Things That Have Been Keeping Me Busy

You might have noticed, or might not :-) That I have been gone from the blogging world. I wish I could tell you some kind of big fancy "I was taking a blogging and twitter break" because that seems to be in vogue these days, but really I have just been stinkin' busy. So here are a few of the things keeping me busy:

Volunteer Christmas Dinner

Rita and Crystal did all the work here so I can't really blame this, but dang I had to share about it. Every year we throw our awesome volunteers a "Thank You" Christmas dinner and this year Rita and Crystal knocked it out of the park! The room looked amazing! They transformed out warehouse into an amazing environment and I know every one's first impression was a "Wow!" I am so thankful for them and all our awesome volunteers that make this place go week in and week out.

Christmas Eve, 5pm @ Rushe Middle

Getting ready for Christmas Eve is always a busy time. With video to shoot, stages to build, a service to plan, volunteers to organize it is a lot. Plus we always take the Sunday after Christmas off, like the church doesn't meet off, so planning for this Sunday, Christmas Eve, then being gone, and having the first Sunday in January in the can takes its toll on my blogging.

So that is where I have been... here is a sneak at what you AND ALL THE PEOPLE YOU ARE BRINGING can expect on Christmas Eve, 5pm @ Rushe Middle:

This Is Our God (New Series)

How we perceive someone impacts the way we relate to them. If we think someone is angry or out to get us then we will never trust them. If we see someone as loving and caring then we will naturally be drawn to them. So how do you view God? What are your perceptions of Him? Could you have some misconceptions about who God really is? Discover again, or for the first time, who God is Sundays in December at the Suncoast. Bring someone who is kicking the tires on faith for this series as we lead up to Christmas Eve guys!

See ya Sunday, 10:30am :-)

This Is Our God (Promo) from Church of the Suncoast on Vimeo.

Praying for those that came forward...

On Sunday at the Suncoast we had an old fashioned invitation where I invited people who were ready to stop running / resisting God to come forward and pray at the front of the stage. It was incredible to see the people respond and take such a step of vulnerability and humility. To step out and say, "God I am not going to run anymore, I surrender."

For all of you who obeyed like Jonah did I have been praying for you this week that God would make himself real to you in tangible ways. That He would make His presence felt and His love known. I was proud of you on Sunday and you gained the respect of your friends and family and your pastor!

God is smiling :-) See you Sunday as we wrap up the story of Jonah and the "White Flag" series.

Perspective in Leading

Our staff at the Suncoast is reading the book "Leading on Empty" by Wayne Cordeiro right now. At our last staff meeting I shared a quote that jumped out at me,

"The way we view our problem oftentimes is our problem"

You could apply that to almost anything in life and leadership but here was my realization for our staff. I am by nature a negative person. I have the painful gift of being able to walk into a room and tell you everything that is wrong in a matter of seconds. I see the problems. AND, many times at our staff meetings and conversations I spend all my time talking about the problems and not enough time talking about all the amazing things God is doing in the life of our church. Instead of celebrating with them I drag up any and every problem and talk about what we are going to do about it.

Here is what I realized. Obviously, the staff at the Suncoast thinks for themselves, but as the leader I have to walk that line in how I present things. Yes, I want to be real and when something bad happens it hurts, and I get frustrated, and it is OK for people to see that and for us to walk through the bad things together. We are all in this as a team. Stuff is not always going to go right at the church and that needs to be addressed. But, on the flip side if I don't do a better job at showing off the positive then I run the risk of ruining the perspective of the people around me. Because it is so easy for me to point out all the problems I have to be intentional about this!

So, that is where I am at right now. Trying to do a better job at walking that line. I would be curious to know your perspective and what you have learned as a church planter / leader / pastor on walking the line between dealing with the problems but not letting that ruin your perspective on the church...

White Flag Starts Sunday!

This is the perfect series to bring someone to!!! Check out the promo:


Did you ever run away from home as a kid? It all seems silly now, but at the time you had plans. But your plans always fell apart, didn't they? You were so focused on what you were running from, not what you were running to, that you found yourself faced with the question, "Now what?" You had to raise the white flag and give up. In this three-part series, we'll explore the lessons we can all learn when the only option left is to surrender.

Join us at Rushe Middle from 10:15-10:30 at the NEW Coastal Cafe for breakfast under a $1.

"I Love My Church" Wrap Up

From October 17th - 31st the Suncoast embarked on what we hope and pray is the beginning of a movement where God takes us from where we are to where He wants us to be. We talked about having a church that we love for 3 weeks and how to do that. We also took things to a level of commitment we have never gone to in our 4 year history by doing the Daniel Fast for two weeks, asking everyone to tithe on the 31st, and signing our first church covenant. The reason we did all this was because we wanted to put our faith where our mouth is. Faith is action. So, we trusted God enough to stop eating the things we wanted to, focused our time on Him, took a step of faith financially, and put our names and honor on the line saying we will do the following:

“Because God so loved me and gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for me, I love my church; His church! I will not shy away or let other things keep me from investing my life into the people around me; I will invite them to church to hear about Jesus. I will use my time and talents to make a lasting investment into my church because my church will outlast me. I will be generous with my church because I know I can’t out-give God. I will take ownership of my spiritual growth and next steps so that my church can be built up. I will not put up, shut up, or give up until my church, this movement of God, dominates this community. I will give my church the passion it deserves. I love my church!”

This past Sunday we celebrated all of this by breaking the fast, doing baptism & child dedication, and we brought the tithe, signed the covenant, and took communion. It was an awesome day of looking back, taking note of where we had just been and looking forward to all that God has in store for us personally and as a church. I was so proud to be your pastor on Sunday!!!

As we head into this weekend we will be starting a new series called "White Flag" and I am asking everyone who signed the covenant to get out there and invite, and ask, and bring whoever you can. I don't know what God has in store for us. The goal of all this was not to force God's hand. It was more about showing God we are serious and we are available to whatever He wants to do in and through our church.

I can't wait! I love my church!
Send your "I love my church" stories to stories@canthisbechurch.com

Daniel Fast Day 12 - 14

See you Sunday morning to break the fast at the Suncoast.

*One word of caution... take it easy on Sunday. Don't jump back into meat and sugar all at once or you will get sick!!!

Day 12

Read: Acts 23 & 24

Pray: that God would show you anything in your life that is keeping you from going to the next level with Him. Confess that and receive God’s forgiveness. Tell God you are open and available to what He wants for you!

Day 13

Read: Acts 25 & 26

Pray: for a passion for God’s church. Pray for a passion to worship Him, to serve Him, to give to Him. Pray for a passion for those far from God in your life and this community. Pray for a passion that is contagious!

Day 14!!!

