Grand Opening Video Recap

Jesus gets all the glory!  It is His house.  If He doesn't build it then it will fall.  Thank you also to the dozens of volunteers who were Jesus hands and feet on this project.  The best is yet to come!

- Pastor B

Grand Opening Sunday

So, it has been a few months since I posted anything.  "Where did Brian go???"  Well, as you can see from the last post we have been in the process of transitioning our church from "portable" to "permanent."  It went in a few phases something like this:

Facility Search (2011 - Feb 2012)
We looked at strip plazas, stand alone buildings, and warehouse spaces.  By my calculations we looked at casually to seriously 7 locations in the central Pasco County area we call home.  And, we took people out to pray over 4 of those sites.  We finally found the space, the parking, and the price we needed one mile south of SR54 on Gunn Highway in the industrial park.  As time went on there seemed to be a consensus this was where God wanted us for at least the next 5 years.

Funding (April - July)
By most estimates this was going to be a $120,000 job.  We did not have $120,000 in the bank!  So, we started the first capital campaign in the history of our church called "The Next Step" Campaign.  We broke it down in two parts.  One month of praying and saving, followed by the first offering, then we gave over the next 3 months.  It was not the ideal way to do this.  Giving over a year or two would have been better, but it was what it was, and people gave what they could give.  My faith was stretched in ways I could not imagine.  The funding process of this was probably one of the hardest things I have done in my 33 years on this planet.

Faith (Signing the Lease)
The owner of the facility we were wanting to rent held this space for almost 4 months and passed up several other potential tenants for us even though we did not give him a dime.  In July they asked us to make a decision one way or the other.  Which was perfectly fair.  The only problem was we were sitting at about $30,000 of the $120,000 we needed.  But, still this seemed like the direction we were supposed to move in.  I even prayed a ridiculous prayer after reading about some of the Old Testament prophets and the things they asked God for.  I asked God to allow me to get into a traffic accident on the way to sign the lease if this was not His will!!!  To literally block me from going down this path.  And, because of a scheduling issue I got the chance to do this 3 times!!!  But, no accidents.  So, with faith and honestly a sick feeling in my gut, I put my name on the line for our church over the next 5 years.  Even though we didn't have the money.  This was either faith or stupidity.

Fabrication (August & September)
We hired a contractor after getting three different bids and over the next couple months of working with him I know we hired the right one!  It was a real partnership.  We had work nights 2 - 3 times a week where the contractor would do something during the day and then we would come in at night and do the finishing work.  And, it was a A LOT of work!  OMG!  My body, mind and soul is still trying to recover as I sit here one day removed from our Grand Opening.  Walls were built where wide open warehouse space once stood, power and A/C was installed, stages and restrooms constructed, paint, paint, and more paint, carpet, kids stuff, more paint, more trips to Home Depot (I hate Home Depot now) but finally by the absolute grace and favor of God we barely pulled off our Grand Opening.  All the volunteers really stepped up and the list of thank you's I owe is massive!!!!!!!!

Finally... we opened the doors officially:

These were just a few of the shots from my phone as I went through the morning.  Look for a video or a real photo essay later this week.  Again, so many thank you's go out to so many people.  I am feeling blessed today.  I hope you got a excited if you were there yesterday, and if you missed it, hopefully this gives you a taste of what is in store for us.  The best days... have just begun!

Thank you Jesus for being my sustaining source through all this.

Thank you Cheryl for standing by my side and still loving me when I was at my worst.

Thank you Suncoast for letting me navigate this for us, the winds are picking up!!!

The NEXT STEP Campaign

Dear Suncoast Family,
When I was just a little kid, God began planting the dream for the Suncoast in my heart.  I had a tree house that my dad and I built that served as the “church” building for my friends who played church with me. Six years ago, my wife Cheryl and I, along with a small group of nine people, set out to create relevant environments in which God could work. We started the Suncoast from literally nothing in a tiny daycare off of SR 54 near the Suncoast Parkway. Over the next couple of years, we bounced around from school to school until we finally landed at our current location at Rushe Middle School. Since then, we have rode the wave, and crash, of the local economy and housing market. For six years, through the ups and downs, we have tried to create relevant environments in which God can work in leased facilities doing what we call “portable” church. Today, it is time to take “The Next Step.” The Next Step is our first capital campaign where we are asking each other to step up and fund our next step into a permanent facility. The following information will hopefully be helpful in understanding this faith journey we are about to embark on. But, remember this is not about concrete, paint and steal. A building is not the church. You are the church! The people are the church, and we are simply here to create the NEXT relevant environments in which even more people will take their next steps with God through His Son Jesus! Read on, and I love my church!

