Website Down :-(

Church of the Suncoast's website has been down for the past day. The company we use to host the site told me it should be up by last night... It is still not up today!!!

Keep checking in, and check back here for updates as they are needed.

C3 NOTES (Day 2)

Here are the notes from day two:

C3 Session 5 >> Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Ex 4:1-12

Has God ever done something that scared you?

You have to get alone with God to lead.

If you think you are prepared, you are not. If there is nothing that intimidates you, you will never succeed in ministry. You have to humble yourself. Attitude determines your altitude.

“When Shepherds Lead”

Taking people from one location to another. Not stationary. God is a moving god. You have to move with God or you are worshipping where God was.

The Shepherd Source > Ultimately you have to be alone with God to find your own DNA. When you find your original self you will find your true calling in life. Moses life… Leadership has to be drawn out. Only God can get the fullness of His calling out of you. God has fully equipped you for what He has called you to do.

If you are not controversial you can’t be effective.

The Shepherds Spirit > There should be something out of your personal experience that is your passion for ministry. What are the uniqueness of your ministry? What is the DNA of your church? Branding your ministry… What is your brand? What are you known for? Is that filtering down through all your church? Does everybody know it?

Deut 39:9-12

Can you go to anyone in your ministry and find the same vision at the bottom that is at the top? Can they tell you your brand clearly?

Franchise it. The staff, leaders, volunteers, have to carry out the brand. They don’t get to re-brand it. “You don’t get to paint the golden arches blue.” -- Num 11:11-17 Has everyone bought into the vision?

The Shepherds Staff > Every leader gets to the point where they don’t know where they are going… All you see if trouble. “Moses what is that in your hand?” You have to learn how to use your staff. You have to stretch your staff. Never hire or appoint someone who is not willing to be stretched. You don’t want people who can only do one thing. You can’t afford to hire people that can only do one thing. Great teams can do the “next” thing. Find your “12” and stretch them. They should have the DNA of your ministry in them so that they can transition into the “next” thing. It’s OK as a pastor to lean on your staff.

As a pastor you need people that you can place your full weight on. The miracle is in your staff. God may not be waiting to strengthen you; He might be waiting on the staff to be strengthened.

The Shepherds Study > Why does God ask us to do what we can’t? Why does God ask us to work in our greatest weakness? Because God looks the best when we are at our worst. Where is your stutter? Where do you feel inadequate? That is where God wants to do something amazing.

C3 Session 6 >> Ed Young Jr. & Ed Young Sr.

What I learned from my Dad

>> The power of personal evangelism. There are a lot of people in our lives trying to see Jesus in us. Evangelism starts with the leader. If you aren’t doing it then it won’t happen in the church.

Dad says: It has to be who you are as a believer. Begins with a friendship.

>> The crucial role of leadership. Take people where they need to go, not where they want to go. The best leaders are people you have to go out and find, not the ones that volunteer.

>> The hard things first.

>> Have zero partiality in your life. How you treat someone that can do nothing for you.

>> The discipline of study. 80% of the results of your church are in the preaching. It’s the weekend stupid!

>> The power of the absence. Take time off in blocks of time. Weeks at a time! 17,000 pastors a year leave the ministry. Take the natural breaks! 4th of July, memorial day, week in between Christmas and New Year. Thanksgiving weekend.

>> Hospitality happens. Open your home to make REAL deposits in peoples lives.

>> Promote, promote, promote. At your big events you have to promote the next thing! Even promote baptisms.

>> Vision. Seeing the unseen.

>> Have a funeral in your mind for negative people.

>> Generosity. Generosity begins in your home. To raise money you have to be a giver!
>> Marry over your head.

C3 (Creative Church Conference) NOTES

Here are the notes from day one of the C3 conference:
C3 Session 1 >> Ed Young Jr.

How to turn what if into what is?

On Stage – Giant staircase… represents what if as you go up and then what is. Up and up and up. If only it was that easy.

From the early days of Fellowship: DELEGATION > What it is not – Relegation (out of sight, out of mind) Delegation without investigating is merely relegation.

