Marketing Conference Call

Last week I did a conference call with Michael at Oak Leaf Church in GA. Here are my notes from that call. Some good stuff to chew on:

Marketing Conference Call

1. Don’t do what you can’t measure.
Don’t spend a lot of money on something you can’t measure. Measure your marketing. Ask people what got you here, survey twice a year. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Connection card for guests.

2. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.
Meaning people in your area. Find what no one else is doing.

3. Do something worth talking about.
You can’t market something that is not marketable. Is your service good? Will people stay, will they stick? If it is good people will talk about it. Build up a loyalty.

4. Create buzz.
You want people to talk about your stuff. The things that get noticed… taboo, unusual, outrages, hilarious, remarkable, secrets.


1. Show up at things that are already happening in the community.
2. Do a traditional advertising campaigns. “Jay-Z loves your church”
3. Sponsor high school rivalry game… create a trophy and scholarship.
4. Get your people involved in activities, ways to serve the community.
5. Take out facebook adds! Can be targeted.
6. Invite cards all the time! Different styles each week.
7. Series planning. Big days like Easter, Fall, Christmas… have weeks leading up to it all about the big day.

If this was helpful give Michael some love on his blog:

Verse Card from @work Part 1

I had some people asking if we had more of the verse cards from "@work" part one so here is the file. Just click on it and print! If you missed the message you can watch it here with the media player to the right of this page.

I hope to see you Sunday for @work part two! Bring your boss and co-workers!

Random Thoughts (This Past Week)

Some random thoughts on what has been going on at the Suncoast over the past week:

  • We kicked off 10-weeks of small groups called NEXT Groups. You can read about them one post down. We took about 10 - months off from doing groups to think about why we do them and how we do them. And, from what I hear we had some great groups last week.
  • This week our NEXT Groups all have a party on tap so if you have not jumped in there are 9-weeks left and this week would be a great week to jump in. The groups will be expecting you! For more info head HERE.
  • On Sunday we started a new message series called @work.

  • If you missed it then you can watch the message HERE.
  • We talked about Colossians 3:23 and found out that the purpose of your life @ work is to show that God is @ work in your life!
  • Don't miss part 2 of @work this Sunday! Bring your co-workers for this one! REALLY! Bring some people you work with. This is a great message for them!
  • Last week we also mailed out a giving letter to everyone that literally buys into the vision of what God is doing here. I shared my optimism for the future and the reality of where we are at as a church from a financial standpoint. If you would like a copy of the letter please e-mail
  • On Sunday I also learned that the video church that meets in the school next to ours has shut their doors. Not sure all the details but I know this summer was a struggle to get butts in seats. Met with their pastor at the main campus a few weeks ago and he has a big heart and passion to see THE church succeed in this area. I know God will bless that!

Well, got to run for now. For more on the Suncoast head to:

NEXT Groups (Start This Week)

If you have been reading my blog for the past 8 months or you have been at Church of the Suncoast for the past 8 months then you know we have been wrestling with the small groups question. Our church is just over 4 years old and we have had groups for 3 of those 4 years. We have not cracked the code and have had a lot of false starts and mixed results. We have also seen some amazing life-change which is why we wrestle with how do we do groups, are they still working in our community, and what does discipleship look like at the Suncoast.

In the spring we rolled out a medium sized gathering once a month called NEXT. We talked about some spiritual growth topics and 2 out of the 4 gatherings were well attended and 2 fell flat, one due to weather. So, this summer we talked some more as a staff and I had my familiar conversation with God about groups and what to do.

Here is what we are rolling out THIS WEEK:

We are calling them NEXT Groups because our purpose is to help people take their next steps with God, so the name fit, we used to call them Community Groups but community didn't always happen. This fits the goal of taking a next step on your faith journey.

The fall semester of groups will run for just 10-weeks. We don't want groups to turn into a burden for people and I think giving people a break from them is great too. It gives people a light at the end of the tunnel.

We also wanted our groups to reflect our church and who we are, not some other church. So our groups will be open, meaning anyone can jump in at any time, and we will be asking people to invite someone to group for the second weeks big party. Take a look:

We will also be asking the groups to serve two out of the 10-weeks and every group will be asked to find a cause and give towards it. Again, stressing some of who we are as a church. The other six weeks will be deeper study from that Sunday's message. Again, to focus the whole church on who we are and what is going on with our church at that time, not some canned small group book.

Finally, we have taken all the expectations and "rules" off the groups. The problem with expectations and "rules" is someone has to police those and no one wants to be the small group ministry rules police. The only thing we ask is that the groups take a Next STEP:

Study the Bible Together. Each week we’ll come together, share some snacks or maybe a meal, and then circle up to talk about Sunday’s message. Bring a Bible! Each week we’ll be challenged take a next step on our journey with Jesus.

Take Care of Each Other. We all need someone to lean on. We were not designed by God to be lone rangers. Our group will be there for each other in good times and bad.

Embrace Serving Together. This fall we’ll get the opportunity to serve together in the community. We’re going to come up with a place to serve twice by the end of the 10-weeks.