Pastor Brian :-)

To transform two 4,000 sq ft warehouse spaces off of Gunn Hwy in Pasco County into a theater style auditorium for Sunday services, spacious lobby with cafĂ© and plenty of comfy seats, and dedicated children’s space with a huge play land! The continuing vision, phase two, would be acquire the remaining warehouse bay for church offices and ministry center to serve those in need. This would be our permanent home for the next decade!


The total amount we need to raise to install A/C, run electrical, build new restrooms, construct walls, purchase kids equipment, paint, and freshen up our sound system and more is: $120,000.

The campaign idea is 120 in 120. That is, we will raise $120,000 in 120 days so that we can open for a big fall launch! To break down such a big number like $120,000, think of it like this. We need just 100 people to contribute $1,200 over the next 4 months above and beyond our normal giving. Some can and will give more as God leads, but breaking it down like this is something we all can do if we try. On April 29th we want to give all we can!

The campaign schedule looks like this:
4.1 - 4.29 Pray and set aside money in the provided envelopes.
4.29 First Steps Offering (So work can begin)
4.29 - 7.29 Continued giving to campaign, work begins!
August 2012(ish) Fall kick off in our own building with no debt!

The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God! This next step will require and stretch our faith like never before. It is a lot like the Hebrew people as they stood on the doorstep of the Promised Land. Two of the ten spies that scouted the land came back and with faith boldly said this, “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.” Numbers 14:8  In other words:

If the Lord is pleased,
He will meet the needs!

Accomplishing this vision will take big faith, it will take everyone being all in, but that pleases God. Being so passionate about reaching people pleases God. We trust God to meet our needs!

Will you commit to praying for our Next Step at the Suncoast for the NEXT 120 days?
  • Pray for God’s favor and “favors” as we continue to get estimates.
  • Pray about what amount God would have you give on April 29th.
  • Pray about what God would have you give the remaining 90 days.
  • Pray that our volunteer work and contracted work goes smooth.
  • Pray for God to abundantly bless us with all the resources we need!
  • Pray for our Grand Opening and Launch in the new building.
  • Pray God uses this to reach hundreds of new people!
  • Pray we don’t get comfortable and lazy once we have our own space.
To give to the Next Steps campaign, please use the special envelopes on Sundays, or you can mail your donation to:

Church of the Suncoast
PO Box 1031 Odessa, FL 33556
(Please add "Next Step" to the memo)

Easter @ the Suncoast

Hey Suncoast, FOUR things I want you to know about this Easter Sunday at the Suncoast:

1. Come 10-minutes early!
If you are not serving somewhere this week then make plans to come 10-minutes early (that would be 10:20am). Think about when YOU check out some place new, you typically give yourself plenty of time and arrive a few minutes early. Our guests this Sunday will typically be arriving a few minutes early so lets fill the room BEFORE the countdown clock even starts at 10:28am! Lets create a warm, inviting, exciting atmosphere that anticipates a GREAT service and all that God is going to do.

2. Park in the Sunlake Blvd lot!
We have two parking lots at the school. One off of Mentmore and one off of Sunlake. Lets just fill the one lot along Sunlake THIS WEEK! Make the U-turn and park where our signs direct you. It says, "This place is happening" to the people passing by or pulling in.

3. Pray!
I don't say that because I am a pastor and you think I should say that. I say that because if God doesn't show up on Sunday then it will be an "event" but it won't be life-changing! Lets beg God to show up on Sunday. Lets pray for the hearts of the people we have been inviting and others have invited. Lets pray our marketing this Easter is blessed 10-fold! Lets pray God softens and prepares hearts to hear about Jesus in a fresh way! Lets pray for our volunteers, staff, and would you PLEASE pray for me too. Lets also pray for a HUGE number of people to COME BACK over the next two weeks after Easter!!!

4. Keep Inviting!
Keep handing out your eggs, keep handing out invite cards, keep ASKING people if they can come and wait for them to give you an answer! USE SOCIAL MEDIA! Tweet and post info about this Sunday. Use our website as a tool. You can grab all kinds of info to tweet or post and send them to pages like "The Current Series" page where they can watch the promo video. Why? Because sometimes all someone needs is an invitation:

Volunteer Community THIS Saturday!

THIS Saturday night, 7pm at the Warehouse (14426 Black Lake RD. Odessa, FL 33556) is the first Volunteer Community of 2012!!! If you are one of the awesome volunteers at the Suncoast then don't miss this quarterly time of fun where we simply say, "THANK YOU!" You can also bring your family for the fun and it all starts at 7pm this Saturday night.

