Church Hop

Someone emailed me this week with a really good question. She says that she goes to one church on Sundays and another on Wednesdays. Neither of them “feels right” to her, and she had just received an invitation to come to The Orchard Church. She was conflicted, and didn’t know what to do about it.

I emailed her a response back, and I thought I would share my thoughts on this with you.

First of all, I never really liked the whole “church hopping” thing. I don’t think that is good for you. I am pretty sure it isn’t God’s plan for you, either. See, I am convinced that God creates each and every one of us with a specific purpose… A specific way that YOU will function in the Body of Christ. He couples that with a gift (or gifts) to be used intentionally for HIM. It is your ministry… The way you impact the KINGDOM. If you are a follower of Christ, YOU have a purpose… And it is all about HIM.

Your purpose in The Kingdom, and your gift is to be used as part of the Body of Christ, otherwise known as The Church. This is where we get tripped up. We think we “find a church that we like” and we “go there” to “get fed,” or whatever. With American consumerism, it is easy to fall into this trap of thinking.

The reality is that GOD places you into a local body on purpose. Your church experience shouldn’t be based on what “feels right” to you, but on where GOD has CALLED you to be. Has God called you to the church you are in now? How do you know? What is your ministry there? How is HE using you among those people?

If you aren’t in a church now, please, BY ALL MEANS check out The Orchard… But before you join our church, or any church… Seek God’s will on it. He won’t put you in a place by accident. He wants the BEST for you… And HIS BEST is always when HE is bringing out HIs best in YOU.

1 Corinthians 2:7 (Message)
God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene.

Romans 12:3-8 (NLT)
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

The Five-Week JUMP?

Didn’t get a chance to update yesterday… Busy with Mother’s Day and all!

I just wanted to jot down a few random thoughts about Sunday’s service. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • What happened?? After four weeks of relatively “smooth sailing,” it seems we had every technical glitch that we could think of!
  • What happened?? After three weeks of double-digit attendance, we suddenly jumped up to nearly 110! Wow!
  • We had a record number of kids in the toddler and preschool rooms
  • Kirsten did a great job on behalf of all of us.
  • Practice is important
  • Proverbs is awesome
  • Always great to see new faces, and meet new friends.
  • The air conditioner in there works REALLY WELL when it wants to.
  • We didn’t get the message recorded, either. Hope to have everything fixed next week.
  • Star Trek: best movie of 2009. Should have done THAT trailer.

Even though the Night At The Museum 2 trailer didn’t work on cue, I am still really excited about this message series. I hope it is a blessing for you. Next week, we’re doing our take on Transformers 2. Should be fun! If you haven’t been to The Orchard Church yet, I think you will love it.

The Three-Week Slide

Well, we’ve just completed our first message series at The Orchard Church. It sort of feels like a landmark for us.

  • I am really proud of our worship band. They’ve worked hard, and have done a great job. Not only is the music awesome, but the Spirit is evident.
  • Shout out for the tech crew, also! We have people running sound, lights, and video week in and week out that do a great job.
  • Every week, our CLEAN UP CREW works the movie theater very late on Saturday nights. Great job, guys.
  • The church-planting gurus say that we should have expected a “three-week slide” of 50% from our launch day attendance numbers. Well, we are WAY above that! It is amazing the spiritual hunger that is so evident all around us!


I have been thrilled at the great comments I have heard and read from people who have visited with us over the last several weeks. I love it when I hear people say things like, “we feel so welcome here,” “this place rocks,” and “this is like coming home.” I am most thrilled that we have seen at least eight people turn their lives over to Christ!

Our next series, “Reel Life,” begins on Sunday. I think you are really going to like it. If you haven’t been with us at The Orchard Church yet, you should give it a try. Have a look at the details here.

Next Steps?

I am so pumped up right now. We just got back from an abbreviated leadership mini-retreat… It was just me and some of our guys that have been with us since the beginning of this whole process of launching The Orchard. I’m excited because even though we DIDN’T get to everything I wanted us to get to on our retreat, we definitely covered some very important ground!

