Saturday, December 31, 2005

Blog Additions

As a part of the usual changes I make at this time of the year, I decided to shake up the "People I Read" section of my blog. I added a few and sadly had to see one go. Here they are:


Dave Ferguson
Dave is the Lead Pastor/Cultural Architect/Spiritual Entrepreneur/whatever he comes up with next, of Community Christian Church in Chicago. We co-hosted a multi-site conference at their place a few months ago. Very cool church and great blog. Check it out.

Multi-Site Church Revolution
Great blog about everything that is multi-site right now. The authors are my brother Geoff and a couple of the guys at Leadership Network.

Perry Noble
I have been reading Perry for quite awhile, but it was time to add him to the list.


Mac Lake
Mac - I hope this is a wake-up call for you buddy. Best blog on the net, and you walked away from it. Please come back Mac!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Service

We had an absolutely AWESOME Christmas Eve service tonight! Everything went really well and we didn't set off the smoke alarms! I posted a few pictures over at the Greenville Page. I am going to assemble Christmas presents now - yeah!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas At Seacoast

I posted a few pictures of our stage set and decroations this Christmas at the Greenville page. I can't believe it's almost over! :(

Sunday, December 18, 2005

God Showed Up

Have you ever had one of those amazing days that you did not expect at all? We had one today. If you've been following this blog, you knew that this has not been a great week for the Upstate of South Carolina. We were absolutely wiped out by an ice storm that hit late Wednesday night. Half of Greenville still does not have power and they are not guaranteeing it until later this week. It looks like a hurricane blew through this town and took half of the trees with it. Accumulation of ice is an amazing thing.

We did not have power at the church until late Friday, and I was not sure if anyone would want to come to church after all of that - and I really knew that people would not want to come early to volunteer. When we gathered early for prayer for before the first service, I looked around the circle and there were at least 30 people standing there with smiles - ready to serve! Some of them had not had power at their house for 3 days and were living with relatives or out of hotels. What an incredible team!

And then God showed up in a BIG way. Greg's message was anointed and the best I have heard him. Anyone who ever thinks that Seacoast may not preach the Word, needs to listen to this message. After that, we had an incredible time of worship and prayer where people literally pinned their sins/requests/fears - to the cross. Amazing.

God always seems that much more powerful after a storm, and we experienced that today.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Let There Be Light

At somewhere around 8pm tonight, we called our home from WalMart (we were there with around 10,000 of our closest friends) and heard the beautiful sound of our answering machine picking up. It meant that after 2 1/2 days...56 hours and 10 minutes, we had power at our house again! We started jumping around the store like we had hit the Education lottery and triple coupon day at the same time. The people around us probably thought we had gotten the Holy Ghost or something - we didn't care. We had heat!

I will never again take for granted little things like: expecting the heat to come on when it gets cold outside; or how beautiful our tree looks with all of the Christmas lights lit up. God has blessed us so much and we have so much to be thankful for. Maybe sometimes stuff happens in life to help us put things back in perspective. What do you have in your life to be thankful for right now?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Frozen Tundra

I am posting this with my Treo 650, because my office and my house have been without power all day. We do not have power because Greenville is frozen. One large piece of ice. I am sitting here watching large trees in my backyard snap like twigs. It's a little disconcerting to watch tall trees now almost touching the ground from the weight of the ice. We ventured out for lunch and had to drive off of the road a few times to avoid fallen branches and power lines. Oh well, at least I don't have to worry about hurricanes anymore!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Catching Up

Ok, I haven't blogged in awhile - so I have several things to get out into the blogosphere. Here goes in no particular order:

I bought a Windows PC for the house at the 5am Black Friday after Thanksgiving. I am a musician, so I wasn't really aware that there were two 5:00's in a day, but apparently there is. There aren't very many nice people out at that first 5:00 - but that's beside the point. I bought a PC. I wrestled with the desicion for several weeks. We haven't had a working computer in our house for a few months, and I thought that getting a pc would be the best thing for the whole family - because of my daughter's games, ect. Man - am I regretting that decision! Maybe I've been Mac too long, but I have already experienced all of the "joys" of Windows. Crashes, virus software for the virus goes on and on. Please take me back Steve!!!

Last night, I checked out one of our worship leaders, Chris Sligh and his band Half Past Forever, at a concert in downtown Greenville. Those guys seriously rocked!!! Chris had eaten some bad Mexican food the night before, so he looked a little putrude all night (it may have been the green light on him as well), but they still put on a great set. Chris has an amazing voice and writes great songs. You can buy one of Chris' cds at our bookstore next Sunday.

We decorated our auditorium for Christmas a couple of weeks ago and it looks very cool! The best part was - I had very little to none participation in the design. We have some very talented people in our church who know how to do that kind of thing. I just showed up with a ladder and put things where they told me! That was the best thing for all. I will try to post some pictures here or at the Greenville blog.

40 Days of Community was a very cool thing for us. We ended up with over 80% of our adults in small groups! I can't wait for the next small group semester to get kicked off in January. We have some great new groups that are going to be starting up. Also, I'm very excited about our new online learning experience. More about that later!

The uproar about churches not having Christmas services on Christmas Day is getting almost ridiculously funny. My brother Greg has a great post on it here.

Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that the spell check on my blog does not recognize the word "blog"?

I spoke 3 times this week - twice this morning + a child dedication. That's about all I have in me...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Not So Good

I've always fancied myself a pretty decent keyboard player. I have done it for a living for most of my working life, and have gotten by pretty well.