If you have never been to a Volunteer Community here is what usually goes on. We always EAT, and EAT GOOD! This time we are having a Tampa Bay fav, Cuban's with Black beans and Rice. We also do something wild and crazy for those who dare. At Christmas we played "Minute to Win It" and one of the challenges had dancing (more like shaking) involved and it was pee your pants funny! So, I think Rita and Crystal have something planned along those lines, can't wait, even I don't know what it going on. We usually wrap the night up with a SHORT talk where I basically just say, "Thank you" and "Keep up the good work!" It is a lot of fun and a great chance to get to know people without the hustle and bustle of a Sunday morning. AND, if you attended the Christmas Volunteer Community we will be giving you the "photo booth" pics!

Finally, you guys will get to be the first to hear some exciting news! Just going to leave it at that. But, trust me you will want to hear this!

If you have any questions please let Rita know at:

Can't wait!!! See you on Saturday Night, 7pm!

The Sunday That Was (February 26)

This past Sunday we were missing two staff members (and their hard working families) so we had some holes to fill and I just wanted to start out by saying thank you to all the people who stepped up and filled those holes. GREAT JOB! We are blessed to have a "bench" at the Suncoast!

It was a good service all the way around to close out the month of February. Everything got set up, the place looked good, there were greeters outside and inside, there were new faces, the cafe was pumping out the coffee, the tech team was flawless, the band sounded good, there were a TON of kids and plenty of hard working volunteers to love, care, and teach them... the guy bringing the message did a pretty good job too... AND one young lady accepted Christ! Go God!!!

If you missed the message you can catch it online tomorrow in podcast or video form. You can also get the Church of the Suncoast APP from our website too, it will bring all the message content to you plus prayer requests and online giving.

I really feel like God did some work in some people's lives this week. We talked about manipulation, both people who do it to us, and how we do it to others. When Rita was working on the video to put online she said, "Wow you prayed a long time!" It was over 6-minutes, but I just felt like giving you guys the chance to admit/confess some stuff and have the chance to cry out to God for courage to set some clear boundaries with people who try to control us. I truly believe God set some of us free Sunday and put us on a path to surrendering to HIM and NOT to those who would try to impose their will on us. Like I said on Sunday, there was a lot to think about so I hope you will listen to, or watch, the message again.

At the end of the service I made a big push for this week's round of NEXT Groups. You can get all the info here on our news page. I know we don't have groups on every night of the week to accommodate everyone's schedule, but hear me out. If you are a Christ-Follower and you are not connecting in Biblical community through serving, through one on one lunches or coffee, or in a NEXT Group then I believe you are not really living the Christian life! Jesus "did life" with a small group of guys and gals, and as our model why do we think we are above that example:
  • We are too busy?
  • We don't need it?
  • We are afraid?
There is not a good reason to not be in Biblical community with other followers of Jesus! Bottom line! This week is the come back party where the people who showed up for week number one are planning something fun for you. Will you show up? I can promise you when you come under the authority of God's plan for your life you will be glad you did it!!! Again, all the info is HERE.

IF you are one of our awesome volunteers DON'T MISS THIS SATURDAY NIGHT'S Volunteer Community, 7pm @ the Warehouse! Lots of fun, food, and that community thing I was just ranting about. Bring the family. You can let us know you are coming by e-mailing Rita at:

Finally, be praying for the staff and I tomorrow. We are making a HUGE decision that will potentially impact the future of our church and take us a new level. It is really exciting and we will hopefully be making an announcement in the coming weeks! I love my church!

The Sunday That Was (February 19)

Got to start off by saying GREAT job to the guys in the band. You guys nailed it yesterday. We had fun, we rocked out, and we reflected all in the course of about 12 - 13 minutes. Great job in getting us on our feet and then on our face before Jesus.

The morning started out with the typical set up. People showed up from 7am - 7:30am and got things rolling. So much work goes into just making one Sunday happen, I am constantly blown away and grateful. We had a little issue with the lights but resorted to the Microsoft way of solving issues. We turned everything off and back on!
During the service we set up the new series called "Those" People with some movie clips from Meet the Parents and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I can't think of anymore difficult people than those! Tried to cover both generations of Suncoasters. Good stuff.