FIRST, we took our first chance to step back and evaluate the run-up and the launch, all of which happened from January through April. Everybody there felt that we met and/or exceeded our goals, expectations, and hopes. We reflected back on those initial intensive prayer times, and looked at how God has worked and answered prayer time and time again in this process. We are so blessed to be part of this!

NEXT, we began to dream about what THE ORCHARD is really ultimately going to be all about. ALL of us agreed that we DO NOT want to be simply a weekend worship service. That is fun, and it is important… But ultimately, what does it produce? EACH member of our group desires for us to be a DISCIPLE-MAKING FACTORY. We talked in depth about what that looks like, and it is exciting. We do NOT have all the pieces in place… In fact, we just got the general structure down. Next, we will have to spend some time putting the “meat on the bones” of how that will look for us. I know you will be hearing more and more about this in the coming weeks and months.

Just a little insight… we hope to launch small groups this summer! (as in, just a few weeks from now!) BUT, we have a LONG way to go before we’re ready to do that, so please be praying.

My favorite quote from the weekend: “We can’t ENABLE the old habit of sitting and soaking… We want to EMPOWER people to step up and lead!” You will DEFINITELY be hearing that from me again.

Exponential

Doug and I are down here in beautiful Orlando, Florida (my home town) at the Exponential New Church Conference at First Baptist Church of Orlando (my home church) It is CRAZY! We got to hear Erwin McManus (great author and speaker) talk to us about what is really important. We’ve been in breakout tracks learning about some of the nuts and bolts of church planting. Favorite quote of the conference so far: Alan Hirsch (church guru) says “Holiness is not about withdrawing from the culture. It is about how we engage the culture. In fact, it creates culture.”



As good as the conference is, my favorite part has been reconnecting to some great old friends and seeing what God is doing in their lives. I really had a blast talking with some of those guys, and I feel like God is really reconfirming a lot of things in my heart and mind about all the stuff we’re doing in Ellijay! Check back in the next day or two for another conference update!

Exponential

Doug and I are down here in beautiful Orlando, Florida (my home town) at the Exponential New Church Conference at First Baptist Church of Orlando (my home church) It is CRAZY! We got to hear Erwin McManus (great author and speaker) talk to us about what is really important. We’ve been in breakout tracks learning about some of the nuts and bolts of church planting. Favorite quote of the conference so far: Alan Hirsch (church guru) says “Holiness is not about withdrawing from the culture. It is about how we engage the culture. In fact, it creates culture.”



As good as the conference is, my favorite part has been reconnecting to some great old friends and seeing what God is doing in their lives. I really had a blast talking with some of those guys, and I feel like God is really reconfirming a lot of things in my heart and mind about all the stuff we’re doing in Ellijay! Check back in the next day or two for another conference update!

The Bailout Has Begun

Funny how things work sometimes. Yesterday was full of little technical glitches. The AC didn’t come on in the big room until pretty late in the morning. At one point, Sherry thought there was smoke in the room, which turned out to be dust floating in the air. (the theater doesn’t normally have that many people and that much commotion in it!) The screen temporarily went blank for a few minutes. (tech crew still learning Pro Presenter) and I couldn’t figure out how to put the giant puzzle pieces together during the message. With all that stuff going on, you might think yesterday’s service was a train wreck. BUT:

  • The music was GREAT… I thought having an extended set of songs was fantastic, and Man, the band was really sounding good.
  • I got to meet quite a few new friends, (where are all these awesome new people coming from???)
  • I have to admit, I wasn’t super excited about doing this bailout series right at the start of everything, but, man I really LOVE the direction it is taking, and I think we really got off to a good start yesterday. I can’t wait for the next two weeks! PLUS, the plan for the next two weeks are really cool.
  • ON TOP OF THAT, we had several people turn their lives over to Christ for the first time!