Read: Acts 27 & 28

Pray: …you have done this for 13 days now. You have read the Book of Acts! Pray according to what you feel God leading you to pray. See you at church to break the fast.

e-mail your stories to stories@canthisbechurch.com

Daniel Fast Day Eleven

Read: Acts 21 & 22

Pray: that God would give you audacious faith. Pray that God would make you more dangerous for Him not safer. Pray that God would use you to make a difference in our church and beyond!

Daniel Fast Day Ten

The Warehouse will be open for prayer until 9pm! Turn the light on though :-)

14426 Black Lake RD Odessa, FL. 33556

Here is today's reading and prayer:

Read: Acts 19 & 20

Pray: for the resources our church needs to fuel the vision God has given us. Pray for God to move in your heart until it matches His heart. Pray that God would allow you to be more generous with His church. Pray about your giving.

Awesome Video from Sunday

video

Daniel Fast Day Nine

*Open Warehouse TOMORROW, Wed 7am - 7pm for prayer.

Today's reading and prayer guide:

Read: Acts 17 & 18

Pray: for those hurting and in need of a miracle at our church. Pray for marriages to be strengthened. Pray for children to turn back. Pray for those who are lonely. Pray for those who are battling illness.

Daniel Fast Day Eight



*Wednesday Night: The Warehouse will be open for prayer from 7am - 7pm. Drop in as you can. 14426 Black Lake Rd. Odessa, FL. 33556

Here is today's reading and prayer guide:

Read: Acts 15 & 16

Pray: for our community. Pray for the thousands of people that do not know Jesus. Pray that God would start something at our church that could only be explained as a “God-thing,” that hundreds and hundreds of people would begin to discover Jesus in the coming months.

Stir Fry Brown Rice with Vegetables

box of instant brown rice (or bag brown rice)

Vegetables to stir fry (either fresh or frozen)

Olive Oil

Soy Sauce

Peanuts

Cook your rice according to package (I season my rice as well when I cook). Heat Wok on Med. High heat add 1/4 cup of Olive Oil (more or less) Give a minute for oil to get hot. Place raw onions in now if you are adding to recipe, also garlic for taste. Pour the cooked rice into Wok and stir for 4 mins add Soy Sauce to taste. Pour rice back into container it was cooked in and set aside. Now add 1/4 cup Olive Oil to hot Wok again. Then add the vegetables and lots of whatever seasonings you like. Stir until done add peanuts right before serving. This recipe is very good reheated for lunch the next day.

Daniel Fast Day 5 - 7

For Friday - Sunday here is your Bible reading and Prayer Guide:

Day 5

Read: Acts 9 & 10

Pray: for a friend you know need to be at the Suncoast. Pray God would move in their hearts and give you the opportunity to invite them. Ask God to give you the courage to go for the ask.

Day 6

Read: Acts 11 & 12

Pray: for all the volunteers that make the Suncoast go each week. Pray God would bless them for the time they give up. Pray they would be encouraged. Pray about how you can encourage one volunteer tomorrow and do it!

Day 7

Read: Acts 13 & 14

Pray: for Brian today as he brings God’s message to the church. Pray for him and Cheryl and their marriage to be strong and healthy. Pray that God gives him wisdom and audacious faith and courage.

Daniel Fast Day Four



Here is today's reading and prayer guide:

Read: Acts 7 & 8

Pray: for your heart and attitude when it comes to the church. Pray God would increase the size of your love for His church and its people. Pray for the proper attitude and outlook, the see the church as Jesus does.

Here is another recipe:

Tortilla Soup Here's the Daniel version...

Ingredients:
1 carrot chopped

1 celery stick chopped

1 medium onion chopped

3 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tbsp olive oil

8 c vegetable broth (the expensive kind has 2x the flavor- I found that out by accident)

4 c water1 can of black beans

16 oz frozen corn

1 red tomato chopped

1 yellow tomato chopped

1/4 c chopped cilantro

2-3 tsp sea salt

1 lime

6 corn tortillas

Directions:Heat oil in the bottom of the pot and saute the first 4 ingredients until soft. Add everything else except the tortillas. Low boil for about 30 minutes. Add tortillas. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Daniel Fast Day Three

So today I had to fast from my fast. I had to get some blood work done this morning and had to fast for that. Usually, since there is a Burger King right there on the corner and since I feel like I should be rewarded for fasting I get some b-fast from there as a pick me up. But, not today. I came home and had Ezekiel bread and strawberries. I can't imagine how Jesus must have felt when He was being tempted during His 40 day fast! Jesus truly knows what temptation is all about, even when you are at your weakest. So, when you feel weak today, call on Him!

Also, got to share with my Doctor about the fast and why we were doing it. Maybe she will come to church one day soon?

Here is today's reading and prayer guide:

Read Acts 5 & 6

Pray: that God would give our church favor in this community. Pray that God would open doors for us. Pray that we would know greater opportunities to reach out to more people.

Here is another recipe:

Basic Grilled Portobello (For the steak lovers!)

Brush mushrooms on both sides with olive oil and season with garlic and your choice(s) of seasoning to taste. (We used Montréal steak seasoning) Grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side until just cooked through. We then topped with grilled onion and mushroom.

Daniel Fast Day Two



Today's reading and prayer guide: Read Acts Chapter 3 & 4

Pray: for your church staff today by name, Steve, Rita, Crystal and Brian. Pray God’s protection over them and their families. Pray for God to bless them and give them wisdom as they lead.

Here is another recipe:

Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta

1-1/2 cups chopped roma tomatoes

2 TBSP. diced red onion1 large clove garlic, minced

2 TBSP. chopped fresh basil

2 TBSP. olive oil

1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

dash black pepper

toasted Ezekiel bread

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

2-3 sprigs italian parsley

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil. Add 1/2 TBSP. of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour (longer is better to me). Put on top of toasted ezekiel bread.

Daniel Fast Day One



Here is today's reading and prayer:

Read Acts Chapter 1 & 2

Pray: for God to unify our church. Pray that we will have such a strong community of faith that thousands of people will be attracted to it.

Some other food ideas. I made some fresh salsa last night and you can eat 100% corn chips with it. Since I am a native Floridian I also made some boiled peanuts with sea salt for seasoning.

Would love to hear how you guys are doing. stories@canthisbechurch.com

The message video will be up later today, we had some audio issues so not great audio, but it should be good enough.

I Love My Church (Starts Sunday)

Not just a new message series but the start of a movement. That is what we will begin next week at the Suncoast because in order to have a church we love, we must understand the problem, the people and the potential. Only then will we assume responsibility and take ownership of God’s church. Don't miss the most important three weeks of our brief history!

Real Stories from "@work"

Brian,

So I missed my sales goal last month and qtr by $1,000. This means I missed my bonus. It was so hard to close out so close knowing how hard my team had worked, and that if I would have just held $1,000 dollars from August's extra I would have made September’s bonus too. But I wanted to be real and honest with how the sales fell. But, I was disappointed knowing I just missed out on $500. So I had to give it to God and said he had a reason that we didn't make it. Maybe we didn't take care of all the clients he had sent us? I was good and I told my team to be proud of what we had accomplished.