For the first installment of "Those" People, we looked at the "needy" people in our lives. You know the ones, they call you and leave 8-minute voice mails! Here are some key thoughts I am still thinking over and trying to apply:
  • The reason we are studying this is because we are all "Those" people at one time or another and we hope someone is taking notes so they can deal with us!
  • My goal is we become a church so filled with love that, "Those" people feel like we are the church for them!
  • The reason this matters is because if we don't help people in the right way, we can actually end of hurting them more and if we are not careful, we end of hurting ourselves too.
  • Relief is immediate and temporary assistance (think natural disaster).
  • Restoration is working with people to restore them to their God-given potential (think an addict).
  • The problem is we offer relief when what people often really need is restoration!
  • Acts 3:1-7 - Peter didn't give a hand out, he gave a hand up and the man became strong!
  • SO... three prayers: 1) God, help me give people what they truly need not just what they want. 2) God, help me stay out of your way by not continually rescuing people from their consequences. 3) God, help me remember that I'm in need too and that YOU ARE ALWAYS THE ANSWER!
This is all stuff I am learning with you guys. I can't wait for this week's talk on Manipulative people! Don't miss it and BRING SOMEONE WITH YOU! This series is perfect for anyone to jump into to no matter where they are spiritually.

After the service we had our NEXT Group leaders and hosts in the back for NEXT Group sign ups because they start THIS WEEK!!! Yes, this week! I talked about them on Friday here on my blog, so just read the post right before this one called, "New and Next" and you can hear why I think you need to be in one. All you need to do is show up:

Sunday Night // Middle and High School, 7pm

Tuesday Night // Adults, 7pm

Wednesday Night // Adults, 7pm

And, the last thing I have for you from "The Sunday that was" is don't forget about Volunteer Community on Saturday, March 3rd. We will be giving you guys that volunteer the Christmas photo's, eating Cuban's, black beans and rice, and playing some kind of dancing game because that was just way too funny at the last Volunteer Community, and if you see a video of me from it online know that it was my stunt double!

Love you guys and I love my church!

New and Next

This coming week at the Suncoast is all about NEW and NEXT...

... first the NEW:

New Message Series This Sunday!
"Those People"
We all have some difficult people in our lives right? Someone who is just a bit needy maybe? Every time they talk to you they have some big crisis and need you to fix it for them. Or, maybe you have some really nasty, critical people in your life. How do you deal with that? What about those manipulative family members? And, the list goes on and on... they are, you know, "Those People" and sometimes we think our lives would be a whole lot better if we didn't know them. So, what do you do? How can we help? How can we show love and not go crazy ourselves? That is what these next four weeks are all about at the Suncoast.

Let's do all we can to pack the house and invite people like we really believe this stuff about Jesus and His love and His forgiveness Suncoasters! I left a few cards this week and personally invited my pharmacist! There is still time, so let's go for the ASK! "Will you come to church with me this Sunday?"

Now the next...

NEXT Groups Start This Week!
NEXT Groups are small groups of people from the church that circle up during the week to dig deeper into Sunday's message, serve the community, give and pray for each other. We believe life change happens best in groups, in community, in relationships with other Christ-Followers. Where did we get that idea? Well, Jesus! Look at what He did. He spent time with the crowds, but gathered up 12 guys and spent the bulk of His time with them. It was a small group, or a NEXT Group as we call them. AND, they are a lot of fun! I have made friendships with so many people at our church because of groups. I will never really get to know people on a Sunday, just not going to happen. It won't happen for you either! But, in a NEXT Group by the end of the 12 weeks you will have some new friends and your faith will be stronger.

So, I dare you, double dare you, double dog dare you, call you chicken... to try one of these groups. Look, we all are busy, Cheryl and I just had a baby!!! But, you make time for the things that are important to you. Spending time in a NEXT Group, I'm telling you, is a much better use of your time than kids sporting events (they are not going pro), working late, or doing laundry (a much better use of time than that). Your soul is eternal and your relationships are eternal. Make an investment in what matters!!! Take a next step in a NEXT Group!

We have groups for middle and high schoolers and adults. For all the info check out the NEWS page of our website.

NEW and NEXT. Two big vision pieces of our church.

The Sunday That Was (February 12)

If last Sunday was a good Sunday, then this past Sunday was a GREAT Sunday at the Suncoast! Anytime you run out of chairs you know it was great! So... some random highlights:
  • We dedicated 6 kids, our most ever at one time! - Go God!!!
  • One of those kids was our baby Sophie!
  • The band played the Steve Miller Band classic, "Take the Money and Run" to close out our financial series called, "Balanced".
  • Crystal and Keith shared an awesome personal story about how they were $12,000 in debt in 2009, started coming to the Suncoast, heard a message series on money, made the decision to get out of debt and start tithing and by 2010 they were debt free! Thank you guys for sharing, it was very powerful! God's truth works!!!
  • I thought the baptism teaching video was the best I have ever seen. Thanks to our friends at Granger for producing it. We DO need an anchor for our faith and baptism is one of those anchors. It reminds us we are not who we used to be! We are new!
  • We baptized 3 people in 40 degree weather! - Go God!!!
The message video is already up so if you missed it, make sure you check it out. Ignore the crazy sound guy waving his arms like a mad man about 30+ minutes in ;-)

Thank you to everyone that set up, ran tech, played in the band, worked in kids, or greeted someone with a smile! Without you GREAT Sundays like this one don't happen. God doesn't care about our ability, but He does honor our availability. Thanks for being available for Him to use! One of the guys we baptized has been coming for almost 6 years, since the day care days, so keep up the hard work, you never know when God uses it in someone's life!

