Peeking Around the Corner

Last month, the council of Horizon took a weekend retreat to pull back and spend some time contemplating and discussing where we see Horizon in the U-Turn Church process.  It has been a year now since the council adopted the U-Turn Church as a model for Horizon’s renewal.  Our evaluation of the process made a few observations clear.


The council recognizes that there may be several people at Horizon who have never read the U-Turn Church book, or have followed the forums, gatherings, or articles that have been made available.  And many of these people are asking some basic questions about the U-Turn and what it means.

So the council acknowledges that we need to continue to dedicate ourselves to communicating the details of the U-Turn with the people of Horizon.  This may be written articles, verbal announcements included in the Sunday worship time, videos showing the U-Turn in action, or stories and testimonies of others involved in the U-Turn.  We will continue to demonstrate the U-Turn however we can; with words, pictures, videos, and stories.

What we want to communicate is a glimpse ahead at what is coming around the corner.  We are peeking ahead to start showing what the U-Turn looks like further down the path.  This might be stories of ministries at Horizon that are already working ahead, or stories from other churches that have been working at the U-Turn longer than us, and can show us what is coming.

Only the Beginning

Churches who have been through the U-Turn process unanimously agree that it takes time.  We have been working on this at Horizon for a year.  And the council’s evaluation of the process acknowledges that we still have much to do.  That should come as good news—that the U-Turn is not a sprint.  It is not a quick burst of sudden energy, and then it’s over.  Rather, the U-Turn is a process that is meant to stick.  So it is worth taking the time to get it right.  And it is worth taking the time to include everybody.

One of the council’s observations of this pace is a recognition that Horizon is—in many ways—still in the beginning stages of the U-Turn.  This recognition comes with an acknowledgement that we still have further to go before we really start seeing the results we intend.  Our U-Turn goal is to become a church that embraces vibrant outreach to unchurched people in all our ministries.  This goal requires more than simply tweaking our programs.  It requires changing our culture so that all of our members embrace outreach to unchurched people as our highest priority.  Only after we make significant accomplishments in this culture-shift will we really begin to see results.

So at this stage of the U-Turn we are still peeking ahead around the corner to envision what it will take to make the shift and begin to see results.  Our process at Horizon is still laying a foundation for the U-Turn.  Much of the U-Turn itself is still to come.

Grit (the art of determination)

Thom Rainer in his book Breakout Churches observes that most churches who begin the process of seeking renewal through a U-Turn type movement never make it.  The reason for this, according to Rainer, is not a lack of resources, or lack of expertise, or the wrong people.  Rather, it is a lack of determination.  Churches began a process of seeking renewal, but did not see it all the way through.

Because the U-Turn is a process that takes some time before real results start showing up, most churches give up before they get there.  Determination takes something called grit.  Girt can be described as keeping one’s resolve when faced with hardship.  All churches who make it through the U-Turn renewal acknowledge that the beginning stages of the process take enormous determination.  Many struggles come in the U-Turn at first.  There are some joys to celebrate along the way.  But initially those joys come through a tremendous amount of hardship.

In the middle of struggling through the U-Turn, it helps to keep peeking around the corner at what is coming.  We know that we live in a community of people who do not belong to a church—the harvest is ripe.  We can find assurance in knowing that Jesus is still Lord of his church—God’s heart for calling hurting people back to him will always be manifested in the church that abides in him.  And we can find assurance in striving ahead to the examples of other churches who have made it through the U-Turn—showing us that God continues to live through his church yet today.

till next time…
~pastor tom