Turf Wars

This weekend at Church of the Suncoast we had two church planters and their families come and check out our church plant. They are looking to plant in the same community we just planted in about a year or so from now. As they first contacted me last week it became clear that they were used to feeling the turf wars. It was so sad to me! Has the church really turned that far inward that when we see another church coming to our community that we start rolling out the defenses to fight off any would be competition? Sadly, it has... I hope my response to them showed them a different side to the church world.

Church planters are some of the most generous people I know. When we started back in April of 2006 we got help from a guy less than 20 minutes away. They sent us a team one week to help at our preview services. We got chairs from a guy that had little in the way of cash. And, we got a ton of great ideas from one of my mentors who is again less than 20 minutes from our location. No one worried about turf! It wasn't about trying to compete for believers. The mission for these guys, and for the Suncoast, is to reach out to those far from God. If someone has a church home already I am not trying to get them to come to our church. No turf wars!

What a difference from what these guys must have experienced up North. I told them they are going to reach people that I just will not be able to reach and the Suncoast will reach people they won't. What an awesome picture of what the local church should be like!

The moral of this story: Buy a church planter lunch :-)

Praying Small

Recently I have been convicted that I have been praying too small. Last night in my Community Group I confessed this. I said in my living room, "For the past few months I have been praying little prayers. God take care of this, take care of that, may some people show up on Sunday..." But, you know God is a lot bigger than that. God throughout the Bible has revealed himself as a god who wants us to go BIG. He does not mind when we ask Him for BIG things. In fact He is honored. So what prayers are you praying that are honoring of our BIG God? Starting this week I have been praying for 1,000 people to cross the line of faith here at Church of the Suncoast! I'm going public with that. I am going to talk about it, preach about it, and trust God for something that is BIG. Something big enough to honor our BIG God...

And the Winner is...

Wow! Back in September I put together a short little video for our series we were doing on the vision of the church and on a whim I submitted it for the Creative Pastors contest for free C3 tickets. Much to my surprise we got 3rd place and free set of DVD's. I had to brag...

Here is the announcement:

January 09, 2007
The Votes Have Been Tallied!
The results are in for our second annual Show Us What You're Made Of! Contest. You continue to blow us away with your creativity! After reviewing the many entries we received, we have narrowed it down to a winner.

Congratulations to...Mars Hill Worship Gathering - Jacksonville, Florida - Sr. Pastor Adam Flynt

Mars Hill is a brand new church plant that has hit the ground running! They just launched last fall with 200 people and have been going strong since. Their first year included a study of Psalm 139 called "Identity." During this 5-week series, they took a basic element, the worship guide, and gave it a dramatic twist by transforming it into a credit card. These custom-printed cards, complete with message series information and the church's web address, were enclosed in a handmade gift card-sized envelope to allow space for additional information. These cards served a bigger purpose, however. They were handed out each week in order for members to use them as conversation starters and invite tools. During each service, a few gift cards for the local coffee shop were hidden under random chairs in their worship center. Pastor Flynt found himself in line behind one such person taking advantage of the gift card, and it sparked a great conversation!On the final day of the series, each person received two cards. At the conclusion of the message, each member was given the opportunity to sign their card and turn it in as a sign of their true identity in Christ. The second one could be kept to serve as a reminder to themselves. The staff then divided up the cards that were turned in to pray over them.This was a great attention grabber that provoked thought as well as action by serving as an invite tool. Way to go, Mars Hill - we look forward to seeing you at C3!

Second Place goes to...Door of Hope - Fairbanks, Alaska - Media Director, Tyler Williams
Some of you may remember Door of Hope as a finalist from last year. Well, Tyler Williams and Door of Hope brought their A-game yet again this year. They continue to use humor and creativity to keep their congregation up to date on everything happening at Door of Hope. These short clips have fun with the subject matter while communicating the necessary information. Here are a couple of examples:

OUT OF SEASON SNOWMAN: A church alternative for Halloween with a theme of "winter wonderland" (fall in Alaska!) and no snow in sight forced them to look outside the box. A foam carrot, a top hat, a scarf and two twigs birthed the snowman who doesn't go away when the snow melts. Here, the man under the snow is still around doing his job--just without the snow.

CAVEMAN CAMPING: This short clip demonstrates the very difficult and somewhat embarrassing issues prehistoric man faced when camping. Don't forget your teddy bear, a sharp stick, blow torch, and the oh-so-important toilet paper. The caveman in this video was careful to include these necessities! "Don't camp like the caveman! Camp like the 21st Century comfort-capable person you are at the Youth Summer Camp!"

And Runner Up is...Church of the Suncoast - Land O' Lakes, Florida - Lead Pastor Brian Moon
Church of the Suncoast, a brand-new church on a tight budget, managed to pack a powerful punch with their video submission.

SAVE THEM: Short and to the point, this video wastes no time hitting you in the heart. It asks the poignant question "If you had a friend, and you found out they were dying...what would you do to Save Them?" In just over a minute it paints a powerful perspective on those around us that really are dying.

Excellent job, all! We want to say an enthusiastic thank you to everyone who participated. It really is a treat to see such outstanding creativity in each submission. Thank you again for sharing!


Tampa Bay Church Planting Network RE-CAP

Tampa Church Planters Network (1.15.07)

Volunteerism – Hal Mayor from Church @ the Bay

STAFF (Paid or Volunteer) – What do you look for?
Follow Through
Same Vision
People Skills
Multiply Themselves
Demonstrated Skills

For Hal:

***Multiply Themselves***

One staff member will get you to 500 – Those who enlist.

One will get you to a 1000 – Leaders of Leaders. They can enlist enlisters.

How do you find them? - Church Attendees in the “Pool.” Need to get them on a “ladder” out of the pool. Think incrementally in steps. (Training Shamu Illustration) The Steps: Reward volunteers as they jump over the rope higher and higher. The Ladder: Decide what steps there are on the ladder and what level of commitment is needed to be at that step.

Book: Ken Blanchard “Situational Leadership”

If they get stuck on the ladder kick them off and put them on another ladder.

BIGGEST MISTAKES (From the group):

No Worship Leader
No Money / Raising Funds as You Go
Too Small a Space
Spring Launch
Not Being Prepared for the Drain
Not taking Advantage of the Space in between Previews

Next Tampa Bay Network Gathering

All church planters are invited to join us!!!

When: THIS Monday, January 15, 10 a.m.

Where: Hosted by Relevant Church @ The Italian Club, Ybor City

1731 East 7th Ave

Tampa, Florida 33605

Cost: Free!

As always, the goal of each gathering is to make some friends, receive support, encouragement and resources. Plan on going out for lunch together afterward.

Enjoying the Ride

If you are a church planter then you know all about those feelings of working, and hoping, and praying, for the day you and your church finally arrive (You can define “arrive” for yourself). I guess since that is where we are as a church, still not arrived, I felt compelled to write this. It is so easy to spend all our time and focus and energy on trying to reach that next attendance barrier or whatever we are hoping for that we forget to enjoy the ride itself.

It’s been my experience in life that once you finally do “arrive” it is not nearly as good a feeling as you had hoped. The REAL excitement in arriving happens during the process that leads you to that moment. Take the Florida Gators for instance. Their win last night in the BCS Championship Game I’m sure was a sweet feeling. BUT, today it’s over. Sure they might get a parade and trip to meet the President or something. But, the “feelings” are gone. They are brief and never fully what you had hoped for if that is all you live for.

The real excitement was back in the 92 degree two-a-day practices. The real excitement was getting ready for each game. The real excitement was getting ready for a BCS bowl game. The same can be true for you and me if we enjoy the ride. Enjoy each new person that comes to your church. Enjoy those out of control weeks. Even enjoy the set up at 7am! The day will come when all those things will be distant memories. You will have arrived. There will be so many new people that you can’t acknowledge them all. Things will run smoothly from all the layers of systems implemented. And, you will never lift a speaker or chair again. And, in that moment of arrival it will feel a little bit empty unless you enjoy the ride now. So this weekend. Step back. Look around. Smile. And, enjoy each moment of this amazing thing God has called you to do.

Love, Sex, and... God?

This Sunday we begin a brand new series at Church of the Suncoast called "Love, Sex, and...God?" For a long time the church has dropped the ball on this powerful topic. We left it to the media to tell us what sex and sexuality are all about.

Why is that? I mean you open the Bible and before you leave Genesis 2 you have found sex in the Bible. Have you ever read the Song of Solomon? Wow! That is some adult reading material if I ever saw it.

My guess is the church has ignored or taught against sex because it makes us uncomfortable. Not talking about sex. I mean guys on the golf course and girls in the salon have no problem talking about sex. It is just that in church it freaks us out! So this Sunday we are putting the church back in the bedroom and the bedroom back in church. If you are a church planter and would like to see some of our content e-mail me at brian@canthisbechurch.com