I sat down with my 7 year old daughter tonight to play with a little Christmas keyboard book that she has. You know - it's one of those miniature pianos with different colors on each key. The sheet music tells you which note to play by the colors. It doesn't give you a key, time signature, or note values. Just colors. I couldn't play it. I finally had to give up and let my 7 year old take over. She breezed through it with no problem, and then looked at me with the look we usually give our children - as if to say "it's ok daddy, you'll get it one day." I'm learning how to play the flute now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great Blog

I had a very cool lunch today with Perry Noble, the pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. If you have not checked out his blog, you need to. I have no idea how he has the time to pastor a mega-church, root for a mediocre football team (Clemson) :), and write incredible stuff every day...but he does. When I grow up, I want to be like Perry...except for the Clemson part. Hook 'em Horns!!!

CD Review

I just recently downloaded (legally :) ) the latest worship album by Lincoln Brewster - All To You...Live. It immediately became one of my all time favorites. This cd seriously rocks!!! Lincoln has always been an amazing guitar player, and has written some great songs...but he put it all together on this project. Every song is great - and several tracks have unbelievable, extended instrumental "jams". The sense that people really worshipped that night comes through the recording as well. Stop what your doing right now and get this cd. No...I mean it, start downloading people!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

All For The Kingdom

My brother Greg has a great post about doing ministry for the Kingdom, not the credit. Check it out.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A.R.C. Conference

I am going down to Charleston tomorrow for a 3 day Association Of Related Churches conference at Seacoast. I am really looking forward to it, because it's always great to connect with church planters from around the country. Also, some of the best speakers in the nation are members of the ARC. Dino Rizzo may be the best communicator I have ever listened to!

Not very many people know that Seacoast Greenville is a member of the A.R.C., as well as a campus of Seacoast Church. The training and support that I received from guys like Chris Hodges, Rick Bezet, and Billy Hornsby was amazing. If you haven't checked out the A.R.C., I encourage you to take a look at the system they have for planting churches to reproduce planting churches. It's a vision that I strongly believe in and I am very proud that a portion of our budget will always go to starting new churches.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Family Palooza

We held our first annual Family Palooza event yesterday afternoon. There was a great turnout and it was a lot of fun. I posted some pics at the Seacoast Greenville blog. It did make for a really long Sunday though!!! Very, very tired...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Be Available

I try to meet with anyone who wants to talk to me. There are certain boundaries of course (my family always comes first), but usually I can work something out. I learned this from my brother Greg Surratt. In my ten years at Seacoast, I have never seen him turn down an offer to buy his lunch and quiz him on anything. It didn't matter if it was the governor of South Carolina, or a brand new pastor at the smallest church in town--he made time. I think that's an essential value for church and business leaders to have.

When I first moved to Greenville to plant Seacoast Greenville, I tried to meet with a major leader in our area and was turned down. It was conveyed that he didn't see the point of meeting with me. I wasn't on his radar yet. It just reinforced the thought that I never want to get to that place. We have to be willing to pass along the wisdom and knowledge that only comes from experience. Like Rick Warren says, "if my bullet fits your gun - shoot it!" Blogs are great for doing that as well. I learn so much from guys like Perry Noble and Mark Batterson. I can't always buy their lunch, but they give it out for free every week!

Anyways, that's my Saturday rant - anyone want to buy my lunch on Monday?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Our First Chair

I am very excited, because today I purchased our first office chair! I went down to Office Max and slapped $50 down on a real beauty that swivels, rolls and rocks! You have to understand our office situation to know why this makes me giggle.

In our budget system, the office comes in dead last. We put almost no money into it. We worked out of the front room of my house for the first 10 months, taking advantage of free internet in places like Port City Java and Atlanta Bread Company. After we moved into our current building, I begged the church that owns it to let us use a 10' x 10' room - just so we could move our equipment out of our home!

Here's how it looks now: we have the 10' x 10' room for our administrative assistant and associate minister to share; and we just gained access to the office next door for me to share with their facilities manager whenever he is on the premises. If he shows up, I move out. The two office chairs that we have now, we rescued on their way to the dumpster. The only reason I bought this one is the new office only has one folding chair. Not the ideal counseling set-up. We are living the church-planting dream!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Multi-Site Conference Day 1

It's the end of day 1 at the Multi-Site Conference in Chicago - and it was great! Geoff is blogging the details about the general sessions at A few of the highlights for me:

1. Meeting some very cool people. It was great to finally meet Todd Rhoades in person. I felt like I was in the presence of blogging celebrity! The guys at Community Christian have been great hosts as well.

2. Talking about how you start a distance campus. Our breakout session this afternoon went very well...and there were great questions. You could feel the excitement of possibility in the room! I think this multi-site thing is going to catch on! :)

3. Hearing from the pioneers of muti-site. These guys stepped out when there wasn't anyone else doing it. As Greg said today - "I never talked to anyone who thought this (multi-site) was a great idea." Who knew?

Well, after a 5:30am wake-up call this morning - I'm tired! I'll try to blog live from the sessions tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Great Day

We had two great services this morning. I am too tired right now to go into a lot of details, but I will hopefully be able to post some pictures from our Ministry Fair here and on our Greenville blog in the next few days. Our team did an unbelievable job!!! I am so proud to be working alongside our Dream Team every week. You guys rock!!!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Church Planting Observations

I am helping present at a muti-site conference in a few weeks in Chicago. Mostly, I am going to help carry Geoff and Greg's bags...but that's beside the point. In thinking about my session, I have noticed that we have a unique perspective on planting churches at Seacoast. We have started 9 campuses of different sizes in the past 3 years. We have also planted 22 churches through our church planting arm - the A.R.C. Through all of these churches, I have noticed a few things that really work well, and some things to avoid. I think it's always best to learn from other people's mistakes, not my own. :)

I hesitate to post this for two reasons:

1. We certainly don't have it all figured out yet. We are only a year into this, and we have a ton of learning yet to do.

