Staff Meetings?

This coming Monday our now 1-year old church plant will hold it's first staff meeting. For some of you that might seem crazy. "You haven't been having staff meetings? What kind of leader are you?"

Let me explain a little about what we have been doing. First we have had a deal called Leadership Community that meets once a month on Friday nights. This is open to any and all volunteers AND is a first step for new volunteers. We meet from 7pm - 8:30pm and we always have lots of food and fun too. We did meet in my house until we out grew it and now we meet in community clubhouses.

Here is the beauty of doing this for a year instead of rushing to appoint people as staff and give them a title. Even if you started your church with a staff I know it wasn't a full staff so this applies to you too. In a church plant you don't know people. You just don't. The ones that will jump in and serve on the front end are usually from other churches and with that comes "baggage." More than likely your church plant is not like most other churches in your area or else you would have just got a job there. So combine your new way of doing church with a group of people that are used to things being done a traditional way and it doesn't take long for sparks to fly. Sure it will be smooth sailing for a while and you will want to give people a title, and a place of leadership, but remember this... Once you give someone a title, once you call them staff or a leader, it is very hard to ever take that away without there being damage to your church.

So for the first year no one at Church of the Suncoast had a leadership position. Now that doesn't mean some people didn't emerge as leaders, but that is the beauty of doing a Leadership Community deal instead of a staff meeting. You get to see who "gets it," who gets the vision and the strategy of what you are doing. After you get to know them and trust them then start paying them or giving them leadership positions. If you would like more info on what Leadership Community is all about just e-mail me at

1 Year and Counting

This Sunday Church of the Suncoast celebrates it's 1-year birthday! On April 2nd, 2006 we officially launched the Suncoast with 67 people packed into a tiny day care right next to what was then open cow pasture (now it's an entire shopping center with a Super Target). We plugged along in the day care that spring and summer waiting on the first school in our area to be finished. We then had a Grand Opening with 163 people in attendance! We backed that up with 153 for our first Christmas Eve service and so far in 2007 we have been averaging 95 on Sundays. As you can see we are still counting! And this is the number that I am most proud of. 31 people in the past year have indicated they took their first step with God here at the Suncoast! That blows me away when I stop and think about it. 31 people making a decision for Christ in one year is something you can't put a price tag on or really put into words how huge that is. It makes all the nervousness, and uncertainty, and sacrifice, and sleepless Saturday nights worth it as a church planter to look back on how God used this place in just its first year. My prayer has been that 1,000 people would take that first step as a result of this church. At the time that seemed like an impossible dream. Now it seems like maybe my God was too small.

I don't get to brag on these people enough but here is a quick list of all the people that have played a role in turning the dream of the Suncoast into a reality: My wife Cheryl (no way I could have done this without you, thanks for enduring this first year), my parents, Andre and Ryan, the Blatz, the Dreschers, Jeanne (you guys were a great launch team, I don't know how we did it but we did), all of the new volunteers since we started, our staff, Hal Mayer (thanks for pushing me, but always believing in me), the crew from Suncoast Church of Tampa Bay for lending us some people during the previews, Paul Wirth, Erik Brookins, Stan Coleman, Karen Brooks (and the whole South Palm staff), Church at the Springs, all the fill in worship leaders, all the people that gave and prayed from across the state, and thank you to the Discovery Point staff and the Oakstead Elementary staff for allowing us to use your place to start this church.

Invite Cards in Guest Notes

Every week when we have first time guests come to Church of the Suncoast I get a report on Monday mornings with their names and addresses. I then send them a little 4 inch by 6 inch HAND WRITTEN guest note. I usually thank them for coming, tell them I hope they enjoyed the experience, and then I invite them back. This is a great tool to get people back to your church. It takes a few minutes, but is worth the time in the personal touch it leaves with new people.

But, in each of the envelopes we send the notes in I include 3 of our invite cards. These little business size cards are a great tool to invite people with, but here is the dirty little secret... After a person has been coming to your church for a month or two their inviting goes way down!!! So why not hit people when they are white hot with excitement about your church. It gives the people that are most likely to invite people a little tool to encourage them to do it.

Sunday in the Rearview

Today at Church of the Suncoast we had our 49th service. In two weeks we celebrate our 1-year birthday... WOW! That is crazy to think about for me. Here I am a 28-year old guy who had a crazy dream. Left a good paying job at an established church. Was told I was nuts. Only raised $17,000 to launch. And here I sit talking about "my" church that I am the "pastor" of... still a little strange sometimes. My friend Paul at Relevant Church kind of put it in perspective for me last Monday. There were 5 churches represented at our network gathering that combined has about 1,000 people attending. ALL of these churches didn't exist 2 years ago at this time!

