The Night Before I Turn 30!!!

Wow! Tonight is my last night in my 20's. Not sure how I feel about this. Look for a post tomorrow about 30 things I have learned in 30 years. OK, maybe like 10 things I have learned.

Happy Birthday to me!

Christmas Eve Unofficial Promo

A Little Help From My Friends

If you have followed me on Twitter or you read the post on Monday then you know we got kicked out of our school at 8:30am on Sunday due to a water main break under the school. Right now the bill to fix the place is at about 1.2 million! Wow! Glad we don't own that place! Yea for portable church right?

BUT, with all of this coming the week before our biggest week of the year it has been crazy busy and forced us to get creative with the stage and stuff. I just wanted to give a shout out to the people making it happen in the face of a tough deal:

First to all the volunteers that got "church" from one location to another in 2 hours and still had some sound, video, coffee!!! Wow. You guys are the best volunteers I have ever worked with. You will do whatever it takes I love that about you all.

Then I want to thank the staff. Linda and Rita just started doing the stuff and made it happen at the Warehouse. Steve got the band set up and still got through a rehearsal in that time. Crazy stuff I am telling you! Andre has been working on like 6 videos this week, no lie! And, this Sunday will be great and Christmas Eve will be off the hook yall! DO NOT COME LATE! The experience will begin from the parking lot to the pre-service stuff and the opening will be hot! Suncoast send your staff a thank you e-mail this week!!!

I also want to thank some church planting friends of mine. First Danny Schaffner loaned us some extra stage so that we can fit everyone with our limited stage use this week. Then Paul Wirth gave us some invite card sleeves so that we can create a cool little way to get invite cards in some creative places. Church planters are the most generous guys in the church world!

Finally, I want to thank our set up guys. They are having to come in at 8pm on Saturday night and do set up because of the changes in the stage. What a great group of guys! These guys are my church hero's! Week in and week out they are the ones that make it happen! Mad props fellas!

This Sunday and Christmas Eve are going to be amazing events in the life of our church. There would not be this much resistence if God wasn't about to kick a dent in the size of hell!

Sunday - 10am @ Rushe Middle
Christmas Eve - 5pm & 6:30pm @ Rushe Middle

Don't Be Hatin'

From the Urban Dictionary:

"Don't be hatin"
A phrase you might have heard from Malibu's Most Wanted. MEANS: don't be a hater don't dislike somebody because you're not them. Don't hate on somebody because of your jealousy
Yo, don't be hatin. Why you hatin on me. Don't hate me cuz you aint me.

As I read this morning in Galatians 5 I came across this:

"The fact that I am still be persecuted proves that I am still preaching salvation through faith in the cross of Christ alone." Galatians 5:11 LB

The main idea here is that Paul was defending himself by saying because people were still hatin' on him proves he was still preaching an offensive Gospel of faith in Jesus alone, not religious traditions.

God kind of hit me over the head with this (because of some religious people hatin' on me) by saying don't be surprised when religious people bash you. When you preach about my love and grace it will offend religious types and they will attack because they feel threatened by true grace.

So from now on I am spending a moment in each hatin' comment or e-mail then trashing it forever. I'm letting myself feel it all but then moving on. Why? Because I always want to preach an offensive Gospel of faith in Christ alone!

Anyone have any thoughts? Leave a comment but don't be hatin' !!!

Big Bucket of Suck Sunday!