2. There are always exceptions. I have never seen a church with a worse location than Lakewood Church before their current home. Location, location, location!

With that said, here a few church planting observations:

Do a few things and do them well.
We started Seacoast Greenville with 3 focuses: Sunday celebration, children's program, and small groups. That is all we worked on for the 6 months before we launched. The churches that I have seen do well from the start, keep their focus. Out of those three, I think that a high quality kid's program may be the most important. If you are not ready to have a full kid's area on Sunday morning, then you are probably not ready to launch. You cannot compromise in this area. Parents will stick with a bad church if they have a something happening with their kids - they will leave a great church that doesn't. Invest in your kids.

Have a solid core leadership team in place before you launch.
I have heard all kinds of different thoughts on how many people you need on your core team before you officially launch. I think that you do need enough people to cover your priority focuses, but I also think that you need solid, committed leaders more than big numbers. When the opening day crowd goes away (trust me, they will), you need people who bleed the vision to be there every week.

Location, location, location!!!
We learned this one all by ourselves! We wondered all over Greenville before we had the right place. I believe we probably could have started a little quicker if we had locked into a better venue earlier. In our experience with campuses, movie theaters work really well. You have to get a bit creative with the children, but it can be done well - check out our Irmo campus. Those guys have it rockin'! High schools are also great if you can get them. They were at a premium here in Greenville. A couple of locations that don't seem to work well: motels and storefronts. Motels feel like convention centers (where we started), and storefronts lock you into a location. It took us 6 months to find where God wanted us to be.

I think that's probably enough for one post. I'll continue this in future posts down the road.

Sports Dilemma

I have a serious sports problem right now - my two favorite baseball teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros, are playing each other for the National League title. This happened last year and I almost couldn't take the pain! Should I abandon one for the other? Will the other one understand and take me back if they win? Is there any way to root for a tie? It's going to kill me!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Milestone At Seacoast Greenville

They say that one of the hardest things to do in a new church plant is to go over 200 in attendance. That seems to be the first major "hurdle" in growth. Today, we went over 200 for the first time. I know that attendance is not the only (or biggest) checkpoint for the health of a church; but it is nice to see people catching onto the vision and inviting their friends to experience what they have. There is a feeling of excitement that seems to grow every week right now. I just pray that we never stray from the original vision - reaching lost people for God. If we continue to do that, our church will grow.

Best Thing Since Potato Chips

I found a technology that I think I would give up my Ipod, Treo and Powerbook for - DVR (digital video recording). We recently switched satellite tv services, and part of the deal was free DVR on two tv's. I'm not really sure how I have lived to this point. A few things come along in life that truly makes life better...ESPN, Bloglines, XM Radio, squeezable ketchup...and now DVR. I realize that this is admitting to my tv problem, but at least I can now schedule my addiction!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

2 Services

Today was our first Sunday with 2 services - and it felt great! When we moved to Greenville to start Seacoast Church Greenville, we were doing 4 services at the Long Point Campus. When I came on staff almost 10 years ago, we were running 2 services in our small auditorium. It was really strange to transition to one service when we started here. It just didn't feel right to go home after doing one! I always felt like we were just warming up at that point. As hard as we work on the weekend service - we should get to do it more than once!

We also had the biggest attendance, outside of our first Sunday, today. Our Dream Team really stepped it up and did a great job! Everyone was there early for the first service and some of them didn't go home until the doors were locked this afternoon. You guys inspire me every week! I am so proud to be serving alongside of you every Sunday.

Let's do it again next week!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Restaurants

I love going to brand-new restaurants. Especially one's that have some personality - like if they yell stuff at you when you walk in the door, or sing silly songs while they prepare your food. It's always best; however, to catch them in their first few weeks because they are doing everything that they do with complete enthusiasm. They always act like they are really glad that you are there, and they absolutely believe in what they do. Almost always, if you go back after a few months, the enthusiasm seems to be gone. You may still get the occasional new employee attempting to yell something unintelligible at you, but mostly they seem to be settled into just being another place to eat.

I thought about that with our church. I remember the excitement that we had that first Sunday. We couldn't wait to see what was going to happen when people started walking in the doors! There was this "We're going to conquer the world for Christ!" attitude that everyone had. We hadn't started just doing "church" yet. It wasn't just another place to come and put in your hour of God-time yet. We were still yelling silly stuff at people as they walked in...ok, that may have just been me...and it was a little weird.

I never want lose that first Sunday excitement. I still believe that we can conquer the world for Christ! I want people to feel genuinely welcomed and loved the second they drive onto our parking lot. What we do every Sunday is more important than anything else we do during the week. We have been called to change people's eternities, and I will never get bored of that.

"Welcome to Heaven!!!"

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Exciting Time

We are hitting an exciting time in the life of our church right now. Next Sunday we go to 2 services - 9:30 & 11. I think it's good timing because we were adding rows of chairs like crazy this morning! I am also very nervous about how everything is going to come together for the two services. I know if it's God's will, everything will work out. I just hope it wasn't bad burritos from the other night!