So today... I get a call from my boss and she went to her boss and they are issuing me my Qtr bonus check, because I was so close and had made such progress! That is a go GOD! You just have to trust and he will provide!

Brutally Honest Offering Video



This past Sunday we played this very honest video during the offering. Not sure if it was right or wrong, but it was honest and it was from my heart.

Our church, like many, has been trying to navigate this economy as best we can for the past year to two years. Fortunately, we had some savings we had kept from the good times that helped us get to this point. But, by this past Sunday that was almost gone. Our church has also committed to tithe no matter what! We send back out 10% of everything we take in. We believe God will honor us for our faithfulness. Our church is blessed to be a blessing!

So with the tithe looming and the money gone, here is where faith is built. Welcome to church planting :-)

BUT, the principle here applies to every aspect of life. Take a look and tell me what you think. Leave a comment.

Marketing Conference Call

Last week I did a conference call with Michael at Oak Leaf Church in GA. Here are my notes from that call. Some good stuff to chew on:

Marketing Conference Call
FOUR PRINCIPLES OF MARKETING

1. Don’t do what you can’t measure.
Don’t spend a lot of money on something you can’t measure. Measure your marketing. Ask people what got you here, survey twice a year. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Connection card for guests. SurveyMonkey.com

2. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.
Meaning people in your area. Find what no one else is doing.

3. Do something worth talking about.
You can’t market something that is not marketable. Is your service good? Will people stay, will they stick? If it is good people will talk about it. Build up a loyalty.

4. Create buzz.
You want people to talk about your stuff. The things that get noticed… taboo, unusual, outrages, hilarious, remarkable, secrets.

IDEAS:

1. Show up at things that are already happening in the community.
2. Do a traditional advertising campaigns. “Jay-Z loves your church”
3. Sponsor high school rivalry game… create a trophy and scholarship.
4. Get your people involved in activities, ways to serve the community.
5. Take out facebook adds! Can be targeted.
6. Invite cards all the time! Different styles each week.
7. Series planning. Big days like Easter, Fall, Christmas… have weeks leading up to it all about the big day.

If this was helpful give Michael some love on his blog:
www.HereToLead.com

Verse Card from @work Part 1

I had some people asking if we had more of the verse cards from "@work" part one so here is the file. Just click on it and print! If you missed the message you can watch it here with the media player to the right of this page.

I hope to see you Sunday for @work part two! Bring your boss and co-workers!

Random Thoughts (This Past Week)

Some random thoughts on what has been going on at the Suncoast over the past week:

  • We kicked off 10-weeks of small groups called NEXT Groups. You can read about them one post down. We took about 10 - months off from doing groups to think about why we do them and how we do them. And, from what I hear we had some great groups last week.
  • This week our NEXT Groups all have a party on tap so if you have not jumped in there are 9-weeks left and this week would be a great week to jump in. The groups will be expecting you! For more info head HERE.
  • On Sunday we started a new message series called @work.

  • If you missed it then you can watch the message HERE.
  • We talked about Colossians 3:23 and found out that the purpose of your life @ work is to show that God is @ work in your life!
  • Don't miss part 2 of @work this Sunday! Bring your co-workers for this one! REALLY! Bring some people you work with. This is a great message for them!
  • Last week we also mailed out a giving letter to everyone that literally buys into the vision of what God is doing here. I shared my optimism for the future and the reality of where we are at as a church from a financial standpoint. If you would like a copy of the letter please e-mail info@canthisbechurch.com
  • On Sunday I also learned that the video church that meets in the school next to ours has shut their doors. Not sure all the details but I know this summer was a struggle to get butts in seats. Met with their pastor at the main campus a few weeks ago and he has a big heart and passion to see THE church succeed in this area. I know God will bless that!

Well, got to run for now. For more on the Suncoast head to:

www.CanThisBeChurch.com

NEXT Groups (Start This Week)

If you have been reading my blog for the past 8 months or you have been at Church of the Suncoast for the past 8 months then you know we have been wrestling with the small groups question. Our church is just over 4 years old and we have had groups for 3 of those 4 years. We have not cracked the code and have had a lot of false starts and mixed results. We have also seen some amazing life-change which is why we wrestle with how do we do groups, are they still working in our community, and what does discipleship look like at the Suncoast.

In the spring we rolled out a medium sized gathering once a month called NEXT. We talked about some spiritual growth topics and 2 out of the 4 gatherings were well attended and 2 fell flat, one due to weather. So, this summer we talked some more as a staff and I had my familiar conversation with God about groups and what to do.

Here is what we are rolling out THIS WEEK:

We are calling them NEXT Groups because our purpose is to help people take their next steps with God, so the name fit, we used to call them Community Groups but community didn't always happen. This fits the goal of taking a next step on your faith journey.

The fall semester of groups will run for just 10-weeks. We don't want groups to turn into a burden for people and I think giving people a break from them is great too. It gives people a light at the end of the tunnel.

We also wanted our groups to reflect our church and who we are, not some other church. So our groups will be open, meaning anyone can jump in at any time, and we will be asking people to invite someone to group for the second weeks big party. Take a look:


We will also be asking the groups to serve two out of the 10-weeks and every group will be asked to find a cause and give towards it. Again, stressing some of who we are as a church. The other six weeks will be deeper study from that Sunday's message. Again, to focus the whole church on who we are and what is going on with our church at that time, not some canned small group book.

Finally, we have taken all the expectations and "rules" off the groups. The problem with expectations and "rules" is someone has to police those and no one wants to be the small group ministry rules police. The only thing we ask is that the groups take a Next STEP:

Study the Bible Together. Each week we’ll come together, share some snacks or maybe a meal, and then circle up to talk about Sunday’s message. Bring a Bible! Each week we’ll be challenged take a next step on our journey with Jesus.

Take Care of Each Other. We all need someone to lean on. We were not designed by God to be lone rangers. Our group will be there for each other in good times and bad.

Embrace Serving Together. This fall we’ll get the opportunity to serve together in the community. We’re going to come up with a place to serve twice by the end of the 10-weeks.

Practice Generosity Together. We will also get the opportunity to be generous with our finances together. In the next 10-weeks we will pick a cause (personal, local or global) and combine our money to make a difference.

So hope that helps someone else out there wrestling with the groups question and if you are at the Suncoast click HERE to find out where and when groups meet this first week. We have one Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Daily Surrender (Practical Steps from "Joyride")

For the past 3-weeks we have been in an amazing series called "Joyride". You can watch the first 3 messages HERE.

Each week I have been giving us homework like: Finding out what surrendering the next 10% of your life would look like and do it, writing out all the things that make you anxious and what you are so afraid of and then giving those to Jesus, and then this past Sunday I gave everyone a diagram to plot the influences in our lives from green light (let it into your heart) to red (cut it out of your life).