THIS Sunday we start a brand new series called:

We all have some difficult people in our lives. Some of them are overly needy. Some are critical. Some are just down right manipulative. So how do we deal with "Those" People? That is what we will be talking about for the next 4 Sundays. AND, this is a perfect series to invite someone to! If you know someone who does not go to church then this is a perfect series to introduce them to our church! Let's invite this week like we actually believe this stuff!!!

We also start NEXT Groups this coming week (Feb 19th - 25th), more about that later this week here on my blog or you can get the skinny here:

As great as this past Sunday was I am expecting even greater things this week. Let's celebrate what God did and what He is doing! I love my church!

Baptism & Child Dedication

This Sunday is our next Baptism and Child Dedication celebration at the Suncoast AND these are always my favorite services. The Gospel is all about new life and what an exciting way to celebrate that new life!

Parents, you are celebrating this new life that God has blessed you with! And, in several places in the Bible you see parents taking their children to the temple to "dedicate" them to God's service. It is letting the church / world know you want to raise them in a Christ-Following home AND you need their help doing it. As a church we will commit to praying for you and your children and we will commit to providing a church environment that partners with you in leading them to their Savior.

To have your birth - 5th grader dedicated just show up 10-minutes early to the Guest Services Kiosk in the back of the cafetorium.

Students and Adults, you are celebrating new life in Christ. At some point (most likely in the not so distant past) you have made a decision to follow Jesus. To invite Him into your life for the forgiveness of your sins, and receive His new life! Baptism identifies you with Jesus and let's the church / world know about your personal decision. The church will be clapping and celebrating as you come up out of the waters!

Now, I know we have had 80 degree weather all winter up until this Sunday, go figure, but don't let that stop you from obeying this command of Jesus to, "Get up and be baptized!" We will be adding some hot water right before the baptism so it will be bearable!

To be baptized show up 10-minutes early at the Guest Services Kiosk for some last minute instructions.

It is going to be a GREAT Sunday, full of new life!

Be on time church!!! We roll child dedication first!!!

Invite your friends and family!

The Sunday That Was (February 5)

Yesterday was a GOOD day at the Suncoast.

The day began at 4:15am for me as usual, my time of going over my message for a couple hours went well, felt like I was ready to deliver it effectively with God's help. Set up went smooth even though we were down a man. The band showed up for practice early! Musicians are never early!!! Just kidding... But, no lie I turned around and they were done, ready to go. Great job guys! But, overall the pre-service morning just went smooth.

The room was fuller, glad to see that, the band opened with "All Because of Jesus" and "Our God is love." I did some welcoming and the offering, awesome video during the offering by the way, then we sang an old DCB song, "O Praise Him" and it was onto the message, part 5 of "Balanced."

I really thought this message hit home! I don't know if by the fifth straight week all this finally sunk in, or God just moved, or what? But, I felt like the message "connected." The main idea was discontentment is dangerous! And, the thing that drives your discontentment and mine is awareness. Our awareness drives our discontentment. You were happy with what you had until you became AWARE of something better out there. So, we have to learn how to starve this appetite in our lives. Because, if we don't we will fall into a trap and it has the potential to ruin our relationship with God (1 Timothy 6:10). The bottom line is we have to shift our awareness to the things that matter, the things of God, let our discontentment of where we are at there shift our discontentment with our stuff. If you have some time give the message a listen, or another listen this week. The podcast / podcast is up now, and the message will be up Tuesday afternoon.

The service ended with a few big things coming up:

Baptism and Child Dedication THIS Sunday
If you would like to take your next step of baptism or have your birth - 5th grader dedicated PLEASE arrive 10-minutes early at the Guest Services Kiosk for some last minute info. (I can't wait to dedicate our little Sophie)

Next Groups
NEXT Group sign ups have begun and you can get all the info on the news page of our website. You have to check a group out this semester! This is where the real "church" happens.

Finally, as everyone was tearing down Sunday I walked back by our Coastal Kids area and DANG! Kids everywhere! I love seeing that. Love our kids ministry. Love that we are a young enough church to be having kids!!! Love seeing them in action.

