Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Thank you. :)
I think we have taken a huge step towards that goal over the past few weeks. We asked our people to adopt a struggling family in our church and our community, and help provide a few basic needs. They were to bring the items to the church and we would fan out across the city to deliver them to the families this week. I have to say - we were totally overwhelmed by the generosity of our church! They brought in so many items that we are now looking for more families in our community to help. Yeah God!!! Thank you Seacoasters for seeing the vision and taking it way beyond what I thought was possible!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
This is also usually not a great month for Sunday attendance. It seems like people are so busy that they save up their church time for Christmas Eve. But this year has been different. We have actually grown, and last Sunday had our largest non-Easter attendance ever!
Christmas Eve should be interesting. We are doing two - one at 11am and one at 6pm. I have no idea how the attendance will shake out, but we are preparing for everything. The 6:00 will have few extras like: a marshmallow roasting pit, carolers outside, and a visit from Santa for the kiddies. I was wavering a bit on having Santa until my wife invited one of our neighbors who does not attend church, and they told her they will probably come because they haven't been able to take the kids to see Santa yet. Ok...we'll have Santa.
It's been a great month and I can't wait until January!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I am sitting here listening to the 5.1 version of the new Beatles remastered cd/dvd "Love". These are still the best songs ever written, and they are the best band of all time. Consider that:
- They recorded everything live, mostly on one track.
- An "overdub" was cutting the tape and piecing it back in somewhere.
- There was no such thing as AutoTune.
- They were inventing everything they did.
Friday, November 03, 2006
- Culturally relevant
- Engaging and authentic
- Missionally glocal
- "You will not hear this topic (sex, money, fly fishing, etc.) talked about in any other church."
- "Do NOT miss this Sunday, it will be the biggest, culturally relevant presentation you've ever seen!!!"
- The next week after said Sunday: "You will ABSOLUTELY not want to miss this Sunday, it will totally blow last week away!!!"
- "Don't EVEN think about going on vacation and missing this Sunday. You will not be able to live without it."
- "You will never hear that song done in any other church."
- Relevant environments
- Post-modern anything
- We have contemporary worship (what does that mean anymore?)
- "If you don't get everyone you have ever talked to to church this Sunday, they will die and go to hell on Monday!" (or something to that extent)
Who knows, maybe this rant is from all of the caffeine today and will disappear tomorrow...but I feel better and self-important now!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I did manage to finish one of the five yesterday - Communicating For A Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. I will say this up front: I really respect Andy Stanley as a communicator. I think that he is one of the best out there. I have seen him speak in person many times, and he always manages to move me. That said...this book was kind of a mix for me. I really enjoyed Andy's insight on how he puts a message together, and the tips on being a better communicator. He has developed a very unique approach, one point sermons, that is extremely effective. He answered a lot of the questions that I would ask if he would ever have lunch with guy like me (are you out there Andy? :)). Really, really good stuff.
However, some parts of the book did not do it for me. The narrative tale in the first section, while an interesting way to introduce the major points, seemed unnecessary to me. I probably should have just started reading where Andy takes over. That's where the gold is.
The only other slight problem that I had with the book was the perceived message that this is absolutely the most effective method for life change. It could possibly be; however, that's a pretty strong statement to make. I know several extremely successful communicators who take a different approach, and the fruit of their ministry is obvious. Andy even gives props to a few specific communicators - after listing their methods (fill in blanks, using notes, verse-by-verse) as not the best way to do it. I am sure that he did not intend this as a slight to them, but that's how it came across to me.
As a side note: I thought it was interesting that Andy encourages you to listen to and critique your own messages to find your own voice; while Mark Driscoll says to move on after a message and sleep like a Calvinist. I like Mark's approach!
After all of that, I would HIGHLY recommend the book to anyone that is a communicator. It doesn't matter who you are communicating to, we all need to get better and be more effective. And I'm still game for lunch Andy. Call me?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
- We nominated elders at our last 1st Wednesday service.
- We are in the middle of hiring our next full-time position.
- We are completely financially stable right now.
- I occasionally sleep an entire night.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
1. First Wednesday Services. I know that this has become a popular trend with churches now, but I really dig the way they work for us. They are purposely not over-programmed. There is always preparation and planning that happens before, but we are totally open to whatever direction the Spirit takes us. Worship & prayer is a priority on those nights. My favorite service at Seacoast.
