Is Turnaround Biblical?
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
To borrow a title of an old TV series, many churches today are in need of an "Extreme Makeover." But is a church makeover biblical? Is turnaround just a popular concept borrowed from the corporate world, or is there a scriptural mandate for turnaround and revitalization?
While the specific term, turnaround, is not found in Scripture, the turnaround concept is certainly prevalent throughout the Bible. Biblical writer spoke of repentance rather than turnaround. The Hebrew word for repentance used in the Old Testament is shuv. While there are many nuances, its basic meaning is "to turn" or "to return." One of the key biblical passages regarding repentance and revival is found in II Chronicles...
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn (shuv) from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)
While this passage is written to the entire nation of Israel; by application, the same principles of repentance and restoration also apply to individuals and churches today.
A brief survey of biblical history clearly demonstrates the concept of turnaround.
Judges - There is a repeated cycle in Israel's history of rebellion, repression (by foreign nation), repentance, rescue (by a judge) and restoration. When God's people repented, God raised up turnaround leaders or judges to lead Israel to victory again. What a remarkable picture of turnaround ministry in the church, as well.
The Prophets - Even after the period of the judges, Israel continued to rebel against God. The common cry of the Old Testament prophets was one of repentance (turn back to God).
The New Testament - John the Baptist preached repentance in anticipation of the coming Messiah. Jesus proclaimed that He came to "call sinners to repentance." Peter preached repentance on the day of Pentecost. In the New Testament, repentance is not just an external about-face; it is an internal heart matter.
Revelation - Although each of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 is different, with its own unique context and circumstances, a common theme runs throughout. Jesus calls each church to repent or turnaround so they can experience spiritual renewal or revitalization.
Is turnaround biblical? Absolutely. In fact, two of the most popular stories in the Bible are turnaround stories - the story of Jonah in the Old Testament and the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament.
Turnaround is not only a biblical concept; it is a biblical mandate.
Adapted from Chapter 4 of "Revitalize Your Church" (Biblical Foundations)