I have a friend Paul Wirth who calls bad situations a big bucket of suck. We had one of those on Sunday at Church of the Suncoast. Here is the timeline as best I can remember it:

6am - Arrive at the school for set up. No big suck here.
7am - We notice that the part of the school we don't use, but store some empty carts, was under about an inch of water. We told the custodian and kept on setting up.
8:30am - The vice principal arrives and tells us we can't meet today! We could have, but they just wouldn't budge even after my best persuasive argument.
8:30 - 9:45am - We pack everything back up and send some people to our 1,200 sq ft warehouse to get things set up to try to do church there. Hey we even had coffee and donuts still!!! But for kids space we rolled out some carpet and pillows and they just hung out in the back of the room until the message time when they went out to the amazing parking lot for games and paper airplanes!!!
9:45am - We unpacked the remaining stuff we needed from the trailer and send people back to the school with maps and that we will be meeting at 10:30 and not 10.
10:15am - We open the doors to the Warehouse.
10:30am - We start the service with one projector on the wall that was just covered a little by the florescent light. The band had all acoustic guitars, the drums and bass were in an amp along with the lead vocal (who was sick and lost his voice on the last song). We also had issues with MediaShout so during my talk people kept looking over my head at the stuff on the wall. All in all about 70% of our normal crowd found us and no one really complained.
11:30am - The service ended and we started packing stuff back into the trailer but left early for our volunteer thank you at Shane's Rib Shack.
12:30 - We got to Shane's and 50+ of our volunteers showed up for free food and fun!
1:30pm - Headed back to the Warehouse to pick up and get ready for our student ministry Christmas party also at the Warehouse.
3:30pm - Came home to a sick wife and a quick shower and 30 minutes of TV time.
6:30pm - 8:30pm - Back to the Warehouse for student ministry party.
9pm - Got an e-mail from someone who lives near the Warehouse complaining and telling me he was going to call the county about us.

9am - Got a phone call from the school telling us we can meet on Sunday but that we can't use the stage until January! SUCK! So we are trying to get creative with folding stage stuff and figuring out the lighting. Help!

Something big must be about to happen at our Christmas Eve services because this has been a big bucket of suck :-)

100 People in a 1,200 sq ft Warehouse for Church on the Fly:

Friends Who Treat You Like An Enemy

I was reading in Galatians this AM and came across this. Paul writes:

"You were very happy then, but where is that joy now? I am ready to testify that you would have taken out your eyes and given them to me if that were possible.16 Now am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?" Galatians 4:15-16

When I read that it was like God hit me over the head and said: "Brian, this is going to happen to you as a church planter / leader. If this happened to Paul then it will happen to you. People at the church that once welcomed you and were excited about serving the church will turn into enemies. BUT, keep telling them the truth. AND, keep leading them!"

Wow! I still don't know how all that looks, but isn't that the truth. If you have ever stuck your neck out and led or started a church it is the strangest of relational realities. One minute people are welcoming you and trying to be your best friend and the next they are slandering you behind your back and treating you like you are the enemy. I don't know why that happens but I at least now feel some comfort in knowing the Apostle Paul pissed people off too!

Pastor, be encouraged! Be a leader! Leaders lead and sometimes that ruffles a few "friends". Just ask Paul one day.

NEW Service Times (HELP!)

On January, 18th 2009 Church of the Suncoast will be going to two services...

I need your help. What two times work best???

Some possibilities (We really can't get things ready before 9:15am):

9:15 & 10:30
9:30 & 11
9:30 & 10:45

Let me know I have to make a decision by tomorrow! Leave a comment or e-mail me direct at

Mind Map

I just got done working on my mind map for Sunday's talk. I have had a number of people wonder what kind of things I use for "notes". What works for me... please no nasty comments from public speaking profs. What works for me is to write out my entire talk, word-for-word. I usually like to stay a week ahead of the game so we can work with creative elements and for my own peace of mind. So I will write my talk on a Tuesday for the NEXT Sunday. For me if I come in around 4,000 words then that works out to be about 33 minutes and leaves me enough time to have a prayer time and land it all in 35 minutes. Some weeks that looks more like 37 minutes but 4,000 words is what I TRY to stay under for my pace of speaking.

