Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I've never done this on the blog before, but we could really use your prayers this week. There are a couple of decisions coming down the pipe that need God all over them. I can't go into details right now, but the next few days could be extremely important.


Monday, April 23, 2007


Man - I really, really, really hate being sick. :(

Canceled my trip to the ARC conference. I think I made the right call.

Trust me - You do not want to know the details...

Sunday Thoughts

I have to start this post with the disclaimer that I have been sick for the past several days and right now I am flying high on a couple tablespoons of Nyquil. :) Whatever is said after this may not make sense and will not stand up in a court of law. :)

In between coughs and snot blowing this week (just keeping it real...), I have been thinking about what God is doing right now with this church. For whatever reason, God seems to have put his hand of blessing on us to have an influence in this community right now.

I remember our first year as a church. In a LOT of ways, it was rough. You've read about the churches that go from 0-2000 in their first year...that was not us. My family and I dropped into this city in April of 2004, and we knew four people. Two of them have since moved back to Charleston! No one would return my phones calls - real estate people, schools, other pastors - no one! I had one local, influential pastor tell me that he would not trade places with me for anything in the world. That felt good. (Cue the violins)

The dream of starting with 300 people and the next week having 400, and the next 500...did not happen. We opened our first Sunday with 315 people and pretty quickly settled in at around 120 every week. Our first summer, we dipped under 100 on a couple of Sundays. I was on vacation for one of them...I almost didn't come home. I remember standing on stage on one such Sunday and thinking, "This is not what I signed up for God".

The weird thing was - we were not doing things a whole lot different than we are now. We've always had really good music, the teaching is very solid, the core team volunteers were awesome. But yet, we were not ready...I was not ready. I am amazed when I think about how much God has grown me in the two and a half years since we launched Seacoast Greenville. I needed that time to figure out why this church exists. I needed time for God to break me and use me how He saw fit - not how I planned it. I have given up a lot of pride since April 2004. It's no longer about what I can do to grow this church. I know now that I've got nothin'.

That's why it's kind of amusing to me now that suddenly - I get phone calls returned. In fact, I am now the one returning a lot of the calls. If they only knew! I do know one thing - I will always return those calls. I know that as quickly as God can bless, He can also lift His hand of blessing. I have seen it happen. We've all got nothin' without the power His Holy Spirit behind us.

I don't know where you are at as you read this. Maybe you need to let God break you. He needs to break you before He can use you. I wanted to give up several times (and still do on the occasional Monday :)), but I am so glad that I did not. God had a plan and it was so much greater than anything that I could ever dream or imagine. And He's not done yet...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Too Early To Fly

It's 5:30 in the morning and I am sitting in the Greenville airport waiting on my plane to Dallas. I am off to do one of my favorite things this week - hang out with a group of multi-site churches that are getting it done! These guys are doing things for the Kingdom that would blow your mind. The only downside is - it's 5:30 in the morning! Oh well, I could be on a treadmill or something. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cool Sunday

Last week, we had the most people ever on a Sunday. That was to be expected - it was Easter. Normally, the Sunday after Easter is one of the lowest of the year. Everyone gets their church in on Easter and need to rest up until Christmas. :)

That is why I was blown away today when we had more people than last Sunday! I've never seen that happen before. It felt a little like when we first launched the church. Tons of visitors - tons of visitor cards to follow up on. :) We ran out of chairs and bulletins in the second service. Sarah was running off more notes between services and we still didn't have enough! We also signed up a ton of new people for small groups. Great job Chris and Joey!

Our First Touch guy, Scott Derrick, is my hero for the past 2 weeks. For the second week in a row, the parking team had to park people out on the front lawn to handle the crowds between the services. Scott told me today that he wouldn't mind if it calmed down a bit next week!

The interview with Chris was a lot of fun. You never really know what Chris is going to say... which adds to the excitement. The Greenville News came out and took pictures of the first service. You can check those out here.

I can't wait for next week!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A.D.D. Generation

When I was in college, I would literally read 3 newspapers from front to back every day. The fact that I did most of that during my geology classes was not a good thing...but none the less...

