Leading Through a Move

This Sunday is Church of the Suncoasts last week in Oakstead Elementary School. On August 5th we will be moving to Martinez Middle School which is about a 10 minute drive from where we have met for the past 10 months. This will be the second move in our brief history (we moved about 5 minutes down the road last time).

So what have we learned from moving a church plant around? At first it seems like a real bummer. You get established and then BOOM you up and move. "Hey, where did that church go?" Or, as I like to call it, "Dude, where's my church?" Either way it seems like it would hurt momentum.

BUT, if you lead through a move right it can be a real shot in the arm. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Why are you moving? That seems kind of obvious but you need to know every angle of why you are moving because you will have to articulate it over and over.
  2. What are the positives? It's easy to find the negative aspects of moving. But, what are the positives? Find those and make those your mantra for the weeks leading up to your big day.
  3. Who can you include? Every time we have moved we gained new volunteers because they signed on for a short term project and it turns into something they love.
  4. What do you need? Make a list! Seriously, with all the little things that it takes to do portable church make a list of everything you can think of and then delegate it if you can.
  5. Who can you invite? Who do you know that needs to be at this new chapter of your churches history? Who do your people need to invite?
  6. What are promoting? Promote the fool out of your move! We are doing a Gas Buy Down at two area filling stations, 2,500 invite cards, and a 37,000 piece mailer.
  7. When is your Grand Opening? You want people to come to your first week in the new place, but you also want to do a Grand Opening. People like openings. Its new, its fresh, its exciting. Do a Grand Opening a few weeks out to make sure you get the kinks worked out. It's a double shot in the arm!

As you read this list please won't you say a prayer that our move be one that takes new territory for God's kingdom! For more info e-mail me at brian@canthisbechurch.com

While I Was Away (Vacation at a Church Plant)

Last Sunday my wife Cheryl and I took our first real vacation (one where you miss a Sunday) since we started Church of the Suncoast in April of last year. AND, while we were away everything went flawless! Here are some thoughts on why:

  • We planned for it well. Our management team and some key volunteers planned out every detail of what I do on a Sunday just out of instinct. First I prepared a document that I called "A Guide to What the Heck Brian Does Each Sunday" that was just a time line of the things I still do on Sundays. Things like getting the trailer, putting out a couple signs early, getting breakfast for the custodian at our school, and so on... We then gave everyone some of those duties. Sounds elementary, but I have been at "established" churches that when the boss goes away everything is kind of up for grabs.
  • We got a speaker that fit our vision and style. A church planting friend of mine in Tampa loaned us his student ministry guy. He is a great communicator and the styles of the two churches are close enough that it was an easy fit to walk into a group of strangers and speak. Our people also didn't have to try to get where he was coming from. It was just a good fit.
  • I stayed away! Even though we got back late Saturday night I did not show up on Sunday. I let the volunteers and staff own the day. It showed them I really do trust them and it proved to them that this thing is not just about me.

Here are some random thoughts on how it felt:

  • Like I was missing out. I really do like our church and its people! I felt like I missed out on a whole week of jokes and laughs.
  • Like no one missed us. That was a strange feeling. Even though I know it is not true you can't help but feel that way I guess.
  • At peace. Surprisingly, I was at peace with the whole thing. Must have been a God thing...
  • Proud. Our church has come from a handful of people that had no idea what we were doing into a small army of trained volunteers who can run a church without a problem.

I didn't take any time off for the first 15 months of our church's life. That is just the way it is when you start from nothing. Now I will start building in some regular times away. You need it and your church needs it. They need to see that they can do it even in a baby church plant.

Facts on Church Growth

I promise I will spend a few minutes talking about my first weekend miss at our church, but for now check out this article:


Very interesting read!

Back from Vacation

Just got back from a little vacation to the Keys. First time away from a weekend at our church since we started in April of 2006. I will download some of those thoughts this week on the Insider. Thank you for checking back in. It means a lot that you would want to hear about Church of the Suncoast and the ministry God has blessed me with.

