The Remarkable Story of an Institutional Transformation and the 10 Essential Principles and Practices that made it happen

Turnaround book cover

Turning conventional leadership wisdom on its head.

When Dr. Jason K. Allen arrived on the campus of Midwestern Seminary, it was in rough shape. Its campus and reputation were underwhelming to say the least. How did this seminary become the fastest growing and one of the largest seminaries in the world? In this book, Dr. Allen shares the leadership principles he learned through the turnaround of Midwestern Seminary—principles you’ll be able to apply in whatever area God has called you to lead.

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Introductions from the Author

How leaders can benefit from Turnaround

The story of Turnaround

Turnaround is for those who lead

Quotes from Turnaround

Faithful and biblical leadership is convictional
Leadership is not easy, but simple


DA Carson on Turnaround
Andrew Roberts on Turnaround
Dayton Moore on Turnaround
Donald Whitney on Turnaround
Steven Lawson on Turnaround
David Dockery on Turnaround

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Author Q&A

Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write it?
The story of Midwestern Seminary over the past decade is one of the most remarkable stories in all of American higher education and is altogether unique in the world of theological education. God’s kind providence has been on us every step of the way, and that’s a story that needs to be told.

In so doing, I hope to strengthen the hand of Christian leaders regardless of their context of service. Whether it’s in the home, an institution, the local church, or even in a secular context, this book has something for every leader. I pray it’ll be widely read, and that as it is, a new generation of Christian leaders will rise to the challenge.

For whom did you write this book?
I wrote this book for all who lead or who aspire to lead. Though organizational and local church leaders will find an abundance of application, most everyone who leads or who aspires to lead will benefit from Turnaround.

More broadly, I believe every reader will be heartened by the story of God’s work at Midwestern Seminary this past decade and will be renewed in their courage to step up and lead in this generation, a generation where the leader will confront so many different challenges.

In the introduction, you said “this book turns conventional leadership wisdom on its head.” Can you unpack that a bit?
Our generation finds itself swimming in an ocean of leadership materials. Books, magazines, podcasts, conferences, workshops, and a host of other sources continually churn out the latest in management techniques and organizational theory. Of course, the great irony is that though we are inundated with these resources, our generation seems to lack true, convictional leaders in sufficient numbers.

We see disfunction in Washington and, often, division and apathy in our churches. To engage in public leadership is to undertake a responsibility fraught with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Thus, Turnaround recognizes these dynamics and points the reader to timeless principles and practices that have always marked healthy leaders and organizations. I argue that leadership is simple—not easy, but simple—and is largely intuitive, commonsensical, and contextual.

Talk about your own leadership journey. How did you discover these leadership principles and practices that were pivotal in the transformation at Midwestern Seminary?
I believe that leadership is largely intuitive with every person learning how to lead in his or her own context. Like everyone else, many have invested in me over the years. The list includes parents, older brothers, pastors, organizational and institutional leaders, and many, many more.

Through all of that, I’ve also sought to be steeped in Scripture, internalizing the totality of God’s Word with heightened emphasis on the passages pertaining to service and leadership. More broadly, from an early age, I immersed myself in reading history and especially biographies. Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of biographies and have seen the good and bad of leadership in almost every context of life.

To be a leader is to be a learner. In developing one’s leadership potential, it isn’t so much a destination as it is a process. It involves learning, growing, and developing into the very best version of oneself.

What distinguishes this book from other leadership books that are available?
There are two distinguishing facts that make Turnaround different from so many other leadership materials. First, there’s an institutional story behind it that proves the practices and principles contained therein.

Over the past decade, Midwestern Seminary went from an institution of just over one-thousand students to one numbering approximately five-thousand students. Our growth is unparalleled in American theological education over the past decade and also stands out in the broader world of American higher education.

In other words, these aren’t just theories, they are proven principles and practices. But beyond the numbers, the totality of the institutional transformation on the ground speaks to the veracity of the principles and practices contained in Turnaround.

This book is also different because I argue that leadership is largely intuitive, contextual, and commonsensical. My goal is to remind the reader of these essential leadership principles, to refocus on them, and to help them reprioritize their life and leadership accordingly.

How will this book encourage and equip leaders who are facing daunting circumstances?
I believe the story of Midwestern Seminary itself ought to encourage every leader regardless of their circumstances. Midwestern Seminary experienced a turnaround; you can too. To be candid, I’m not a leadership guru, nor do I perceive myself in outsized terms.

Rather, I’ve been privileged to serve with a remarkable team, at a remarkable time, who have faced a remarkable set of challenges. Those challenges were internal at Midwestern Seminary, but they also mark the broader challenges facing so much of our society, higher education, and organizations in general. Thus, the story itself is heartening.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My goal is for every reader to be inspired by the story of Midwestern Seminary. It, indeed, is a compelling story, one that I’m privileged to tell. It’s not my story, it’s the Midwestern Seminary story. But as president, I have the privilege of being the spokesperson

I hope the reader is inspired by the narrative, motivated to be a better leader, and reinforced in their basic convictions about leadership. My goal is that this book will enhance a generation of faithful leaders who thus will strengthen a generation of churches, institutions, and organizations.

About Jason Allen

Jason K. Allen was elected by the Midwestern Board of Trustees as the Seminary’s fifth president on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, becoming the youngest seminary president in the Southern Baptist Convention, and one of the youngest presidents in higher education in America. Previously, he served as the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation. In addition to his seminary duties, Allen has served as pastor and interim pastor of several Southern Baptist churches. Dr. Allen holds a Bachelor of Science from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., as well as Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. Currently, in addition to his responsibilities as president of Midwestern Seminary, he serves the church more broadly through writing and preaching ministries.