Today we hit our average for this year so far attendance wise. We had 95. Our new promotion idea that is detailed under this seemed to give us some residual bounce. Not as much as a big mailer, but some. Still waiting on the exact number of first time guests. It was a great Sunday all the way around though. Counting down for Easter. We are doing a series called "Live in HD" It's all about how to live in High Definition because of the cross. We are praying for 200 people. We have hit 150+ now twice and gained about 20 people each time. Praying for more of the same!

New Promotion Idea

Promotion can be a taboo word in the church world. Some think the church has no place marketing itself and others feel like you are nuts if you don't. As a church planter that meets in a school and has little presence in the community from Monday - Saturday we are always looking for new ways to get our church in front of people during the week.

One way that we just tried for the first time was to print a full page postcard with a lot of "pop" to it ( We then put the postage on the back of them and gave every person on Sunday morning three of them to take home and address to people they knew. Here is what I can see a week into this:

  1. It gets our people thinking about the church during the week
  2. It gets our people thinking about their non-believing friends during the week
  3. It is a great tool to get our people to pray for their friends
  4. It goes out to people that might have already been invited
  5. In our little test it was as effective as a 15,000 piece mailer
  6. It cost less than $1,000 to pull off

We will see how the residual affect is this weekend but if you are a church planter that is trying to budget some new promotion give it a try. If you want to see our postcard you can e-mail me at

Tampa Bay Church Planters Re-Cap

Check out the highlights from Monday's gathering on Paul Wirth's blog:

Our gatherings are on the second Monday of each month at the Italian Club in Ybor City, Florida. 10am and always FREE!

Message Prep Tools

At the last Tampa Bay Church Planters Network gathering on Monday I shared some of my message prep tools all printed out for everyone to see. Here is how that looked:

Bible Online

Study Tools

  • “The Bible Exposition Commentary” Volume 1 & 2 by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • (330 topics and Biblical perspective on each)

Other Guys Stuff to Feed On

Guys to Watch

Guys on the Edge

Creative Content

Hope this helps you take your study, content, and delivery to the next level. Learn from the best out there. Your people deserve it!!!

your WORK matters

This Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we begin a brand new series called, "your WORK matters." This is one of those topics that some of the more traditional churches might not ever talk about. They might say we are, "Watering down the Bible..."

But, here is my thinking on this. You will spend over 1/3 of your life at work. Why in the world would a church not talk about that? Many of us spend more time with the people we work with then we do with our own families. The truth of the Bible is God has some important things He wants to do in and through you at the office, at school, or working at home. So this Sunday we dive into the first of those. For more info you can e-mail me at

The Blogging Church

Since you are reading my blog, my guess is, a large percentage of you also have a blog. If you are in the ministry check out this new book from the guys at Fellowship called:

"The Blogging Church"

In it you will find the why's, the what's, and the how's, to using this powerful tool to connect people to your church or ministry.

My thought is... Don't be afraid to use this new tool to reach people and connect people. I am by no means great at this, but I have found it effective. It also allows you to pass on the knowledge and insight you have gained to the next generations. Give it a look today!

Q: Asking Questions

I was talking to another church planter today who went to a local church conference and had some push back to it. As I thought about the situation I remembered something that has helped me tremendously as a young church planter. Keep asking questions!!!

Questions, questions, questions. The biggest things I have learned in my life have come through questions. For example Hal Mayer, who planted Church @ the Bay, was a guy who I picked his brain clean when we were about a year out from launching. I still to this day call him just to ask questions. Relationships like that are worth thousands of dollars in mistakes I might have made if I had not asked questions. We need to be asking questions of people way out in front of us... I just got back from the C3 Conference at Fellowship and that was a place to ask far out questions. We also need to ask questions of people not so far out... I have a network of church planters called the Tampa Bay Church Planters Network that is a place to ask people like Hal questions. He is at 500 people. We are at 100. He is 2 years old, we are almost 1 year. Finally, we need to ask questions of people behind us that are up and coming... A lot of times they are up on new trends that we have missed. They challenge our systems and paradigms.

So my advice to him and you is ask some questions. The moment we stop asking questions is the moment we miss the chance to move God's church further down the field.

Website Back Up :-)

Church of the Suncoast's website is back up and running. Wow, what did churches do before websites and e-mail... that is a scary thought.