Finding Your Identity

As a new church start you can go one of two ways. Both of which land you in the same spot in my opinion. One way is to think you will be this amazing, original church. This guy spends months underground creating church documents, and “org” charts, and writing discipleship curriculum… Then once they totally assimilate the leadership team they start. The other is to borrow as much from others and stand on their shoulders until you can stand on your own. You just do it and work on the fly. The church is more of an experiment then an institution.

Here’s my observation. The first way ultimately will lead to you borrowing stuff anyway. You just can't be totally original in a church plant. Your resources are too limited. Your time is limited. Your people are limited. AND, to see real growth you have to learn what other people are doing right and apply that to your church. Can you see which way I favor? So the question eventually is how do you find your own identity? What makes your church unique from the one down the street?

Every prevailing church has something they are known for. Something they excel at. For Willow it is the use of the arts. For Saddleback it is the teaching. For Northpoint it’s relevant environments. For Fellowship it’s creativity. For Life Church it’s the campuses. For my church it’s… Have you ever thought of that? Here are a few of the things I am processing as our 1-year old church begins this process:

1) What am I good at?
I honestly believe the church is an expression of the lead pastor. It will take on his DNA over time. Most people tend to discredit this, I say use it! Use your own strengths to build those same strengths into the church. If you are a great preacher then be known for that. If you are really strategic then be known for strategy. If you are creative then be creative!

2) What are you already doing well?
What is the area of your church that is almost on autopilot already? Is it the music? Is it the service? Is it the assimilation? What are you doing well now? Go to work on that? I know that sounds strange. We think we should work on our weaknesses. I don’t find that in the Bible. God used people’s strengths. God worked in the weaknesses, but he used people’s personalities. He didn’t send them to Dale Carnegie!

3) Ask some people what word they think of…
Take a group of 10 or 15 people and ask them this question: “What is the first word that pops into your mind when I say (Fill in the name of your church)?” I would be willing to bet you will find already a common theme. AND, I bet it fits your personality!

4) Brand yourself!
Once you think you have an idea of what you do well. Make a brand out of it! Promote yourself as that! Market those things in print and audibly. It’s funny. Every night on the “Tonight Show” Jay tells us he has a great show lined up for us. That might be the furthest thing from the truth, but you believe it because he says it over and over again. Tell people what makes your church so special.

I hope those thoughts as always spark some of your thoughts. When those thoughts are sparked as always please send them back to me so that we can continue to learn from each other. That is what The Church Insider is all about!

Sunday (July 1st) in the Rearview

Wow, it's been over a week since I blogged... I feel such shame. I'm sure some guys dropped me from their blog rolls. Seriously, it was a crazy week. We had some people issues and those are never fun and always time consuming. I heard Bill Hybels say on a recent Willow CD that in those kinds of conversations there is 90% that is easy for both parties to hear and say. 10% that you really have to have a God-thing happen. AND, then there is 2% within that 10% that is really the heart of the conversation and what most people cower away from. It took us a day and half to get to the 2% but I think it was finally shared and now things are moving along again.

After an AMAZING June at Church of the Suncoast we finally had summer hit! It sucks! Really... it does. Starting a church from scratch like we did a year ago is the hardest thing I have ever done. There are times when you would give anything for some momentum and then when a bump comes in the road it just drives you crazy. There's not really a lot I can compare it to. You kind of just have to experience it to know what I mean.

BUT, we did have some really cool things happen on Sunday. We baptized 3 more people! I love baptism! It's such an important step in the life of a Christ-Follower.

We also had a picnic after the service which was a huge hit with adults and kids a like. I saw as many adults on the giant slide as kids! We also had a DJ there and it really helped to carry the mood and excitement everyone felt.

We also started a new series called "Shortcuts." I think this is going to be a powerful couple of weeks. It's a principle we all deal with. We all are tempted to take shortcuts in life. I know we have a lot of people right there on a lot of big decisions and my prayer is that they will never have to wonder what God might have done in their lives. And, that they never lose the ability and privilege to look to God and say, "You got me into this, you have to get me out because I did it your way."

Click HERE for the Series Intro Video