I love my church! -- Now, get baptized on Sunday! :-)

The 300TH!!! Sunday That Was

Service #001

This past Sunday was the 300th service at Church of the Suncoast. Go God!!! He has not let us down in 300 tries. When I stop and think that all this started from literally nothing more than a dream and some faith it is pretty amazing. We literally had no people, no money, and no building and in a matter of months we pulled off service #001. And, since that Sunday in 2006 there has always been a location to meet in, enough people to get it all done, enough money to pay the bills, enough people in the seats to celebrate, and enough life change to keep us going one more Sunday. We have had a lot of ups and downs, had a ton of change to deal with, but our church is a survivor. For 300 services we have never wavered from one thing:

The church is not about us, we are here for this community, for those that don't yet know Jesus!

If you missed our 300th celebration (shame on you) but here were a few of the highlights:
  • The band came out with water pistols in honor of one of my favorite sayings, "We are going to charge hell with a water pistol."
  • We had a special video where some people shared thoughts about their memories from the past 3 to 300 services:

  • We asked people to bring some kind of handout, t-shirt, program, picture... something they kept that was memorable and we had a few seconds to share what it was, and why it was meaningful, a little audience "show and tell".
  • I shared my top 10 favorite services:

  • My number 1 favorite service was NEXT Sunday! Because our best days are still to come! When our little bit of faithfulness intersects with God's faithfulness, things happen, movements begin, things explode. It will happen guys!
  • We then sang "We Unite" as a rallying cry and it was on to "Balanced" part 4.
The message video should be up Tuesday!

PUMPED about what the next 300 will look like. Let's do this!!!

Don't forget we have Baptism and Child Dedications on Feb 12th. To get info or sign up please e-mail us at:

Bump in the Blogging

I had planned on continuing the "Nside the Suncoast" series today, well actually yesterday, but Cheryl got sick again. Since we brought little Sophie home from the hospital she has not been sick once, but Cheryl has now been sick THREE TIMES! I think her fever finally broke today, but still has a really bad infection. Would love your prayers church! Pray for Cheryl! Also, did not plan on taking two days off from work this week... so "Pastor" Brian needs some prayers too.

I love my church!

DON'T MISS THIS SUNDAY'S message in the "Balanced" series. AND:

DON'T MISS THIS SUNDAY because it is our:

Service @ the Suncoast

Search through your house and bring something memorable from one of our 300 services, a fav invite card or program, some handout, a message CD, some pictures, t-shirts... anything! It should be a lot of fun celebrating all that God has done week after week!

The Sunday That Was (January 22)

Sunday began really early for me! We had a few people out so I got to the school early to help get a head start. I wish you guys could see the school and what it looks like when we get there. It is such a BIG undertaking every week to make church happen. I have said this before, but the set up guys and gals are my heroes! They get there early, in the cold, in the damp, in the humidity of a Florida July morning! AND, I can honestly say I have never heard them complain once! I love all you guys, thank you! We also had a few people from the other team help out this week so thank you for covering the holes!

This Sunday was also an awesome set by the band! DANG, you guys nailed it this week. If you missed it here was the set list:

When you have an ALL VOLUNTEER band, with limited practice time, it is a lot to see what they pull off each Sunday. Thank you guys for using your talents in helping us connect with God through these songs.

AND, let me just say, if you don't get to church ON TIME then you miss a lot! We always try to start our services off strong and this week you missed a hilarious video showing the struggle we have with debt and those "plastic people eaters" known as credit cards.

I shared in the message some of Cheryl and mine's story of how we saw money and debt going into marriage then challenged everyone with 3 verses of Scripture that pretty much cover the Biblical view of debt (Deuteronomy 28:12, Proverbs 22:7, and Proverbs 25:28). My big thought was this:

To be "Balanced," you have to address your debt! You drift in, BUT you claw your way out!

We also gave everyone a couple web resources on the way out:

The problem is not finding out HOW to get out of debt. The problem is having the DISCIPLINE to actually do it! BUT, if you do the promise I made everyone was, peace, freedom, a better marriage (yes, a better marriage) and the ability to be generous actually. You can't be generous even if you want to if everyone is trying to get a piece of your income!

Check out the message tomorrow when it goes online.

Don't forget:

On February 12th we will be having our next Baptism and Child Dedication celebration! If you have never taken this next step as a Christ-Follower then don't let anything keep you from obeying and following Jesus in this important step on your faith journey. You can e-mail: if you have any questions or to sign up.

We will also be doing child dedications for children up to 5th grade. For more info e-mail Crystal at

Have a great week guys, more from me on Wednesday here on the blog.

