CNLP 015: Turning Around a Declining Church without Blowing It Apart – An Interview with Dom Ruso

So how do you turn around a declining church without blowing it apart?

Can it even be done? Or will it always take years to do, if it’s even possible?

Dom Ruso talks about how he leveraged the past to help bring a church into a new future, more than doubling in size in just two years.

Yes, it can be done, and Dom explains what he did to help bring it about.

Welcome to Episode 15 of the podcast.

dom_ruso

Guest Links: Dom Ruso

Temple Baptist Church

Temple Baptist Church on Facebook

Temple Baptist Church on Twitter

Dom Ruso on Facebook

Dom Ruso on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Exponential Conference

Leading Change Without Losing It on Amazon

LeadingChangeWithoutLosingIt.com (The book’s official website with 12 free bonus videos)

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

With change, you take chances. You want to take the intentions of the past and apply them to the future, and sometimes those methodologies don’t work. But the heart from the previous generation is the same heart that wants to drive the future. Here are three ways that can help guide your church through a smoother transition:

  1. Understand the church’s history. People think that change equates to disloyalty, but in fact, you may find that not changing is being disloyal. Learn and listen, and review what didn’t work in the past. See how the church evolved, and look at how you can preserve the history. Explore what sacrifices were made and compare them to the sacrifices your church may have to make.You can leverage the past for the sake of the future. This will show that you have the church’s best interest in mind.
  2. Gauge the temperature for which the community can build change. If you invest into the church’s future, your congregation will trust you. If you can help your congregation focus on the mission, you can broker the past to leverage the future. But let them grieve. Listen and acknowledge their feelings because older generations of church members placed value on previous traditions.
  3. Celebrate the small wins. In his preaching, Dom celebrated. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion; you can weave celebration into the small milestones because they’re worth recognizing. Place emphasis on God’s blessings and what makes those moments special. Dom also recognized he had to pastor his team as they pastored the church. It gives encouragement to your teams that they can handle the growth. Coach your team to lead leaders.

Quotes From Dom

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Next Episode: Jeff Henderson

Can anyone become a better communicator? Jeff Henderson thinks so.

Whether you speak every weekend or are simply trying to improve your presentations in the boardroom, Jeff shares what will kill your next presentations or talk and what will make it great.

Subscribe now, and you won’t miss Episode 16.

Got a question?

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13 Comments

  1. Zachary Verbracken on March 31, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Great interview. I know that Dom isn’t as well known as some of the others, but there is a lot of wisdom here. It does leave me with a really big question though…and this could really be a podcast in itself…

    Around 27 minutes you discuss how he “coached (his) team to lead leaders rather than run ministries”.. and that even reminds me of something from the Tony Morgan interview… and how the highest level of leaders don’t just lead people, but the empower and equip other leaders to lead people.

    So with my team, we have all volunteers… and they all are pretty involved and invested in the ministry.. but what are some practical ways to equip volunteer leaders to lead others? What are some things I can do to help them grow as leaders?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 1, 2015 at 7:25 am

      Zachary…thanks for this. That’s part of my vision for the podcast…to interview ‘famous’ people and then leaders like the rest of us. Great insights come from both. For more on teams, try listening in on Episode 28 of the podcast with Warren Bird. http://www.careynieuwhof.com/episode28.

  2. Chuck on January 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    An important component of navigating change is GRIEF. Dom scored a major goal on that shot… Nicely done, once again!

  3. […] CNLP 015 How to Turn Around a Declining Church Without Blowing It Apart—An Interview with Dom Ruso (iTunes link here.) […]

  4. […] CNLP 015 How to Turn Around a Declining Church Without Blowing It Apart—An Interview with Dom Ruso (iTunes link here.) […]

  5. […] There are absolutely success stories out there from which to learn. Pastor Jeremy Franklin turned it around at Oasis Church (formerly Grace Temple Baptist Church) in Arlington, Texas. Pastor Bruce Moore gave his church one year to live and shared with them the date of their final service if they chose to remain the same. Now, Christ Fellowship in Tampa is a thriving, evangelistically effective multi-cultural church in the heart of a metro area. Pastor Dom Ruso has led a formerly large church that had experienced significant decline to shift things and grow again at Temple Baptist Church in Sarnia, Ontario (hear Cary Nieuwhof interview with Dom about his experience transitioning a declining church via Cary’s Leadership Podcast). […]

  6. What to Do When Your Church Seems to Be Dying on December 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    […] There are absolutely success stories out there from which to learn. Pastor Jeremy Franklin turned it around at Oasis Church (formerly Grace Temple Baptist Church) in Arlington, Texas. Pastor Bruce Moore gave his church one year to live and shared with them the date of their final service if they chose to remain the same. Now, Christ Fellowship in Tampa is a thriving, evangelistically effective multi-cultural church in the heart of a metro area. Pastor Dom Ruso has led a formerly large church that had experienced significant decline to shift things and grow again at Temple Baptist Church in Sarnia, Ontario (hear Cary Nieuwhof interview with Dom about his experience transitioning a declining church via Cary’s Leadership Podcast). […]

  7. Chris Shumate on December 28, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Another great podcast guest. I listened to it on a long drive to visit out of town family. The way he tried to avoid the school issue at first so that he could focus on other things is something I believe most leaders would have done. It seemed obvious the other things were more important in the short-term.

    However, he did what many leaders wouldn’t have, tackled the issue because it was obvious it wasn’t going anywhere, and it needed to be addressed immediately. Once he realized it couldn’t be dealt with later, he faced it head on. He faced it with grace and a desire to understand the benefits of keeping it open and shutting it down.

    I love how he found the founding pastor in the assisted living home and interviewed him. Dom really seemed to have wanted to honor the past while building the future of the church.

    Anytime I get the opportunity to talk with a charter member of the church I attend I always ask, “Did you realize when you broke from the other church that Faith Promise would be a multi-site campus in four counties reaching thousand?”

    Their answer has always been no. It’s like Jesus’ reminder to His disciples in Matthew 19:26 where He reminds them that with people it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Jesus was talking about salvation specifically. There have been many lives changed through what the founders of my church and other churches have done.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 28, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Love this Chris…and I think that’s what you get when you ask people who are part of a big church…”Did you ever think this would be as big as it got?” and they inevitably say ‘no’. I love that. God is doing what only he can do. So good!

  8. Chris Vacher on December 23, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Dom is the man. I love how God is using him to lead this church and inspire others as he does it.

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