challenge our pastors and church leaders in a few areas.


I want to challenge our pastors and preachers to remember God’s call. Go back in your mind and recall what it was like when you first heard His voice, as Samuel did, or as Isaiah did. Do you remember specifically what you felt and how you answered? Can you feel the heavy burden He placed upon your heart? Church leaders, do you realize we only have a limited amount of time to share the gospel?

We must remember that when God called us to preach, or to pastor, or to teach, or to minister, or to start a local church, it was not an afterthought – it was for a specific reason. God does not call a person or start a church without a specific reason for doing so. Continue reading

Turnaround 2020

Turnaround 2020 Launches!

The new Church Growth initiative, Turnaround 2020, was recently launched at the 2016 Mission & Ministry Summit. General Baptist Ministries is pleased to announce the launch of the corresponding website,!

Turnaround 2020 will assist General Baptist churches to discover and to achieve their full redemptive potential by the year 2020.  Many participating churches will see significant increases in attendance.  Others will double or triple in size as they realize the potential the Lord has placed before them.  Still others will see revitalized programs and more effective ministries. Turnaround, by simple definition, results in something different.  Change can be awkward and frightening or it can be pleasant and rewarding.  Undergirding our overall approach to turnaround in existing congregations are four core principles that will always show up in turnaround.

  1. An outward focus will be regained or intensified.
  2. Members will display responsible, high-expectation behavior.
  3. A clear discipleship process will be in place.
  4. Leadership and relational skills will constantly improve.

Turnaround 2020 is offered to maximize Kingdom impact by equipping and inspiring local churches to accomplish the Great Commission.  Many of these churches are already well down the road of turnaround.  Others are just beginning that sometimes daunting task.  Thus in addition to the plan book, coaching and mentoring opportunities will also be organized for those who are willing to make that level of higher commitment.

Turnaround 2020 addresses three important areas of turnaround found in numeric decline, the lack of evangelism and ministry ineffectiveness.

These will be addressed through a plan book produced annually to provide assistance with assessment, systems development and leadership training.  A storyboard of real life turnaround efforts reported by a variety of churches will also be developed as a companion piece and included on the website.  The plan book will be freely distributed by download and made available to all who request it.

Continue reading

Shelly Summerfield Team

A Conversation With Shelly Summerfield

Visit with Shelly Summerfield and discover the importance of your prayer and financial support of those among us who serve overseas.

This post was originally published in the 2016 Spring issue of the GB Messenger. Don’t receive the Messenger? You can always catch the latest digital issue on the Messenger website,

SHelly SummerfieldLet’s begin with the big question: Why did you go to China?

Some people thought I was crazy for going to China but long story short—I was called and I went. I told people I wanted to experience something new—like a new culture, language, or yada yada but the real reason was I wanted to experience God in a new light—different from the typical “American Christian” way. And I did.

So, how was it?

My first year was the best year of my life. I was on a team of seven in a relatively small city. We taught together, prayed together, kept each other accountable and did life together. Students were drawn to us—they wanted to hear about Jesus.  The second year, God did a number on me. I moved to a larger city, had a smaller team, had a hard time teaching, but I got what I asked Him for—an experience that would help me see Him better. In a new way, I realized my need for Him—His love, His identity. It was hard—but I would do it all over again.

What do you miss?

What don’t I miss?! I miss the amazing food (very different from the American—Chinese “buffet” we know here.) I miss the welcoming and hospitable people—caring for me and helping me navigate life in their country.  And I miss the strategic relationships that were so obviously planned by the Father. Like with Cindy. When I met Cindy, she was closed off to the Father. One day she saw my Bible, and said she wanted to read it with me. I still see her face as she responded to the Word and to our conversation and I ask regularly that the Father will capture her heart. Cindy reminds me how God really uses us even when we don’t realize it.

Sounds like God answered your prayer about experiencing Him in a new light.

Yes, I learned so much about myself living overseas. Like, I am sinful, flawed, and redeemed all at the same time. I learned He is passionate about His name being made known among the nations. I learned that serving Him isn’t about me—it’s about Him.  About what He came to this earth to do. About what He did on the cross. About seeking Him first and keeping our eyes on Him daily. Those are lessons I’ll carry the rest of my life. Continue reading