After the huge response we had last week with so many people showing up on our launch service, I was really looking to have our group drop down to around 60 or so. After all, you don’t have to be doing ANYTHING right to have a crowd on Easter Sunday, right? BUT, God proved me wrong again, and we were blessed with 85 people worshipping with us for our second service!

Man… Stuff is happening. God works in crazy ways. There are BIG things in store for Ellijay!

Launched!

Just now recovering from Sunday morning. I am just stunned. There was definitely a sense of eagerness on Saturday night… The cleanup crew, who ISN’T supposed to set up all the tech, stage, and stuff ended up staying until TOO LATE because they were just excited and wanted to get stuff going. The band worked really hard and pulled it off really well. Those guys just rocked. The nursery and preschool groups were awesome. Everyone in front and behind the scenes just went after it and knocked it right out of the park!

Everyone told us to keep our expectations low, and not get disappointed when turnout wasn’t high. Your first official service, after all, will be pretty small. You have to build a crowd over time. We were hoping for 60… Praying for 80. When I was told that there were over 120 present, you could have knocked me down. A church-planting friend of mine emailed me when he heard that and said that 120 was a great number for a growing metropolitan area… He couldn’t believe we had that in little Ellijay!

We received great responses from people, saying things like “Ellijay needs this,” “we have been looking for you for so long… where have you been?” and my favorite, “I love my new church.” (thanks, Amy!) I was nearly in tears as people expressed their excitement about this NEW THING in Ellijay.

My favorite part of the service was when we sang “Wonderous Cross.” I love that line that goes “O the wonderful cross, bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.” It really summed up the message of Easter, and the reason we’ve come together to launch this church. I also really loved watching people leave with handfulls of seed packages. (you had to be there.) It was just another signal of the LIFE that we had been talking about all morning.

So it was a pretty incredible morning. We met lots of new friends. We caught back up with some old ones. God was with us, and it was good. There are some GREAT things in store! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The BUZZ

Man, it really feels like people are talking about The Orchard Church! I have had emails, phone calls, and heard story after story of people who have been BUZZING about the start of something new in Ellijay! One lady stopped on the side of the road as Doug was putting the banner up near the Wal Mart… She had seen us in the paper, had received some our our “GREEN CARDS” in the mail, and now had discovered our banner at Highlands Crossing Shopping Center. She said “you guys are EVERYWHERE!”



With only a very few days to go before the launch, we are making TONS of last-minute preparations… new paint in the toddler room, lights, sound, and video installed in the preschool room, Signs ordered, videos prepared, songs practiced… and most of all… PRAYER happening. Things are really getting into place. Our team is really pumped about the big launch this weekend.

Whether you are part of our “launch team,” or if you are just curious, you can sign up for FREE text updates on your cell phone via Twitter. It is easy, and there is NO cost to you, (except for your phone’s text plan costs) Just send a message as follows:

text to: 40404
message:
follow orchardellijay

You will get updates 1 or 2 times per week about what is happening at The Orchard Church.

Looking forward to THIS WEEKEND!

The BUZZ

Man, it really feels like people are talking about The Orchard Church! I have had emails, phone calls, and heard story after story of people who have been BUZZING about the start of something new in Ellijay! One lady stopped on the side of the road as Doug was putting the banner up near the Wal Mart… She had seen us in the paper, had received some our our “GREEN CARDS” in the mail, and now had discovered our banner at Highlands Crossing Shopping Center. She said “you guys are EVERYWHERE!”



With only a very few days to go before the launch, we are making TONS of last-minute preparations… new paint in the toddler room, lights, sound, and video installed in the preschool room, Signs ordered, videos prepared, songs practiced… and most of all… PRAYER happening. Things are really getting into place. Our team is really pumped about the big launch this weekend.

Whether you are part of our “launch team,” or if you are just curious, you can sign up for FREE text updates on your cell phone via Twitter. It is easy, and there is NO cost to you, (except for your phone’s text plan costs) Just send a message as follows:

text to: 40404
message:
follow orchardellijay

You will get updates 1 or 2 times per week about what is happening at The Orchard Church.

Looking forward to THIS WEEKEND!