church planting

Thank You All Access Conference!

This past week I had the privilege of being a part of the All Access Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.  The event was organized by the great people at ARC (Association of Related Churches and I can say without hesitation that it was the best conference experience I have ever had! Celebration Church was an incredible host, Jacksonville is a beautiful city, the speaker lineup was phenomenal, the media was top notch, but more than anything else the people were simply the best.  Marc Cleary and the ARC team know how to put on a great event that doesn’t just entertain a crowd of pastors, but truly connects them in relationship with each other.

I can’t wait for next year’s conference, as it will be back in Jacksonville again!  I encourage you to sign up now and lockin the incredible low rate of $49.

All Access Notes - Greg Surratt

Greg Surratt
Greg Surratt

Greg is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church, one of the early adopters of the multi-site model. Located in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Seacoast has been recognized by various media as an innovative and influential thought leader in future strategies for church growth and development. Seacoast combines a unique approach to highly participatory worship with a heart for missional evangelism. Greg calls their weekends a “practical, spirit filled, but non-spooky, yet kind of mystical worship experience, done in multiple locations, very inexpensively.” Seacoast currently has twenty-nine weekend worship experiences in thirteen separate locations.

Here are my notes from Greg's session at the 2013 All Access Conference:

2 Kings 4: 8-37

How do I revive a dead dream? 

1)   God wants to give birth to a miracle inside of you

2)   Sometimes God allows your miracle to die

3)   Just because it doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean it’s time to quit

4)   When nothing is impossible anything can happen.

  • When the miracle comes to life you have to tell somebody!
  • ARC is planting a new church every 4 days!  65 new churches last year!
  • Don’t quit.  Believe in God and believe in the impossible!

NYC Restoration

NYChighline I love New York City for so many reasons!  Today as I took a tour of the city the guide pointed out an old above ground rail line that was turned into a city park called the High Line.   He explained that it sat vacant as an eye sore for more than a dozen years until someone or a group of leaders recommended restoring it as a city park.

Trust me, it's not like any city park you have ever seen!  It really is beautiful and was packed with people enjoying the jogging trails and elevated view of the river nearby.  Real estate in the area shot up after the park was built and new buildings have since been built around the park as it is such an attraction today.

In the church world we often see the headaches that come come with restoration and rebuilding and quickly jump to starting a new church or ministry rather than restoring an old one.  Please don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in church planting and the launching of new ministries.  In my own ministry experience, I would describe my 2 greatest successes to be ministries that I built from the ground up.  I have also worked hard to "restore" existing ministries without gaining traction on multiple occasions.  Launching a ministry is incredibly challenging and I would say that rebuilding one is even more difficult.

While restoration is challenging, especially in the church, it is incredibly necessary.  Some churches or ministries might be dead or need to complete their life cycle, but many still have plenty of life left and even greater years ahead.  There are thousands of churches in our country with incredible history and deep foundations, but have lost direction and gone through significant decline.  The churches desperately need strong leadership and change agents who can bring restoration and new life.  They need leaders with vision and passion that appreciate the past and see opportunity for the future.

Over the past ten years I have seen so many friends in ministry jump on the church planting bandwagon and it is my hope in the next 10 years that I see even more jump on the restoration bandwagon.


View other posts in this series:

Under Construction

Making the Most of What you Have

Attention to Details 

Starbucks Everywhere

Experience and Excellence

Different Perspective

3 Questions with Becky Kiser

Screen Shot 2012-09-07 at 10.53.24 PM Becky Kiser is a wife, mom, speaker, blogger, event planner, my sister, and passionate follower of Christ.  She has one of the most effective Online Ministries that I know through her regular posts on her blog.  Becky has been committed to her blog community for several years and today has hundreds of women who read her posts ever day.  You can find her on Twitter @beckykiser, on her blog, and as a regular bogger with Sozo Women.  I'm honored to have her as the first in a series of posts asking ministry leaders 3 questions:


1)  After blogging for several years what are some of the key things you have learned about blogging effectively?

The most effective thing I’ve learned is be myself and be genuine. I’ve stopped following many blogs because I felt like I couldn’t relate to them at all or felt like they were only putting their best foot forward. I get that you shouldn’t share every part of your life online (some should use more filters when pressing publish). I love learning from women who don’t love being a mom every single day, who don’t feel butterflies for the hubby every second, who have dirty dishes in the sink and so on. The most consistent thing I hear from my readers is that they love that I’ll share it all: my struggles, my ridiculousness, my laughter, my tears and the lessons I’m learning. Be confident in whatever your unique voice is and share it!

