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!!

Transforming Power

The Church Planters Conference in Cumming, GA on Monday and Tuesday was great. Mountain Lake Church simply does an awesome job at what they do.


The worship times were unbelievable, and I learned a whole lot. Summer, Doug, and I really loved hearing from Bob Roberts, who really encouraged us that God leads through broken people. He asked 500 church planters, “Is the Gospel powerful enough to transform your community?” Of course, the resounding answer all over the auditorium was an enthusiastic “YES!” We’re church planters… Planting the Gospel in a new, different way in communities is what we are all about! These are people of vision and drive. They dream of what God can do in a community through the power of the Gospel.

Then, he asked them, “Is the Gospel powerful enough to transform YOU?”

A hush fell over the crowd. Everyone paused, as the question sunk into our minds and hearts. Dr. Roberts said that church planting is not about our ability to speak, build teams, or put systems into place… It is about the ability of the Gospel to TRANSFORM ME into HIS image. Nothing else really matters.

What he said really lined up with the words of John the Baptist, who, toward the end of his ministry, verbalized the process by which we all glorify God: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30) That’s what our process is all about. At The Orchard, we’re all about engaging in the process of CHANGE, GROW, and SERVE. When we do that, it results in less and less of us, which allows for more and more of HIM to consume us. It is a lifelong endeavor that will result in our being transformed into HIS image. (Romans 12:1-2)

Transforming Power

The Church Planters Conference in Cumming, GA on Monday and Tuesday was great. Mountain Lake Church simply does an awesome job at what they do.


The worship times were unbelievable, and I learned a whole lot. Summer, Doug, and I really loved hearing from Bob Roberts, who really encouraged us that God leads through broken people. He asked 500 church planters, “Is the Gospel powerful enough to transform your community?” Of course, the resounding answer all over the auditorium was an enthusiastic “YES!” We’re church planters… Planting the Gospel in a new, different way in communities is what we are all about! These are people of vision and drive. They dream of what God can do in a community through the power of the Gospel.

Then, he asked them, “Is the Gospel powerful enough to transform YOU?”

A hush fell over the crowd. Everyone paused, as the question sunk into our minds and hearts. Dr. Roberts said that church planting is not about our ability to speak, build teams, or put systems into place… It is about the ability of the Gospel to TRANSFORM ME into HIS image. Nothing else really matters.

What he said really lined up with the words of John the Baptist, who, toward the end of his ministry, verbalized the process by which we all glorify God: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30) That’s what our process is all about. At The Orchard, we’re all about engaging in the process of CHANGE, GROW, and SERVE. When we do that, it results in less and less of us, which allows for more and more of HIM to consume us. It is a lifelong endeavor that will result in our being transformed into HIS image. (Romans 12:1-2)

Sunday Random Thoughts

Okay, I just felt like doing a little bit of a brain dump on how Sunday went. (I’m sitting at Starbuck’s on Monday morning, waiting to meet with someone, so I have a few minutes to get some thoughts down.)

First, I just can’t get over the wilingness and generosity of Tracy, Kenny, Chad, Summer, and Sherry. All of you guys just keep giving and giving. Man, it is HARD to motivate yourself to head to the movie theater to clean up and set up BEGINNING at 11PM on Saturday night. But you guys just keep giving and giving each week. You rock.

I also have to give a shout out to Angela Langley, who brought the food last week.

Chad and Sherry didn’t have a chance to practice this week, for whatever reason, but I thought worship went well. The song set was great… I really love doing songs that we know… Once I really know a song, I feel much more free to worship with it. Sometimes I think learning new songs is what CDs are for. When is the new Passion CD coming out?

Speaking of that, if you want to clue in to where we get a lot of our music, you can just click one of these iTunes links to Passion, or this one to Chris Tomlin or David Crowder Band. There are plenty of others, but those will get you started.

I don’t know if my message even made any sense to anyone yesterday. I kinda felt like even though I had a specific direction to go in, I sort of mixed two thoughts together, almost trying to get two messages out at the same time. I’m sorry if it was messy, but I really felt like some things needed to be said. In a good way. You know, we’ve spent several weeks now really laying the foundation of who and what The Orchard Church is really going to be all about. I really get the sense that, at least in concept, everyone gets it. Seeing how that works out in practice may be a completely different thing… Who knows? We will see very soon. Our first preview service is JUST a few weeks away. I think this will really be a big test for us. No more sitting and watching. We are going to have to get all in and fight together like those soccer players we talked about on Sunday.

The best thing about Sunday was cleaning up in and around Chad’s house. You know, when a member of our body has a need, we should jump in there to meet it however we can. It was a great feeling to be over there, spending time with brothers and sisters just helping some of our church family members out. Chad sent me an email to let me know what a blessing you were to him, and how much he appreciated the help. Jesus said to love as we have been loved. One of the things we like to say at The Orchard Church is that “love comes out.” What a great way to see some love demonstrated. Thanks so much… Not just for showing that love to Chad, but for showing it to me. I was blessed just to be part.

Meeting Needs

In some ways, the I Love Ellijay thing was not what I was hoping. I had my own picture of what I thought it should look like, and how it would impact people. I kind of wanted us to have a big splash, meeting the needs of a ton of people. But, working with the counselors at the school, it seems that they wanted to scale us down a little more each day. Finally, they narrowed us down to just the two families that they put us on to. Frankly, it was a much smaller scope than I had hoped for.

