Relational Environments

Recently at the Suncoast we have done away with our community/small groups, at least for a season. If our goal is to create relational environments for people to connect then for us groups were only connecting a small number of people. So here are two things we are doing... again at least for now:

Next is a medium sized gathering at our Warehouse (church office and gathering spot) for people who want to get to know some other people from the Suncoast and get to know God better. The format will have plenty of time for people just to hang out and snack, then I will interactively teach on a spiritual growth topic for about 20 minutes, and finally we will have people "huddle up" in groups of 15 or so for some quick questions and prayer. We will also be encouraging people to sign up for a once a month service deal in the community to reach out and also to connect people once again. Our goal for NEXT is not to force people into relationships but simply create the environment for them to happen naturally.

Cafe Tables
Another thing we just did was buy some fold up cafe tables (think bar height) and put them around the coffee and donuts. There are not any chairs with them so it is just a place we hope people will stand and use as a safe place to have a conversation. There is something about having a table and a cup of coffee in between you that creates a safe zone to talk to "strangers". We will see.

The bottom line is we are stepping back and just trying to create relational environments instead of forcing people into relationships. We don't want to force people into a "one size fits all" mold as the only way to connect here. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

The first NEXT is Sunday night, 7pm @ the Warehouse!

Easter Invite Cards

It's never too early I guess to start getting people thinking about who they are going to invite for Easter. This year a little different idea. Promote Easter and not the series we are doing. We will see how it goes. Here is the invite card:

Thoughts on Last Sunday & THIS Sunday

This past week at Church of the Suncoast I preached the hardest message I have ever preached. If you want to hear it then go here:

Part 3 OR you can watch it over here =>>>

Yes I am wearing a tux!!!

In part 3 of our series "Visionary Love. Dream Sex" I talked about something that I don't think many churches in America are talking about. No one talks about the struggles of godly couples in the bedroom. I then started opening up about my own struggles and the challenges Cheryl and I are working through so to say the least it was hard to get through.

After you take a chance like that you always feel like an idiot for sharing it. You second guess yourself. BUT, I believe this. Part of my job as the leader of the Suncoast is to let people see my life, my journey with God, the ups the downs, I think my job is to let people see the real me and I think Sunday showed that.

I know God will use the message on Sunday and reward the risk. Even if I have to wait to heaven one day to hear about it ;-) "Oh pastor you helped my sex life..." Just not going to hear that you know.

We also gave out a Romance Package on Sunday for Valentine's Day to all the married couples and told them to go on a date this week! Can't wait to hear how those went.

THIS, Sunday at the Suncoast is a special day too. We will celebrate our 200th service!!! That blows me away. I don't know what the current stats are but a lot of church starts like ours don't get out of the first year or two and for the Suncoast to almost be 4 years old blows me away. God has been faithful and so have you guys at the Suncoast. Thank you to all the peeps that have given, served, and sacrificed for God's work at our church. You guys are my hero's!!!

Random Thoughts on Vision from INC Today

Your vision will be different for each church but all churches should be out to reach the unchurched.

Vision determines everything from music style to structure to sermon style. What does the culture need in a church? What would attract them? What will keep them? Doesn’t mean you can’t be challenging. BUT it means your worship will be foreign to them and the offerings will be small. You have to structure for that. Also, means you might have to unlearn a lot of the “church” leadership stuff you have learned and stop going to conferences and all that. Don’t fall in love with someone else’s vision. Take a break and hear from God and remind yourself of YOUR vision. You are not every other church. You won’t look like every other church. What does the internal data tell you not just the numbers? Don’t compare yourself to everyone else!!!

Talk to people that don’t go to church and ask them about church? Why don’t you go? How often do you go? What did you think about the last church you went to? KNOW your community! KNOW yourself!

Q: How do you lead with passion and pain but let people see the passion? Have to spend a lot of time with God and His word. Have to have some close friends who you can be honest with. Hard to be friends with the people you lead.

Q: How do you measure it? If you go by feelings you will go crazy. You have to go by the gauges; have to have some gauges to measure things.

