New Billboard

Take a look at Church of the Suncoast's first billboard

I'll keep you posted on what kind of results we get.

This one cost us $1,200 a month for one year. Not much competition in our area. Only about 4 billboards within 5 miles of our location.

Blogs I Like & Why?

Every blogger has a list of other blogs they read. But, why do they read them??? Here is my list and why I spend time looking at them:
We all know about lousy church marketing... all those church signs with those really bad sayings on them. Yuck. Church Marketing Sucks is a great place to find out how to market your church without looking like all those other churches. Plus their stuff is track tested. It's not just pie in the sky stuff.
Written by a guy that is not even a church leader. That is why I read this blog. It's fresh. It's innovative. And, if you click through the categories you will find a wealth of great ideas.
This is a personal friend of mine who started a church in north Georgia. He is open and honest. I like that. Plus he has been wildly successful, that helps. And, I don't know how he has the time to do all he does. I respect his work ethic and excellence.
This is another personal friend and mentor of mine. Hal is a big leader. No pun intended if you know Hal. He leads large and I wish I could lead like that. He challenges people straight up and gets results!!!
Craig Groeschel is one of the guys on swerve and I love his transparency. He is one of the wisest church leaders I know of but never comes across as arrogant. He is down to earth. He challenges people to a higher standard but remains relevant to today's unchurched. He takes risks and I like that.

Take a second and tell me about your favorite ministry blogs and why you read them. Leave a comment.

I LOVE My Wife

As I have been thinking about marriage for our current series called "iMarriage" I realized that I have this awesome public format here to say:

I Love My Wife!!!

Tell your wife you love her too today.

Community Groups (Small Groups) Letter

Here is a letter I just sent out to our Community Group leaders about our new groups and our new trial format. I always like seeing internal documents from other churches so here you go. Cut and paste as you please...

Dear Leader / Co-Leader

This coming week a new semester of Community Groups begins. I am excited about what God is going to do as diverse people come together and open up in community. Thank you for stepping up and helping to facilitate these groups as they help people take their next steps with God. I hope the following letter will help you sharpen your group leading skills and answer any questions you might have about the new format.

Group Schedule

Adults (Brian & Cheryl Moon) 2nd & 4th Tuesdays
7pm @ the Suncoast Crossings Starbucks

Adults (Woltmann’s & Leblanc’s) 2nd & 4th Wednesdays
7pm @ the Warehouse

Adults (Linda & McCauley’s) 2nd & 4th Thursday’s
7pm @ the Warehouse

Students (Brian) 2nd & 4th Sunday Nights
6:30pm @ the Warehouse

New Format

As you can see we have changed the scheduling of the groups. We are having two “scheduled” gatherings a month on the 2nd & 4th weeks. But, on the other two weeks the idea is to do something optional that is either totally fun and fellowship based or outreach based like doing some kind of servant evangelism or community project. The “optional” events will not be announced to the whole church and the people in the groups don’t need to feel obligated to attend. Some ideas might be dinner and a movie, dinner out, dinner at someone’s house, picnic at the park, go to a Rays game… you get the idea.

We felt like one of the stumbling blocks for more people getting plugged into groups was the every week time commitment. So we are giving this a try for a semester to see how it goes.

Improving Your Group

I don’t pretend to be an expert on groups but here are some tools I have picked up from 15+ years of group life.

Be yourself and keep it loose
One of the tendencies we all have when we are uncomfortable in a setting is to shut down our personalities and start talking in a monotone. Don’t do that! Let your personality out, laugh, take a chance, keep the group loose. If people feel your discomfort they will be uncomfortable.

Don’t be afraid of silence
BUT keep the conversation going
When you throw a question out there chances are you have been thinking about an answer but for everyone else it will require some thought. Don’t be afraid of a little silence as they think. BUT, you can also keep the conversation going by asking the question again or asking it in a different way. Keep the flow of the group going until you hit a question that sparks some real conversation.