Nside the Suncoast (Part 2)

Back BS (before Sophie) I started a series of posts talking about some of the internal workings of your church Suncoast. It has been a while so if you missed the first part check it out HERE.

Today, I will let you "Nside" a "typical" week around the church.

Monday: Both Rita and I are in the office on Mondays. Rita updates the website, does the message video and podcast for the website, does all of our assimilation like prayer cards, first time guest notes, second time letters and one month out letters. I 90% of the time have also given her my message for that week by then so she also does the PowerPoint which we then put into Media Shout. I am usually doing administrative type things on Monday's. Attendance, offering reports, checking in with our book keeper about bills coming up this week, checking in how Sunday went with staff and volunteers live or through e-mail... Steve and I usually touch base on Monday's about songs for this coming Sunday and any "special" songs we might want to do for the current series coming up.

Tuesday: Crystal and I are both in the office on Tuesdays. Crystal only works "in the office" one day a week so she tries to get everything lined up for that Sunday's children's ministry on Tuesdays. Printing, planning, scheduling, buying supplies, checking in with volunteers and all that. We also have our staff meetings on Tuesday's twice a month from 12:30 - 2pm. I am usually starting to get ideas and line things up for creating the Sunday service. Videos, illustrations, hand outs, graphics, all the "creative elements" that go into a Sunday at the Suncoast all have to be found, bought, or created from scratch... and I still do most of them for now.

Wednesday: is my quiet day. No one usually comes in the office on Wednesdays so it has become my message day for the following week. It takes me about 6 - 8 hours to do each message on average. I also seem to have more lunch appointments on Wednesdays??? Steve also sends out the music and mp3's of that Sunday's songs to the band and by that time has also worked to see who we have and who we need for the music. Rita also sends the Need to Know (NTK) e-mail on Wednesdays and picks up programs from the printer if we are in a new series.

Thursday: Rita is back in the office with me and gives me the finished PowerPoint and the NTK video for the Communication Card time in the service. By closing time on Thursday our goal is to have the service put to bed, everything that has been created put into Media Shout (the software we use on Sundays), service scripts created and printed, all our volunteers line up, bags and trailer packed and ready to roll for Sunday. Rita also has some volunteers come in and fold programs on Thursdays.

Friday: I am doing my mind map (kind of like notes for my message that I use to preach it) and that takes about 2 -3 hours on average. Anything that didn't get wrapped up from Thursday gets done for Sunday, and during our NEXT Group semesters I am writing curriculum and posting it online for our leaders.

Sunday: We (the staff) arrive from 7:00am - 7:30am with the volunteer set up crews and start unloading the trailer and setting up the school into what you experience each Sunday. It takes about 9 - 10 people about 2 hours to get everything 100% ready to go for the service. Band practice happens at 9:15am. Team meetings happen at 10am. Doors open, church happens, and then we tear it all down and put it back into the trailer by 1pm. We usually eat some lunch and I am on the couch by 2:30pm to unwind and get ready to do it all over again.

Not listed are all the "ministry" type things that happen at the Suncoast with all the staff. Those "interruptions" are where the real life of the church happens to me.

I usually put in about a 45 to 50 hour work week and that is kind of what goes on from one Sunday to the next.

The Sunday That Was (January 15)

Getting back in the groove here. Here is what "hopefully" will be going on this year.

Monday - I will post a recap of the previous Sunday and talk about what is coming up.

Tuesday - The message video from the previous Sunday will be up on the message player at the top right of my blog.

Wednesday / Thursday - I will post some big vision deal or something else I really want you guys to know as your pastor.

