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!

This Morning… WOW!

I just have to shout out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in this morning’s launch preparations. I was shocked at the energy level and enthusiasm for what is going on here! First, since we were on a “week off” between preview service and Launch Sunday, I really expected our numbers to be quite low… The plan was to make today a work day, since Spring Break is on, and people are out of town. things ought to be kinda quiet… Right?

So here we are with no real plan for a service, no “message” ready, and didn’t even set up the curtains, or make everything look pretty. It is just going to be “us” today. We’re wearing our work clothes and are going to be taking care of some last-minute business.

Well, I turned around, and the theater lobby was PACKED with people who had come to be part of the morning services! I was amazed to see some friendly faces that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was even more amazed to see so many faces that I just didn’t even recognize! So, at 10AM, we quickly threw together a plan, prayed, and had a short mini-service. And it rocked. Thanks, Casey, Chad, Zac, Caleb, and Sherry for pulling together on that.

After I did my best to explain what it was we were trying to do here, I asked if people would be willing to spend some time working our launch preparations with us. I thought, “okay, now all these visitors will go home (and probably never come back) and then our group can work the stuff and get a few things done.



I was wrong again! I think nearly EVERYBODY stayed for the rest of the morning… We had people labeling mailer cards until EVERY SINGLE CARD had an address on it! (usually takes us DAYS to complete!) We had people I didn’t even KNOW vacuuming floors, I saw people cleaning walls. New people were setting up toys for babies, and visitors from out of state cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and washed all the dishes! Now, walk through our new children’s space, and it smells fresh and clean.

I was truly amazed at what I saw. I was amazed at these people’s willingness and PLEASURE in serving. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and just enjoying each other. For me, it was one of the best Sundays we’ve had.

What if The Church was like that all the time? What if, as Henry Blackaby puts it, we could look around and SEE where God is working, drop everything, and just JOIN HIM in that work? What would God do in us and through us? Isn’t THAT what The Church is all about?

Thanks, everyone. You made my week. I am praying for you as we tear through our FINAL WEEK before LAUNCH SUNDAY.

This Morning… WOW!

I just have to shout out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in this morning’s launch preparations. I was shocked at the energy level and enthusiasm for what is going on here! First, since we were on a “week off” between preview service and Launch Sunday, I really expected our numbers to be quite low… The plan was to make today a work day, since Spring Break is on, and people are out of town. things ought to be kinda quiet… Right?

So here we are with no real plan for a service, no “message” ready, and didn’t even set up the curtains, or make everything look pretty. It is just going to be “us” today. We’re wearing our work clothes and are going to be taking care of some last-minute business.

Well, I turned around, and the theater lobby was PACKED with people who had come to be part of the morning services! I was amazed to see some friendly faces that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was even more amazed to see so many faces that I just didn’t even recognize! So, at 10AM, we quickly threw together a plan, prayed, and had a short mini-service. And it rocked. Thanks, Casey, Chad, Zac, Caleb, and Sherry for pulling together on that.

After I did my best to explain what it was we were trying to do here, I asked if people would be willing to spend some time working our launch preparations with us. I thought, “okay, now all these visitors will go home (and probably never come back) and then our group can work the stuff and get a few things done.



I was wrong again! I think nearly EVERYBODY stayed for the rest of the morning… We had people labeling mailer cards until EVERY SINGLE CARD had an address on it! (usually takes us DAYS to complete!) We had people I didn’t even KNOW vacuuming floors, I saw people cleaning walls. New people were setting up toys for babies, and visitors from out of state cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and washed all the dishes! Now, walk through our new children’s space, and it smells fresh and clean.

I was truly amazed at what I saw. I was amazed at these people’s willingness and PLEASURE in serving. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and just enjoying each other. For me, it was one of the best Sundays we’ve had.

What if The Church was like that all the time? What if, as Henry Blackaby puts it, we could look around and SEE where God is working, drop everything, and just JOIN HIM in that work? What would God do in us and through us? Isn’t THAT what The Church is all about?

Thanks, everyone. You made my week. I am praying for you as we tear through our FINAL WEEK before LAUNCH SUNDAY.

Children’s Ministry

This is a long story, but I will try to keep it short.

God is blessing. Our lands are increasing.

We have had a plan for children’s ministry in the movie theater for quite a while now. Our plan stinks, and we know it. The theater is a terrible place to have children rolling around on the floor. It just wasn’t built to accommodate that.

So we prayed. We knew that God would be working SOMETHING out.

Suddenly, as of this weekend, GOD has worked it out that we are “sharing” space with the Movie Theater’s next-door neighbors, the ERA Realty. They have LOTS of space in their offices that they are not using, and NOW we have GREAT rooms for babies and preschool. In fact, we will start out with a smallish preschool room that we will likely very soon be able to EXPAND and grow!

NOW our children will have some space to be loved and cared for! It is awesome what God is up to!

Children’s Ministry Big Focus

Check Out Our Target Wish List!


Okay, it’s the last two weeks before the big launch day, and WE NEED YOUR HELP! Whether you are part of The Orchard Church or not, YOU can be a blessing to children and to families as we get started in the next couple of weeks. There are still some resources that we just really need to get our Children’s Ministry going. Will YOU be willing to help us out with one, two, or three of these items?

Summer Gilliam, our volunteer Children’s Ministry director, has set up a Wish List at Target.com for our Children’s Ministry. You can log on right here, and be a blessing by ordering something off the list! It will be shipped RIGHT to us, so you won’t have to worry about it one bit.

We’re looking at a pretty short turn-around time, so have a look at it, and invest a little into our children and families. Our launch date is coming up VERY SOON! This thing is going to be awesome!