See, I am convinced that just sitting and listening to a message doesn't change anyone. God might use it to convict, correct, challenge, or encourage us but that doesn't do anything for us unless we take a next step and apply it! YOU and ONLY YOU can take responsibility for your spiritual growth.

So, as I was thinking about this series and all the practical things we have been talking about to increase our joy one more thing came to mind. I need to blog about how to have a quiet time. No, that is not like a punishment from when you were a kid. This is a regular time where you get still, and get alone, and learn how to surrender your life to our Heavenly Father.

Here are some quick basics from my own quiet time:
  • I start off by reading a chapter OR LESS of the Bible, God's Word, His love letter to you and me. If you don't have any idea where to start choose a reading plane from HERE. This will take you to our next steps page on our church website. Look about 1/2 way down the page for "Reading Your Bible".
  • Have a pen and highlighter with you as you read and mark up your Bible (yes that is OK) with anything that jumps out at you or a thought or prayer you might have.
  • Then go back and pick one of those things you marked (a verse or line) as something to journal. Get a journal and ask 3 questions of what you read and marked: (1) What is the main thought, (2) What is God saying to me, (3) How can I apply this?
  • Now it is time to spend a few minutes praying. You want to make sure you have a balanced prayer life so use a tool like this: Praise (thank God for who He is and what He has done) Purpose (pray that His will be done) Pardon (confess your sins and thank Him for His forgiveness) People (pray for others, friends, family, leaders in your life) Petition (here is where you bring your list of things you want and need).
  • AND MOST IMPORTANT... stop long enough now to let Him speak to you. God wants to speak to us if we are willing to be still and wait on Him.

So, if you want more joy in your life then it means you will have to surrender more of your life to God. A daily quiet time is the best way I know how to do that!

I would love to hear your stories... e-mail them to stories@canthisbechurch.com

Random Thoughts on the Past 3-months

It is kind of late to be posting for me... so hope this is the right thing to do.

Over the past 3-4 months at Church of the Suncoast we have seen the biggest drop in numbers in our 4 year history. Why? Can't tell ya! Really, we have beat our heads against the wall trying to figure that out and have come up with very little. We have had some people move, like out of the state or country move! We have had just a handful of people move on to other churches which happens. BUT, the bulk of the peeps MIA we just don't know.

This past Tuesday I shared some random thoughts with our staff about where I was at and what I had been able to process over the past few weeks and I think I should share them with you, someone who believes in the Suncoast, or maybe you are a church planter or leader that is in the same boat. So here goes:

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE LAST 3-4 MONTHS

We are NOT the only ones that are down significantly.
I have talked to people from NC to FL and we are not alone in the timing or depth of this dip. A local church near us has had almost an identical trend since Easter.

God IS moving in some locations.
NewSpring and Elevation (two churches who have been influential to us) had over 500+ each accept Christ this past weekend. I also talked to a lead pastor of a local mega-church and they are up 15% at their main location this summer.

I think the economy of our area has been a coming tidal wave that broke on our shores.
It has been building for a while and we knew it was coming but I think the full force hit about Easter to early summer. The community here is largely lower middle class and many leveraged all they had to get into a house here and now they are drowning, or have been swept away to some other place (left and moved). I would guess our community has lost 30% of its population since the peak in 2008.

Our church has been a survivor!
One of the things we have been able to do by God’s help and grace is survive! The senior pastor of local church I talked to said something has to change or they might not be doing this much longer. Other churches that have started near us since we started have closed in the past year. We have survived in what seems to be a really tough area to plant a church. One of the reasons I believe we have survived is because we have committed to tithe back everything that comes in as a church, no matter what, even with things the way they are.

We need to do all we can to build into our current people as the new foundation for the future.
We have been through a few generations of people and have built on that foundation. We also have lost some of those people so I think we need to rally the troops we have and build into them all we can. We are all stretched thin but together lets go the extra mile and love our people, pray for our people, share our knowledge, cast big vision, AND THEN hold them to higher standards as we make the turn out of this season and back into one of growth.

I am more thankful for you guys than ever!
I would not have made it through the past 3 or 4 months without you guys, your hard work, friendship and prayers. Thank you!

Another thing I think God has been leading me to is we as a church need to start a fast for this community... stay tuned for more on that. But, for now hope this helps :-)

Volunteer Community

THIS Saturday night we have our next Volunteer Community, 7pm at the Warehouse. Volunteer Community is something we did for the first year or so of our church in 2006 - 2007 then we took a break for a while and tried some other stuff, but this year we rolled it out again with one purpose. To show our volunteers a good time! We are not trying to attract people and hopefully get them to volunteer. We are not trying to cast big vision and bore them with church stuff. We simply want to throw them a party, feed them some awesome food, have some crazy fun together, give away some stuff, and get to know each other better.

We have the gatherings catered, we play some kind of game to get people going, we eat, and then we break up into our teams for about 10 minutes. This is a time volunteers can bring things up and feel like we are listening to them.

This quater we are doing just one more thing and that is giving everyone a copy of our new Sunday playbook. We have been working on this for 6-months and it contains everything in words and pictures that needs to be done for Sunday to work and work well. It has step by step parts and expectation parts all in one document.

So that is Volunteer Community. If you are a volunteer at the Suncoast right now don't miss it, bring the kids if you want! RSVP, just so we know how much food, with Rita rita@canthisbechurch.com

If you are a church leader and want more info just shoot me an e-mail: brian@canthisbechurch.com

Fall Kick Off [RE-CAP]

This past Sunday at the Suncoast we had our annual fall kick off. This year we took a chance and did this before Labor Day, for the past 4 years we have done this after Labor Day by a week or two. School starts way early in Pasco County so we thought we could grab some of that natural momentum. Here are some random thoughts on the day and some pics:
  • First of all thanks to Rita for helping with the stage idea and for making it happen. Here is what it looked like as people walked in. Notice the lights on the jeep under the screen light up!!! It was a cool stage design!


  • Our Coastal Kids ministry rolled out a new bounce house, how cool! We had the one bounce house as you walked in near the check in kiosk, BUT the shark was awesome! Thank you Crystal for doing so much with our kids!

  • We also started the service with the band doing "Life is a Highway" and I am always impressed by how they can learn and pull off new songs with only getting to practice for 45 minutes on a Sunday. Thank you Steve for making all my crazy song ideas a reality! The song helped to set the mood.
  • We also started a new message series called "Joyride". I talked about how chasing happiness is like chasing the wind. Happiness is based on happenings and those always change. So, what if there was something more foundational that was independent of our circumstances we could count on for the ups and downs on this ride through life. You can watch the message here on my blog at the upper right.