Since I started reading blogs a couple of years ago, I have noticed my reading attention span has gone WAY down. If your post causes me to have to scroll more than once - I'm gone. My daily newspaper reading consists of hitting and our local paper's site, scanning quickly for the best stories, and moving on.

I suspect that I am not the only one who has this problem now. The internet is a wonderful thing, but I wonder if we are creating a generation of news clips and sound bytes? Maybe that's ok.

Sorry, I just lost interest...gotta go...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Marketing Jesus

We made a paradigm shifting decision this year that I think will shape how we market our church to the community in the future. We decided that the best way to invite people to our Easter services was to do an event that did not benefit us at all. Our Baskets Of Hope outreach was 100% designed to help homeless families in our community get back on their feet. We did not receive a single penny. Our fliers about the event did not mention our Easter services or even our normal service times. We had a chance to do a big flashy event that would have gotten a lot of attention, but I am very happy that we did not do it.

I am NOT saying that churches that go that route are wrong. We have done plenty of that in the history of Seacoast. My brother Geoff has a great post about how we need all kinds of strategies in the church world. I just think, for me personally, it's time to go a different direction.

We did get tools into the hands of our people to help them invite their friends and neighbors - personal invites, t-shirts, car decals...but our event was geared to simply love people like Jesus in our community. The one piece of marketing that we did do this year was a direct mailer. I think this will probably the last time we will ever do that. We received 5 mailers from churches this year! I have a hard time imagining anyone looking at those anymore.

Next year, we will do it again. We will love our community like Jesus. I think that is the reason to have a church. Don't you?

Big Sunday

This Sunday at Seacoast, Chris Sligh will be performing one his songs off of his band Half Past Forever's latest release: "Take A Chance On Something Beautiful." This will be the first time since leaving the show that he will be performing his own music. Sunday will also be the first chance to purchase the CD in Greenville.

We will be back to our normal service schedule of two services at 9:30 & 11:00. You will probably want to show up a little early this week to get a good seat!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Chris Sligh Interview Help

I am going to interview Chris during the services this Sunday about his experience on American Idol. Any suggestions on questions I should ask him?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Warning - Rant Ahead

One quick rant before I close the books for today. If you are a pastor, please do not ever say that your church is doing something, or about to attempt to do something, that no other church has ever done. One thing that I have learned after a year of working with Leadership Network, is that there are churches that you have never heard of, doing things that you had no idea were possible. I am continually going, "Why has no one heard of you guys?" I also don't see the point of pointing out how much cooler or more clever your church is than everyone else's. Who are we trying to impress?

End rant. :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Thoughts

I am so tired right now that about all I can say about today is - wow. God blew our doors off in a big way this morning. We had the most people ever...a LOT more people...but that is only part of an amazing Easter Sunday:
  • It was unbelievable to watch Chris Sligh use his enormous talent to lead people in worshiping a risen Savior. God is going to use him to do HUGE things in His Kingdom.
  • Several people gave their lives to Christ today and symbolized it by lighting a candle. That is what it is all about.
  • I was blown away again by our volunteers and staff at Seacoast. They went way above the call of duty today. Especially Scott Derrick, who kept everything running smoothly through all of the chaos. I still have no idea where they parked all of those cars!
  • 3 services in one morning is a lot of work!
  • The worship was awesome. You could feel the energy building during the entire morning. Every service was the same. Chris, Kim & Lee had the Spirit all over them!
  • Mitch & Rebecca did it again with the set. I am not sure when Mitch sleeps...:)
  • Sarah was at the church at 1:00am this morning getting rooms ready for the kids. That was after being there all day with us getting everything else ready! I only found out about this because Mitch was still working on the set at 1 this morning. You guys need some sleep!
  • I am now hiding with my family in an undisclosed hotel somewhere in America. It's time to unplug until Tuesday!
There are so many people that stepped up in a big way these past 2 weeks. I am so stinkin' proud of our church right now. Seacoasters - you are making a difference...let's charge hell with water pistols!!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

We had an awesome Good Friday service tonight. We opened it up a little more this year and added a labyrinth walk through the last moments of Jesus' life. One of our artists painted paintings for each station. At each stop there was a painting, a physical reminder (thorns, spikes, a stone...), and a scripture with an instruction to help initiate a prayer. We lit the path to each station with candles on the floor. It looked really, really cool.

