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