Back to the staircase, what if thoughts. All starts with delegating. Without creating space you can’t be creative and move from what if to what is. Climbing the staircase is just steps of delegation and then investigating. Asking what if’s (ideas) and letting others turn it into what is.

Biblical examples – The Garden, to Jesus, to the disciples, to us as church leaders.

What keeps us from really delegating?

The three C’s >>>

C – onflict. It has to happen. Deal with it. Ask the hard questions. Do the investigating.

C – haos. It’s messy. We all have our pride. No one can do it like me.

C – arnage. There will be causalities. If someone isn’t working out, first move them. If that doesn’t work, let them go! “The moment people stop leaving is the moment you stop leading.” As you climb the steps people will leave. Volunteers and staff. Don’t chase them!!! Little people with little vision will attack big people with big vision. Is there any truth in their criticism and then let it go! Keeps us on what is step.

What do you need to keep? – (1) The Vision. You have to own it. (2) Team building. (3) Organization of the organization. (4) Investigation.

Who do you delegate to? Someone that can do it the same, faster, or better than you. In certain areas. Staff to your weakness. Delegate to people that “Get it!” (The Vision) You can tell by delegating on the micro level and then you will see if that can handle the macro. [Character qualities – Someone that has gone through a struggle with you, but now on your side. Strong relational track record. Unselfish people. Why not person.

How do you delegate? Staff meeting. Ask questions >> Is it growing? What needs to be investigated? Make phony phone calls to church J People do what you inspect not what you expect.

Why do you delegate? To be able to reach our potential. Because leadership is a marathon. We need margin and we need space for a day off, time off, time just to think and be creative.
QUESTION? Are you in the shallow end or the deep end of delegation?
C3 Session 2 >> Craig Groschel

“You are an idiot”

The goal: Answer one question, ask us three.

Who does God most often use to turn what if into what is: God uses insecure, risk taking, pain enduring idiots.

Acts Chapter 4 verse 13.

They were ordinary and unschooled. Literal – idiots!!! When Jesus picked His followers He picked the poor, the unschooled, and the powerless. He didn’t call any educated people. Man’s system screws up God’s work.

God uses the insecure. In ministry we believe it’s all Him, but we believe it’s all us. We need to be careful not to take blame in the decline because we might take credit in the increase. Don’t ever become good.

Question #1 > In what area of ministry have you become dangerously good in your own knowledge and abilities?

God uses risk takers. To really follow Jesus you have to live in perpetual state of discomfort. We have to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Ministries are built on risk after risk after risk. God honors small unusual obedience.

Hebrews 11:6

You want to hear, “What a dumb idea.” Worry when you don’t hear that.

Question #2 > What faith risk is God calling you to take?

God uses pain enduring people. We have a warped view that God just wants to take away our pain. God’s goal is not comfort and safety. Embrace the pain. Embrace the pain. Embrace the pain.

If you are truly following Jesus you won’t feel less pain, but more! The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is the pain you have to endure. Your ministry will never outgrow your threshold for pain.

We have to learn to play hurt. Let them talk about you. Get up and point them to Jesus.

Question #3 > What painful decision have you been avoiding?

Final thought: “The way I was doing the work of God was destroying God’s work in my life” – Bill Hybels.
Don’t be a full time pastor and a part time follower of Jesus Christ.
C3 Session 3 >> Mark Driscoll

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

What is the Gospel? It is continual and to be proclaimed, it is personal, it is essential, it is central, eternal, it is Christ centered, penile, substitutional, Biblical, eschatological, (Big Words Guy).

Two enemies: Religion (believers) and idolatry (pagans). If you don’t break the first 2 commandments you won’t break the others. Everyone worships something. Idolatry lies. Leaves us frustrated. We turn good things into God things to escape our “hell.”

How do your know them (Idols)? Biggest fear? Long for? Where do you run? What do you complain about, makes you angry, makes you happy? How do you describe yourself? What makes you angry at God? What do you brag about? What do you want more than anything else? What do you sacrifice for? What would you change? Who’s approval are you seeking? What do you want to control? What comfort do you treasure the most?