  • After the service we had sno cones! We found out it slows people down and makes them stick around for a minute since no one wants a car full of kids with sno cones. Everyone seemed to have a great time. We also had popcorn AND...

  • My favorite part was we had R/C trucks with a track set up for the kids to race on. You will also notice the bright red jeep parked on the walk way! That was the first thing people saw as they walked up Sunday. It was a little bit of a "Wow" factor and thanks to Hal Mayer for letting me borrow it.

  • Then it was time for tear down... took a bit longer this week with all we had going on, but thanks to the peeps who got drenched as we loaded the trailer!

  • I thought Sunday was a good day at the Suncoast. We did what we do best I think. Everyone had fun!!! Yes, fun in church!
  • I am always blown away when someone takes the time to e-mail me and say something from Sunday changed/challenged them! Go God!
  • I'm not going to lie, I was a little bummed by the total attendance at the end of the day, but we had a good number of first time guests and the room felt full. Not sure if the timing was off by doing it before Labor Day, but we tried something new?
  • I am stoked about this series and what I think God is going to do in people's lives!
  • If you invited some people like I did, and they didn't show, keep asking them to come. This week is a great week for them to jump in. Keep in mind why we do this. Our church is not here for us, it is here for them! Be the Gospel this week Suncoast!
  • I can't wait for this Sunday... so I can drive the R/C trucks again :-)

Fall Kick Off "Joyride"

This Sunday at the Suncoast we are having our big fall kick off. Each year around this time (actually we have been waiting until after Labor Day, but school starts back so early here in Pasco County so we are doing it now) we make a big push for everyone to bring some people with them as we get the fall ministry season started.

We try to make the build up for this a lot like Easter or Christmas Eve. We start a month to 6-weeks out talking about it and teasing about it. We want everyone to bring someone on August 22nd and that is not just a nice suggestion, we REALLY want everyone to bring someone with them. It is a natural time for people to check church out and we want to capture that momentum.

We plan a lot of fun and creativity into this date and I wish I could tell you about all the stuff, but you will just have to come and find out Sunday at 10:30am at Rushe Middle School. We also will be starting a new message series called, "Joyride". Since we know people are bringing guests, it will be something everyone can relate to no matter where they are on the spiritual spectrum.

The bottom line is I know there are thousands of people living within a few miles of where we meet that don't go to church. Our mission is to be a church for those people. The saved don't need a doctor, the sick do... think Jesus said that!!! This Sunday we will do anything short of sin to get those people to the Suncoast and make sure they have a great experience.


So:

1. Pray for this Sunday
2. Bring someone with you
3. Come EARLY!!! Trust me!
4. Hang out and mingle, let's be the friendliest church around!

The Next Two Weeks @ the Suncoast!



This Sunday at the Suncoast we are doing a talk called "You Asked For It". Over the past two weeks on twitter and on the communication cards on Sundays we have been asking people what is a question they have always wanted answered in church. This Sunday we roll out the answers or at least the best I could do with them. It should be fun and don't miss the first 5 minutes of the service as the band rolls out the "You Asked For It" song... hint: It is also the redneck national anthem. For more info click HERE.

ALSO: be asking people to join us for the fall kick off on the 22nd! We are starting a new series called "Joyride" and the 22nd is going to be off the chain. We have so many creative things planned from the walk up on that you will be blown away. So BRING PEOPLE! And, together we will pack God's house.

Can't wait... :-)

Favor and Followship by Jeff Kapusta

Recently, I got to talk with a church planter in North Carolina who has been at this about the same length of time I have (4 years). We had met back in South Carolina at a friends house a year ago but got to really chat for about 30 minutes the other day and it was refreshing to hear his heart behind this blog post. I can relate to the journey of church planting and the challenge when things are not up and to the right. If you are a church planter I hope this will bless you like it blessed me:

We’ve all got a unique journey
by Jeff Kapusta

This past year has been a challenging one on many fronts. It has been a roller coaster ride of joy and frustration. God has been teaching me many things and someday I’ll pass them along. However, one of the things I’m learning is that God really does see things differently than we do. I read this today and it literally stopped me in my tracks.

“There is always the temptation to look at someone and judge the amount of God’s blessing upon his life based upon the number of people who have chosen to follow him. But if numbers tell the whole story, we would have to assume that God removed His blessing from Jesus toward the end of His ministry! In the weeks prior to His crucifixion the crowds began to wane. In the end there were only a handful of faithful men and women who dared to be associated with Him. Followship is not an accurate indicator of one’s worthiness to be followed.” Andy Stanley–The Next Generation Leader.

Too often I’ve judged the favor of God based upon whether or not all the numbers were up and to the right. How wrong I was. Next time you are tempted to think that you are any less blessed because the numbers are down and nobody is asking you to speak at conferences just remember that Jesus’ numbers dropped too and He never spoke at a conference either. Your journey is unique! Enjoy it!

Singing Bee

Two weeks ago at the Suncoast we had a little fun and did our version of the "Singing Bee". The band was teaching us a new song called "Rise and Sing" by Fee and we had the idea that we could get a bunch of copies of the Northpoint Awake CD that the song is on and give those out as prizes if people would sing along into a mic. We really had no idea how it would go over but it was a hit. We even had some people do it for free. Here is what we did:
  • Opened the song as usual.
  • Then at the end of the chorus Steve gave everyone some heads up while the band played in the background.
  • Then he went out into the audience with a mic and as the band did the "Whoa, oh, o whoa oh o" the person would do the echo part and get a free CD as everyone clapped for them.
  • That was it, they finished up the rest of the song and it rocked.

If you have not tried a "Singing Bee" to intro a new song, try it! People will remember that song the next time we do it I guarantee you.

Sunday Suicide

If you are on staff at a church OR you are a key volunteer then you know what Sunday's can be like. It is kind of like the build up to the big game or opening night of a performance. There is a list of things that have to get done and limited time to do them in. Typically, that means you are running around making sure all the details get done.

In Luke 10 Jesus has come to Mary and Martha's house for a meal. In many ways they were doing what we do every Sunday. We get ready for Jesus to meet with us and try to entertain as many guests as we can. You know the story, Martha is running around making sure everyone is comfortable and that the meal is coming along. But, Mary is in the living room just chilling at Jesus feet as He teaches. That doesn't sit real well with Martha so she storms in and tells Jesus how hard she is working and that He should tell Mary to get off her blessed assurance and help!

You know the tension as a church leader or volunteer now right?

Listen to what Jesus says in the Living Translation to Martha:

"Martha, dear friend, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it--and I won't take it away from her!" Luke 10:41-42

Here is my take away from that. The details matter. I have blogged about that in the past. But as individuals in charge let's not get so busy that we don't stop long enough for two things:

Relationships and Worship

Let's not be the person who uses our work as an excuse not to talk to people and let's not use our responsibilities as an excuse not to stop long enough to worship the One we are here for. My prayer is that we will discover both this Sunday.

