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Dying to Restart

Churches Choosing a Strategic Death for a Multiplying Life

Greg Wiens and Dan Turner

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

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Author(s)

Greg Wiens

Greg has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 35 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 leadership and his passion is to see the Kingdom expanded through helping leaders understand their unique wiring and their A-Game. He has pastored and planted churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads two missionally focused organizations: Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders. In addition, Greg has developed 15 different assessments in a variety of fields.

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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