As most of you know, several weeks ago we began what I think has become one of The Orchard's most unique and impacting series in a long time. Each week, we have journeyed through different spiritual practices such as: silence, solitude, scripture meditation, daily prayer rhythms, generosity, and others.
The big idea of the series is basically this:
God is at work in us. Spiritual practices are some of the ways that we cooperate with that work as God helps us to become the people He created us to be.
There's a couple of reasons why I think this has been such an impacting series for us:
1. It's been unplanned. At the beginning of the series, I really felt impressed to forgo all long term planning for this series. Usually, we try to plan topics, etc... WEEKS out in advance. But with this series I really felt like we needed to be completely flexible with where God wanted to take our church community throughout this series. So we have literally planned out each weekend gathering one week at at a time.
2. It has stretched us and pulled us out of our comfort zone. We're comfortable with our long-range planning. But starting with a blank canvas every single week throughout this series has stretched us and challenged us - in fresh and much needed ways.
Has it been challenging in the area of creative planning each week? Yeah, sort of. But at the same time, I have to say that this has probably been one of our most creative and artistic series ever. Watching it all come together each week has been amazing.
2. It's been very personal. For both me and our community. Each week has been planned in response to what it seems God did in hearts the week before. It's almost hard to put into words - but it feels like a journey that God is taking us all on to prepare us for a shift from 3rd to 4th gear.
3. It's been experiential. Each week of the series we have tried to creatively provide ways for people to not only learn, but also experience and taste the spiritual practices we've been teaching on. For example, one week we led everyone through several minutes of silent scripture meditation. Another week, we utilized the technology of Twitter to guide people through a week of daily prayer rhythms.
When it's all said and done, my hope and prayer is that our community has had small, bite-sized, appetizer-type tastes that will only make them hungrier for the ways in which these spiritual practices can truly impact our lives.
So with all that said....
I'm thankful. God seems to be doing something really great at The Orchard right now. And I'm even more excited what's to come these next couple of weeks as I teach on a few missional practices. Which ultimately, is what all the other practices eventually point to.
On a side note.....We've been really honored by the influx of requests for our artwork, sermon transcripts, video pieces, and other creative elements from this series. Typically, we are more than happy to share whatever we come up with. We're all about that. However, because of the uniqueness of this series and what it is that God seems to be doing through it, we've decided to hold off on sharing any of our creative or teaching elements for at least three months.
And to be honest, I can't even tell you why I feel so strongly about that, but it just feels right, so I'm going to follow my gut. Who knows, maybe there's something else that God wants to do with this series that we're not aware of yet. Or maybe it's just that this thing feels very personal for us at The Orchard. Or both. :) Either way, thanks for understanding....