Four Questions for Rich People

On Sunday I rolled out four questions that rich people need to ask themselves. The point of these questions was not to make anyone feel guilty, God doesn't want us to feel guilty over our money, He just wants us to be grateful! The point was to see which way we are leaning, are we leaning on our money for our hope and security, or are we leaning on God who is the source of everything?

Tough questions for me personally so know that no one is above the natural temptation to lean hard on our stuff. Check them out:

Question #1
Which of these two statements creates the most anxiety for you?

A. There is no God
B. There is no money in the bank

Question #2
Does fear of not having enough get in the way of your ability to give generously?

Question #3
Do you have money in the bank but no peace in your heart?

Question #4
How hard is it to do the right thing when it will cost you financially?

I illustrated this on Sunday with some boxes of money... to see the entire message check out the message player at the top right.

I am Rich!

Here is the statement we have been building during our "How to Be Rich" series at the Suncoast. Try to work this into your morning routine for 7 days! To see the first two messages check out the video player to the right -->

"God has blessed me with more than I need, I am rich. But, I will not trust in my riches, but in Him who richly provides."

"What! Who's Leaving?"

"Bless those who use bad words about you. Ask God to do good to those who trouble you." Luke 6:28

Two of the things that get talked about the most at our management team meetings is who are all the new faces and people who are checking out the Suncoast and taking their next steps here, AND , "What happened to so and so? And, what about this family? I hear they are checking out other churches..."

There have been hundreds of people that have been a part of the first four years of Church of the Suncoast and probably almost as many that have moved on. If you are a church planter then you know what I am talking about. You pour your life out into people. You even let your guard down and make friends with them. You have them over in your home and circle up in groups. You go to their kids games and then BOOM! First they miss one week, then two, then you send them an e-mail to see what is up and after about 2 or 3 months you just figure they have moved on. It hurts! Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't.

My wife Cheryl and I have had to deal with a lot of this. She had to pull me back from the edge from time to time because you start to wonder what is wrong with you! But, here are some things I have learned... NO, that is not right. Here are some things I am learning because just because someone leaves your church doesn't mean you didn't make a difference and it wasn't a win for your church.

The reality is the more connected a person is the more people know their buisness, and sometimes people just don't want the church knowing their buisness. So they leave and there is nothing you can do about that.
Sometimes there is a family situation that comes up and God has other plans for them? Sometimes they need to change up the routine for them to take their next step?

BUT, here is the bottom line. The time you invest into people doesn't get wasted! What steps did they take at your church? Did they accept Christ there? Did they make some next right choices? Did they kick a bad habit? Did they get a taste for serving and getting outside of themselves? The next steps they took at your church count! Even the small ones, they started coming back to church again for the first time in years and it took your church to do that! Wow! That is huge!

The investment you make as a church leader, staff member, volunteer leader, or fellow church member will not return void (read the Bible). One day on the other side of this life we will get to see the truth of this.

Just because people leave doesn't mean you are a loser, a bad speaker, a poor leader, or mean you didn't try hard enough.

Count even the small stuff as wins!!! And, continue to put yourself out there! God will bless that and He will grow your ministry in ways you can't.

New Series "How to Be Rich"

This Sunday we start a new series at the Suncoast called "How to Be Rich". Even in a down economy most people are still striving for more... a better job, a nicer house, a newer car, and the list goes on. There is more to life than chasing that elusive carrot that dangles so temptingly in front of you, as the insurance commercials try to tell us. Discover how to be truly rich, with what you already have. Invite a friend and join us for How to be Rich. I am really excited about this series!!! Cya then!

ONE Prayer Offering Thanks!!!

Hey Suncoast here is what the people at Amazing Love Ministries had to say to you guys. This is the place in Tampa where we go and feed the homeless on Monday nights and it was one of the places we sent some of the One Prayer offering money:

Hello Everyone,We want to thank you so much for your generous donation to Amazing Love Ministries. We are sincerely humbled by the generosity that your church demonstrated. We are always amazed at God's continuing blessings on the ministry, especially when He surprises us with uenexpected gifts.

Hey Pastor! Cut the Crap!!!

The other day I had a conversation with a pastor I have not talked to in a while and he was asking me about things with the church and I was trying to be open and honest and he laid out a line something like this, "So how is God-moving among your people to become more missional... blah, blah, latest leadership buzz word... blah, blah... quote from Andy Stanley... blah, blah."

Seriously, pastors / church leaders can we cut the crap. We don't have to try to impress each other with who we just read or what fancy church leadership buzz words we know! Only other pastors know what you are talking about and honestly, I hate it.

I am a terrible leader that God has been working on, and to be honest compensating for, ever since we started Church of the Suncoast in 2006. I don't like to read a lot of leadership books because they are talking about answers to questions I am not even asking.

Here is what I care about. Are people taking their next steps with God and are people accepting Christ. If so then you are missional and vision driven and Spirit-filled and... OK, so this might be a little strong but hear my heart. Why would you try to impress someone with what you know and how smart of a leader you are when really God has called us to just be obedient and faithful and He says He gets the glory when we are weak.

Hi, I am Brian and I am a weak leader :-)

My Summer Vacation by Cheryl Moon

"Road Trip" by Cheryl Moon

Day One:
We left from Titusville, FL after dropping off our dog, Lady, with her her grandparents and drove to Tallahassee. We were just there one evening, so we really only had time to drive around the campus of FSU and have dinner at Andrew's Capital Grill and Bar. We have been there before to see all of the important stuff, so we really had no agenda. I would recommend every Floridian visit our state's capital though, and our nation's capital as well. It is important to know a little history, and I say that as someone who never really did well in history. I never wanted to take the time to memorize all of those names and dates... I wish I had a teacher who had made it interesting (sorry to any former history teacher of mine who might by chance be reading this). :)

Day Two:
We woke up pretty early and spent the day driving through south Georgia to see where my husband's mom is from and where he spent many summers visiting. We also visited some grave yards and spent some time at the tombs of where many of his family was buried. I would recommend taking a trip like this. You learn quite a bit more about your spouse when you can hear stories about their childhood and their family and see where those events took place. Read more...

One Summer Service @ 10:30am

This past Sunday at Church of the Suncoast I announced we will be going to one summer service at 10:30am still at Rushe Middle. Let me give you some insight into what went into this decision.

First of all we have been seeing some really cool things happen over the past few weeks. 3 people have accepted Jesus which makes 11 SINCE Easter!!! That is why we do church! We baptized 3 adults and dedicated one kid two weeks ago. We have some new people serving. AND, we have had 34 first time guests since Easter without any advertising, just invites and word of mouth!

So some go God stuff has been going on! But, our overall numbers have just not been there. So here is what went into the one service decision...

