The popular Christian musician Michael W. Smith said in a recent interview, “I think
if the church did what they were supposed to do we wouldn’t have anyone sleeping on the streets.”
Interesting observation, huh? Christians do a lot of things. We are busy with fund-raising, construction,
Sunday productions, Christian concerts, social events, politics and the ever expanding sale and consumption
of Christian merchandise. Though Christians do a lot of things, doesn’t it seem that we spend 99% of our
time and energy doing things that Jesus never told us to do?
Following Jesus begins with following the simple path that He told us to follow. To do this, means
a radical change from some of the ideas of how churches operate … like the radical idea that the Church
is not a business, but a community.
It is important to understand that this is the reason that The Orchard was started. You will find that
The Orchard does things differently, and we do some things that are radical for a church - like, we don't pass around an offering plate and we
aren't trying to build a big building. Now, honestly,
we don’t know if this model of “church” will actually work or survive. We just want to focus on what Jesus
told us to do, and this means that we are just trying to keep "Church" simple.
The clearest way to understand the Orchard is to learn three things about the culture of The Orchard.
It seems that the trend of relationships in the United States is that they are becoming more superficial,
more sterile, and more “electronic” and we dispose of friendships like an outdated iPhone. Some
Christians have even said that they’ve attended a church for months without ever entering into a
relational conversation with another person.
We actively promote the development of genuine
relationships with other Christians, even when they are sometimes messy and imperfect. When we gather
to worship on Sundays, we value relationships over religion and people over performance. We are not
trying to create a perfect Sunday event for spectators, and so you will hear people give testimonies,
you will hear people laugh and make comments (maybe even during a sermon), and you might even see
the church stop and pray for someone. Simply, we encourage people to be genuine.
The Orchard is a great community for those who value growing in relationships, practicing the biblical
values of forgiveness and bearing with the faults of others when they fail us, and working as a team
to accomplish the will of God. We even host a luncheon each Sunday to encourage our members to
relationally engage with one another.
The word “spiritual” gets used in so many different ways that it might seem hard to really know what
we mean when we use this word. But, when we use the word “spiritual” we mean that we lean upon the
Holy Spirit to be both the vision and the power for everything we do. This can seem hard to do in the
Washington DC area with so many competent, well-educated, well-resourced, and articulate people … it might
be easy to feel that we can do a lot of holy stuff without the presence of the Holy Spirit.
But we take a different approach. If we are genuinely doing the things that God wants us to do, we will
fail without the power of God. Thus, we pray … a lot.