A little disappointed, I went into the weekend with low expectations.

Something really cool happened, though. Instead of just handing out stuff to random people, we got a little involved in some families’ lives. We were able to get into homes and actually get our arms around some people that really needed to see some love in action. We had a chance to chase that towel, like we talked about on the previous Sunday. I think being in those homes and sharing in their stories really had an impact on all of us this weekend. It was powerful. I don’t think any of our group walked away the same.

There is something about serving others that just changes your perspective.

It sure has changed conversations in our home. We aren’t talking about “me” so much lately… My 14-year old daughter come home, looked around her room, and said that she felt like she was just selfish, and that she needed to give more. She was really impacted by the stories of a couple of sisters in her school that are living with great need.

We’ve talked about it several times since. I’ve asked her, “Where can you start?” You don’t have much to give right now… You’re 14. Both of us agreed that being a friend would go a long way. Building a relationship will open the door to so much more in the near future than just handing stuff over like some sort of charity case.

Be her friend, not her savior. Jesus will take care of that one. Our job is to help open the door.

What is the future? What will happen tomorrow as a result of our simple need-meeting today? I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Church In A Movie Theater?

What a weekend!! I was so blown away by each of you guys that came out ALL DAY on Saturday to set up, experiment, practice, set up some more, tear down, clean up, and set up again. It was so cool! My mind was all about the lights and sound, so I barely thought about the lobby, coffee, and all that stuff… But you guys HANDLED it, and it was awesome!

Sunday morning was a great taste of what is to come. I was really pumped. All the tech was really basic, and everything kind of came together at the last minute… But I am feeling pretty great about it all.

So what do you think of the whole I Love Ellijay thing?? Is that gonna rock, or what?? Man, there are so many needs right in that one school that we are going to be able to meet. Have you started multiplying your little picture yet? I don’t know about you, but today is Tuesday, and my $5 has already turned into $30! How is yours coming? Shoot me an email to let me know.

I Love Ellijay

This thing is going to be CRAZY. Sure, we are going to start out small, but I think that God is lining people and circumstances up for us to meet some critical needs right away! I can’t wait to see what is going to happen! Be praying right now for how HE wants to use you to meet needs and love Ellijay. Come on Sunday to get the full story! We are going to kick it!

Becoming a Blessing

Yesterday, Zac and I went over to Athens to see if we could find any deals on used sound equipment at a nightclub auction that was going on there. It was a very interesting day, as we got to talk with a bunch of local bar/club owners and see what they were doing, and how the economy was affecting them. There were a bunch of people there… Maybe 30 or so, all bidding on barstools, tables, neon lights, speakers, intelligent spots, and so forth.

I met a kid named Chris. He’s a college student trying to make a little bit of a living DJ’ing parties and other events in and around Lawrenceville. Great kid. He is just a poor college student, showing up at the auction looking to get a little bit of a deal on something small that can help his struggling business. His main goal was to get two microphones and a snake, which is a bundled set of microphone cables with a connector box on the end. He was disappointed to find that the microphones (Shure Beta 58’s) he wanted were being sold as a set of six, which he likely couldn’t afford. He could probably swing the two he needed, but definitely not six. We talked for a little while, telling me about his girlfriend, and his dreams of having a local small-time recording studio.

I told him about our church plant, and how we were looking for some of the same things he was looking for, plus some speakers and other items. He was very interested, and asked several questions. Before we knew what was happening, the bidding began!

I watched him bid on and lose some XLR cables. He bid and lost some direct boxes. Next up came the snake that he wanted. Even though everyone had their bidding “poker faces” on, I could see his disappointment when he lost the snake to a higher bidder. Even at incredible auction prices, where things were going for pennies on the dollar, this guy just didn’t have the cash to buy the smallest of things available.

Next up were the Shure Beta 58’s. Nice set of six microphones. (they retail for $160 or so each.) He started the bidding at $30 per mic, but was immediately priced out when the cost rose rapidly. Just as they were about to go for $57 each, the final bid was made and they sold for $60… To The Orchard Church. I looked across the room to where Chris was standing and he shot me a quick smile. He knew what we were there for, and was very supportive about our new church start.

As soon as I could get to him, he shook my hand and congratulated me with a smile. He offered to hang around and help us load up the equipment we had just bought. I thanked him, and handed him two of the microphones, telling him that we wanted to be a blessing to him. He was a little stunned, suprised to see someone thinking of others in the midst of this “get-it-for-myself” free for all. He ended up paying us for one of them, saying that he wanted to support The Orchard, and that he felt he should be giving, not taking from the church. I let him pay his original bid price of $30, and both of us were thrilled.

It is awesome that even 3 months before we have our first church service, The Orchard is blessing a kid in Lawrenceville, and we are blessed by him.

Exciting Times

So this is the START of the whole church-planting blog thing. I’ve never been one to blog before… Never really felt like anyone would spend the time reading my blabbering. My hope is that this blog will inform, open doors, and facilitate dialog.

Did you get all sucked in to that Inauguration this week? Wow, what history we’re priviliged to witness. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you have to be proud to be part of the generation that put the first African American in the White House. I have to admit that I had a tear in my eye when I thought of how far we have come in just a few short years.