First, every time the numbers dip I freak out, can I be that honest? You tell yourself not too, but I am human! I looked back over last years numbers from this same span of time from Easter until now and we are running the same on Sunday's... BUT, even though this is just the trend of how our attendance goes there is more to it than that. God has been really doing something inside me and I felt it would be disobedient to not go to one for at least this summer. Can't explain it other than to say I want to be obedient as best I know how.

Second, we want our main service to be a safe place for guests to come and feel at ease. The summer is hit or miss crowd wise so with the two services on a low Sunday it was not a safe environment! Kind of like walking into a restaurant when only 5 people are there, makes you wonder right? Have everyone in one service will make even the low weeks of the summer feel safe for a guest we want to treat like a VIP.

Third, summer provides a natural time to do this, it just fits the rhythm of life.

Fourth, since we went to two services in the spring of 2009 we proved we could do it and that was cool. About 1/2 the time we have needed two and the other 1/2 we could have done with one. I like two, BUT again this is about making out guests feel safe, NOT ABOUT US.

Finally, it gives us a chance to rest up our volunteers over the summer. The school said we could not leave anything set up, like in past summers, so we will be doing set up and tear down all summer long. With a 10:30 service we can let our set up peeps come in as late as 8am!!! Dang :-)

A bonus in all this is we can do some fun stuff after the service like a 4th of July celebration (which IS GOING TO BE STINKIN' AWESOME!!!)

If you are a regular at the Suncoast what we need from you is to invite like crazy this summer! You guys are the only marketing we have right now :-) You ARE what makes this place go! You are God's hands and feet and voice. Let's make this summer one we never forget and blow the doors off the place.

I hope you guys heard my heart on Sunday and if you have any questions shoot me an e-mail: brian@canthisbechurch.com

See you Sunday @ 10:30am!!! Who ya bringing??? Hopefully your dad for Father's Day... hint, hint!

ONE Prayer Offering


On Sunday I talked about the special ONE Prayer offering we are doing on June 20th. We are trying to give some money to two great organizations. One is Entermission. We have been working with them for about 2 years now and have already sent over $10,000 to help fuel this:

video

The second place we want to send some money to is Amazing Love Ministries. We have been volunteering there once a month to help feed the homeless of Tampa. Every week they feed over 300 people!!!

The whole goal of ONE Prayer is the church standing together and using our combined resources to do good! These two ministries do a lot of good. We hope to be a small part of helping them do more good.

to give drop the special ONE Prayer offering envelope into the basket on June 20th or give online HERE.


NEW Pre-Service Video

So I was in an American Eagle store the other day and saw a sign for 50% off shorts... I didn't buy any shorts but I did steal the theme from the sign graphics! This runs as people are walking in with mp3 music in the background (e-mail me for the fonts brian@canthisbechurch.com):

NEW Pre-Service Looping Info from Church of the Suncoast on Vimeo.

NO Show Sunday

This past Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we took a risk and tried something very different to make a point. We actually told our volunteers they didn't have to show up to serve!!! About 3 months ago we were talking at a staff meeting and someone said, "I wonder if our people know all that goes into a Sunday morning at the Suncoast?" As we thought about that we decided to do a "No Show Sunday". A day we show everyone what it would be like without volunteers. Here is a quick run down of what we did. If you are a church planter meeting in rented space I would say do this!!! I don't think our people will ever forget 5.30.10.

The School.

We basically left the school the way we found it on Sunday morning at 6am. I asked our awesome plant manager to take out some of the cafeteria tables but 1/2 of them were left set up the way they are Mon-Fri. When you walked in it was still a cafeteria. Everyone sat at the tables instead of the normal seats in rows. We even left the trash cans out and everything! (See the video below)

Signs.

We had a local sign shop make us 36 x 24 signs to put on the walkway poles where a volunteer normally would be. We had signs for greeters, children's ministry and the coffee and donuts! Yes no coffee and donuts! (See the video below)

Children.

We actually had the kids come into the service but when the parents went to where they normally check their kids in we gave them a goodie bag with crayons, coloring pages, some candy and a little American flag for Memorial Day. For the most part the kids we well behaved, it was a distraction, but that was the point!

Cardboard Cut Outs.

We also bought some cardboard cut outs to be a fake greeter and tech team. For the tech team they found the 3 Stooges... no comment :-) (See the video to see Mia and the tech team)

Programs.

We made up some really nasty programs that people had to fold themselves... take a look:





Gifts.

Our staff had little gifts and treats for our current volunteers to show a little love. Some even had a drawing for a $25 gift card. Others gave out food. I had a cooler of drinks and donuts for the set up guys back stage. Little things that made them feel like they were in the know.

Other Creative Stuff.

We tossed out some beach balls during the first song just for fun. I did a posterboard countdown from 10 - 1. We put the offering baskets so the people in the seats had to be their own usher. And, I used a giant notepad for my message notes.

As we have looked back over a couple days now it was a huge win I think. We got new people to volunteer and everyone now knows what we are willing to do each week to make sure our guests feel welcome and like a VIP. To see my message just use the message player at the top of my blog here.

If you are thinking about doing a "No Show Sunday" send me an e-mail. I would love to share what we learned and learn from you as you do it even better! Here is the re-cap video of how it looked:


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This Sunday, Don't Be Late!
Want to know what is happening this Sunday at the Suncoast? I wish I could tell you but it is a surprise! See you at 9:30am & 11:00am. Don’t be late or you won’t get what is going on!

FUN!

Over the past 3 weeks at the Suncoast we have been trying to crank the fun factor up! Now, I know you might read that and think, "Well that doesn't sound very spiritual!" You are right, Jesus never had fun. He never smiled. And, when He gathered people together He never wanted them to enjoy being in His presence. OK, sorry for the sarcasm.

The reason we are trying to crank up the fun factor is because of the last post on the new tool we are using to plan the flow of a service. We have such a wide range of people walking in the front door of our church every week that you have to do something to get everyone on the same playing field and fun is a great way to do that. From sinner to saint everyone likes to have fun. Fun breaks down barriers and in a lot of ways opens your heart for what God wants to say. So, we have been trying to open our services with some fun stuff.

I will give you two examples. One from our Coastal Kids ministry and one from "Big church". First our children's director Crystal bought a bounce house and put it out by the children's check in kiosk. So while the parents are checking in their kids they can be going nuts on the bounce house. It is fun and a "Wow" factor. This past Sunday they also slimed kids. They took them out back of the school we meet in and slimed them (with parents permission ONLY). Take a look:




Looks like fun! Great job to all the Coastal Kids volunteers and to Crystal for pulling it all together at a portable facility!

The second fun thing we did was I basically made a fool of myself all in the name of fun. We just got done doing a series called "Girls Gone Wild" and to open the service we showed this:



Don't get me wrong. We are not just about fun. But, it is a helpful tool to welcome people and break down some of the barriers we walk into church with. So try something fun this Sunday!!! Get creative. Who says you can't do that in church?