We also hung 25 miniature lanterns with tea lights in them over the audience. They looked really great with the lighting kept very low.

Mitch painted a painting of Christ being crucified during the service. I think it's one of his best, and it was very moving to watch as we listened to the story retold straight from John 18 & 19. Lee did a great job leading worship as well.

We had two crosses set-up for people to go and meditate on scripture, and then nail their prayers of forgiveness or thankfulness to. It is always chilling to listen to the hammers hit the nails.

This is definitely the most moving service that we do all year. I think that we need to spend some time every year remembering why we are able to celebrate on Easter Sunday. Without the cross, there would not be a resurrection.

I took a cruise through's newest campus this morning. I was able to just walk in, look around at the different rooms. Watched a little bit of a previous message on a flat screen in the lobby. I even sat with a group of guys in the lobby and talked about the church and our recent experience with American Idol. Two of the guys that work at were nice enough to chat for awhile about the campus and what they are looking at doing.

Oh yeah...I did all of this sitting on my bed with my laptop. Their newest campus is in Second Life, and it is launching this Sunday with 3 experiences. It is one of the coolest, out-of-the-box things that I have ever seen a church attempt to do! If you have a chance, teleport to Experience Island and check it out. Yes Don, it will all soon be robots! :)

Monday, April 02, 2007

This Sunday Is Easter!

I am so pumped about this Sunday! I have this funny, little feeling that it is going to be HUGE. We are doing 3 services - 8:30, 10:00 & 11:30.
  • Our mailers dropped today and we are already getting phone calls about them.
  • It will be AWESOME to have this guy back with us. We missed him and you can read his thoughts about it here. (FYI - Chris is on almost every entertainment show this week - check your local listings:))
  • There are lime green shirts that say "Plans For Easter?" all over Greenville this week.
  • People took a ton of personal invites to invite their friends, family and neighbors.
I can not wait to feel the excitement of God doing something big on Sunday morning! That's better than the buzz from coffee in the morning any day... :)

For Seacoasters - we are pretty sure that it is going to be slammed for our 2 later services. If you could possibly attend the 8:30 service, that would help a lot. If you are bringing someone with you, please come to the best service for you. Here we go!!!

Baskets Of Hope Pictures

Here are a few pictures from our outreach event.

Baskets Of Hope

What an amazing weekend!!! I am still trying to recover this morning from the whirlwind of the last few days. I may have to turn to, it will NEVER be that bad! :)

We decided this year that the best advertisement that we could do for Easter, would be to do something completely for our community. We didn't want it to turn into a big publicity stunt for Seacoast. Honestly, we have had enough publicity lately! :) We decided to partner with a local organization, The Human Relations Commission of Greenville County, that helps families in our area who are homeless or about to be homeless. They collect basic needs items for the families to help them get back on their feet.

I first challenged the church to donate basic items for baskets to go to the families. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our people! You guys came through in a BIG way! They are busy at the office this morning putting the baskets together to deliver later today.

We then did some art outreach in downtown Greenville the last couple of weekends. Mitch Lehde set up at a store front in the middle of Main St. to paint 3 paintings to be sold at our event on Saturday. While he was painting, we handed out water bottles and fliers about the event to anyone who was interested. I love that fact that Mitch is able to use his amazing artistic gifts for true ministry! People have called our church artsy - I LOVE IT!!!

This all led up to the huge Baskets Of Hope event this past Saturday. We crammed everything we could possibly think of into 3 hours of fun in front of the church. Here is a list of what we did:
  • Blood Drive (Around 30 people gave during the event!)
  • Silent Auctions
  • 2 Live Auctions (Scott and Deborah rock!)
  • Cakewalk
  • Sucker pull for the kids
  • Face Painting
  • A live concert (thanks Lee!)
  • Easter Egg hunt
  • Car Wash
  • Food
  • Mitch did a live painting for a raffle
  • Jump castles
  • Craft table
And...we're officially exhausted! The best part - we raised over $3000 at event!!! Every penny of that will go to the families that we are helping.

I am so proud of our church right now! This is what being a Christ follower is about. If we do not love our community like Jesus, than why should we exist?

(I will post some pictures tomorrow.)