Next Monday we will bring on our first full-time Associate Pastor - Ross White. Ross has been with us since the beginning, and I am very excited to get him on the team full-time. He has basically been working for us every night and Sundays for free (not a bad deal). I am sure that his family will be happy to have him back for the evenings!

I can't wait to see what God does at Seacoast Greenville in the next few months!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Seacoast Greenville Article

Don Chapman at (a great site!) wrote a nice article about us after attending our 1 Year Anniversary service. It was great to read, because that whole day is still kind of a blur for me! Here is the article:

- WorshipIdea: Video Church

A few weeks ago I talked about how refreshing it is for us
worship leaders to attend a worship service we didn't plan.
Recently I had the chance to sneak out after our praise set
and attend a new, local church plant that you'll find very

Seacoast Church is a huge mega-church in Charleston, SC. A
few years ago they outgrew their location and began taking
steps to enlarge their building. Charleston denied the
request to expand. Soon after the pastor discovered churches
around the country that are starting to expand by video. A
church is planted, has its own praise band and campus
pastor, but relies mostly on a sermon video feed from the
mother church. The sermon is taped at the main church's
Saturday night service, then broadcast Sunday morning. The
new plant considers itself a part of the main congregation,
and will rent facilities (public schools, movie theaters)
instead of purchasing buildings.

Shame on Charleston, but then again, look how God can use
circumstances to expand the Kingdom. Seacoast began planting
video churches like this - first in other parts of
Charleston, then in Columbia SC, Irmo SC and Savannah GA.
One year ago they planted a church here in Greenville, SC. I
attended their one year anniversary worship service.

Want a template for a successful church? Since Seacoast is
starting to take over the south, take notes:

1. A helpful website complete with pastor's blog, sermon
video clips and podcasts. Service times and directions are
easily accessible. I enjoyed reading what's been on campus
pastor Chris Surratt's mind via his blog, and felt I knew
a little bit before I stepped in the door.

2. Top worship. With (only!) about 150 attendees, Seacoast
has a top-notch praise band that could go head-to-head with
anything from Willow Creek. Not as interested in performing
secular rock tunes to draw in the unchurched, Seacoast
believes seekers are seeking... God... and wants to help
them connect through a real worship experience. I enjoyed
the latest worship tunes led by one of the most fantastic
female voices I've ever heard in a local church setting (a
vocalist from the Charleston church who occasionally leads
worship in Greenville.) Not blended, yet not ultra hip, the
music was just right - with a mix of rocking tunes and
gentle ballads.

3. Timely messages. Using pop culture as a touchstone,
Seacoast reaches people where they are (with the truth of
the Word) instead of going over their heads with doctrinal

4. Bookstore. Feeding the sheep is oh so important.
Personally, I'd love to be reading the latest "it"
devotional book but have no idea what it is or where to find
it. Seacoast has a book table in the back with recommended
reading for sale.

5. A vision. After the worship, Chris reminded the
congregation of where the church is heading... with goals of
excellent worship, community and outreach (Chris spoke that
week instead of a video feed, which he does from time to
time.) This congregation knows where it's going.

6. Community. Right after Chris started speaking, everyone
heard a thud in the back of the room. A man had had a heart
attack and fell out of his chair. Immediately paramedics
were called and I watched as people mobilized around the
room to help the situation and joined hands in prayer (he's
fine, by the way.)

It's no wonder this church is starting two services after
only a year. With over 30 new professions of faith, almost
1/4 of the congregation are new converts. Get a taste of
Seacoast at their website:

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Trip To Houston

We spent a few days in Houston last week for my sister-in-law's wedding. It's always kind of strange to go back to where you grew up. I experienced a lot of joy and pain in that city. Mostly, a lot of really good Mexican food (Pappasitos anyone?). Here are some of the highlights:

1. Lakewood Church

On Sunday, we attended the 8:30am service at Lakewood Church. While I was in college, I worked a couple of seasons for the Houston Rockets - who at that time played at the Summit/Compaq Center/Lakewood Church. It was absolutely amazing to see a church meeting there! They have totally transformed that place into a really cool church building. I know that Joel Osteen gets knocked around a bit in some circles (it's pretty easy to attack the largest church in America), but our experience was awesome. The worship was rockin' and they had a large army of volunteers every where you turned. At one point in the service, Dodi Osteen had everyone who were evacuees from the hurricane stand-up, and around 200 people stood. They then laid hands and prayed for them. I don't know if I have been more moved in a service than at that moment. Some of those people indicated that they had lost loved ones, or had lost contact with loved ones. I cannot even imagine. What an opportunity we have to live out true Biblical community right now.

2. The house I grew up in

I had not seen the house that I grew up in - in probably 10 years. My wife had to help us find it! It was empty, so we got to walk around and look in all of the windows. A lot of it had not changed. The whirlpool that my father bought at a garage sale and worked for a total of one month - was still in the backyard rotting away. My basketball goal in the driveway had been cut down, and all that remained was half a pole. The memories flooded in as we walked around. Most good, some bad. I've done that now.

3. Pappasitos

We somehow managed to dine twice at Pappasitos while we were there. It's not the Taco Casa, but...ok, it's going to take me a few days to adjust back to the Casa!

God also showed me some things about myself and our church that I am going to share with everyone tomorrow at First Wednesday. If you are in Greenville, make plans to be there tomorrow night at 7.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Seacoast In The News

Here is an article in the local Charleston paper about Seacoast (you will have to register to read it). We're the modern Megachurch!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Take A Breath

I just got home from a very cool dinner with all of our Dream Team members. This completes an incredibly busy last few weeks. I am kind of glad we only turn 1 once!

