Gifts that really make a difference!

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Every Sunday morning we pass the offering bags/plates/buckets in each of our services. Faithful people, who love God, put financial gifts into those containers and those gifts make a huge difference in the world. All of the gifts given in Christ's name are used to spread the good news and build God's kingdom within our 5 communities. Every dollar given is used for our mission.

Many spontaneous and generous gifts have been given during these last months. One family gave a gift so that major improvements could be made to the orphanage that we partner with in Haiti. Another family gave a gift so that the children in Gorongosa, Mozambique could have a shelter for their Bible Club--see the picture above. Very soon the children will be able to meet in spite of rain and be protected from some of those who would disrupt their club due to being intoxicated. The school funded by our Marathon Team is about 1/2 finished. Another family gave a large financial gift to our Cup of Cold Water Fund so that we could keep helping local people have food, heat and children's supplies.

I am often overwhelmed by the generosity and love of our congregation. Thank you for listening to God's whisper and responding with generosity.


God at work!

>> Monday, February 27, 2012

Every other Monday morning we have a 90 minute staff meeting. Each meeting begins with a prayer and then I lead out staff into sharing "pictures of God at work." This is how we begin each staff meeting. It is important for us to recognize that God is at work in so many different ways within our church body. Naming the ways He is at work helps us focus and brings glory to him. The stories have power. Here are some of this morning's stories...

Joan shared that yesterday was a record-setting attendance for our Children's Ministry--361 kids involved at the Cedar Falls campus 0-6th grade.

Jean shared that God is at work thru the Lenten Lunches which are in their 10th year and is now being duplicated in the Grundy Center Community Building.

Laura shared that that more churches are partnering with Love Cedar Valley than every before including both white and black churches.

Ben shared how God worked with both students and staff at our recent Ski and Shop even while 3 students needed a trip to the hospital.

Mike shared that God's presence was keenly felt at our Men's Retreat in Grundy over the weekend.

Leanne shared that our Student Ministry had great response to a Girls Retreat on Saturday where the girls could be taught clearly about becoming women of God.

Kris shared how so many visiting people are connecting with Face to Face on Sundays and finding help at the Welcome Centers.

God is good. God is at work. It is encouraging to hear of so many places where we see him at work.


Speed Dating Part 2

>> Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here are a couple pictures of the Route 55 and College Students doing some speed dating sharing which I write about in the previous post!


Speed Dating At Orchard!

>> Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sometimes I get reports of cool things happening at Orchard that even I cannot believe. I want to celebrate and communicate but it is difficult to explain. This is one of those times.

It seems that the other night we had an event that gave people the opportunity to practice some speed dating. Somewhere over 60 people gathered at tables to answer questions and get to know others for the purpose of building friendship and future relationships. The kicker is that 27 of these people were senior citizens from Orchard and Nazareth and 35-40 were college students. They speed dated together answering questions like--

Describe your first job.
Talk about your first date.
Describe your first car.

I wasn't at the event but I heard there was much laughter, fun and community building. It was a blast for both the college people and the senior citizens. Intergenerational ministry took another step forward on this evening. Now our seniors and college students have served together in mission and done a little speed dating. I'm amazed and perplexed at how God leads.


Celebrating New Members

>> Thursday, February 2, 2012

I was sitting at my desk reading the faith stories of our new members. Twenty-two of our new members are joining by reaffirmation of faith in Jesus. This generally means that they are coming to Orchard from not having a recent church experience or a spiritual home. Two of our new members are joining by first-time confession of faith in Jesus and one is coming by transfer from Trinity Reformed Church in Allison.

As I read their faith stories, it reminded me that all the work we do is worth it! All the meetings, the planning, the giving and praying, the outreach work is all worth it!

So many of these folks were invited "on the arm of a trusted friend". Many of them are coming back to church because they want their children and teenagers in a strong youth program. Many of them mentioned that they were planning on church shopping but felt welcomed and at home as they visited Orchard. Many of them are in a good place on their spiritual journey. I hope Orchard will continue to be a welcoming and friendly place for those looking to connect more deeply with God.


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