Teachable Moment from the Warehouse

Church of the Suncoast has been in the process of building out a 2,400 square foot warehouse into office, storage, and meeting space for Community Groups, students, volunteers... It has been a lot of work.

At our last management team (staff) meeting on Monday I confessed to our team that we dropped the ball on this one. As I was working on Saturday I realized we have not included volunteers into this project. Maybe one or two, but we could have had a lot of this stuff done by people in the church. It would have been a great project to even include people who have not stepped up yet to volunteer. Bottom line is we blew it.

Here is what I told them and what I am realizing. We have a great staff of "whatever it takes, get 'r done, people" but part of the danger of that is we don't reach out and include other people. We used this as a teachable moment at the meeting.

Honestly, it is easier to do it yourself sometimes. AND, many times you get it done faster, and of course how you want it. BUT, that does not make it better. When we go that route we miss out on moments to help people take their next step with God by serving His church. You miss out on bringing up the next generation of leaders. And, you miss out on some fun.

As we learn to bring people along I hope you will look for areas in your church where you can do things together! No task is too small to get someone to do it for you :-)

Finally gaining some traction...

Church of the Suncoast made a giant move last month to Martinez Middle School. You can read all about this in other blog postings. But, ever since we moved it has felt like running with one of those training parachutes behind you. Everything has felt up hill. The momentum we had at the old school seem to fall flat. The set up seem to take forever. Even, the mood of the volunteers seemed to be blah. Not all of this is due to the move. We lost about 15 people who moved out of our area all in August (and we have lost a handful from the move) so that really held us back for a bit because most of them were plugged in and serving somewhere. But, the move still seemed like a struggle...

This week was the first week I finally felt like we are gaining some traction again. First, the set up took about an hour and half which is way better! We have averaged 107 over the past few weeks which is just shy of the 111 we had in June. We have averaged 10 first time guests over those weeks. And, we are weekly seeing people take their first step with God! We hope to baptize about 6 or 7 people this Sunday at our next Baptism Celebration.

I still feel like God pushed us out of Oakstead and into Martinez because He wanted us to double our influence in these 5 months before we go back to SR 54. The word picture He has put in my head recently is a sling shot. Sometimes you have to go backwards to be shot forwards!

Direct Mail Questions to Ask

We have had some trouble with our direct mail house (again) and I have been looking at others in the area. As I was looking around several people gave me questions I should ask. Here is a rough list of those questions to find the best mail house for you:
  1. What is the sorting cost per piece? (biggest question)
  2. Do you have any other cost per piece like ink?
  3. Can you print on a glossy post card?
  4. What is their best postage rate per piece?
  5. What is the address list cost per household?
  6. How long does the average piece take after they drop it off?
  7. What other churches (references) have they worked with?

Our first mail house mailed them too late. The second mailed them too late. Our current company has mailed the last 2 postcards too early!!! Hopefully these questions will help you find a direct mail house that is just right!

The Warehouse

Here are some pictures of our new office and warehouse space. We are building it out for a meeting space that we can use for volunteers, community groups, band practice, office space, meetings, student ministry... Take a look:

Priming the Meeting Side

The Conference Room

The New Bathroom

Storage Side

The Anatomy of a Move

I have been getting a lot of questions about the time line of our move recently into a new school. Here is the rough anatomy of the move:
  • May - Found out our old school was not renewing our lease and had four weeks to leave!
  • May 15 - Was able to extend our stay until the end of July.
  • June - Secured the new location at Martinez Middle School (10 minutes from old school).
  • June 15 - Announced the move to our church. We never told the people in the seats we got kicked out. We played to the positive. We didn't want to cause trouble or get people mad at the school. Our goal was to motivate people with the news!
  • July - Did several work nights to get things ready, and planned out our promotion.
  • July 15 - Started a series called "The Dangerous Church" all about the vision of the church and how this move was going to expand our influence for the 5 months we are there at Martinez Middle.
  • August - First weekend in the new school. We did a 37,000 piece mailer to get the word out.
  • September 9th (after Labor Day) - Had our Grand Opening at Martinez. We did road signs, (2) 25,000 piece mailers, pumped our people up to invite and have seen over 30 first time guests in two weeks. Most of them coming from the new community we are in.

