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!!!