2. Sunday Worship Response. We have recently opened the time following the message for people to respond to what they have just experienced. During our worship time, people are free to seek prayer from elders, take communion, nail their requests and sins to a cross, light a candle to represent a prayer for someone, and give their tithes as worship. This has revolutionized how our people worship. I cry everytime when I see a family gather together to take communion. We are also seeing people healed and marriages strengthened through the prayer time.
3. Programmed, But Yet Not. I think one of the strengths of Seacoast has always been our seemingly laidback, but moving services. I talk to people all the time who tell me they cried from the first note of music until they walked out of the building. Something powerful moved them to tears and repentance. That's the power of the Holy Spirit. We are never too uptight about trying to put on the greatest show, but we are very intentional about creating moments where people can meet God's presence. That is our #1 priority every Sunday.
4. Honest Worship. I tell my band almost every week - we are not up here to put on a show. They can get that at the Handlebar on Saturday night. We are here to help people worship in spirit and in truth. Does that mean it has to be totally serious and mellow? Absolutely not! We like to enjoy praising our risen Savior! We rock hard and occasionally throw in a screaming guitar solo. I also want our band to look like their having fun while they are worshipping with their instruments. A drummer who smiles and sings along is very cool! It also doesn't mean that it isn't high quality. I believe that our God deserves our best, and there no worse distractions to worship than bad notes!
5. Real People In Leadership. What you see at Seacoast is what you get. None of our leaders are perfect (thank God!). They are on the same path to Christ as everyone else, just at different stages. The people on stage look and talk exactly the same way off of it. And no, I am not going to start tucking in my shirts and wearing socks and shoes! That's just who I am!!! :)
That's us. I would love to hear about what God is doing unique in your church!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Outside of Ebenezers Coffeehouse in D.C. - very cool place
Taken after hiking up to the Washington monument...only to find out it was closed:(
Finally in New York! (notice the pub I'm giving the A.R.C.)
On a five story ferris-wheel - INSIDE of Toys-R-Us!!!
We ate lunch at THE Hello Deli. Rupert G. actually took our order!
Woke up early to catch the Today Show. Right after this was taken, I shook hands with Matt Lauer. Have not washed it since.
On our last night in New York, we decided to take a carriage ride through Central Park. It monsooned the entire time! This was us making the best of it.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Today, we did the D.C. tourist thing. I am not sure who decided to do this in the middle of July (that would be me), but did you know it's really HOT in this town?!? At one point, we thought were going to melt into the Washington Monument. Definitely the highlight of the day though, was dropping on Mark Batterson and his staff at their coffeehouse/offices - Ebeneezers. What an amazing place! Literally a half-block from Union Station, they have one of the sweetest coffeehouses I have ever been in. Mark even took time out from his meetings to give us a tour. D.C. should absolutely add Ebeneezers to the official tour map!
Next stop - NY!!!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
I've started to notice something at weddings that I have performed: almost always at the rehearsal, the wedding coordinator will put out a call for the pastor to show himself - and when I identify myself as such, I see this look of total confusion and panic come across her face. I am expecting her to say: "very funny little man, now go find the real pastor and we can get this thing started." It's kind of nice not looking the typical part of a pastor, but on the other hand, I don't like frightening wedding coordinators. Next time, I think I will wear a large badge that says "My name is Chris and yes, they let me be a pastor".
Friday, June 09, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
1. The fam and I made a visit today to the redneck capital of the south - Anderson, SC - for Freedom Aloft Weekend. That is not at all a slight on Anderson. They are very proud of and own that distinction - just ask Perry! I will have to say that - only at events like that do you learn how some people should not express themselves with their t-shirts. I saw a new one today that I cannot reprint here, but it did make me laugh. Not so much at the saying, but the fact that someone would wake up and decide that it is good idea to wear that shirt in public!
2. I tend to be a very streaky reader. I LOVE to read, but I hit times when I don't get to as much as I would like. Then there are times where I devour everything I can get my hands on. I am in one of those right now (probably because 24 is over!). I am in the middle of Breaking The Missional Code by Ed Stetzer & David Putnam right now. So far, I am really digging it. I will post a full review soon.
3. I am very excited about some of the things that Seacoast is going to start doing this summer. We have been experimenting with some of it in Greenville lately, and I think it's going to be a very big shift for our entire church. The cool thing about Seacoast is we don't stand still. As I heard Dave Ferguson say in a message: "God moves and we step." You have to do that to keep up with what God is dreaming, and He has some huge dreams right now for Seacoast Church!
