Dying To Restart

Churches Choosing a Strategic Death for a Multiplying Life


Numerous books have been written to help churches lead revitalization efforts or tweak what they’re doing to stay healthy and reproduce. But the reality is that numerous churches have tried everything these books suggest—and are still nearing death, perpetually finding themselves at what Exponential identifies as a Level 1 survival culture.

In Dying to Restart, Greg Wiens and Dan Turner address that reality. The authors bring their collective experience (more than a couple decades) of working with and leading churches to help churches process the idea of an actual restart—and then execute it.

A “church restart,” the authors say, combines all of the approaches of church planting with the pastoral work of helping a congregation die with dignity. The existing church chooses a definitive ending characterized by a radical yielding of power and control to new guiding leadership. The goal of a restart is to create a wholly different body with holy different DNA. In this new culture, the church will be healthy in all ways, including its ability to build disciples and multiply itself, producing other disciple-making churches (Level 5).

The authors have packed this book with real stories of Level 1 churches that chose a purposeful death to experience new life (Level 4 or 5). They conducted nearly 24 interviews with pastors who have led restart efforts.

“We hope this resource can serve the Church,” they write, “by filling the information gap for churches that have been living on the edge of death for too long.”

Key takeaways:

  • Real stories and church profiles from leaders who have led church restarts
  • Thorough discussion of the natural life cycles that all churches go through
  • Descriptions and examples of the various kinds of restarts
  • Scriptural examination of the theology behind restarts and the distorted theology many churches are living out (“We can’t let the church die,” “We can be faithful without being fruitful,” etc.).
  • Essential characteristics of restart leaders
  • The most critical decision a restart church will make
  • How to secure congregation buy-in
  • The importance of confronting hard challenges upfront
  • The landmine potential of not paying attention to the details
  • Understanding the various phases of a restart
  • The specific changes each church needs to be prepared for
  • The role of the remnant (those who stay in the new church)
  • A realistic look at life after the restart
  • What it takes to restart with missional DNA that leads to Level 5 multiplication
Greg Wiens
Greg has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 40 years. He has worked with organizations that range in size and interest from Fortune 100 companies and public schools, to small non-profits and churches. His forte is assessing leaders and his passion is seeing the Kingdom expanded through challenging leaders toward health and impact. He has been an engineer, consultant, professor, psychometrician, pastor and started churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads Healthy Growing Leaders which designs, develops and debriefs assessments on leaders and organizations.  He also leads TrueWiring and TrueWiring4Churches which offers a variety of assessment instruments which enable individuals to function in their uniquely gifted ways. Greg has authored or co-authored 4 books and developed 20 different assessments in a variety of fields.  He has also been part of thousands of leadership assessments over the past four decades. Greg has been married for over 42 years to his gracious wife, Mary Kay.  Which is amazing because Greg didn’t even think he would live to be 42, let alone be married that long!  They have been blessed with three married children (Jordan & Jaime Wiens, Steve & Erin Southards, and Colin & Cayla Wiens) and seven grandchildren.  He loves running, learning and celebrating every season of life which he has thus far lived.
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Dan Turner
Dan Turner is the founding pastor of Northwest Community Church in the middle of Washington, D.C. The church was restarted from an older church nearing death. He led the congregation through a full closure in 2006, built a launch team, and relaunched the church several months later. Since the restart, attendance has quadrupled, and the church is now actively involved in ministry in their Dying to Restart 120 local neighborhoods. Dan has also served on staff with the D.C. area church district of the Church of God, Anderson. Dan earned his Master of Divinity from Anderson Seminary School of Theology and his Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Seminary. Before accepting the call into ministry, he served as a civil engineer with a manufacturing company and as a research engineer with the Federal Highway Administration. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dan is married to Kristie, and they are in the midst of managing both a growing church and a growing family. They have three very active children all under the age of nine.
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