So, since it is Monday here are some random thoughts from my view yesterday:
  • It was stinkin' cold! I don't know how people up north, meaning Georgia up, do it! When I got there for set up it was 37 outside!
  • As usual for Floridian's both native and naturalized when it gets this cold the attendance also drops with the thermometer. SO, I am thankful for all of you that got up, got the family ready, and made the effort. I hope you were blessed.
  • We did the hit song from last year, "Billionaire" and I always get a kick out of seeing how people respond. As always the reason we do stuff like this is two-fold. One the next time you are listening to the radio and hear that song, which you will, you will forever associate it with church and what we are talking about in this, "Balanced" series. The second reason is because if you are not someone who goes to church, maybe you are not even a Christian, and you hear something in church that connects "our world" to "your world" it is a win. It breaks down barriers is what I am saying. We will do anything short of sin at the Suncoast to reach people who might not be reached any other way with the good news that God loves them and gave His Son Jesus for them so that if they believe, they receive new life in Christ! Come on!!!
  • I saw new faces which is why we do church. We expect to have guests every week. Thank you to the greeters who stood out in the cold to welcome all our guests! You warmed them up before they ever got in the building!
  • We had some issues with the video so there will only be audio this week. Sorry!
  • The part of the message where I really felt like it hit home what we were talking about was the illustration with my car. I was talking about how our CLEAR OBJECTIVE when it comes to being balanced financially is to HONOR GOD not just with a percentage, but with EVERYTHING we have. All our income, our saving, our spending, all of our financial pie. So, I shared this analogy to understand things better:
"I have a 1969 Buick GS 400. It is a classic American Muscle car if that doesn’t mean anything to you. It has been in my family since the day it was purchased from Ron Norris Buick. It is worth a lot. So, one day you ask me if you can borrow my GS to go cruising to the drive-in theater in Dade City. I say, “Sure, here’s the keys, here’s how to drive it, have fun.” Now, here’s my question, what percentage of my car do you think I expect you to take care of? Am I thinking, well, you know, it will probably come back and be trashed, but they will probably clean the windshield and vacuum one of the floor mats and the rest will be trashed? But, hey you know, they took care of 10 percent of my car! NO! If I loaned you my car I expect you to take care of 100% of it! I don’t want you thinking in terms of what percentage you have to worry about! If you want to honor me you take care of ALL of it!

God says that is how I view your stuff, your money, your income, your investments whatever it is. It is not about “pay me off with a percentage”; I’m all for a percentage of giving because wherever your treasure is your heart is going to follow like we said last week, but this isn’t about that. The driving force in terms of staying balanced is to learn how to honor God with everything!"
Again, there is only audio this week, but if you missed the message please get the podcast from our website and give it a listen before next Sunday.
  • We closed out the service with a song called, "In You" and it was a time for all of us to ask God one question, "God, show me how to honor you with everything I have." If you will do that this week and DO WHAT GOD SAYS there is a peace, a liberation, and even an enjoyment of money that doesn't come any other way than to be BALANCED.
One big announcement before I wrap this up:

On February 12th we will be having our next Baptism and Child Dedication celebration! If you have never taken this next step as a Christ-Follower then don't let anything keep you from obeying and following Jesus in this important step on your faith journey. You can e-mail: if you have any questions or to sign up.

We will also be doing child dedications for children up to 5th grade. For more info e-mail Crystal at

Don't miss this Sunday guys! Who are you inviting? Don't discount the POWER of the personal invite.

2012 - The Best is Yet to Come!

Happy 2012!!! It has been a while since I updated my blog as you might have noticed. Call it a newborn, Christmas, sick wife break for the past few weeks.

We had little Sophie (who is now like 9lbs) on December 5th. I didn't work that week she came home, then worked the next week to get ready for Christmas Eve at the Suncoast. Cheryl got sick the first time somewhere in there. We had 16 people and 3 dogs at our house on Christmas day!!! I didn't work the week after Christmas, went back the week of Jan 1st, and Cheryl got sick again. She is doing better today and little Sophie is doing great too! But, that is where I have been, I think, the days all run together.

But, back to 2012. Here are a few reasons I think 2012 will be the best year our church has ever known and why I think you are in for one incredible ride as you partner with what God is doing.
  • God is not done with our church and He is not through with you! If you think God doesn't have anything left for your life then think again. You can't reach the mountain top without going through the valley. Our church has survived 2011 and that means He has something more planned for us in 2012! You are still here, why? God has something more for you too!!! Let's find out what together!
  • I am in a better spot to lead. I have talked about this here on my blog and even opened up one Sunday in December, but I feel like God has done a lot in my life over the past 12 months and I am better able to navigate the ups and downs of leading and growing a church. It is hard to have a healthy church without a healthy pastor! I believe that!
  • You have not given up! The fact that you are still here, still plugged in, still contributing and still wanting to see this church grow and thrive and change this community means a lot. It means you are doing all you can to be found faithful and when our faith intersects with God's faithfulness at some point this year it will be absolutely amazing to be a part of. I think about the scene in the first Transformers movie where they first discover Bumble Bee is a robot and he throws the door open for them to get in. Sam says to Mikaela who is skeptical, "Don't you want to get it, 50 years from now don't you want to be able to tell your grand kids you went for the ride!"
  • Life change is REALLY happening here! People who were not going to church, not really sure about the whole God thing, are still meeting Jesus and He is still changing their lives at our church. AND, we get to be a part of that? OMG!!! That pumps me up just thinking about it guys! I think it honors God when we do all we can to be a church for the unchurched. We have not turned our backs on that calling even when it would have been easy over the past 12 - 18 months, the best is yet to come!
I am excited about this next year of ministry and I hope you are too. God has a lot He wants to do in your life and in the life of our church. This is my prayer for you in 2012:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20