Pastors....church leaders - it doesn't take very long to slip into "comfort" mode, does it? Believe me, I know how it is. If we're not careful, we get pulled too much into the day to day "stuff" and before we know it, our thinking and dreaming begins to decline....we gradually slip into maintenance mode.....and next thing we know, our focus has become more about micromanaging and maintaining than it has about the things that really matter most.
The solution? Well for me, one of the things that always seems to help me regain focus and vision is getting AWAY from the familiar and getting around people who are thinking....dreaming....and doing things that are bigger (and different) than what I'm doing.
Unleash is NewSpring's dream of sharing what they're learning on their journey with fellow pastors & church leaders across America. And pastors, listen...this isn't about you or your church becoming a "NewSpring" clone. This is about seeing first hand how a local church is doing an incredible job of being who God has called them to be for the people God has best positioned them to reach. And seeing that done really well....is worth a trip - especially if you and your team need to be yanked out of your comfort zones and given a fresh dose of inspiration and encouragement.
Here's the link. Check it out. It's happening on March 4th, 2010 in Andersen, South Carolina. (BTW....it's only $59/person.)
“Art...can be a doxology in itself.” Francis Schaeffer
This coming weekend is the grand opening of The Orchard’s Community Art Initiative!
Here’s the deal... From now through January 2010, we are featuring over 60 paintings, original prints, and mixed media works by five local international and nationally acclaimed artists. (Their work is already on display throughout The Orchard’s campus and let me tell you....it looks AMAZING! Will post photos after this weekend...)
This is a dream come true for us on so many levels.
For one, we believe that we must be people who recognize, create, and release beauty in our city and world. And since we value the artful expression of people from all different backgrounds and who are at all different places in their spiritual journey, we believe that partnering with local artists is essential in seeing this happen.
We’re also joining together with these artists to create tangible expressions of love through existing partnerships both locally in Aurora and globally in Uganda, El Salvador, and Thailand.
(And here’s the really cool part... Not only are these works available for purchase, but all of the artists have agreed to donate a percentage of their proceeds back into one of our Glocal Partnerships. How amazing is that?!)
Best of all, this is just the beginning. We want to keep finding new and creative ways to be a supportive and empowering voice to our local artists as they continue to bring beauty to our world through their unique expressions of truth.
Can’t wait to see where this journey leads us in the weeks and months ahead!
Here are the details for this weekend:
Opening Reception & Food Drive Sunday, November 15th, 2009 from 12:30pm - 2:00pm The Orchard Community | 101 S. Barnes Rd., Aurora, IL 60506 | 630.897.8888
We're also encouraging everyone to bring non-perishable food items to benefit the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry.
P.S. Attention Artists! Continuing Art Exhibitions are scheduled for 2010 and 2011. We are currently looking for artists to submit their work starting fall 2010 and continuing through 2011. For more information on future exhibits or for information on how artists can submit work, please contact: Maureen Gasek, Maureen@epsilondesign.net or 630-898-3859.
"This is the kind of church and kingdom I want to be a part of - a band of people who are messy, have addictions and shortcomings, make mistakes, get rejected, and are screwed up, but are so fully aware of the Master's grace and love for them in spite of who they are or will be someday; people who embrace discomfort knowing there is so much to be gained for all of us and for all of our churches."
Ok, so there are around 2.4 billion things that I'm excited about right now. And I seriously feel like I need to pinch myself just to make sure this is all real. Here's a taste.
STORY - It happens next week! Can't wait. Around 1,700 pastors, communicators, church leaders, writers, speakers, etc will converge for two days to learn and be inspired by an amazing line up of storytellers - people like Dave Gibbons, Ed Young, Donald Miller, Nancy Beach, Mike Foster, Stacy Spencer, Chris Seay, and others. The first day happens on Wednesday, October 28th at the beautiful Paramount Theater in downtown Aurora. The next day will be workshops (sold out!) happening at The Orchard. Honored to host and be a part of STORY!
