This past weekend we concluded a four-week series at The Orchard entitled, “The Gospel: From a Garden to The City”. This turned out to be a tremendous series that I think God used to impact our community in significant ways.
Rather than being a series focused strictly on the doctrinal aspects of the gospel, our goal was to give sort of a 30,000 ft view of the overarching narrative of the gospel: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. I appreciate Tim Keller's thoughts on the fact that while there is only
one gospel, there are clearly different forms in which the gospel
can be expressed. This series was just one of those expressions.
My hope and prayer going in to the series was that it would help accomplish three things in our community: expand our view of the gospel, find and embrace our place in the story, and of course...be led into a greater discovery of the beautiful hope we have in the Cross and Resurrection.
The above logos are all original paintings that were beautifully created by our friend, Sherri Ohler. Each weekend was represented by one of these paintings that each followed the narrative.
Here are a few photos from throughout the series. (Also, special thanks to artists: Maureen Gasek, Julie Vogt, and Lisa Price.)
I could go on and on about the show, but let me just sum it up by saying that it was one ofthe best live performances I have ever been to. Seriously. It was amazing. In a way....almost magical.
Why? Well here's a few things I was reminded of during the performance that may answer that.
People don’t want to simply hear the music; they want to feel it too.
I don’t even know why, but there was something really amazing about experiencing Glen Hansard standing at the edge of the stage, off-mic, singing....screaming....almost crying....from the depths of his soul. It was.....just wow. You felt his journey. His pain. His joy. His struggle. And....his redemption. It was beautiful.
People love the unexpected.
Loved how Glen (in his “Where’s Waldo?” hat) and Marketa opened the show by sitting on the floor with an acoustic guitar and a cheap Casio keyboard performing the song, “Fallen From The Sky.” Totally unexpected. And everyone loved it.
Everybody loves a good story.
Glen is a great story teller. He includes details that seem unnecessary until you realize that you've fallen in love with the character because of those details. I’m 100% convinced that people love a good story. Partly because we see ourselves in most of them.
People want to participate.
But you have to ask them to. Bottom line is that people need to be led. I think every church worship leader needs to see Glen Hansard perform. He leads people well by performing with a ton of authenticity and by bringing depth to his audience.
Ireland has brought some pretty good stuff to our world.
Guinness, The Swell Season, The Commitments, The Cranberries, The Frames, Snow Patrol, Damien Rice, and of course....U2.
Go listen to The Swell Season. See them in concert if you can. I know I will. Again. And again.
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.
A few months ago, my friend Ben Arment called me with an idea about creating a first-of-its-kind experience for writers, communicators, artists, pastors, and church leaders. The idea was to design a conference where people could learn from some of the most effective communicators of the Gospel today.
But the best part was that Ben wanted the conference to happen in or around Chicago. So we started talking venues...and one thing led to another.....which eventually landed the project called "Story" at two incredible venues in the Chicago area:
So of course, I'm excited! But the thing that I'm most excited about is the idea and heart behind this 2 day event. I believe that the greatest story - the story of the Gospel - is a story that deserves to be communicated in the most creative, engaging, and beautiful way possible. And that's what Story is going to be all about.
Enough rambling... Let me give you a few details:
Dates: October 28th & 29th
Where: Paramount Theatre (28th) and The Orchard (29th) - both in Aurora (40 miles west of Chicago).
That's a lot to digest and this post is getting too be long, so I'm going to save the workshop speakers for another post. But it is definitely going to be an amazing group of people who are coming together in October.
The Jacquets are an awesome couple who showed up at The Orchard just a little less than a year ago. Since then, they have both been baptized and have taken huge steps forward on their spiritual journey. It's been amazing to watch God work in their lives...
For our Christmas Eve services this last December, we created a short video of Shaun and Leta sharing their story. It's DEFINITELY worth a watch and extremely moving.