Q: How do you keep passing the vision on? Mentoring. Showing “it” to people. It is slow. If you do something take people with you. Show the stories on video. Tell people how your vision is accomplishing its goal. What is rewarded get’s repeated! Be the bamboo: roots deeply for 3 years without much growth but then one of the fastest growing.

NEW Website

Church of the Suncoast has an ALL NEW website. Check out the all new:

We were going for a clean look, something like apple. Simple seems to be the trend in web design these days, free from tons of flash and content overload. People's lives are so overloaded these days so we wanted to give off a message that our church and even our website is simple, uncluttered, easy to dive into. So what message does your website give off??? Does it match the message of your church?

(BTW... you don't have to spend a lot either. We paid $800 for this site and we control everything. No monthly payments to a web guy!!!)

Tell me what you think. Leave a comment.


On Sunday at the Suncoast we announced something new for the spring. We are creating a new medium sized gathering called NEXT. Next will be for anyone looking to meet some people and get to know God better. This was birthed out of this post:

Rethinking Small Groups

After a lot of prayer, and listening to people, and reading about how people connect, and asking ourselves what is the best environment for people to take their next step with God, we landed on this... A medium sized gathering of 25 - 50 people meeting at our Warehouse (think 1,200sqft of living room type stuff in a warehouse). It is a neutral location and it will only be once a month on Sunday nights for about an hour or so.

Here is what we see happening. We will give people plenty of time to just hang out around some food and conversation. I will talk about a spiritual growth topic for about 15 minutes. Then we will give people a chance to try it, and then we will "huddle" up for 10 minutes to share and pray. We will also be having people sign up for a community service project that will happen before the next "NEXT".

Right now we have four of these set for the spring and then we will take a look at how they went and see where to go from there. Our hope is:

  • To connect more new people from Sunday mornings.
  • Create the opportunity for relationships to be born and hopefully from there they get together as the choose.
  • Give people a practical tool for growing their own faith.
  • Reach out to the community more since there is not a weekly community group commitment.

The first NEXT is on Sunday night, Feb. 28th. Stay tuned for more info as we get everything together. I would not be surprised though if we are going to see more churches move away from small groups like they did Sunday School in the 80's and 90's. The principles are what matters, community, growth, service... the methods will always change as the culture does. We still might do community groups in the summer or fall, but we will first see how NEXT goes. Everything is an experiment at the Suncoast :-)


We recently did our first church wide survey at Church of the Suncoast. You can see what we did here:

Survey Sunday

After compiling the data here were a few of the results that we found interesting. Note that we broke up the results into two categories. Regulars and Guests.
  • 16% of our regulars said they were "Someone seeking about God / Jesus
  • 22% of our guests said they were "Someone seeking about God / Jesus
  • 11% of our regulars also said they were a "New Christ-follower"
  • 19% of our regulars said their church background was "None"
  • 22% of our guests said their church background was "None"

One surprise from the first section was the number of ex-Baptist we had for both regulars and guests.

One that kind of caused us to take a look at how do things was 77% of the guests felt they were "Welcomed and it felt positive" with the rest feeling over-welcomed or under welcomed.

Most people, guests and regulars, first impressions were about it being warm, comfortable, friendly people and a cool atmosphere.

82% of regulars and guests thought the music at the Suncoast was well done even if they don't always like the style.

One that hit me personally is 9% of our regulars and 22% of our guests thought my messages were "Average, sometimes they are good". Still digesting how to make that better.

74% of our regulars have taken a "Next step" at the Suncoast in the past 6-months AND 94% said the Suncoast helps them "Know God better and that is why they keep coming back". "Serving" was also most people's next step.

89% of our regulars knew what was going on and said our communication was good.

The majority of our regulars and guests said our Coastal Kids Ministry is "Awesome, and helps my kids".

Most people came to the Suncoast from: Invites / Sunday Road Signs / Billboards (when we had them in 2008)

The overall church rating given by regulars was: 8.7 (1-10)

The overall church rating given by guests was 7.6 (1-10)

That was interesting to me. Seems we are an acquired taste??? But all in all the first survey was a positive experience I think. It gave people a chance to be heard and gave us some feedback to let us know if we are helping people take their next steps with God.