CULTIVATE - Seriously, Chicagoland is the place to be in October. Cultivate is a highly interactive, conversational, collaborative un-conference that's all about church communication. It's happening the day before STORY. And the lineup of facilitators is just sick. Wow.
DAVE GIBBONS - We are honored to have Dave speak at The Orchard's gatherings the weekend following STORY. Not only is Dave a good friend, but he's someone God has used to impact my life in some pretty significant ways. I'm thrilled that our church community gets to hear and learn from him!
THE NEW & IMPROVED....ORCHARD - The Orchard has had an extreme makeover! Through the amazing "pro bono" generosity of fellow Orchard tribal members, Dawn & Keith Baldwin (Aspire One), we have a new logo and amazzzing new website that will go live later THIS WEEK. I'll talk more about this in a later post... STAY TUNED!
LOVE.SERVE.GIVE. - It's The Orchard's GLOCAL outreach opportunities this winter. More about this later as well... But just know that we are going to have some amazing opportunities to bring beauty and hope to people locally in our city and globally in places like Uganda, Thailand, and El Salvador.
ORCHARD ART INITIATIVE - Too much to type, but The Orchard is turning into an art gallery starting this month. Our campus will be filled with art from local artists. Huge dream come true, but only the beginning...
Ok, there's more, but I my fingers hurt and I need to study. OUT.
This photo was taken a few months ago while on a visit to Uganda. It's the home of a man named Moses. He's the father of a young boy sponsored through Compassion.
Even looking back now, as I type this, it's hard to put into words what we saw and experienced that day as we walked through this urban neighborhood of Kampala. Poverty, disease, suffering, unclean water....you name it. I've spent time in other poverty stricken areas around the world, but on this day in particular, I realized that I had forgotten just how bad it really is.
Which is why I think my mind struggled to make sense of what happened next.
As we were standing in the middle of this "mess" saying our goodbyes, my focus was immediately interrupted by the sound of a little girl giggling, laughing, and trying really hard to get our attention. And as I turned around to see who the culprit was, I was completely taken back by the presence of this beautiful little girl.
It's hard to explain what I felt at that moment, but it was as though my mind immediately went TILT. Not just because she looked like she had just walked out of a suburban mall somewhere in middle America. No, it was everything! Her smile. Her laughter. Her silliness. Her life!
It was almost like looking at a puzzle piece that had been placed on the wrong puzzle. This piece didn't fit!
It was beauty...in the midst of utter brokenness.
For the rest of the trip, I referred to this little girl as "Julia" in my conversations with people. I called her that because she reminded me so much of my five year old daughter by the same name. The way she made me smile and laugh was just like my little "Juju" makes me smile and laugh at home.
I was reminded of something in regards to beauty that day. Something that I think is important as we become people who not only recognize obvious beauty, but who also learn to seek out beauty in this broken world.
Sometimes we find beauty. And other times.....beauty finds us. But either way, our eyes have to be open.
Open our eyes Lord. May we be more aware of Your beauty - even in the midst of brokenness. Amen.
Our team performed the song "T-Shirts" by Derek Webb this past weekend at The Orchard. We even had a mini-choir with t-shirts that said the word "LOVE" across the center of them. And man, they rocked it! Pretty powerful song with just enough tension to make the right people squirm. :)
Here are the lyrics:
they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear they'll know us by the way we point and stare at anyone whose sin looks worse than ours who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare
they’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
they’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
like anyone on earth is living right
and isn’t that why Jesus died
not to make us think we’re right
when love, love, love
is what we should be known for
love, love, love
it’s the how and it’s the why
we live and breathe and we die
they’ll know us by reasons we divide
and how we can’t seem to unify
because we’ve gotta sing songs a certain style
or we’ll walk right down that aisle
and just leave ‘em all behind
they’ll know us by the billboards that we make
just turning God’s words to cheap clichés
says “what part of murder don’t you understand?”
but we hate our fellow man
and point a finger at his grave
they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they'll know us by the way we point and stare
telling ‘em their sins are worse than ours
thinking we can hide our scars
beneath these t-shirts that we wear