Practice Generosity Together. We will also get the opportunity to be generous with our finances together. In the next 10-weeks we will pick a cause (personal, local or global) and combine our money to make a difference.

So hope that helps someone else out there wrestling with the groups question and if you are at the Suncoast click HERE to find out where and when groups meet this first week. We have one Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Daily Surrender (Practical Steps from "Joyride")

For the past 3-weeks we have been in an amazing series called "Joyride". You can watch the first 3 messages HERE.

Each week I have been giving us homework like: Finding out what surrendering the next 10% of your life would look like and do it, writing out all the things that make you anxious and what you are so afraid of and then giving those to Jesus, and then this past Sunday I gave everyone a diagram to plot the influences in our lives from green light (let it into your heart) to red (cut it out of your life).

See, I am convinced that just sitting and listening to a message doesn't change anyone. God might use it to convict, correct, challenge, or encourage us but that doesn't do anything for us unless we take a next step and apply it! YOU and ONLY YOU can take responsibility for your spiritual growth.

So, as I was thinking about this series and all the practical things we have been talking about to increase our joy one more thing came to mind. I need to blog about how to have a quiet time. No, that is not like a punishment from when you were a kid. This is a regular time where you get still, and get alone, and learn how to surrender your life to our Heavenly Father.

Here are some quick basics from my own quiet time:
  • I start off by reading a chapter OR LESS of the Bible, God's Word, His love letter to you and me. If you don't have any idea where to start choose a reading plane from HERE. This will take you to our next steps page on our church website. Look about 1/2 way down the page for "Reading Your Bible".
  • Have a pen and highlighter with you as you read and mark up your Bible (yes that is OK) with anything that jumps out at you or a thought or prayer you might have.
  • Then go back and pick one of those things you marked (a verse or line) as something to journal. Get a journal and ask 3 questions of what you read and marked: (1) What is the main thought, (2) What is God saying to me, (3) How can I apply this?
  • Now it is time to spend a few minutes praying. You want to make sure you have a balanced prayer life so use a tool like this: Praise (thank God for who He is and what He has done) Purpose (pray that His will be done) Pardon (confess your sins and thank Him for His forgiveness) People (pray for others, friends, family, leaders in your life) Petition (here is where you bring your list of things you want and need).
  • AND MOST IMPORTANT... stop long enough now to let Him speak to you. God wants to speak to us if we are willing to be still and wait on Him.

So, if you want more joy in your life then it means you will have to surrender more of your life to God. A daily quiet time is the best way I know how to do that!

I would love to hear your stories... e-mail them to

Random Thoughts on the Past 3-months

It is kind of late to be posting for me... so hope this is the right thing to do.

Over the past 3-4 months at Church of the Suncoast we have seen the biggest drop in numbers in our 4 year history. Why? Can't tell ya! Really, we have beat our heads against the wall trying to figure that out and have come up with very little. We have had some people move, like out of the state or country move! We have had just a handful of people move on to other churches which happens. BUT, the bulk of the peeps MIA we just don't know.

This past Tuesday I shared some random thoughts with our staff about where I was at and what I had been able to process over the past few weeks and I think I should share them with you, someone who believes in the Suncoast, or maybe you are a church planter or leader that is in the same boat. So here goes:


We are NOT the only ones that are down significantly.
I have talked to people from NC to FL and we are not alone in the timing or depth of this dip. A local church near us has had almost an identical trend since Easter.

God IS moving in some locations.
NewSpring and Elevation (two churches who have been influential to us) had over 500+ each accept Christ this past weekend. I also talked to a lead pastor of a local mega-church and they are up 15% at their main location this summer.

I think the economy of our area has been a coming tidal wave that broke on our shores.
It has been building for a while and we knew it was coming but I think the full force hit about Easter to early summer. The community here is largely lower middle class and many leveraged all they had to get into a house here and now they are drowning, or have been swept away to some other place (left and moved). I would guess our community has lost 30% of its population since the peak in 2008.

Our church has been a survivor!
One of the things we have been able to do by God’s help and grace is survive! The senior pastor of local church I talked to said something has to change or they might not be doing this much longer. Other churches that have started near us since we started have closed in the past year. We have survived in what seems to be a really tough area to plant a church. One of the reasons I believe we have survived is because we have committed to tithe back everything that comes in as a church, no matter what, even with things the way they are.

We need to do all we can to build into our current people as the new foundation for the future.
We have been through a few generations of people and have built on that foundation. We also have lost some of those people so I think we need to rally the troops we have and build into them all we can. We are all stretched thin but together lets go the extra mile and love our people, pray for our people, share our knowledge, cast big vision, AND THEN hold them to higher standards as we make the turn out of this season and back into one of growth.

I am more thankful for you guys than ever!
I would not have made it through the past 3 or 4 months without you guys, your hard work, friendship and prayers. Thank you!

Another thing I think God has been leading me to is we as a church need to start a fast for this community... stay tuned for more on that. But, for now hope this helps :-)