Thursday, June 10, 2004

an apology of Horizon Church

Horizon church, the church I now work with, has been taking some heat lately. It seems like every other conversation I am in, someone is upset with the way Horizon does its "thing." I have tried to listen to all the arguments and see where they have good points. I have also attempted to defend Horizon at various levels without getting defensive.

I, more than most, have a critical eye. When I look at things I usually can spot what is wrong before I can see the good. That is just how I am wired. I have been critical of Horizon at times myself. After coming on staff here at Horizon, I still see many weaknesses. In fact, I think most people here in leadership are not under any illusion that Horizon is without flaws. Even some major weaknesses are apparent even to a visitor of the church. I would offer that the people who know the greatest weaknesses of the church are those who are infact involved the most in leadership. Especially the people who have risked their financial stability on the success and health of Horizon.

So as I listen to all the complaints, I file them away and allow my brain to process through them. I certainly agree that Horizon has holes. We are one big slice of swiss cheese. But in the end, I am often on the side of defending Horizon's approach to things. I am usually one of the people trying to articulate the vision in order to help the disgruntled member come to a better understanding of their place here in this church. Why is this?

Why would someone who has recently become very aware of all of the many weaknesses of a community, still decide to defend it? Well an easy answer is that they pay me to. But I was defending Horizon philosophies (and I would argue Kingdom principles) back in seminary before I was even a full part of the body we name Horizon. I think for me, like many of the leaders, we see something happening here that we can't dismiss with a bunch of critiques. Try as we may with all of our arguments, God is moving in the midst of this community. And He is doing so in a very unique and powerful way.

Some people get frustrated with Horizon because they are afraid of change. Others do so because they worship change and wish there was more of it at Horizon. Some want more structure, others less. Some want more teaching, others less. Some want more biblical exegesis, some just wish there was more "hanging out" time. In the end, Horizon is a community of people pursuing God together. And because people are in that equation, it is bound to be messy.

At its core, I believe Horizon church is attempting to be more like the Kingdom of God than most churches I have been apart of. Its not the music, or the cool graphics or the model of leadership that makes this thing work. Its the fact that God is allowed the freedom to move in people's lives. Its the fact that people are allowed to be honest with God and with each other. Its that love is a genuine reality that can be felt in our midst and not just a topic of bible study in 1 Corinthians.

So for all the many people who can spot our weaknesses, more power to you. I doubt you can list more than our staff can. That's the easy part. The harder part is to actually enter into the mess of this community and bring yourself to the table. The harder part is to offer yourself unselfishly to God and to His Body of believers. The harder part is to realize that I have something to learn from the person next to me who has only been a Christian for a few months... maybe more than she has to learn from me. The harder part is to love people who talk to much in Link Group. To love them so much that you will intentionally spend time with them during the week to get to know them. These, my friend, are the true parts of living in community.

I hope all of us here at Horizon can catch the vision. Its not just Dave and Clay's vision. Its not just the vision of Horizon church. Its the vision that God has for the Kingdom of God on earth. Its the vision He has for his disciples. This crazy vision to go and make disciples. This unbelievable call to consider others better than ourselves. This amazing challenge to love people and to love God with all that we are. This is the vision that Horizon is about. The Horizon language we use in which to couch this eternal vision is quite secondary.

So I will go on defending the call, purpose, vision and values of Horizon. Not because Horizon is perfect. Not because they pay me to do so. Not because I think it is a "cool" church (whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.) No, I will defend Horizon because God is in our midst doing things we cannot do on our own. Horizon has heard the call and has stepped out of the boat. We are on the water. We are half a doubt away from drowning and half a step away from a miracle. It is in this tension that we live. It is on this water that we move toward the One who makes all of this possible.


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