4. If you live in the Greenville, DO NOT MISS THIS SUNDAY!!! I promise that you will not regret it. In fact, this would be a great weekend to invite someone with you. And that's all I am going to say about that!
Monday, May 22, 2006
The first thought that I have: WOW! I finished it in 2 days because I could not put it down. I have been a fan of Mars Hill Church for quite awhile from afar. I love their approach to doing church missionaly. Driscoll is one of one of my favorite communicators out there, and I believe a prophetic voice for this generation.
I have to say that the book did not disappoint. He is VERY honest and does not sugar coat anything about their experience of starting a church in one of the most un-churched areas in America. I love his sarcasm and saying what most pastors only think. I know they think it, because I do! I believe that every pastor who is considering planting a church should read this book. Church planting is hard, especially when you do it in Seattle, but the fruit is eternal.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, April 17, 2006
We had 3 amazing services yesterday. We had the most people we've ever had (320!), the most services in one week, and I thought hard about wearing a suit! (it didn't happen). I want to give a major, major shout out to all of our people that volunteered way above and beyond throughout the weekend. You guys are AWESOME! Everywhere you turned on Sunday, there was someone with a lanyard - smiling and doing something! Thank you so much for serving in God's Kingdom for His purpose every week!!! I can't wait to do it again this Sunday. :)
Friday, April 14, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
APRIL 4, 2006
Houses Of The Holy
Candid First Impressions of Upstate Church-Shoppers
There are thousands of houses of worship in the Upstate and our Prophets are sampling them. From time to time one of our reviewers (or Prophets) will visit one of these Houses of the Holy and share ten standard observations (The 10 Pronouncements) with our readers. Prophets are anonymous visitors, usually on a first-time visit. They are to be respectful at all times, as any visitor should, but we ask them to be candid in print. Our Prophets’ 10 Pronouncements are not set in stone. They’re just first impressions. But first impressions are usually the eternal, er, lasting ones. Feel free to take what follows with a pillar of salt…
THIS WEEK’S HOLY LAND
Seacoast Church (Greenville)
212 Roper Mountain Road Ext.
Greenville, SC 29615
Setting/Environs: Located at the former home of New Life Christian Fellowship, at 18 months old, Seacoast (Greenville) is the newest of nine locations for a Charleston-based church with videotaped sermons from the main campus being replayed at the 8 satellite locations. I didn’t know this going in, but if you think it’s weird, read on.
Name of Head Spiritual Guru: Pastor Chris Surratt (in residence)
Denomination/Affiliation: Independent; preaching an unerring Bible and salvation only for baptized believers
Date and Time: Sunday, February 26 at 11 am with a post-service baptism Top Billed Clergy For Today: Pastor Chris with the video sermon by his older brother, Greg.
“I chose this specific House because….” the name seemed so out of place. Literally. Seacoast? In Greenville? What’s up with that?
Have you visited here before? If so, how often? No.
THE TEN PRONOUNCEMENTS
“Once inside the doors, the first thing I noticed was…” I was in a first-rate music venue with seating spaced generously for the 80 or so at this service. Think Handlebar with a baptismal pool backstage.
“As I sat down, the people around me were…” mingling mostly near the coffee (free) and the soundboard, mindful of the video countdown clock for the start of the service.
”The service opened up with…” two rockin’ songs. Lyric-wise they were Christian songs but musically you’d never know that except that the vocalists were, well, heaven-sent (and American Idol-worthy).
“The one thing that struck me as being positively profound was…” the baptism by immersion at the end of the service; something I’d previously only seen on TV. If not that, then having free coffee and doughnuts in the sanctuary where you can walk up and refill at any point without missing a beat.
“The sermon was exactly 38 minutes long and it was basically about…” the Beatitudes and how we all need to accept God’s help, including a gripping testimonial from a Charleston Seacoast member.
“After the service ended…” most people lingered in the sanctuary, which is not surprising considering the service was comprised of a video sermon sandwiched between two rockin’ songs on either side of it.
“Newcomers and visitors are…” clearly instructed on what to do and they are welcomed by all, without being singled out to the crowd. A newcomer service with meal and childcare (call ahead if possible) follows the 11 am service on first Sundays.