Some other general tips that are common sense (but so hard to do for some reason):

-Blog consistently. When I blog consistently my readership grows consistently.

-Blog with variety. Don’t say the same thing over and over again. Challenge yourself.

-Share about your personal life. Be vulnerable in sharing about your life, people will connect better with you.

-Re-read your blog post before you publish. My background is in marketing yet I am the worst proof reader, especially for my own work. But simply re-reading a post (preferably out loud) will always help me clean up little mistakes and make thoughts more concise.

-Consider your audience. Who are they? What are they dealing with? Is reading this worth their time?

-Ask for them to comment and reply when they do. Simply asking them to comment will prompt them more to do so. Engage your audience into the conversation. But know that most still won’t comment. It can be so frustrating when I’ll have 1-2 comments and see that 100s of people have read a post. But engage with those that engage.

-Don’t stress about the stats. I remember when I first started blogging consistently I was discouraged to only have on average 300 viewers each day. My brother (Nils) reminded me that the average church in the US has less that 300 people in it. That was a good reminder that there is a huge influence regardless of the numbers. Also, if you become too consumed with the stats, stop looking at them. Write because you should write, because you have to write.


2)  Your "tribe" is primarily young women, what are the primary Social Media tools/methods that you use to engage these ladies?

Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. Any time I write a blog post on my personal blog or as a guest blogger, I always link it on Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. Since I’ve done this I’ve seen my viewership go up significantly (which as I’ve said before matters and doesn’t matter at the same time). I’ve gained readers who are friends of a friend of friend because someone shared it on Facebook or saw it on Pintrest.

I use these 3 outlets to connect. My current life simply doesn’t allow me to meet with every person over a hot cup of coffee. So I try to log on during my daughters naps and engage with women then. I try not to be an aimless social media user. If I’ve read something, I try to like or comment. It’s been a great way for me to be tapped into what’s going on in other’s lives, encourage them, laugh with them and pray for them.


3)  You recently made the move from a 100+ year old megachurch to being a part of a brand new church plant, what have you experienced to be the big differences between the two?  

First, I need to say that we loved where we were, Houston’s First Baptist Church ( It had been my church home since I was 16 and a place I was on staff for many years. My husband and I were both actively involved in serving in various ministries at the church. We left to go to Bayou City Fellowship ( not because we wanted to or even felt like it made sense, but felt like it was best for our family. It was a calling (and a push) to go to this new church and it’s becoming home and the people our family.

Now to answer your question, here are the main differences:

1. Access to others- both staff and the people. Because I’d been at HFBC for so long, I would say we were more connected to staff and the people than most. But that simply couldn’t be true for everyone when your church averages 8,000+ on a Sunday. So to go to a church that where the children’s pastor knows your kids name, the Pastor doesn’t  have a security team, the people are accessible and not herded, well, it’s been a nice change. However, we don’t anticipate this experience forever because BCF already has doubled in size since we first started going!

2. I miss white hair. BCF has all kinds of generations, but currently it is primarily 20-50s. There can be a lot of strain for a 100+ year old church having to make all those generations happy, but it is so sweet when it works, and even sweet when it doesn’t.

3. The church mission can start fresh. I love that BCF doesn’t have to fight the, “Well we’ve always done it this way before...” battle. They started the church mission and vision with a blank sheet of paper. They never do something just because they should or have, but because Jesus has lead them there. We love this!

4. Less busy and bubble is broken. At a large church you can become so busy serving and participating at your church and being around your church friends that you never serve or connect with other’s outside of your church. We have loved the freedom in our calendar to not be as busy with church. Clearly, this can be done at a big church, but it can be hard to be connected if you aren’t super plugged in.

5. The coffee is significantly better. I’m half joking. We can all agree that church coffee is close to watered down tar. I love that I can count on my church to make a good cup of coffee because there are just less of us to provide for and they set time for fellowship on Sundays.

You can read a little bit about our decision in these blog posts: “Something is about to change- Part 1,” ( “A Hard Goodbye - Part 2” ( and “An Expectant Hello - Part 3.” (


Here are some other posts in this series:

3 Questions with Peter McGowan

3 Questions with Tim Peters

3 Questions with Greg Smith