Our Senior Pastor (and my brother, in case you hadn't figured it out yet..) Greg Surratt came up and gave a great talk on why he started Seacoast Church, and why we do what we do. Lost people matter to God. It's that simple. We will never deviate from our original focus - to reach lost people and turn them into fully devoted followers of Christ. The methods may have changed a little over the years, but never the message.

It's kind of cool to sit there and know that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. We will never have enough volunteers. We will never have enough children's workers. We will never have enough paid staff; because we are called to win the world. That's something worth signing up for.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Am Going To Get Fat

My calendar is filling up with guys from other churches that want to meet with me to talk about how we are doing church. I love talking about what God is doing through Seacoast right now. I really think that it is a revolutionary way to spread the Gospel. However, the only problem with all of this is: they always offer to buy me lunch or dinner. I NEVER turn down an offer of food. If you would like to meet with me about anything, make food a part of it. If I am going to continue this Pastor thing - I have to get back in the gym.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Best Laid Plans...

We had our one year anniversary service today. We planned for a month every moment of this service. We tried to do everything the best way that we possibly knew how. The feeling was electric all morning long. There was a big crowd and the music was totally off-the-hook! I got up to look back at all of the incredible things that have happened in the year since we started; and then give my vision of where we are headed from here. It was a message that I was absolutely stoked about giving. Nothing gets me more excited than laying out vision and direction.

That's when it stopped. As I was beginning to speak, I heard a loud thud at the back of the auditorium. I assumed somebody had tripped over a chair on the way to the restroom (I am getting used to distractions when I speak), so I kept going. The next thing I heard was somebody yell from the back "Call 911!!!". What?!? This is not happening. A man had collapsed on his way out of the auditorium and was laying face down in front of our sound booth. It turns out that he has heart trouble and had just recently had heart surgery. We have some incredible hero's in our church that immediately jumped in and knew exactly what to do. When the EMT's arrived, they said that we had done everything exactly right. It took about 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and get him loaded up and ready to go.

I should tell you at this point that he is going to be ok. I just got back from the hospital and spoke with him and his wife. They apologized for interrupting our service!

After the ambulance left, we pulled back together, prayed, and I continued my message. I have never done anything harder in my life. I know that God had a reason for allowing all of that - I am not quite sure what it was yet. If nothing else, it shows that He is in control - not me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's Not About You

I think sometimes as pastors, we get so caught up in the whirlwind of making church happen each week, that we never make the time to step back and look at what God is actually doing.

In anticipation of our one year anniversary this Sunday, I have been meeting with a few people in our church to find out what God has done in their lives during their time at Seacoast. It has blown me away. I had no idea how much God has changed their entire existence. We talk about reaching the unchurched, uncommitted, unconvinced; but until you hear the actual stories, I don't think you know the true meaning.

I would encourage every pastor to have at least one conversation this week with someone growing in your church. That's why you're doing what you're doing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This Sunday

I just got back from music rehearsal...and this Sunday is going to rock!!! I cannot wait to get up after what we have planned, to share my vision for Seacoast Greenville. If you are a Seacoaster, this is not a weekend to miss! We are putting everything we can into celebrating our first year and looking forward to what is going to happen in the next. Make sure that you bring someone with you as well!

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's The Little Things

In our quest to reach people with the Gospel at our weekend service, we try to do some creative things to keep people awake and interested in what is coming up next. Some of them are blatant - like special songs that segue perfectly into or out of the message topic. A few of them are more subtle; for instance, we have been playing songs during the greeting time that go along with the topic of that day. This past Sunday's topic was the 9th commandment - "Thou shall not lie", so we played "Lyin' Eyes" by the Eagles. Last week it was "Thou shall not steal", so we played the theme from the TV show Cops - "Bad Boys" (thanks Jeff).

I love doing anything creative to set-up hitting people between the eyes with some Gospel, but I especially dig finding those "covert" ways to get the point across. Does anybody notice? I don't know...but it's a lot of fun!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Live What You Preach

We are in a series at church right now called Ten Simple Rules. We are going through the ten commandments each week and looking at how they apply to our lives today. Sunday was the eighth commandment "Thou shall not steal", so I spoke on the different ways that we steal and how hurt and violated we feel when someone has stolen from us.

Today I found out that someone stole my church credit card number last week, and for the last 4 days has been having an early Christmas on my account. This is not exactly how I expected to practice what I preach. Next week I will be speaking on how God wants to bless us with unexpected gifts of oatmeal cookies. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On My Mind

I have been inspired by a few other bloggers to share what is on my mind right now. I realize that this is not a place that a lot of you would like to go. Please indulge me on this one:

1. What a cool church we have. I absolutely love showing up on Sunday mornings! Our Dream Team inspires me every week.

2. How did Ty make it into the bottom 3 on Rock Star INXS last week?

3. I can't believe that we are almost to a year of Seacoast Greenville. What an incredible ride this has been!

4. What is it that Taco Casa puts in their food that makes me keep going back?

5. I absolutely love it when my 2 year old girl says "Daddy, pweaze?".

6. What one cool thing can we do this week to reach more lost people on Sundays?

7. How can I love the game of golf so much, when it obviously hates me?

8. I really don't deserve anything that I have. What an incredible God that we have!

9. The local church is the hope of the world.

10. I can't wait to eat lunch at Taco Casa tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Good Night

We just finished the second night of our Nick-At-Night program for kids. We also had our 1st Wednesday service at the same time. I was a little more involved in the 1st Wednesday service (I lead the worship), so that is mostly what I experienced. Wow. God took over tonight and did His thing. I just tried to get out of the way. The kids then came in after our service and finished their night in the auditorium. It was so cool to see my 6 year old on the stage helping lead the worship for the kids. Young and old, worship for a living Savior was brought tonight.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Weekend That Was

It's Sunday night, and I am currently in my weekend de-compress mode. I actually can't believe that it's almost over. It started at 8am on Saturday with our church grounds work day - where we did so many things that are way out of my gifting! I did find a fit with scooping mulch into a wheel barrel. At least I couldn't injure someone else doing that (I am a musician!).