“The most painful part was…” once again being dressed improperly. This time a suit and tie for a decidedly blue jeans crowd.
“I was pleasantly surprised when…” the final song sounded like U2 performing in a small club.
“My most lasting impression will be…” the video feed starting up, to my complete surprise, and then later realizing that it wasn’t all that odd or gimmicky as I had first thought.
THE JUDGMENT (IN 25 WORDS OR LESS):
Seacoast slams its predominantly young (25-40) crowd with top-quality rock and heavy doses of “DirecJC.” Not for anyone nursing a hangover.
THIS WEEK’S PROPHET: D’yer Maker
D’yer Maker is a 40-something male. A former Catholic, He’s currently “blowin’ in the wind.”
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
One of the exercises for the week was to read a popular business/church book and relate it to doing ministry. One of the books was Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. If you have read the book, you know that one of the main points is you have to make your product sticky. Does it stick to your "customer" after the initial presentation?
I thought that the group that did the report made an interesting observation: are our churches making Jesus the sticky part of our services? In fact, I have thought about that all week. What part does Jesus really play in cutting-edge church services today? Beyond the moving lights, the gigantic video screens, the smoke, the latest secular song that proves we're cool too; what is really sticking to our "customers" when they leave the building? What impresses them the most - how cool we think we are, or how awesome our Lord Jesus is? Don't get me wrong, I am all for using technology to reach more people for Christ. After all, I pastor a campus of Seacoast Church - 200 miles away! I just think that we may be losing the only important stickiness we should have. Ultimately, it all comes down to the name of Jesus. Without that, we have nothing. Is that what they remember on Monday? Or does it get lost in the fog...
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I hate setting attendance goals. After doing this thing for 18 months, I have discovered that sometimes you just don't know what God is going to do in different seasons. We have gone through stretches where growth in attendance was just not happening. I can sometimes look back and know why - you have to be prepared for growth before it happens. Sometimes, I have no clue.
For the past few months we have been growing quickly. I looked at our 2006 goals today and realized that we passed our attendance goal for the year - last month! I had a sudden attack of T.H.S. God-sized dreams deserve God-sized goals. Why is that so hard to do?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
Four Jobs I've Had:
Grocery store stocker (a really, really bad one)
Country Club Cart Attendant (free golf - yeah!)
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
Top Gun (I have a need, a need for speed!)
Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Bull Durham (back when Kevin Costner was cool)
Four Places I Have Lived:
St. Louis, Missouri (Cardinals baby!)
Four Shows I Like To Watch:
24 (I wish I was Jack Baeur)
My Name Is Earl
Four Foods That I Like:
Fajitas at Pappasitos
Anything at the Cheesecake Factory
The JC at Moe's (John Coctostan for you non-regulars)
Mushroom Cheeseburger at Five Guys
Four Sites That I Visit Every Day:
Bloglines (I'm addicted and I know it)
Four Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
Write a book (doesn't everyone say that?)
Sit in with U2
Take Jenny skiing in Colorado
Give my girls away at their weddings (mushy I know, but it's my blog!)
Four People I'm Tagging:
Andy Stanley (I know he doesn't have a blog, but he can do it on mine!)
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Saturday, February 18, 2006
We hit the mountains yesterday for some snow tubin' with the girls. We had a blast, but it a felt a little strange to be on snow when it's 60 degrees outside! Ashlyn loved it, because she actually got to go down the hill this year. We lasted a whole 1 1/2 hours out of the 3 we had alloted...man, we're getting old...
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
We are unveiling a really cool spiritual growth tool next weekend at Seacoast, but I thought I would give you guys a sneak peak. For the past year a team of very talented and dedicated Seacoasters have been working on a massive online project to help people grow spiritually. Next weekend (at Greenville) we're unveiling a piece of that project called the Spiritual Health Assessment. They have developed a 56 question diagnosis tool to help you see where you are in your growth based on the five values Seacoast is built on: worship, connect, serve, share and grow. After you take the assessment you are give a customized list of resources to help you grow in each area. The list of resources will be continually updated, so this is a living tool that will just continue to improve over time.
If you'd like to take it for a test drive you can click here. Please let us know what you think and I will pass it on to the team. This is a great tool that is just the beginning of what Seacoast's Online Learning is going to be about.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Our small groups have been going for a couple weeks now, and I just got the final reports that 80% of our adults are in groups! I always had the feeling that as we grew, our percentage of attenders in groups would go down. It has actually been the opposite. Our goal by the end of the year is 85%, and now I think we may have to bump that to 90! I don't think I could ever imagine having church without communities of people that live life together. Why would you want to try to do that?