I would love to hear some of the fun things you have done if you are doing stuff like this.

New Tool for Planning the Flow of a Service


(Click on the image to enlarge)
The order can be changed within each shaded area but not into another color area because you are trying to take people from the wide end (from sinners to saints) all to the same place. But you have to be strategic about how you do that. This tool might help in that process as you ENGAGE, INVOLVE, and then finally CHALLENGE.

Video from Two Weeks Ago

This was shot in Ybor City for the first part of "Girls Gone Wild" at Church of the Suncoast. I had someone asking about it so here you go :-)

Girls Gone Wild (Begins May 2nd)

9:30am & 11:00am at Rushe Middle School.

Don't be late!!!

Learning and Leading (Part 2 of 2)

I talked back on Monday or Tuesday about how things had been a bit too busy and a bit too dry this past month or so. A lot of doing and not a lot of learning and as a leader you stop leading when you stop learning. Read it (HERE).

I shared a few things I am changing and her are two more:

4 1/2 Days.
Since Sunday turns into a full blown work day, I am up at 3am and done with church stuff by 2pm, unless there is a Sunday night deal... I am trying to work 4 and 1/2 days during the week. My goal is to get to 4 days during the week but right now the goal is only a 1/2 day Friday. As a leader you need time to get away so you can see the forest and not just the trees. This one kind of goes hand in hand with the last post where I said I am trying to move some stuff off my plate church wise. The times I have been most sure of the direction God wants to take our church have been when I took some time off and got away. Friday afternoons are going to be that time!

Reading.
I by nature don't like to read. I sometimes think I am the only church leader who doesn't like to read the way everyone talks on their blogs. But I am going to get back to reading a few things each week:
  • Blogs like Perry's, Tony's, Mike's...
  • Leadership Books
  • Messages (well this is actually watching!!!)

Of course the Bible is in there. I am currently way behind on my www.YouVersion.com reading plan.

What are you doing to grow and learn???

Learning and Leading (Part 1 of 2)

You might have noticed not a lot of action over the past two weeks here on my blog??? Well, all I can say is I have been so busy leading that haven't stopped long enough to learn much of anything over the past month and that is not a good thing. I missed a local church planter gathering called INC last month. Our staff finished reading "Lasting Impressions" about a month ago and I have not found another book for us yet. Sad to say my time in the Bible has dwindled down to message prep over the past two weeks, sorry God. I just have not put myself in a place to learn and as a leader the moment you stop learning you stop leading. I'm sure you have heard that before.

So, starting this week and next I am making some changes. Here are a few of them and then later this week I will talk about this more...

Drive.
Our staff and a couple other people are going to the Drive Conference at Northpoint next week. We leave on Sunday after tear down :-) and get back on Wednesday night. I know a lot of my church planting friends talk down conferences and make fun of them, but for me... I need that time away and I think our staff needs to get a taste of the vision that could happen at Church of the Suncoast. Plus, you get to network and see people you have not seen in a year or two. They are worth it for me. Even though the trip will cost our church a couple thousand dollars it is an investment in our staff and in our own relationships with each other. Spending 3 days that close is fun :-)

Working My Way Out.
I am also getting serious about working my way out of a couple things here at the Suncoast to free me up to seek God and His direction for me and this church. I have gone through various stages of this in our four year history based on the staff and volunteers we had at the time, but it always gets better by making the effort not by people just showing up and doing it for you! OK, sometimes that will happen... but most of the time it is a process God wants to take YOU through!

How Long

One of the things we had to consider back in the beginning of our church was how long should each service be? In my opinion a church service is like a skirt... you want it to be long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting. So we came in at one hour. Although we have gone over the past couple of weeks by about 10 minutes. I think out website says our services "Usually last about an hour".

Other churches I know of have:

1 hour and 15 minutes
1 hour and 30 minutes

And others just end when they feel like it. My thought is we need to honor our guests time. That is who Church of the Suncoast is designed for, our guests. We who buy into this deal sacrifice some of our wants and desires for our guests. So I think a service needs to have a predicatable end zone of about 5 minutes.

Some people think an hour is too short but if you plan and work on your transitions an hour is a lot more than you think. It also forces me as a communicator to get to the point!

What do you think? How long is your service? Why? Leave a comment, would love to hear what you think.

Note to All That Made Easter Happen

Hey guys just wanted to say GREAT JOB!!! Here are some of the numbers that tell a SMALL part of what happened on Easter at the Suncoast:

237 (People) - New all time high (old high 215 last Easter)

19 (1st Time) - Obviously more than that, just no card.
7 (2nd Time)
5 (3rd Time)
1 (Accepted Christ) - That is what it is all about!

A few people I want to thank... not trying to leave anyone out, you all did an amazing job but have to say AWESOME job to Stephanie!!! That was the first time she has prayed in public and oh my gosh!!! That was so moving! Thanks for putting yourself out there like that. Awesome job to Crystal for getting all the kids where they need to be and thanks to all the kids vols! Cheryl had a friend come and her daughter had a GREAT time in the Shore I think it was? Thanks to the greeters and to Rita for making the stage backdrop! It fit the colors and feel of the day great! Steve thanks for having the band ready to go and all I can say is you guys were SMOKIN' Great songs!!! Rocked it for Jesus!!! Tech peeps, thanks for dealing with all the sound issues in the videos! And set up guys... you guys get a week off NO SET UP on SUNDAY!!! AND, to everyone that brought someone with you... go God!!! You rock too!

As I sat there on stage and looked out at the people I knew this would be every Sunday in the not too distant future and then one day we will look back and think how small these days were :-)

Finally, keep doing what it takes to get people to church. Don’t give up on someone because they didn’t come…or they came but did not receive Christ. Every week we are going to go all out to make sure the Gospel is clear…it’s not just an Easter thing for us…and there are SO MANY in our community that still do not know Jesus!


Great job Go God!!! Celebrate with me today :-)

Easter Promotion

Here is a look at how we have been promoting Easter at Church of the Suncoast:

TXT Invite:
On Sunday I was supposed to do this at both services but only got one... but the idea is you have everyone pull out their phones and invite someone right there in the service.

Yard Signs:
We put out 25 of these signs at about $5 per sign.
e-Invite:
This Wednesday we sent out an e-invite and ask people to clean up the FWD and text and then send it onto their friends.
Pre-Easter Message:
This past Sunday we were in the second part of a vision series and the whole message was about inviting people for Easter and why that matters and what it means for them. Check it out here:

Names on the Cross:
This past Sunday I asked everyone to write a name on a piece of paper of someone they were going to ask for Easter and then during a song come forward and nail that name to the cross.
Invite Cards:
We started leaving these in sleeves of 10 with instructions of where to leave them about 5 weeks ago... here is the card: CARD

It is going to be an awesome Easter at the Suncoast.