AWESOME Post by Perry

If you are a pastor, or if you wonder why we are the way we are sometimes, READ THIS from Perry Noble (who is much taller face to face than he looks)

"Every pastor I know has, at one point, wrestled with the question, “Is THIS really worth it?” I will admit that I’ve had that thought more than once in my ten year journey as the pastor of NewSpring Church. There are days when I feel like I can conquer the world…and then there are others where I feel the world has conquered me.

If you are a pastor then I know you’ve been there…
  • You feel like the sermon was horrible.
  • You had a staff member go south on you.
  • You lose sleep at night while you wrestle through a decision.
  • People lie about you (or tell half truths, same thing really!)
  • The critics take shots at you.
  • The level of spiritual warfare in your life increases.
  • You feel inadequate to do the job most days.
  • You experience being lonely on a level that very few people can understand.

I could go on and on…but you get the point. In the past 10 years in being the pastor of this church I’ve experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. AND…yes, I have caught myself asking the question many times, “Is it really worth all of this?”

And EVERY TIME God speaks to me and says, “YES!” Hey pastor…if He called you then He has equipped you and will sustain you! He is WITH YOU and will NEVER leave you. HE is SO worth it!

Yesterday was one of those days for me…Jesus completely overwhelmed me and reminded me that following Him has been worth it. Yes, there is a price to pay in ministry…but it is NOWHERE near the price the ONE we follow paid for us!
It’s worth it!

And…as Jesus was drawing people to Himself yesterday during the invitation I kept thiniking to myself, “I am SO GLAD that I haven’t quit or given up on the vision God gave me in 1996 to start a church…following Him has not been easy, but it is SO worth it!”

Pastor, God did not call you so that you could prove yourself to Him (and others,) but rather He called you to “prove” His Son to the world! The reason so many of us wrestle with wanting to give up so often is that we feel like we have sometime to prove…

BUT…there is tremendous freedom found in a ministry where the man of God has fully determined that he has nothing to prove and dedicates himself to working for the applause of heaven and NOT the applause of man.

Yes, it’s worth it! So…stay in the game, focus on Christ and beg Him to make His voice so clear to you so that you will know what He wants next!

Don’t EVER give up on the God who has never given up on you! (Philippians 1:6)

Survey Sunday

This Sunday at Church of the Suncoast we had our first ever Survey Sunday. Really didn't know what to look for or expect. Can I be that honest? But here is the survey we had everyone do. This week I will be sharing some of the results and what we learned.

(Click on the link for a full size view)



Lunch with a New Church Planter (PART 4)

Today, is the final post in a series based on a conversation I had with a new church planter (and an old friend) named Charlie over in Orlando. Here is where our conversation finally got to:

"The church will become a visible expression of your personal journey with God. That is also why it hurts so bad when things don't go as planned and why the highs are so high."

I was talking about the ups and downs of church planting. No one could have prepared me for the roller coaster of emotions. It is like birthing a child in some ways I have been told. I told Charlie about our first 6-months where we successfully grew the church all the way down to just 30 people and the thoughts of throwing in the towel were very real. But we pushed on after a lot of painful moments even though you feel like God let you down. Here you are doing this thing called the church, the thing He sent His Son Jesus for, and all you want is a little help you know! But then we had our grand opening at a new facility and had 150+ people and the highs were more than we hoped or prayed for. But then we grew that down to the 70's and then a few weeks ago we had 210 people and then on Jan 3rd we were down in the low 100's after 3 years of this and on and on the roller coaster goes.

My point was you have to come to terms with the ups and downs. You can't let them wreck you. You have to make peace with the times you feel like God lets you down and give Him all the credit when things go really right.

Lunch with a New Church Planter (PART 3)

Another thing I told my church planting friend Charlie that I wanted to mention in this series of posts was this:

"Find a network of like-minded church planters"

I have been blessed to have a network like that here in Tampa Bay. About the same time we started the Suncoast we also started a network called Innovative Network of Churches or INC. Hal Mayer, Paul Wirth, Dave Melendez, myself and a few others gathered once a month and from those small beginnings there are now over 20 people that show up for a time to hang out, share issues, find resources, cheer for each other, and learn what is working.

Being a church planter for whatever reason kind of isolates you from the rest of the church world, or it at least feels that way. So you need to have some guys that are going through what you are going through and a few that have just gone through what you are going through and lived to tell about it. You also will need a place to get resources and ideas. Church planters are the most generous people you will find and I have picked up and passed on everything from series ideas, stage props, portable church carts, a guest speaker and on and on it goes...

So if you are planting or about to... find a network of guys and if you have to get into a coaching network to make those relationships. Check out these guys:


Lunch with a New Church Planter (PART 2)

Continuing this series of posts from a lunch I had with a new church planter this week here was another thing I was thankful for. I was exposed to the Launching Large concept before we started getting into the nuts and bolts of the plant.