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
This has happened a few times since we started, and some of the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent: Said Christian family visits the church one Sunday and grabs me after the service to begin the game. Stop me if you've heard this before - they have been shopping around for a church for a while, and we seem to have a few things that might interest them. "Could we meet for lunch sometime this week so you can give us the full sales pitch?" I say "sure", because I'm always there for food and we set a date.
At lunch over burritos, I share my heart and they probe for why we would be more deserving of their attendance than the last 5 churches they have tried out. I'm a nice person, so at the end of the interview I pick up the check and tell them I hope to see them on Sunday.
Said Christian family shows up a couple more times to kick the tires a bit...see what other incentives we could offer them to join...could we possibly throw in a leadership position to be named later? Something obviously goes horribly wrong because suddenly they disappear for a couple of weeks.
That's all fine - I kind of understand most of that - but here's what really gets me: said Christian family decides to call me one day to let me know that they have prayed about it - a lot, and we just are not the church for them. But if the other church somehow fails to fulfill their duties as their church of the month, we might still be the winner! O glory be!!!
Sometimes, lost people just seem to be nicer than us Christians. Why is that?
Alright, I'm done. It's safe to look again... :)
Monday, January 16, 2006
1. I am going to Dallas this week to work with Leadership Network on their meeting facilitation teams. It's sort of a think-tank for churches and leaders from around the nation. This one is on church planting. I am excited about being a small part of a great organization.
2. We had our biggest Sunday ever yesterday! The worship was awesome, the message was off-the-hook, and we played a Journey song! What more could you want from a service?
3. I am stoked about getting our small groups started again this week. I am looking for over 85% participation this semester. I think they are that important for the spiritual health of our people. If you are not in a small group yet, what are you waiting for?!?
4. We are in the planning stages for our Sunday morning youth ministry called Nitro. It's going to be awesome! More about that later - they are calling my flight!
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I have tried to like the morning. I have tried to make peace with early people. I once heard a speaker that I respect - say that he does 90% of his creative thinking before 8am; so I resolved to start my work days by at least 7. That lasted 2 days. I ended up staring at my computer screen for 3 hours and wishing I was dead. The only creative thing that I did was to stop showing up at 7!
Don't get me wrong - I'm not lazy. In fact, I have a very difficult time with people who do not work hard. I think that was instilled in me by my dad. (God is working on my patience. :)) I just do it a different time than most people.
I am a musician. I really think that we are wired differently. I am most creative from about 9 - 12 at night. Maybe it's from so many late gigs and rehearsals through the years...I don't know. I just know that it's time to own it.
Am I wrong? Am I the only one? I can't be...speak up night people!!!
1. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Great book that really flipped my thinking. Books like this are dangerous, they make you reconsider things you always believed. Which leads to my next book:
2. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
After all of the hype, I had to read it. Man, I'm glad I did! Challenged me on almost every page.
3. 7 Practices Of Effective Ministry by the Northpoint guys
A great play-by-play of how and why they do the things they do. They do them well and with purpose.
4. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Should be a must read for every pastor and staff in America. Extremely applicable to the church.
5. Seizing Your Devine Moment by Erwin McManus
I actually read this in 'o4, but I have reread it several times since. I noticed that it has been re-released as "Chasing Daylight". A GREAT book that changed my life. (also read "Barbarian Way")
6. God Is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg
Maybe my favorite writer. Totally challenged my view of prayer.
7. A Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg
A Biblically based manual for living a God focused life.
8. The Secret: What Great Leaders Know--And Do by Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller
Good business book that teaches you how lead a team.
9. The Best Question Ever by Andy Stanley
Really easy read that makes total sense. A must read for anyone who counsels people.
10. Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith by Ann Lamott Another one of those "challenge your thinking" kind of books. A very effective, entertaining writer.
Books I'm currently reading or about to read:
Bird By Bird - Ann Lamott; Searching For God Knows What - Donald Miller; Now, Discover Your Strengths - Marcus Buckingham; Five Dysfunctions Of A Team - Patrick M. Lencioni
Anything you would suggest for me in '06?
Oh yeah - HOOK 'EM HORNS!!!