Enemy two: Religion. “If you obey God will love you.” – Religion. “Because I love you, you can now obey” – Gospel. It’s not about what we do; it is about what He has done. It’s not about getting God to do stuff for us. Religion is about me, the Gospel is about Jesus.

Religion ends up in two places. In ends in pride or despair.

C3 Session 4 >> Dr. Ed Young Sr.

What do we do when someone pushed you into the deep end of ministry?

Isaiah 54:2

The problem: We don’t know where we are or where we are going.

The solution: From Isaiah - Enlarge your tent, strengthen your stakes and lengthen your cords.

A. Strengthen your stakes…

#1 Strengthen your theology. We have a product – Good News. We have a mission statement – Great Commission. We have a marketing strategy – Acts 1:8. We make a profit – changed lives, new people.

#2 Strengthen our Ecclesiology > Teaching, communion, fellowship, prayer. A church is a fellowship, a flock, a family, a body, a bride (of Christ).

#3 Strengthen your eschatology > We should be beautiful (facilities). Shows an indication of the inward reality.

B. Lengthen our cords…

#1 Begins with worship. Where it begins but not the most important.

#2 Children’s and Students are the most important. Most under attack. Only 2 out of 8 of “Church” kids (our own kids) make it to salvation by age 22. Children’s ministry makes or breaks a church no matter what is going on in the service.

Get a reputation for taking care of kids you will have to lengthen your cords.

C3 (Creative Church Conference) Notes

In about 2 hours some of the Suncoast staff, my wife, and I will be in the air heading to the Creative Church Conference in Dallas (Grapevine to be exact). I hope to have some pictures and a conference re-cap up by tomorrow night. It should be some good content.

Staff-Led Church

A friend and mentor, Randy from Discovery Church in New Jersey, just did a class at a local Bible College on being a staff-led church. Church of the Suncoast is a staff-led church and this is a great list of reasons why:

The Biblical Reasoning of a Staff-Led Church

Discovery - A " Staff-Led, Team Run" Church.

The daily ministry and operational decisions at Discovery are made by those doing the daily ministry and operations…the Pastors and Staff. The pastors and staff oversee their various ministries, the The Lead Pastor oversees the pastors and staff on a day-to-day basis while the Management Team (a group of key staff members) has the main responsibility of ensuring we stay within our vision, mission and core values. Finally, the Board of Directors gives financial oversight. However, our most important leadership groups are the various ministry teams.

We believe that every member of Discovery should have a vital place in strategic service on a ministry team. As part of a team, all players are valuable and their input is significant. Those are the people that make Discovery work.

By saying Discovery is "staff-led", we mean that our staff oversee all matters of the church and its operations. It is the staff's job to make sure all ministry decisions stay within the boundaries of our vision, mission and core values. We have lay leaders who oversee the finances of Discovery, and others are available to consult with, but ultimately the staff oversees the operations of the church. The Lead Pastor is the head of our staff and our church, and our Management Team leads with him. However, while Discovery is a staff-led church it does have the financial oversight of the Board of Directors. Furthermore, the Board of Directors sets financial policy while the congregation has input in the selection of the lay leaders serving on the Board of Directors as well as the hiring of a new Senior or Teaching Pastor. Here is the biblical reasoning behind that structure... The church is a flock. Therefore it's cared for and led by shepherds. There are three different terms that are used in the New Testament to refer to the same church leader.

1. "Poimen" in Greek means pastor or shepherd. That means the feeders are the leaders -- the feeding aspect of ministry. Where Jesus says to Peter, "Take care of My sheep" that's the word poimen, it's the word pastor. Pastor means to take care of a flock.

2. "Presbuteros" means "elder" in Greek. "Presbyterian" comes from this. Presbyterians call their leaders \n elders. It's a good, legitimate term. It's a Biblical term. It refers to spiritual maturity. An elder doesn't mean physically old. It means spiritual maturity. Timothy was the elder \n and chief pastor of the church at Ephesus. Paul says, "You are the elder and you're the pastor at Ephesus. You are to appoint other elders." Yet later in the same book it say, "Don't let anybody \n look down on you because you're a young kid." How could he be an elder and \n yet a young kid at the same time? Because he'd been a Christian since he was a child and although he \n might have been 30 years old or 25, he'd been a Christian for 20-25 years. Whereas these guys who were older than him had only been a Christian for a year. It's referring to spiritual maturity, not physical maturity.