Basically there are two main schools of thought for starting a church. One is gathering up group of core people and you then build into them for a year or more until everyone has bought into the vision, knows what you believe, is trained in various roles, and you have a tight knit group of people. From this core group you then try to start some "public" services on Sunday mornings or maybe on Saturday night as a soft start. The challenge in this is human nature. You sit around and build this close core group for a year and then it is very hard to then get those people to turn outward again. Then once you do get going the church is not like what they thought it was going to be so they bolt 90% of the time within the first year (if the church makes it that long).

The other school of thought is to launch. You gather a launch team of people and you meet for maybe 6 - months at the most! For us at the Suncoast we met only 5 times before we held our first preview service! So you gather a team and the team's goal is to launch a fully functional church from day one. So most of your time is spent learning tasks and casting a vision to reach out and get as many people to come as you can. Then you hold a series of preview services where you meet then take a week or two off, then have another one, then take a week or two off then after maybe 4 preview services you launch the church. At the Suncoast we went from our first launch team meeting in December 2005 to our launch date in April of 2006! That is 4-months! The goal is to get people focused outward and create critical mass from the beginning. They used to talk about launching with over 100 people as a good base for success.

The point is you are going to lose most of your team or core anyway. That is just the way it is. So why focus all that time and energy inward when it could be used to get a crowd.

That is the rough outline I gave my friend Charlie on Monday and if you want more info head to the grand poobah of Launching Large (Nelson Searcy) here:

Launching Large Book

Lunch with a New Church Planter (PART 1)

Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend who is about 7 to 8 months away from beginning the church planting process. The meeting reminded me a lot of a meeting I had with Hal Mayer before I began the process of starting Church of the Suncoast. This week I will be sharing some thoughts from that lunch and today I want to share what I told Charlie when he asked me:

"What are the three most important things you could tell me"

Here is what I said:
  1. Don't underestimate the "details" of the Sunday service. Even if it is just one guy in a orange vest have someone in the parking lot to greet people. Have more than one layer of greeters. Be anal about the look and feel of the physical environment. Have clear signs. Give away good donuts and coffee not generic crap. Pay attention to the program and how it looks and feels to the touch. Make sure your service makes you look twice your size. Be CREATIVE. All the truth in the world is lost if you don't keep people's attention.
  2. Get a worship leader / side kick from the start. Find a partner to do this with. Find someone that can help you edit a video and then help you mop the floor and then lead a band. You need someone to share the load with.
  3. Protect your wife / marriage. Your wife is not expected to be it all and do it all. My wife Cheryl has done almost ever job at the Suncoast when she wanted to and when she needed a break has taken them. Right now for example she just goes to our second service, does lights, helps after the service and that is it, and that is FINE!!! People will just have to accept that. Your wife's job is to be there for you first. You are her number one ministry so protect her. Protect your family.

We talked for 3 hours!!! So there was a lot more stuff but those were my top three for someone about to start the process of planting a church. If you have planted a church what three would you say???

Meeting with a New Church Planter

Today I have a meeting with a new church planter. One of the things I love about church planters is there boldness. You have to be bold. You are about to step out and start something that doesn't exist yet. You have to raise money, you have to find people, you have to get resources... you have to be bold. So many times once you have done this for a few years (I have done it for 3 1/2 now) that boldness turns into doing whatever it takes to keep the status quo and not destroy this thing. You don't risk as much as you used to.

So this week I will be sharing some posts from our meeting. Stuff guys ask me all the time and stuff they remind me of. Hope you will come back for those posts. I'm off to lunch!

Community Groups (Small Groups)

Right now at Church of the Suncoast we are looking at our Community Groups (small groups) and seeing if they are really hitting the mark. I have been frustrated with the groups process this past year. We have not seen huge numbers of "new" people get plugged into a group. We get a few groups going for a semester (we do semester groups) and then they dwindle down and it usually becomes the same people over and over again. Not saying that good things have not happened with them. Some real friendships have been made and some life change has taken place. But it is a huge effort (mainly on my part) and it seems like we are fighting the wind instead of throwing up a sail and harnessing it.

As I was praying through this yesterday here were some of my thoughts:

People's Need's (as they see them)
> Someone to hear them
> Someone to encourage them
> A break from "life"
> Some direction
> To laugh
> A place to belong
> A "3rd place"

Spiritual Needs Met in Community
> Learning how to pray
> Learning how to read the Bible
> Praying for each other
> Sharing burdens
> Care

Obstacles Between These
  1. People are BUSY
  2. People are skeptical of opening up and going to a "strangers" home
  3. Child care (we are portable and do vouchers for people to get their own care but still an obstacle)
  4. People already have friends and don't see the need for community

I also want to get our groups or whatever we do more focused on the community and the mission of the church overall. We need to be serving the community more I think.

So there is where I am at as I plan for 2010. I know people need community. I know we need to connect more "new" people into community if we are going to close the backdoor we have. Praying for guidance.

Would love to hear from you too! Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail at

Christmas Eve Update

Been taking a bit of a blogging break over the Christmas / New Year break but wanted to share about what God did back on Christmas Eve at the Suncoast.

210 in attendance

$7,000+ Christmas Offering

1 person accepted the "Gift"

Go God!!!