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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.

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.]

Camp Video

01/16/2009

Yesterday I came across a video that inspired me. You know of course that I made the Small Group Promo video thing last weekend. It was fun to make, and after editing it and showing it I felt a stirring to make more. But of what? There were a few ideas for the “next” video we could do for small groups at The Orchard. But what else going on at our church?

I remembered being at Innovate08 back in September. They had a film festival where churches brought some of their best videos and showed them. I was pretty surprised. Some were sermon illustrations, some were promos for upcoming events, some were just highlights and innovative announcements. But lots were really good. I’ll try to find a few and put up here soon.

But the video I saw yesterday was a promo video for a Young Life camp out in Arizona. Camp videos can be fun. I remember helping some with the video we showed each session the summer I worked at Camp Ozark (like 12 years ago. wow). They could be intense the last night of editing, and it wasn’t even my job to do it! And BreakThru made a video each year that literally finished rendering minutes before it was shown on the last night. And I made a few highlight videos here and there back in the deck to deck days.

So I know the thrill of seeing lots of different things happening and then having it all come together for something that makes a grand impression. Well, this video below blew me away. Like I said, it’s of Young Life camp. But the guy who made it and the equipment used was exceptional. But to be able to make a video like this would be a dream of mine. Enjoy.


Young Life Lost Canyon from W. Ashley Maddox on Vimeo.

My wife is always wanting to be helpful. She wants me to be “successful” too. So sometimes she realizes I need a little bit of a boost to get rolling. So we talked about different ideas for a video to make for the church about small groups. But she went ahead and and started calling people setting up interviews to get feedback about why people at The Orchard here in Oxford, MS enjoy small groups.

She kept telling me she was “helping me” when really she was nudging me to help myself. But I appreciate her a ton for it. It turned out to be fun and makes me ready to do the next one…what ever it happens to be. But with a few interview appointments spread out over a few days and some friends in town over the weekend too, I pushed back the editing of the video til last night. Like really got started at about 11:30pm. And then the re-edits and tweaks that no one else would probably notice kept me going back over it. So I finished around 3am [aided by the fact this was my first time to use iMovie08] so we could show it in church today. But I’m all good.

Anyhow, here it is. It’s not perfect. But it was fun and a learning experience. I hope for more to come soon. Tell me what you think in the comment.

Small Groups (@ The Orchard) Promo from Blake Thompson on Vimeo.

One year ago today

01/03/2009

A year ago today I started my work at The Orchard in Oxford. It was a pretty large change for the life of my family. We’d spent just over three years in Clinton working in the youth ministry of FUMC. We liked it there. Wasn’t looking for any reason at all to move. But when Pat spoke to me one day about possibly coming to help plant the church in Oxford…it just seemed right.

Yes, even Oxford felt right. Not the red and blue aspects of it. But what I would be doing and who I would be doing it with. And at the time I didn’t realize that I’d be living in my dad’s basement for five months or that gas prices would get so crazy. Nor did I anticipate the chore of finding a house in Oxford. But after looking back on that first day here in Oxford lots has happened. 

As I said in the last post, I’m going to put together a few ”

I think I’ve learned quite a bit the last 12 months. But I realize how much more I need to learn, study, and apply myself. I see where God has worked, but I see lots of opportunities to partner even more deeply with God in serving Oxford and Lafayette County.

So after a tumultuous season of Fantasy Football things are now over. And I would congratulate whoever won, but I can’t do it now. Because how self centered would it be if I were to congratulate MYSELF for winning the the whole thing? I mean, I won the Orchard Oxford 2008 Fantasy Football League.

And it would be like tooting my own horn or something if I were to say, “Congratulations, Blake!” Plus it would also seem weird if I started talking to myself in 3rd person. My wife would give me a sideways glance but the people I work with might start questioning my sanity. And how lame would it be on top of all that? I mean, it’s just fantasy football, right?