3. "Episcopos" is the word for "overseer" or "bishop". "Episcopalian" comes from this. They call their leaders bishops. There's nothing wrong with that; that's a good Biblical word. "Epi" in Greek means "over". "Scopos" means "to see" (telescope, microscope, stethoscope). Episcopos means "to oversee". Today, we call them a manager. Bishop means manager, supervisor, overseer, a manager. It's just an old English word for manager. It refers to the managing aspects of church leadership.

What's the difference between a pastor and an elder? An elder and a bishop? A bishop and a shepherd? A shepherd and an overseer? Nothing!

1 Peter 5:1-2 "To the elders [presbuteros] I say, be shepherds [poimen] of God's flock," So he says an elder is a shepherd is a pastor. Then he says, "...serving as overseers [episcopos]". A bishop is an elder is a pastor.

Acts 20 "Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders [presbuteros] of the church. When they arrived he said to them, `Guard yourselves and all the flock of God which the Holy Spirit has made you noverseers [bishop]. Be pastors [shepherds] of the church of God ."

They are used interchangeably. How many pastors does our church have? Remember I'm not talking about ministers. Every Christian that attends Discovery is a minister. Then we have staff and ordained or licensed pastors who lead the church and some of them are part of what we call the Pastor's Management Team. This is the leadership of Discovery. Why? Because an elder is a pastor...and a bishop...and an Overseer. They are the same people. In many churches, you have pastors who are paid full time to serve, then you have volunteer men who serve as elders. There's nothing wrong with that at all. There's only one problem: In a church that's growing like Discovery you need full time leadership, not part time leadership leading it. So at Discovery, the majority of our elders are paid full time to serve. We just call them pastors.

The Hate Has Finally Stopped

This past Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we wrapped up week #2 of a new series we are doing called "The 4 Most Annoying Things About Christians." And, I think the hate mail, e-mail, and voice mail has finally stopped. We did a 25,000 piece postcard for this series and I had on average 4 or 5 NASTY responses each day for about a solid week! One in particular was really nice. We had a lady (anonymous of course) that said "I'm sure you will take up an offering at your church and buy a nice new car, house, vacation... what a life." Then she signed it saying that she is praying we come back to the real church... from a member of a Catholic Church. Then another one said that she could never come to a sub-par church like ours because she was one of those annoying Christians. And, still another person said this was not a real church and that she was praying for my soul. -- Hey thanks, I need that.

Seriously, if you are a church planter and would like to take a look at any of our stuff just shoot me an e-mail at and I can burn you a CD with the message roll in video, the postcard, and some of the talks. You have to love it when the response you get from the community proves the point of the series.

Printing on the Cheap

Like most church planters I am always looking for the best and cheapest places to print things. Check out these two places:

For Invite Cards & Postcards (If you are near Tampa you can pick up and not pay shipping)

For Brochures and Sunday Programs

If you know of any places that can beat these guys let me know. Now go and send a mailer or print some invite cards!!! :-)

Tampa Network Re-Cap

By: David Melendez

The personal challenges of planting a church

Proverbs 13:12 “Hope differed makes the heart sick.”

How do you deal with the disappointment of expectations?


How do you respond when you don’t reach your goals?

>> Beware of the pitfalls of your personality type. All ahead – or – the planner? Don’t let your greatest gift become your biggest liability. You will burn out or become frustrated and walk away. So how are you wired?

>> Find balance. (Vision, goal setting, hard work vs. reality, circumstances & trust)

>> Release the obstacles not under your control. Learn patience. (People letting you down, the reality of the process…)

The promise -- Hab. 2:3

>> Focus on being a finisher. The way to survive is not to focus on quick snapshots. Focus on trends!!!


Relevance. You say that word in some church circles and they brand you a heretic. Check out this short article. It's the best articulation I have seen in a while about the need to take these timeless truths in Scripture and make then relevant to people in 2007. Take a look:

Relevance Article