Spend time connecting with the shy people
You are going to have outgoing people and more reserved people. The outgoing people will more than likely flock together and be talking up a storm. Find the groups “outsiders” and spend some time getting to know them one on one. They may feel more comfortable with you than a half dozen strangers.

Look for ways to give the group away
Constantly be looking for ways to get others in the group to step up. It might be bringing snacks next time, planning the fun event, or even leading portions of the discussion. Raise up the next generation of group leaders.

If you have an questions let me know –

First Sunday @ Our New Location

Well Sunday came and went for Church of the Suncoast at our new location, Rushe Middle School. Both of the mailers we did got messed up by the guy we used and so leading up to Sunday I was miserable. I was angry, frustrated, confused, and depressed. I was also very anxious because you always want a good start to build on your first Sunday at a new place. Sunday came and God made it clear He was bigger than postcards. We had a great first crowd that was full enough to make the room seem alive and that things were happening at Church of the Suncoast. Both of the mailers will hit this week so we should have a nice number this week too. It felt good and felt like the parachute we had been running with at Martinez Middle was finally cut. I should have some pictures up by the end of the week. And, hopefully get back to blogging some stuff that might actually help someone.

Thanks for reading and praying for our move.


New Website & Please Pray

Check out the all new

If you like the new site let us know. We are still working on it and tweaking some stuff.

Also, please be praying for us. I know people all over the planet read my thoughts here (which is still crazy to me) so please say a prayer for Church of the Suncoast this weekend. We are making our big move back into the community we started in back in 2006.

We had two mailers that both got screwed up (aagghhhh!!!) and it looks like only a miracle will get them to hit today or Saturday.

Thanks for your prayers and check out the new website.

Informing --OR-- Inviting?

I just came across this idea and I think this might be huge. I am still waiting to see if it works... but the idea is worth passing along here on The Church Insider. So here goes:

As a pastor we get to talk about church all the time. There are a couple people that work in the same plaza where we have our office that all know me, and know what I do, and know when the church meets, and on and on. I tell them about the church all the time. I inform them about the church, "Hey, you should come some time..." BUT, have I ever actually invited them? Have I ever said, "Hey, we are starting a new series about marriage this Sunday at 10am at our new location Rushe Middle School. Would you come this week as my guest?" I inform people about the church, but do I ever make a specific invite for a specific date?

I think that is a huge difference and I am anxious to see how it works. I'll keep you posted.

Tell me your thoughts on inviting. Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

That "Moving" Feeling Again...

This Sunday Church of the Suncoast has our last service @ Martinez Middle School. This school has been our temporary home for the past 5 1/2 months. We were forced out of our last school and could not get into our new school until now so we had this lay up time there. It is in a different community then we had started in and proved to be a challenge. BUT, the management team and I have that "moving" feeling again. It's time to move once again. This will be our fourth move in less than 2 years!!! So I thought I would once again share some of the thoughts I have on moving an entire church:
  1. Promotion. We are sending two postcards back to back next week. One let's people know about the move and the next promotes the new series. We also are putting out 30 "NOW @ Rushe Middle" yard signs. On Christmas Eve we did a promotional video about the move. AND, we will have our first billboard up on 2.1. We also will be giving everyone at the service this Sunday a map. Sounds simple but some people just don't know their way around. Our new website will also be up by next week!!!
  2. Volunteers. You always need more volunteers when you move. Honestly, I have probably not done as much as I could here. We will make a big push this Sunday when I cast a little vision about why we are doing what we are doing. The best way to get new people is just to ask. Our task is the ask! Another great way is get them doing some task for the move and that will often translate into a permanent serving position.
  3. Equiptment. Get it early! We didn't have to get much this time... we got a new trailer, new main speakers, some stuff for the kids, and that is about it. Start working on it early though and put a plan together mapping out when you need what. The last thing you want is to not get something you need for that first Sunday.
  4. Early Set Up. An absolute must is to get in there a day or two early for set up. Again there will be new challenges and things that don't work from the old place. Get in there on a Friday night so that you can hit Wal-mart, Home Depot, Sam Ash or Radio Shack on Saturday.
  5. Take It Easy. I keep telling myself this as the days get closer. Just take it easy. Everything will work out. God is good...

