“The U-Turn Church” is a dangerous book. Oh, it can be tamed by talking circles around it (which will feel like U-Turns) and not journeying into-and-with it, but if it’s insights are taken to heart, things will not be the same again.
It is written by two pastors who have each been in the pulpit as churches they served made the journey. They tell some of that story in the book, but you will have to read those stories for yourself.
Here is my summary of what I think the authors are saying.
Why explore the idea of a U-turn as a church?
A congregation will only want to undertake this study in a serious way if they recognize they might need an undertaker if they don’t do it. This is not a game. This exploration is best motivated by a recognition that the individual church is in a life-or-death situation, or close to it, and so needs to change something.
Why consider a U-turn? Why do any of us change direction? Because we recognize the way we are going is not getting us to where we need to be!
In a Town Hall we have reflected on CCC’s situation, and seen that “by the numbers” we are not in a healthy state. We are surviving, but not thriving — we are not where we believe we could be, and can’t see us arriving there easily, soon.
In another Town Hall we recognized we have some serious adaptive challenges before us that don’t have easy technical solitions. This makes us both excited and fearful. We named that — We know something needs to change, but our anxiety gets us instinctively protecting what we do not want to have changed. We resist letting our Hearts be changed by God to see what improvement that might bring to our spiritual and congregational journey.
Here is how the authors set up the U-Turn journey and invite us in:
“If you look at your church and have a deep sense that something fresh and new needs to happen, you are not alone. If you hunger for a movement of the Holy Spirit that will lead you to greater joy in your church, a season of harvest where souls are changed for eternity, and new passion in your own spiritual life, you are not alone. If your church has hit a plateau or is losing ground, you are in good company.”
“The focus of this book is to give hope as you enter a Spirit-directed U-Turn journey that will lead you to a season of health, faithfulness, growth, and new vision. This is not a fantasy concocted by a couple of hyper-optimistic pastors who have no idea what they are talking about. The U-Turn journey is one of the authors of this book have travelled and helped many other churches navigate.”
They encourage readers to pack along their:
- “Child-like Faith” that trusts God will be in the journey with us;
- “Road Map (and flashlight)” of scripture truth and light in the heart and hand;
- “Innovative Spirit” or a readiness to risk in order to learn God’s leading;
- and to make sure you are not alone, but have “Company for the journey”
Are you ready to go?