I wanted to see the new energy and enthusiasm at Turnagain UMC for myself last Sunday. Pastor Dale Kelley came out of retirement last summer to Turnagain. She wasn't there very long having recently completed a year of interim pastoring at First Christian Church. Her interim period at TUMC is being extended for a second year as the congregation works to reestablish a stronger base to afford a full time pastor.
Since arriving last summer Turnagain's worship attendance has doubled. Nine new members were received since Christmas and many upgrades have happened to their building.
Some churches think that having a young pastor with a family is key to growing their church. Well, Pastor Dale is not (Sorry, Dale) young, nor does she bring a family other than dear friend and fellow church servant, Joan Flowers. So why is Turnagain UMC turning around? I encourage you to ask Dale. My answer in part has to do with the one question she asked when she arrived. When confronted with all the reasons why they could not do this or that ministry due to outside groups using their building she heard, "They've been here for a long time. We don't want to hurt their feelings." To this Dale asked over and over, "Is it the mission of this church to be in the landlord business or the disciple-making business?" It was this question that sparked a conversation in that church that eventually led them to gracefully exit a group or two that was part of the renewal at Turnagain.
Lay and clergy leaders. What ministries or events are you doing that may be taking energy away from our primary mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ? Ask Dale to tell the story of Turnagain's turnaround. There just might be something in it that could be reproduced in your church.
Grace and peace,