So, since I am not able to congratulate the winner of the 2008 Fantasy Football season here with The Orchard, I’ll just post a small screen cap of the winners.

orchard-oxford-fantasy-football-final-results

So I’m sitting in my living room listening to the carrots boil on the stove. Everything else in here is quiet. But I can hear the pandemonium that is coming from the back of the house. My brave wife decided to take all three kids to try to get cleaned off at once. Even she got a bath out of the time back there. But it’s been loud and crazy. I’m sure there’s a lot of water on the floor too. And the carrots continue to roll around in the boiling water (we’re going to mash them up to feed to Rowan… not eat our selves).

Last night was Art With Santa for our church. It’s our 2nd annual event that happens right before the Oxford Christmas parade. Kids come in and make Christmas art projects and get to sit on Santa’s lap if they’d like to. I don’t know exactly how many showed up. But it was pretty full in The Powerhouse for about two hours. And Pat said it was at least three or four times as many people who came last year. [a few pice below].

Then afterward we walked the parade route handing out signs for kids to hold up that said “SANTA, I’VE BEEN GOOD THIS YEAR!!!” The cool thing was that on the back side was our church name and info. So hopefully we’ll have a few more people hearing of us and maybe coming by.

We’re about to eat a little supper, and then decorate the tree. We were afraid it might not fit in our house because the house in Clinton had higher ceilings. The tree is a 9 footer. But it made it barely.

Now for some ART WITH SANTA PICS:
Art With Santa

Art With Santa

Art With Santa

Art With Santa

Art With Santa

This past weekend was quite full for the family. Friday was an adventure, then we left to go back to Clinton for a couple of days for Ella’s birthday. We even got to go to the morning service of our old church. But was glad to be back home Sunday night for church here at The Orchard. [More on the weekend to come.]

And Pat brought it. He’s been going through a series called Enough. This past weekend’s sermon was on Beauty. It’s probably the “toughest” sermon he’s preached in a long while ever. So if you have a spare 37 minutes during a commute or waiting in the car line or while you take your morning 4 mile jog…give it a listen. You can find it here or on iTunes here.

 

Last night The Orchard was a host for a screening of the new Invisible Children Video, GO. You probably remember me talking a bit about it last week.

Suffice to say it was pretty amazing. The turnout was less than we expected and hoped for, but the event itself was a blast. The roadies from the IC were great. Very helpful, knowledgeable, and genuine. The movie was inspiring. It told the stories of three out of 15 high school students who were allowed to go to Africa and see the effects of the money they raised. 

In turn it inspired some of them to make an even deeper commitment to helping the cause of children in northern Uganda.

And The Lyric Theater….it’s freaking amazing [or freakhog amazing]. It’s a great venue for a movie for sure. And I look forward to seeing some bands in there soon. But even the Roadies said that normally while the movie is showing they hang out at the merch table because they’ve seen/heard it so many times. But they said that The Lyric Theater in Oxford was by far the best venue they’ve been to in terms of video quality and sound quality. They said it was like watching the movie almost for the first time again.

All in all it was great night. Hope to have a better attended event next time. I think we learned a few things about getting the word out too.

Lastly, here is an older video from Invisible Children. It shows a bit about their Displace Me Campaign from a couple of years back. The more I see from these guys, the more I’m amazed with their video production skills. Plus, this video has one of my favorite songs in it too.

I first learned of The Invisible Children while at Passion 06 in Nashville. But in a nutshell, they’re an movement began by three young men after travelling to Africa and seeing the horrid atrocities occurring as unwanted children have fled Sudan in to Northern Uganda. There they have often been kidnapped and forced into war as child soldiers. Those three guys made a movie about what they say. It impacted a lot of people.

Invisible Children has made and is making a big difference in the lives of those children. And this weekend The Orchard in Oxford is partnering with them to bring their latest movie, GO, to The Lyric Theater on The Square in Oxford.

We set up a website for it today: InvisibleChildrenOxford.com.
Go visit it. Find out more. And attend the screening.
October 12. The Lyric. 6pm.
Two videos below you should watch…

The trailer for the movie GO:

Part of what led to the movie: