Christmas Eve Numbers

Here are the numbers for our very first Christmas Eve service at Church of the Suncoast.

153 - Attendance
3 - Received Christ
55,000 - Christmas Offering

God is good. Thank you to everyone that prayed, gave, volunteered, and attended!!! It was an amazing service.

Yard Signs

Since the beginning of Church of the Suncoast we have used cheap corrugated plastic yard signs to promote everything. We used them for our preview services, our grand opening, and now for our first Christmas Eve service. You can get them at almost any sign shop. Most of the time Realtors use them for open house deals. The more you get the cheaper they are. If you are getting over 100 check out this place But, if you are only getting a small run of say 20 like we just did you can find them for about $5 - $7 a piece if you shop around. ALSO, don't expect them to last long. We had some that lasted about 3 hours and some that are still up as of today. That is why I always get enough to do 2 runs. I will replace the ones that were taken down on Friday.

About 1/2 of the people that come for the first time @ the Suncoast say this was how they found out about us!!!

Christmas Eve - Who Are You Inviting?

This past Sunday I challenged the people of Church of the Suncoast to invite 5 people. 5 people that needed to be with them eternally (See the posting below for the "Eternal Card"). 5 people that they can point to Christ this Christmas Eve. It sounds so spiritual... OK, so who am I inviting? Who are you inviting? As church planters and church leaders do we walk the walk or is it just all show and no go? Who are you inviting to your Christmas Eve services? My prayer has been this over the past few weeks and it is my prayer for you:

“Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ…” Colossians 4:2-3

It is amazing to see how God will answer that prayer if we are willing to take a few chances and be uncomfortable for Him. If we will stop long enough to see the doors He has opened. I am pretty sure my waitress from Outback last week is coming. Stay tuned...


For the past few weeks a group of ladies that pray for our church on their own has been asking God to send some sort of major encouragement my way. If you are a church planter then you know why that is so important. We ride a roller coaster of emotions in the first year.

Well, last night my wife Cheryl and I had dinner with a couple. At the end of dinner they gave us a card and said don't open it until later. We got to the parking lot and inside was a check for:


Wow!!! How cool is that. We have been asking God to supply enough cash for us to end the year debt free and this MORE than does that! We will be able to start 2007 in great shape. God is awesome and faithful.

Christmas Eve @ the Suncoast

Next Sunday at 7pm Church of the Suncoast will hold it's very first Christmas Eve service. The theme for the service is "Trees." Each year we go out and search for the perfect tree. We take it home. Decorate it with lights and a star. Then when Christmas is over we take it out and throw it away, or burn it. But, hidden beneath years of tree tradition is an amazingly powerful truth that might just change your life. So, what are you going to do with the tree?

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
7pm // Oakstead Elementary School


This Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we wrap up our series called "The Christmas Circus." We have been looking at how God wants us to manage our time not just during the circus that is the holidays but year round. This week we look at what really matters most. What is it that God thinks is the most valuable use of our time?

During the message we will direct people to the card seen here. It comes in the middle of me talking about how houses, cars, and money are all temporary. But, people are eternal. I will then direct everyone to fill in 5 names on the back of people that they need to invite to our Christmas Eve service. This is a great tool for Christmas and Easter. If you would like this card in a Publisher format just e-mail me at

Numbers (Are You Still Counting?)

As a church planter you live and die by the numbers. Anyone that tells you different is either fooling themselves or trying to make themselves look "spiritual" to impress you. The reason you plant a church, the reason you put your family, health, and mental well-being on the line is because you want to see numbers. It is ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS!

Numbers are people. Numbers are eternities in heaven or hell. Numbers are broken lives that God is mending back together. Numbers are students that might be thinking about ending it all. Numbers are little kids that might only feel unconditional love for this hour a week. So if it is not about numbers then what is it about?

I hope you are still counting. I hope if you have had some disappointment and have given up on counting you will start again. I hope you will trust God to increase your numbers and pray high risk prayers like, "God open doors for our numbers to increase even if it means making some painful adjustments." So, are you still counting? God is! (We had 10 more people this week than last week... praying for 10 more next week)

"Will Not Return Void"

Wow! In the past two weeks we have seen 5 people indicate through their response card that they put out the welcome mat of their heart and invited Jesus in! Why? We gave them an opportunity. I have Baptist roots that I can't deny. Every week there is a time for people to make this most important decision if you are a good Baptist.

BUT, personally there are times when I feel this just does not fit with the message. Their are just some talks that don't readily tie into salvation. The talks a few weeks ago were such talks at Church of the Suncoast. Then for the last two weeks we did have a time for people to make this decision and boom! 5 people accept Christ! My point? I'm not sure. I still believe that there are just some weeks when a speaker led decision time doesn't fit. But, then again the evangelist in me says you might only get one shot with people. The bottom line is God is still working today. He is still in the life saving business. If you haven't led your church in a time of commitment in a few weeks do it. And in the mean time I would love to hear what you think on this.

Does Your Church Plant Tithe *UPDATE*

On Friday I mentioned that our new church plant has been tithing. We have given to other church plants and to local ministries so far. Today we turn over the largest tithe check to date to the local prison ministry. Yesterday (Sunday) we almost doubled the amount of the check in our offering. Our offering was more than two times its average for this fall. It just goes to show that you can't out give God. I dare you to try it!!!

Does Your Church Plant Tithe?

This weekend we are handing over the largest tithe check our baby church has ever done. To date we have given away over $5,000 to other church plants and local ministries in 3 quarters of this year. I don't say that to brag, just to challenge you to tithe as a church. We started the Suncoast on a shoe string budget like many of you out there (Less than $17,000). An extra $5,000 would have been huge. BUT, I firmly believe that God has, and will, bless us for being a river of His blessing instead of a reservoir. So does your church plant tithe?

Mind Mapping My Style

I grew up learning how to preach from a manuscript. I have been preaching since I was 19 and if you are like me I tend to "diesel" on if I don't plan out everything I am going to say. The problem with using a manuscript is the need for a podium or table to rest your manuscript on. While I was doing student ministry a guy told me that it seemed to "traditional" with what we were trying to do with the kids. So I began to experiment with various ways to still use my manuscript but attach it in my Bible thus getting rid of the podium. After several variations I came across mind mapping. If you want to read about it more just google it and you can read various books on the true way to do this. My version is I take the text and arrange it in a clock-wise rotation that takes up 4 pages at 10pt font. This helps your brain take a picture of where things are and allows me to all but memorize the entire talk. If you would like a copy in a publisher format just e-mail me at

New Series "The Christmas Circus"

This weekend we begin a brand new series called "The Christmas Circus." Life around the holidays can really seem like a three ring circus. Parties to attend. Gifts to buy. Family to worry about. Crowded malls to navigate. Time and patience wear thin. But, this time of year just exaggerates a problem we have all year long. We are to busy! Find out how to manage your time God's way so that we can do what matters most in this one and only life we get. I hope you will join us and I hope you will bring someone with you.

Go to for more info and directions.

Tampa Bay Church Planters Network

Tampa Bay Church Planters Network

Resources: – Messages – FTP Site – Church Backdrops (Take a Picture send it $180!!!)
Connerton Trophies / E-mail Paul – Banners
Mars Hill Church of Seattle –
PD Planting – – Messages & Leadership – Nelson
Free GVI Converter on Google to play in Media Shout
Communicating for a Change – Book on Preaching – Andy Stanley – Graphic Artist – Chords – Lyrics – Message Ideas

Paul Wirth // Team Creativity:

We are all creative… we just have to get it out of us
> God created it
Have to constantly re-birth our church like a club in Ybor

> Jesus modeled it

> The Spirit empowers it

Planning in a TEAM helps you get past a sticking point

“You have eyes plagiarize” -- Very few creative ideas come without a team

@ Relevant – Big meeting for each series (12 people)

> Music

> Themes

> Service sets

Each week staff helps with message

> Requires extensive planning

> Most don’t go all the way to birth

Start backwards on creative idea

Learn to use all kinds of resources

Rotate fresh people in all the time

Give people something to take home (trinket)

Life change is the motivation

> What do the people need?

> What is out there in culture that can help meet that need?

How do you control it? –

> Have to allow a little chaos

> Be willing to trash a great idea (big white board)

Don’t let finances limit your creativity!!!

Always ask the WHY question:

W- hat is the point

H - ow are you going to do it?

Y - ou (Is it you?)

How Big is Your God

Since we started Church of the Suncoast just a few short months ago my faith has been stretched in any number of ways. How will I support myself? How will we ever raise enough money for what God has called us to? How can I do this all as the only staff member? What if no one shows up? What will we do if people show up? What should we do about getting the word out? How can we afford to get the word out? How do I even take a vacation??? If you are reading this and you are a church starter then you understand all the questions I have been asking God. If you are not a church starter then think about doing the hardest thing you can think of and then imagine feeling like God is a million miles away while you do it. Nothing I can think of so intimately combines your faith with your job. At your job if you lose some market share then that was just buisness. If we lose market share then where is God and why has He left us? Of course my theology is strong enough to tell me that God didn't go anywhere and He will bless His church, BUT try telling that to your heart when it is on the bleeding edge. You see what I mean now? You might be dealing with a child today and feeling the same things. You might be dealing with a difficult spouse today and feeling the same things. You might be dealing with difficult parents and feeling the same things. So for you, and for me, how big is our God? Is God big enough to invade our little world and act on our behalf? Can God be trusted to even act? I encourage you to take those anxious thoughts and bring them before God and simply wait. Do the hardest thing for a type "A" personality. Wait. And see if God won't move on your behalf. How big is your God? -- Have a "God story" that has happened recently? Tell me about it :-)