Then on Friday of the following week I insert all of the text into a "mind map" template in Publisher. The order of the text columns goes from:

Middle Top
Middle Bottom

The reason I lay it out like this is because our minds remember things in a clockwise manner. Bet you didn't know that! So by laying it out like this in Arial 10pt font it takes up 3 1/2 pages. I then take these pages and with highlighters mark up the key points and ideas and connect ones I need to connect. (Click on the picture to see it bigger)

So, I have written the talk a week before and now on a Friday I have highlighted it. Then I don't look at it again until Saturday night. The last thing I do before I go to bed is read over the entire message. Then lights out.

On Sunday morning I read over the whole message one more time and then I preach it to myself. REALLY, I go downstairs and preach, just like I was on stage! Finally, 15 minutes before the service I escape to my "green" room at the middle school. This is where I look over just the highlighted points before I go on stage. I also might look over the opening right before I hit the stage just to make sure I don't freeze up and go... "ahhhhh".

So: Write it, mind map it, read it, sleep, read it, practice it, quick glance, preach it.

The mind map, even though it looks kind of strange, REALLY helps you remember where you are and I can all but memorize the thing by doing just what I outlined above. No real mind tricks. Not a ton of prep. And I can get most of the talk memorized without having to look down and remember what comes next.

OH... this might help too. I took laminating sheets and cover the pages of my Bible. This way I can tape the mind map in there and re-use the same pages of the Bible each week. You know it makes you look more spiritual when all you bring up is the Bible and no notes... OH, I can read some of your minds right now :-)

Land / Building for the Suncoast

Don't get too excited from the title... This is not a BIG announcement. BUT, the new Publix that opened today in front of the school where we meet does have a lot of open out parcels. And, when I say a lot just imagine all the things they "say" about our economy as true all in one location. Right now it looks like a Publix and about two other shops and then empty, empty, empty...

So, we have a call into Equity One to see if they would be willing to lease a building and land to us for 10 years. Right now Publix will not allow non-profits in the same plaza, but the location we are looking at is technically across Sunlake Blvd and would not cause traffic / parking problems. So say a prayer for the people at Equity One and Publix.

They would build the shell of the building which would be 13,000 sq ft and we would have to build it out and then also pay the monthly rent unless they gave us a tax write off. Again say a prayer. We are going to two services on January 18th of 2009 and if we fill those by the end of 2009 we really don't have any other options at Rushe. At least right now. So again, you guessed it. Say a prayer.

These are exciting times for Church of the Suncoast. I can't wait to see what happens in 2009.

Christmas Eve Logo

Here is what Andre came up with for our Christmas Eve logo... what do you think?

Gearing Up for Two Services

On January 18th Church of the Suncoast will be going to two identical services on Sunday mornings. Right now we meet in a cafetorium that basically serves as our lobby, info area, cafe, & auditorium. The only thing not in the room is our stage. The stage connects to one end so all of that stuff is up off the ground and not taking up space. We put out about 150 + seats each Sunday and that is about all the space we have. Over the past 6 weeks we have been violating the 70% rule.

(The 70% rule is basically after a room reaches 70% capacity people stop inviting and the church stops growing. It feels too full. People like space!)

Even though our attendance numbers are averaging 127 and most people will tell you wait until 400 to start a second service we just don't have that luxury within a 15 drive of where we meet. We can either try to fit another 25 people in our room and stop growing -OR- we can roll the dice, cast some vision that we need another service and WE NEED TO FILL THEM, and see how God blesses our faith effort. Obviously, you can guess what I thought we should do!

BUT, now the fun part. How do you pull it off. The staff meets tomorrow night to talk time line. We threw out all the things that need to get done and now we need to put deadlines to them. Some promotion will be needed, and lots of new volunteers. But confession from the pastor... I don't know how all this is going to work out and we are making it up as we go along. Don't tell anyone OK!!!

So, if you are a church planter that started with one service and then went to two services I would love to hear how you did it. What you would do different. What not to try. What times work and what ones don't... If you send me a comment here on the blog or e-mail me at I will send you a gift for taking the time to share what you have learned along the way!