This move has been the toughest of the two so far. We are in a different community then where we started and where we will be back into in the new year. We have lost about a dozen people or so in the move. But, we also are influencing people that might not have ever stepped foot in our old location. Sometimes growth happens like a slingshot. Sometimes you have to move backwards to be shot forward.

If you have any more questions or your own move story let me know:


When You Don't Communicate It Right...

This Sunday during the message I had planned a transition out that went like this:

"As a pastor people are constantly coming up to you and asking you to pray for this or that. I’m not sure why we do that other than it’s just something we do. Maybe it’s for our own comfort or assurance? But, somewhere along the line I developed this learned behavior as a pastor where I am supposed to passionately pray for them all… even if I don’t have the slightest interest in what I am praying about. Just being honest. But, you know you can’t fake God out. It dosen’t work. And, if you really want to make a vital connection with God you have to:


The hope of that transition was to connect with people that were still checking the God thing out. The hope was they would be sitting there and think, "Hey, so these super spiritual wack jobs I work with, or see on TV, is not what it's about. This guy sounds real. He struggles too. I just need to be sincere. Not pray because I am supposed to do it..."

Two people have come up to me and said they were offended by that comment. So I felt the need to ask for their forgiveness and to explain it a little better because sometimes what you plan to say and actually say, AND what is heard, are different things.

I am an imperfect communicator and I hope people judge me on what I have done and said in the past not just in one moment of miscommunication. I do understand how it could be taken personally and again for that I am sorry.

Growing Healthy Churches RE-CAP (9.10.07)

(Next Meeting is October 8th)



Managing Expectations
It’s the role of the leader. Be careful giving out a number prediction unless it’s a personal number each person can reach. You have your expectations and then there are those you share with others. Be careful about setting the bar too high.

Stewardship / Fundraising
Need to develop some gauges like weekly, per capita… want to work on moving those up. Keep an eye on them. Do a money series in August. Do a money back guarantee for tithing. Or, if it is more money management do it in January. Keep an eye on who is giving and if there is any change in their giving. Put a stamp on the offering envelopes you give out in program. Do PayPal. Do direct withdraw with banks. 5/3 has cheapest rate on direct withdraw. Check into Vanco too. Google is doing online giving now! Do quarterly reports to givers with a letter about stories and other ways to give along with an offering envelope. Check up on staff and leaders to see if they are giving. Do a Christmas offering, a special gift to God during Christmas. Is your church tithing?

>> Raising Money Once You Start:
Previous contacts that now see the success of your church.
Window of launching and getting people outside to give is about a year.
Don’t be afraid to hit up other church planters!

Accepting Criticism
“Disciples are Made not Born” – Book Look. Do people think you’ll listen to them? If it goes against the vision you can’t accept it. All other you have to listen to it… You are not as good as they said on the way out the door. AND, they are not as bad as they say at lunch. BUT, people have to earn the right to speak things into your life. Need to find the two or three people that can tell you the hard truths. “Never go to Lunch Alone” – Book Look. You have to receive feedback on different levels. Who did it come from? Remember the source. Friendlyathesist.com for non-believer feedback.

Paul Wirth – Personal Walk with God
How do you do the planter/pastor life and the personal life?

1 Timothy 3:4

If you can’t manage your own “temple” (body) how can he mange the church? If we miss the mark personally we might miss the mark church-wide.

How’s your quite time – are you always looking for a sermon. Turn off your e-mail. White noise. Keep a pad in case something comes to you work related to get if off your mind. Find a journal or plan. Find accountability. Try the message or other para-phrase.

Are you in a small group – do you have people to talk to and be open with?

Who are you sharing your story and God’s story with – who are you witnessing to, who are you friends with?


How are you treating your body – How’s your weight?

How’s your family – Are you spending time with them?


Hal has kids stuff to give away: