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!

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!

In The Final Stretch

It is hard to believe that we are in the final TWO WEEKS before the official LAUNCH! Man, things are busy these days. It seems that my “to do” list is longer than my days can handle.

I have to give a big shout out to the entire worship and tech teams… Man, there were quite a few curve balls thrown at us at the last minute, from Casey’s finger getting sliced, to the words being switched up in the computer. BUT, these guys (and girls) all handled it like pros! It all worked out, and GOD was glorified!



I was really encouraged by everyone’s response to the second preview service. SO many positive words of excitement about what lies ahead. Thanks to all who stayed afterwards for our first ever “Orchard Orientation.” I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how we were going to pull off some of the stuff we were hoping to do… But after talking with you guys, I am ready to run screaming at the enemy! (Judges 6&7… Okay, maybe you had to be there.)

It was great to see some familiar faces on Sunday. What a blessing to see many new ones, as well. Cool new kid of the week: Haley. Anyone who draws exclamation points with big hearts is cool in my book.

In The Final Stretch

It is hard to believe that we are in the final TWO WEEKS before the official LAUNCH! Man, things are busy these days. It seems that my “to do” list is longer than my days can handle.

I have to give a big shout out to the entire worship and tech teams… Man, there were quite a few curve balls thrown at us at the last minute, from Casey’s finger getting sliced, to the words being switched up in the computer. BUT, these guys (and girls) all handled it like pros! It all worked out, and GOD was glorified!



I was really encouraged by everyone’s response to the second preview service. SO many positive words of excitement about what lies ahead. Thanks to all who stayed afterwards for our first ever “Orchard Orientation.” I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how we were going to pull off some of the stuff we were hoping to do… But after talking with you guys, I am ready to run screaming at the enemy! (Judges 6&7… Okay, maybe you had to be there.)

It was great to see some familiar faces on Sunday. What a blessing to see many new ones, as well. Cool new kid of the week: Haley. Anyone who draws exclamation points with big hearts is cool in my book.

21 Days of Prayer

We are in the final phase before the Launch! It is coming up really quickly. Most of the technical pieces are now in place, our team understands their roles, and we’ve sent out the flyers and run the ads in the newspaper. For the most part, the logistics are handled. Now, the REAL work comes… Our group launched into 21 days of prayer beginning yesterday, March 22. We are going to be crazy praying people over the next few weeks as we head into this HUGELY important time!

Why don’t you join us? You can download the Orchard Prayer Calendar right HERE.

Ways to be connected to the Orchard in PRAYER:

  • Daily Twitter Prayer Updates: @orchardprayer

to get text updates on your phone, just text follow orchardprayer to 40404.

  • Twitter your prayer requests TO @orchardprayer


  • Send email prayer requests to prayer@orchardellijay.com

Please partner with us in prayer during these 21 days. We would love for you to pray with us. Also, we will pray for YOU and your needs when you send us your requests online!

Preview Was GREAT!

Wow. I have GOT to say a big thanks to everyone who worked hard to pull off this weekend’s preview service. It was really awesome. What a great kickoff!

Here are my quick thoughts on the morning:

  • It was awesome meeting new friends and seeing new faces.
  • The tech stuff was really hard and time-intensive during the week to set up, but it was SO worth it!
  • The message was consistent from the opening video, through the songs, the “Meant to Live” theme song, and the message
  • Our team seems to have an unlimited amount of drive and ability to pull stuff off
  • Conner did a great job with the lights
  • So glad we went with the “Meant To Live” theme.
  • “Dare You To Move” is going to be GREAT on March 29th!

Overall, I felt like the preview was a great start to what will be an awesome, growing, vibrant ministry. I expect we’ll see God change a lot of lives as a result of all this. Wednesday night is our “Orchard Orientation,” and even if you didn’t sign up, we’d still love to have you. Shoot me an email (from the CONTACT page) or give me a call to let me know you’re coming.

Why A Preview Service?

I am getting so pumped about our first PREVIEW SERVICE coming up this weekend! All the little parts and pieces are starting to fall into place. Man, putting together a rockin’ sound system is a lot more work than I thought it was! When it is all together, it will raise the roof! Doug, Zac, and I spent some time in the movie theater today reworking and adding lighting. Larry built a makeshift “tech table” that fits over the bolted-down movie theater seats! It is really cool.



Someone asked me this week, “Why a ‘preview service?’ I’m not familiar with that term.” SO, I thought I would try to answer that question two general ways…

First is an external purpose… We want to build a little momentum before the launch. We hope to create something of a buzz about what we’re doing. I don’t expect that we’ll blow the doors off the movie theater this week, but I do hope that we will get people talking. I am hoping that people will try us out for the first time and tell their friends. Hopefully, this momentum will build for our March 29th preview, and really explode for our April 12 Launch!

Second is an internal purpose… Engaging people in the Body of Christ. Let’s face it… If this is important to Ellijay, it is going to take a lot of people to pull it off. And I mean a LOT. People with ALL KINDS of gifts and abilities. We want to serve people on all kinds of levels in this, from parking, to greeting, to children’s ministry, to singing, to tech… You name it. We are going to blatantly ask people to jump in and start serving!

Our first preview is going to KICK. The theme for this one is “Meant To Live,” which is a popular Switchfoot (iTunes link) song from a couple of years ago. Chad, Casey, and the band are working hard on the song, and I know it will be cool. We’ll use the message of the song as a tool to reinforce Jesus’ purpose of coming so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. We also have other creative things planned that I think you’ll really like. You’ll definitely want to be there if you can. Hope to see YOU on Sunday!!