We followed that with a small group leaders turbo training at 11. What an incredible group of leaders we have! Mac Lake and Josh Surratt were very cool to drive all the way up from Charleston to lead that for us.

I then headed immediately from that to take my two girls to the VeggieTales Rockin' Tour Live at the Bi-Lo Center. It was people in costumes lip-syncing to quasi-rock songs. Not much unlike a N'Sync concert. It was; however, worth seeing my 2 year old scream "Bob!" at the top of her lungs for 2 hours.

We then had a great service this morning. Music was rockin' and the place was full. I was reminded of how much fun doing church can be! After service, we went right into a rehearsal for our Nick-At-Night VBS starting this Tuesday. I finally got home this afternoon in time to earnesty try and watch Tiger Woods make a major comeback in the golf tournament - only to immediately fall asleep.

It was a great weekend, but I'm glad it's over. Tomorrow we get to start it all again... :)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fall Is Coming

One of the reasons that I have not had much time to post lately, is that we are working on so many exciting things for the church in the fall. My STRESS level is at defcom 5 right now! I thought summer was the season that you chill out a bit. I guess if you don't plan for the fall it is. Here are just a few of the things that we are working on right now:

1. 1 year anniversary service outside - August 21st. Outdoor events scare me to death, and I really think that this could be a great Big Ask event for us.

2. Our first "VBS", called Nick-At-Night, next week. I have never been a part of one of these. I think it could be really cool though.

3. Dream Team dinner the end of August. We have a group of amazing volunteers that have caught the vision and do incredible things every weekend.

4. Going to two services on September 11. Oops - did I let that out? Please don't tell anyone yet!

5. 40 Days Of Community starting the end of September. I cannot wait for this to start! We are already in full gear with the planning.

It's going to be an exciting fall at Seacoast Greenville - if I can survive to see it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Blogging Apologies

For all of you who breathlessly wait for my new posts to appear, I apologize for my brief blogging absence over the past few days. I know you've been tempted to leave me for other, better looking blogs. Guys like Gary Lamb are enticing you with their fancy graphics and daily nuggets of wisdom. They may seem smarter, wittier, more thought provoking, on the cutting-edge of what's happening in society today; but don't let their wares lure you in. I am back, and I am going to at least pretend to be all those things. That's the least that I can do for all of my loyal readers out there. All four of you.

Friday, July 22, 2005

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today was my birthday (please, no gifts...ok, if you insist...), and every year farther north of 30, I seem to get a little more nostalgic in my thinking on my birthdays. Tonight, we dug out some old videos to show the girls and have a good laugh at how goofy mommy and daddy were - well, mostly daddy.

It was amazing the feelings that came up as we watched those videos. It was like I was transferred in my mind to that exact moment in my life. As we watched our high-school graduation video, the same insecurities that I had as a teenager were right in my face again. How could that loser be leading a church - or anything beyond a basket of fries for that matter?

Other videos took me to where I was in my walk with Christ at that time, and I wanted to crawl through the screen to knock some sense into that idiot. How much closer could I be to God now, if I could have just seen beyond myself then?

The experience certainly showed me that God doesn't give up. I would have. I have to remember that God sees what we can become - not where we are now. He's just waiting for us to realize what He is capable of doing.

It took me way too long.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Idol or INXS?

After watching Rock Star INXS last night, I have decided to do a top ten list of why Rock Star is a much better show than American Idol:

1. Actual Talent - I may be a little biased towards rock-n-roll, but these guys and girls can actually perform.

2. Better House Band - These guys rock!

3. Better Host - This host doesn't pretend that the show is about her.

4. No Obnoxious Judges - It's so nice to hear qualified comments from the band - not cheap shots for ratings.

5. No Cheesy Themes - So far they have picked great songs for them to perform. I can only pray that there will not be a disco night!

6. Better Elimination System - What a concept - let the qualified people make the final call!

7. More Background Info - It's great to see the contestants rehearse and work out the songs. You can see the hard work that goes into the performances.

8. No Paula Abdul - No explanation needed.

9. They Can Play Instruments! - The one thing that I really liked about Nashville Star.

10. No William Hung - They took 15 great performers and put them on the stage. That's all we need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Turning 1

Our one year anniversary as a church is coming up next week, so I have been thinking a lot lately about what have we done well, and what could we have done better. Hindsight is always 20/20, but here are a few things that stick out to me:

Done Well

1. Small Groups - our people have really imbraced the idea of doing life together. Last semester we had close to 80% participation in small groups.

2. Worship Experience - it took us a few months to find out exactly who we were, but I think we are now creating really good opportunities for people to meet God.

3. Volunteer Participation - our Dream Team has really embraced the vision and they are there every week with smiles on!

4. Kid's Ministry - those guys knock it out of the park every week! We had a children's baptism last week that was one of the best things we've ever done.

