For the next few weeks I wanted to go back in time a little bit and share the story of Church of the Suncoast with everyone. We always see new people on the weekends and hopefully this will give you a little insight into how this got started a couple of years ago. I also hope it helps us reconnect a little with the vision of the Suncoast by going back to our roots.
The story of the Suncoast really starts in my journey through student ministry. I was working at a church over in Tarpon Springs doing student ministry and from the start we built that ministry for kids that didn't go to church. Over the 3 1/2 years my wife and I were there we went from a little group of 9 kids to a ministry that had 75 students showing up for our Sunday night program. During that time I got to try things and work out what it meant to do church for the unchurched. I had a passion to see students find out about Jesus in a real and relevant way. It was a huge learning time and when my wife and I moved out to Land O' Lakes and started to get to know the community something happened in me and I just knew we could take what we were doing with students and make it work for the thousands of new people that were filling the once empty fields with new houses.
I wish I had recorded my thought process better into why I wanted to make this move and start a church. I look back now and it almost scares the heck out of me. But, something happened and I started going to school on how do you plant a church. I met with a former pastor I worked for in West Palm Beach, Stan Coleman at South Palm Community Church. I met with Chan Kilgore who started CrossPointe Church in Orlando. I met with Erick Brookins who started Coastal Community Church in Port St. John. And then someone told me about a guy starting a church in Westchase named Hal Mayer. So I sent him and e-mail and he agreed to do lunch with me. I honestly have no idea what he thought the first time we sat down and ate pizza. I have some ideas but he was gracious to me at the ripe old age of 26 and told me what to look at and then invited me to get in a coaching network that met at Church of the Springs in Ocala.
This whole time God was doing something in my heart. He was giving me courage, vision, and a calling to start something that would not be like church as usual. We don't need anymore churches. What we need are places that get that the church is not here for the already convinced, but here for the community of people that don't know God's amazing love.
More on the coaching network next time...