One of the challenges in turning around a church is overcoming the community’s “bad feelings” about the church.  Some is that a church is by nature often at odds with the world. But in many cases it’s because of bad choices by previous pastors or members.  These need to be addressed.

Pastor Horst Bittner of Tubingen, Germany noticed a spirit of darkness in the town when he was first posted there to take over the church.  It was everywhere, even in the church.  During a period of prayer, it was revealed to him that Tubingen had a long history of anti-semitism, and many Nazis – even Gestapo – had attended Tubingen University. Some of his church memers were the children and grandchildren of concentration camp guards.  Since “the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children”,  pastor Bittner led his congregation to repent for the sin of oppression of the Jews.  They repented for their own families, and for their neighbors.  They took prayer walks around the community to fight against the spirits of darkness there.  When they did this, revival broke out.  He is now organizing marches of Germans from the cities out to the concentration camp sites and leading inprayers of repentance.  In some cases, the marches include former prisoners and former guards, and they are able to be reconciled.

Your church’s past is probably less dramatic.  But think of your own history.  Was the church started as a mission or church plant, or was it the remnant that left during a church split to form a new congregation?  In that case, the church should repent of the division.  There are times a division is necessary – the reformation involved disagreements between the established church heirarchy and the new congregations.  But when the honest theological differences give rise to anger and bitterness, the people slip into sin; that sin – however old – needs to be repented from.

Sometimes the issues are more recent.  Did the church allow sin to go unchecked and merely breathed a collective sigh of relief when the person(persons) involved left?  The stain of the sin remains, and should be dealt with.  Is there lingering anger between members?  Get over it and repent. 

This is not the only action needed to turn around a church, but will certainly hinder the restoration.