Could Do Better

1. Connection
- it seems like a lot of people come and never get plugged in. I think they sometimes go out the back door because no one got to them.

2. Worship Participation - we are making great strides in this, but I would love to see everyone connecting deeper with God on Sundays and First Wednesdays.

3. Location, Location, Location - we got there - but we wondered through the desert for awhile!

I am sure that I will continue refining the list as we get closer to our 1 year celebration. There really are so many great things that I have not listed. The #1 thing: the real estate of Heaven has expanded several times in the past 11 months!

Monday, July 18, 2005

My Life Is Fulfilled (kind of)

My dream of living in a city with a real-life music store again - has finally come true. I spent most of yesterday afternoon sitting in the keyboard section of our brand new Guitar Center! I never thought that it would happen, but God heard my cries of desperation, and gave me a shiny, new Guitar Center to play in. My wife even pretended to be excited for me! My days of driving to Atlanta to check out the latest gear is over. I love Greenville!!!

Friday, July 15, 2005


We had a meeting last night with 15 current and potential small group leaders about the 40 Days Of Community campaign that we will kick off in September. I have never been more excited about anything our church has done than this campaign. I honestly wish that I could be a member of every one of the small groups represented last night! What incredible leaders! We were able to pin on the map 9 locations for host homes, and it's only July. I cannot wait to see the effect that we are going to make on our community - within and outside of the church walls. This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Chris' Pet Peeve

I cruise through a lot of church websites during my week. I have to admit right off that I am a church junky. I love seeing what other churches are doing, and can we steal...I mean learn anything from them? My favorite thing to do on vacation is visit other churches. I have managed to catch 4 different churches on one Sunday morning! (It can be done, but you have to be a little rude leaving - sorry!) My wife thinks that I have a serious illness and the last thing a pastor should want to do on vacation is go to church that much. I can't help it - I love it.

I say all of that to justify myself as somewhat of an expert on what I have to say next:

I have one major pet peeve with a lot of church websites - please do not put real pictures of what you are doing until you are ready to do it well. Just don't do it! There are some great stock photos out there of really happy looking people to fill the void until then. I am sure that your people had a great time at the lake trip last weekend, but I don't know if that's the first images I want of your church! I would think that one of the goals of a church website is to present your church in the best light to the unchurched public. What is it that they say in business - "Fake it until you make it"? We might be able to learn something from that - at least on our websites.

OK, I feel better now. Back to cruising... :-)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Church or Not a Church?

Gary Lamb brought up an interesting question on his blog about what is considered a church plant? Our church, Seacoast, has been on the frontlines of the multi-campus movement the last couple of years. We now have 9 campuses across South Carolina and Georgia. I am not going to make a case for why that is the future of the church or whether your church should make the leap. You can find some great stuff on that subject at Geoff Surratt's blog. I can just tell you about our experience in planting Seacoast Church Greenville.

First of all, I do think that most off-site campuses/video-venues fall into the 'church-plant' category. I think that Terry & Tony made a pretty good case for that by putting Buckhead Church on their "10 Most Innovative Churches" list, and not Northpoint - the church that planted them. However, the process and structure is different for almost every church that has venues.

Every Seacoast campus has its own Campus Pastor who oversees the care of the people and the day-to-day operations of the church. They oversee their own budget, and every campus is expected to be self-supporting by a certain amount of time. Our campuses are started on a shoe-string budget and staff, so that we can minimize the overhead and start more campuses quickly.

Our campus in Greenville is also a part of the Association Of Related Churches - a church planting arm of Seacoast Church. They helped fund our launch and a percentage of our budget goes toward planting other autonomous churches across the nation.

My family and I moved from Charleston to Greenville 14 months ago to put together a core team to hopefully launch the church. At the time, we knew two people that lived in Greenville. We sent out letters to everyone in Seacoast's database and ended up with 14 people to start meeting as a home group. From there we were basically on our own.

We built a core group of around 60 people over the summer and launched the church in August of 2004 with 315 people coming to the first service. Seacoast provides all of our graphics for bulletins and web content. They also provide video support and occasional special elements for stage design. I do speak on weekends and every campus pastor teaches at their midweek services. Every campus is tailored to fit the area that it is in. If you managed to attend all 9 campuses on the same Sunday, you would probably experience 9 different styles of worship! There are certain Seacoast 'DNA' elements present at every campus, but they are not carbon copies.

The coolest thing is that every campus has a great teacher every weekend! If the speaker is on video, they pull the audience into the video and you forget that it is not live. We discovered at the Long Point Campus (where the message is taped) that most people in the audience watch the screens during the message instead of the person on stage! It is definitely a medium-driven culture.

Having a 'mega-church' as a covering and backing for us, has been invaluable. People in the community know that we are not going to be gone tomorrow. We will develop our own elders here eventually. I think that it is important to have people that know and love the congregation to fill the Biblical role of an elder. (At Seacoast, the elders do not make the day-to-day decisions for the church.)

Well, that's our story. Are we a true church plant? I don't know that it really matters - as long as we are adding people to His Kingdom and changing people's destinies. That's what a church is about to me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Tomorrow I am going to Verizon to order my Treo 650. I'm all a-tingly! I am not really sure why I need to be more connected than I am now, but it must make my life better - right?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pretty Cool!

Terry Storch and Tony Morgan (blogging gurus), listed us on their "Top 10 Most Innovative Churches" list. That's a pretty cool honor to have. Probably like most of the churches that are on the list - it makes me think "if they only knew!" Most of the time it seems like we don't have a clue. But, I think that if we ever did, we wouldn't be where God wants us. We're just living His dream!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Disappointments or Doors?

Lately I have started to realize that when you become a pastor and plant a new church, sometimes people and things are going to disappoint you. I know this is not a new revelation for a lot of you that read these sort of things; and I grew up in a pastor's home, so I should really know better...but, you never really know that feeling until it happens to "your" ministry. You feel the sting. Sometimes it comes from out of nowhere - "I never saw that coming!" And sometimes you can see it coming, but you somehow hope for the best and believe the best - until you're flat on your back.

What I have also begun to realize is that most of these "disappointments" are God's way of speaking to me. A few of them are just the result of bad burritos that morning, but mostly it happens when I start to think that it's "my ministry" and I am in control. When I take a step back and say "ok God, it's not about me", I can then see that God was closing a door that I was trying force open with my power. I have to admit that I am not the super-spiritual type that can hear God in an audible voice. Sometimes He has to take a bat to my head and remind me that He is in control. It's just that some people are 32 oz. bats and others are 40. Still learning...

Proverbs Wisdom

I have recently been reading through Proverbs every day. The only problem is, I probably won't get all the way through for several more months! Every time that I start reading, I can't get through 3 verses without it hitting me between the eyes. I would challenge anyone who says that they can never get anything out of reading the Bible, to try Proverbs for a few days. I guarantee that God will speak to you.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Paid To Watch TV

I signed up awhile back to be a part of a Nielson survey on TV programs that I watch. They said it would be very simple - all I had to do was answer a few questions over the phone, and then they would send me the paperwork to fill out during my "week". And here is the kicker - they would pay me $10 to watch TV for a week! I was going to get paid - to watch TV! The irony is, I have satellite, so technically I usually pay them for the privilege of watching television. I finally get a return on my investment.

Today started my week of viewing. I am too nervous to turn on the TV. The added pressure of being paid has taken the joy out of something that usually brings me great pleasure. Am I watching the right shows? If I don't watch the right shows, will they cancel them? Will this finally prove that I am an addict? Should I return the $10 if I don't turn on the TV? 6 more days and counting...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

God Sized Space

I am sitting in my office right now on a Wednesday night, in the daycare that we lease a few rooms for our new church plant. We have 4 rooms available to us on Wednesday nights - not including the office. Here is what is going on right now: There is a men's small group meeting in one classroom - guys getting real with each other and God. In another classroom, a group of people are going through the program Alpha to deepen their walk with God. In the auditorium, our brand new youth group is finishing up their study for the summer. The last room that we have is being used as a nursery for the kids of the adults involved tonight. 4 rooms is not a lot for most churches. But for us right now, at this moment, it's God sized space.

Fire Me...Please!

Last night, we watched the summer reality show "Fire Me...Please!" on CBS. I am generally not a fan of the summer reality fare. It did, however, birth my favorite - Survivor, so I will occasionally turn one on to see if it might be the next cultural phenomena. This one is not it. It was interesting though, to see how much people will tolerate from people working for them. If you have not seen the show, the premise is that these people try to get fired from their new jobs as close to 3:oopm as possible - without going over. Last night the bosses put up with:

- Sleeping on the job - complete with loud snoring in the showroom
- Purposely sloppy work
- Direct violation of company rules - i.e. taking personal calls repeatedly
- Extremely annoying behavior
- Rude treatment of customers

Even after all of that, it seemed like the bosses were very reluctant to fire the rogue employees. I am not sure what this says of our current working climate. Maybe people are more tolerant of others and willing to give second chances? Or maybe we're so afraid of confrontation that we will avoid it at all costs - even to our livelihood? Or more likely - I should turn off the TV and read a book or something.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Come With It

This is from a talk that I gave to our volunteers yesterday at our pre-service meeting:

John Ortberg writes in his book God Is Closer Than You Think about the Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel called "The Creation Of Adam". In the painting, God is rushing toward Adam on a cloud powered by angels. It is apparent in the painting that God's total desire at that moment is to reach this man. His hand is stretching out to touch Adam's hand, with only a small gap between. That's where a lot us are today - that small gap between. God desires to come to us. He longs to touch and have contact with His children, but He is not going to come all the way to us. He leaves that small gap for us to make a choice. We have to make the decision to fill the gap and come the rest of the way to Him.

Psalm 100:4 says:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Notice that it says "enter his gates with thanksgiving - his courts with praise". It doesn't say "come in, and when you feel something to be thankful for - do it". Or "when you start to feel the groove of the band, or hear the people around you, or hit that key change going into the final chorus - then start to praise." No, it says to come with it. Come with thanksgiving for the great things that God does for you daily. Come with the praise that should continually be on your lips. Don't wait this week for God to shake you up. Bring what you have to Him. Can you imagine if all the believers came to church this weekend with their thanksgiving and praise flow already on? God would rock the church! God wants to come to us, but He's waiting for us to fill the gap. Let's come with it this week!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Blogging Fun

I am very excited to be jumping into this new thing the kids call "blogging". Being a new church planter, I spend a lot of my days alone in the office - praying that someone will call me. I don't care why. Pray for them, answer questions about the church, sell me enviornmentally safe shower heads - it doesn't matter! I just need some human interaction occasionally. Thus, I have many pent-up thoughts and ramblings that need to be released somewhere. Why not cyberspace? It seems so much warmer now that people are sharing through their blogs. So, I will be throwing out my random thoughts occasionally, and I would love to get your feedback as we go. I feel so much more hip now!