20/20 Vision

As a young church leader the articulating and casting of the vision for our church is a daunting task. Yes, I do believe that God gives the vision to the leader. There are some that would say God gives it to a team of leaders, or a board of leaders, or an elder body of leaders… but I believe throughout the pages of Scripture you find God tapping one person on the shoulder and saying, “Here, this is something I want done in the world.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I also believe that God puts the burden on the hearts of a group of people, but ultimately the vision is vertical from God and then for the leader to cast horizontally. So, back to my daunting task. The vision that God gave me for the Suncoast is clear. But, it is an art to articulate and cast that vision to others, that I feel, is learned over time and through much practice. As I have stood before hundreds of people over the past 6 months this has became a little easier each time. And to be honest with you there have been points where I say to myself, “These people have to be tired of hearing this again.” But, as many like Rick Warren and Andy Stanley have pointed out people forget the vision in no time flat! This past Saturday night we held a vision meeting for our fledgling church and it was amazing. Sure I went over our purpose statement and our strategy and our values, but then we told stories. For 15 minutes we just told stories of all things that had happened to let us know we were succeeding in our purpose of helping people take their next steps with God. Stories are a great way to re-cast that vision in new and fresh ways. Another thing that I stole from Andy Stanley was putting together an organizational chart for our church, but for our church at twice its current size! Of course my name headed up a lot of the jobs, but it was great for people to see because for one thing it showed how much I do and need to hand off. But, it also showed them a glimpse of the future. It was a visual for what our church will need to do and look like when we hit that mark. I would encourage you to do this with your church or business. Even in the home. Make an org chart and then tell everyone their job is to work themselves out of that job, and the next, and the next. As Ed Young says about the vision, “We have to say it, spray it, wheel it, deal it, and make them FEEL it.” Amen!!!

The Church and the Nudist Colony

This past weekend Church of the Suncoast had a booth at a local Buisness Expo. There were hundreds of vendors all with bright and colorful displays trying to market their buisness or service. As I sat up our stuff and took a step back to look over the layout I glanced over to the booth right next to me and it was for one of our 5 or 6 local nudist colonies here in Land O' Lakes! I had to laugh. Out of all the hundreds of booths set up over this entire campus they were able to put us right next to each other. We were the talk of the expo. "Hey, did you see that they put the church right next to the nudist... how funny." While it was funny it also broke my heart because their were many people that thought we would be rude to them, or that they would not be welcome at the Suncoast. They were shocked to learn that they would be more than welcome at our church [as long as they were dressed :-) ] I even had one lady that I am assuming was a believer come up to me and say, "Can you believe they put you next to them..." It was just another confirmation that the church in America has failed in the last 30 years. Imagine if Jesus were walking the streets of our towns today. Where do you think he would be. At the high church with its ivory tower or talking with the local nudists about hope, and purpose, and meaning, and his love. That is why I am so excited about what God is about to do here at Church of the Suncoast. We get to break down walls. Break down what people think church is all about. We get to be Jesus to a community that is lost and in need of the Good News presented in a relevant, creative, and compelling way. What a ride!

Emotional Creativity

Church of the Suncoast is a really creative place. Each week we try to enhance the message by using various forms of media and the arts. We are a new church start with a new church starts budget so we have to be even more creative at times. There are so many other places out there doing creative ministry well that I by no means fell like we are on top of it. A lot of it is trial and error. But one thing I have noticed is that if the creative element does not stir up some sort of emotion it is wasted time and energy. I was at a church recently where they had gone all out by transforming their stage into the theme for that series. It was done very well. I liked it. But, as our launch team de-briefed one person said that it was a lot of work and it really didn't add anything to the experience. As I thought about that it began to hit me that even though I liked it and thought it was "cool" as a pastor it didn't connect with the audience because there was no emotional connection there. Now please don't think I am saying we need to manipulate people into making all sorts of emotion-driven decesions. All I am saying is that if you have a tight budget like us and are sold on the idea that we need to be creative in everything we do then make it connect with the emotions. Make the element one that will engage them to laugh, cry, get angry, whatever. We tend to remember things attached to an emotional long after a 25 minute message. Try to get your main point across in a creative element that will stir the emotions of your people and see if they won't connect more with your services. After all we are given emotions by God for a reason. We need to feel alive. Help your message come alive by connecting on a emotional level with your creative elements.