Blake Thompson daht Net

Like I was saying....

Tag: Church

A Tale Of Two Sundays

Church services at The Orchard this summer have been good. Usually when summer comes our numbers drop a little because of the college students that attend are home for the summer. Or off working somewhere. Or just traveling and seeing cool stuff. But usually, most of them are not in Oxford.

But this summer our numbers didn’t drop significantly because many of our college students stuck around Oxford taking summer school or getting jobs. So summer was a nice time to get to know them better, and we also saw a few new families start to attend during the summer. Plus often times we had many counselors from Camp Lake Stephens attend too.

But when fall gets near we know to expect an uptick in attendance. But no way to really gage it though. We averaged about 115 from the Sunday after Ole Miss’ exams were done through the last weekend before classes started. I preached on August 15th to about 135 people. The next weekend, the 22nd was “Move In” weekend. Classes for Ole Miss started the next day.

On that morning we saw familiar faces showing up. Then some we’d not seen around the Orchard in a few months. And then new faces. And more new faces. And more and more! We started finding folding chairs in the storage room. We took all the chairs out of the Kids’ Ministry rooms. And we ran out of chairs! We had people sitting on the floor, standing in corners, out in the hallways… There were over 250 people there! I was quite surprised. We practically doubled from the week before.

I joked with myself that my awesome message the week before brought everyone in. But really, I don’t know what the catalyst was. And we start wondering how to prepare for the next week.  Pat is preaching a series on Biblical Friendship and I think it hit home with many people. But so many of the new faces were college students.

This morning I woke up to get ready for church. It was grey and raining outside. I thought, “hmm.” I figured the rain would keep people in bed or just in their homes. So we wouldn’t have to move as many chairs around.

We still set up a few chairs in the overflow room, but didn’t know what to expect. The service at The Orchard starts at 10:30. It stops raining about 10ish. There are a few people there. But then it happens again. A steady trickle becomes a stream. And soon we’re scrambling for chairs again. Taking the chairs from the kids again. And having people sit/stand everywhere. It didn’t seem quite as crazy this time, but there were actually more people there today than last week. The parking lot was an insurance adjuster’s nightmare with all those cars parked so tightly and all those college girls trying to maneuver around!

Now people are suggesting knocking out walls and other major remodeling projects. I’m interested to see how many people coming on Sunday mornings shift to the evening service that will begin on September 12th. But running out of space is a good problem to (temporarily) have.

It’s been an exciting two weekends. Seeing your church attendance double. But we’ve got to continue to seek God in how to connect everyone that’s coming to God and to each other. Provide community both big and small for them. And to create space, whether that means extra services or expanded rooms. So if you’ve read this far (and I’ll admit that I left out a lot of details I wanted to put in. I’m trying to get better at that) I ask that you pray that we, The Orchard, seek God and His wisdom for what our next steps should be.

Next weekend is a holiday weekend. No one has school on Monday and many people are off of work. Will people be traveling? BUT…it’s Ole Miss’ first home game of the season! Will more people be in town and come to church? We’ll see.

We’re in the new building!

Back in January I posted a video from the first work night The Orchard had in the new building. That work night was on January 20th. And we’ve come a long way since then.

Last weekend Pat made the call to call it a 95% chance that we’d have church today (March 7th) in the new building. And I think that pushed us to get as much done as we could in the next six days. And there were lots of folks in and out of the doors. There was still painting, carpeting, putting together 200 chairs, hanging televisions, putting together children’s ministry furniture, setting lights, running sound system cable, building a stage, changing light fixtures, replacing facia board, getting the Fire Marshall to approve us, getting fire extinguishers, hanging posters, and probably a dozen other things. And all fo that was just this past week.

But there have been many, many people who have put in many hours to get the building to where we are. And today felt good. And one of the coolest things is that now we don’t need to spend near as much time before and after a service setting up things and then taking them right back down. We have had some great volunteers give their time and strength to that. We have been blessed. But now we get to reorient their efforts/focus to other ministry areas.

The new building still needs some more attention. There’s a punch list we’ll still need to knock out (did you see the bathrooms?). But it’s great to be in a building of our own. But we have to be careful that we don’t allow a building to define us. Sure, it opens up many opportunities and should also make other things easier. But it’s not an end all solution. Our heart, as a church, still needs to be focused on Jesus. And our passions need to be the same as His passions.

So while we’re quite excited about the building, we’re more excited about the opportunities it provides for The Orchard to impact Oxford for God’s Kingdom.

[I wish I had a few photos from this morning. Maybe next week.]

Look at all these [church] rumors…

Rumors about churches…

rumorsMan, I guess they’re to be expected. And especially about “higher profile” churches. But rumors can be damaging. The sad thing is when rumors are spread not as rumors (like where Pat Patterson will sign to play college football) but told as truth and matter of fact. Like the email I got yesterday.

But first a little background. The church where I serve/attend is a plant of a church in Tupelo. We are still deeply connected to them and are thankful for that. The church in Tupelo just celebrated their ten year birthday. They’ve done tons of good in the community and reached many people. But I can’t think of anyone on the staff who would say that they are perfect or there is not still room to mature and grow in effectiveness as the Body of Christ.

But I got an email yesterday from a friend asking me if something was true of our church in Oxford like it is our sister church in Tupelo. Is is true that, in order to become a member of The Orchard – Oxford, one must present copies of one’s W-2 for tithing purposes?  Someone told me that it is a requirement for membership at the Tupelo Orchard and asked if y’all have the same requirement.” Seriously? I mean….seriously?

Truth is, this “fact” had been spoken about as just a matter of fact for years I’m told. Now I don’t think my friend was making that accusation. But seems to have taken the statement about the Tupelo church as at least possible fact. I simply responded by asking that they find that “someone” and ask them to stop by The Orchard in Tupelo to appologize for spreading lies about them. Or to at least check facts before regurgitating them.

I mean, how damaging can that be to a church’s reputation? How hurtful could it be to ministries and ministers? How lame of a rumor is that in the first place? And to think that it was even heard more than once in a different church’s office? That’s super-extra-lame.

So…if you hear something negative about a church that surprises you, make sure you know your facts before trying to surprise someone else.