Moving an entire church is never easy, but know that growth is always the by-product.

Share your moving story. Leave a comment.

When You Feel Like Giving Up

This past Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we talked about not giving up as life lesson number one in our new series. Wow! Little did I know I would be preaching to myself. This Sunday was the first time in a long time I locked the door on the storage trailer and thought about throwing in the towel. Maybe you can relate?

First we had some issues during band practice. For some reason the monitors were just off which got the band off which had them a little nervous for the service I think. They pulled it off, but it was tense I'm sure. We had some technical issues during the service which has not happened in almost a year! AND, the crowd was the smallest we have had in over a year!

Then as we are tearing everything down I got word that the CD didn't start recording for the first 3 minutes of the message. AND, this week just happened to be the week I said we would give everyone a free CD next week! Then I get word that the new carts we built to store all the children's, hospitality and stage stuff would not fit through the doors at our current school.

I felt like giving up. So I went back and reminded myself of the things I talked about. I hope they might encourage you as you try to grow a church or start one from scratch like us:

First, we need to be open and tell God how we feel. I know it is a challenge sometimes. But, if you are angry at God let him know. If you are disappointed let him know. Be honest with him. Express your feelings.

Then, we need to see how great, how good, how big and faithful our God is. The bigger God is in our lives the smaller our problems look. God is bigger than our obstacles, problems, and enemies.

Third, ask God for your next step. I wish we got the whole plan, but we only get a step. I wish I could see the whole plan behind why God sent us to this school and stopped us from the amazing growth that took place at the old one, but he gives me the next step. We move back to our target area on the 20th. Keep asking until you see where God is guiding.

Finally, trust him. Trust your Heavenly Father.

Keep the conversation going. Tell me what you think. Leave a comment.

TuneBite (Audio & Video Converter)

I recently bought a program that is a huge help for converting audio files / video files.

TuneBite cost $39.00 and will convert iTunes M4P files to MP3 or WMA without losing any of the quality! I also use ZamZar online to convert files, but you lose some quality with this site.

Well worth the money. Check it out.

New Series, A Move, New Series...

Happy New Year to everyone that spends a few minutes reading the Church Insider!

I just got back from a vacation to the South Carolina and BOOM the New Year has hit the ground running! First a side note... Church of the Suncoast did not meet again the Sunday after Christmas. This was only the second Christmas in our short history and we once again felt like we just should give everyone a week off. AND, once again it proved to be a good thing. It really tells your volunteers that you appreciate them enough to give them some guilt free time to just relax, be a family, or even just go and sit and soak in another church.

Back to this new year of 2008. We kick off a new series called Life 101 this weekend so that is always a busy time. Our new media guy was busy helping me get new graphics together and message intros created, new programs... It is going to be a great little two week series that I think will set the tone for our church in 2008.

We also are making our 4th move in our 20 month history on January 20th. We are moving back to the area we started the church to the brand new Rushe Middle School. This hopefully will be our home for the next few years. It is a great facility, has a huge cafetorium, and a lot more visibility from SR 54. It will be nice to be back. The 5 month detour to Martinez Middle was a challenge, but God was faithful and I know there was a purpose behind His plan.

One big downside to the new school is they are not allowing us to store anything on campus! Ouch! So, we had to buy a new trailer. This time 20 x 8.5. We are going to build out some 2 x 6 x 6 carts that have doors on them. We will then store everything for our nursery in one, everything in our children's in one, hospitality in one, stage stuff in one, and we already have a sound cart and sound crate. Should make things a lot easier and more organized. I'll post some plans when they get drawn up.

So a lot of busyness with another move. New signs, new equipment, new postcards, a NEW BILLBOARD!!! A lot of stuff.

Then we kick off another new series called iMarriage on the 20th :-)

My guess is your schedule is already full too. So let's keep each other accountable. This year in all the stuff we have to do. Let's keep our priorities straight:

God (not just message prep)
Kids (if you have them)

That sounds about right... Tell me what you think. Keep the conversation going: