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.