Monday, April 23, 2007

Holy Harley it was Bike Week in Ybor

Well if you are reading this and do not attend Relevant then you may not be able to appreciate this post. But I think that it is so cool that Bike week in Tampa resides right here in front of our church. Yes that is right yesterday our worship was accompanied by the roar of hundreds of Hogs and Choppers. It was awesome that some of the people coming to the Bikefest heard the band playing and actually came in for the service. Yeah God. We have the coolest church and the best band in the country and if you disagree I would say you would just have to hear them on a Sunday to appreciate just how amazing they are.
We also had 38 people attend our lunch with the pastor yesterday and it was so cool to hear how they found out about Relevant. From invite cards, to mailers, to friend invites, to Google people are hearing about Relevant and lives are being changed. For those of you in the throws of church planting, I just want to say don't give up God is doing some amazing things through church plants all over the country. If what you are doing is not working just try something else. Just keep moving forward.
Be looking for my post tomorrow when I discuss the cursing Courtesy Driver who was shocked that people actually work in Ybor. It will be a classic.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Ritz

I know many of you have been waiting patiently about what is going on with the Ritz. And all I have to share with you today is that we have been told we will know tomorrow. I can tell you this situation has really caused me to question God and trust Him more than ever before. The questions come from me wanting what I want just like a little kid and asking God like my 8 year old does me "why daddy" "why can't I have want I want when I want it". But secondarily I am humble by the fact that God would even allow me to ask Him questions and I know all to well that His plans are far better that any that I could dream up.

So here is the deal I would like for everyone to be praying for two things:

1. Joe Capitano (owner of the Ritz) that God would give him direction in what he needs to do with the building.

2. Relevant and our team. That we would be patient and wait on God and look for His direction in the next steps that we need to take as a church.

I will let you know more as things develop. Remember we are here to make Jesus name famous and we can do that from anywhere.

weekend reflections

Well this weekend started out to be one of those weeks that in church world we call bomb Sunday. You see this usually happens when to have Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, then people have gone to church two weeks in a row and then everyone takes a weekend off and you are left with bomb Sunday where attendance falls way off. Well this week as we were preparing we also had our local weather guys informing everyone that there was going to be a major storm blow through our area Sunday at exactly 10 am the beginning of our first service. Great I thought.

When I arrived at church it was just as I suspected the rain began to come. Slowly at first then the bottom dropped out. I was informed by our first impressions team that our signs could not be put out because they were just blowing away. So I thought OK God I guess there will just be the precious few today. However, God had other plans. Yes the first service was a little light in the beginning but it filled up nicely and the second service was as full as normal. Yeah God. I guess the guy who controls the weather also, controls his church.

Thanks God for the reminder that this is your church and you will bring the people. We had 17 first time guest on the worst weather day of the year so far. WOW. I hope all of you are having a great weeks.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reflections of Easter

WOW. We had an incredible service Sunday despite all of the crazy things that happened. We had 311 people with us this past Sunday which is 100 people more than last year that is 50% growth in one year and I think God is pretty awesome for that. Every week people are finding a new relationship with Jesus Christ here at Relevant and all I can say is that I am blown away to be part of the most awesome church in America. So here is the train wreck from Sunday that God still showed up at.

Let be begin by saying never have a prayer time before your service and say God it does not matter if the sound, music, and tech go well we just want you to show up. Because He may just take you up on the offer. That is the stupidest prayer I have ever prayed and let me tell you God and I had a conversation between services and I told Him hey God we need you to show up in all of the areas because they all matter. I know the prayer sounded spiritual but after closer scrutiny I realize it was not spiritual at all. Here is what happened in the first service because of my foolish prayer.
- One of the songs our incredible band of professionals started was in the wrong key. Not a good thing.

- Our transition video that set the stage for the sermon ended before the punch line. Not a good way to start a talk.

- My mic decided to have a short in it thus it stopped working as soon as I started talking.

- our new parking tent for parkers is no longer operational due to the creative dismantling of it by two college grads (who are great guys and I love them both)

Now you may be saying Paul this could just be coincidence but to that I would say bull. Because I believe God really does answer our prayers and when we decided that we do not need Him to show up in all of the areas of our ministry we find out what happens. Now I can say all of our staff got a good laugh out of this but it was a real lesson that we learned. God is so concerned about every facet of our ministries and if He is concerned then we as leaders need to make all of the areas of our ministry a priority. If I hear one more church guy say we just want the spirit to show up at our service, but they never plan for that to happen I think I am going to puck. Sometimes I wonder if God does not show up at our churches on Sunday because we did not create an environment for Him to show up. Now I know the theological problem with this because someone is sure to say well Paul God is omnipresent He is everywhere all of the time and that is true. But if that is true then why are more churches closing their doors than opening them.
I think the problem is planning and preparation. When we have guest into our house we plan and prepare our home for their arrival and we make sure the food and environment is warm and inviting. So why is it that so many people do not come to church? Maybe they feel that they are cold and impersonal. This is going to have to change if we are going to make an impact on this generation.
I am so thankful that I hang out with guys in this area that are changing lives for eternity. In fact I meet with 6 church planters yesterday who have been doing church for less than 2 years and there was a combined number of over 2000 people who were in church Sunday who were not in church 2 years ago. WOW GOD you are awesome.
If you are a church planter out there reading this keep doing what you are doing and if it is not working try something new. As church planters we have that privilege to try multiple things until we find out what works.

Peace Out

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Thoughts on Thursday

Well I guess by the title you have figured out what day it is and yes I have some random thoughts to share with you as Good Friday approaches. I have often thought of this whole Good Friday thing as just another day that my kids are out of school. But this year when our public school board decided to no longer recognize Good Friday as a holiday you should have seen the religious people rise up in protest. Now I am not saying that I agree with the school board because I do not. But I do this it is interesting that those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ would much rather follow from a far than right up close. You see following close would mean that we would have to do far more with this relationship that just pull out the Christian card when our family beach day gets taken away.

Peter learned this lesson all to well on probably a Thursday night some 2000 years ago. He had a decision to make "would he identify himself with this Jesus guy who had raised the dead, fed 5,000 people with a school lunch, and walked on water while letting Peter do the same. Or would he play it safe. And the survey says "yes Peter did what I do most of the time, he played it safe and in essence said "Jesus who"

Maybe tomorrow will be a different kind of Good Friday for me. Maybe I will wake up and realize that this Friday is far more significant that the invention of casual Friday were you can dress like you want at work. Maybe this Friday I will realize that Good Friday actually signifies the fact that because of someone else I can come to God just as I am and He will not send me home to change before I come to Him.

My prayer is that each of you will be struck with awe Friday like you have not been struck in a while. Then your awe would lead you to share with someone else just why you are awe struck.

Good Friday to you all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Some of you who may be new to my blog probably do not know that I am a Gator fan. Well that would be an understatement I am a Gator Fanatic. That is to say Susie and I usually do not watch many games with people who do not have the same persuasion because quite frankly it is a Gator thing and if you are not a Gator fan you would not understand. But I would like to do some recapping of this season of the UF basketball team. First, I think we could all learn a lot from what Billy Donavan said last night in his pre-game speech. HE said it is not about you out there it is about the person beside you. WOW that was a pearl of wisdom. It was awesome to see the team truly play like team and kick Ohio States butt twice in one year. Boy I would really hate to be a Buckeye. Oh well just wanted to give a shout out to the Gator Nation.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Beach Baptism

Well yesterday marked our 4th beach baptism that we have done here at Relevant. And I will have to say it was one of the most memorable events I have ever been a part of. We do something here that is uniquely us when we move our whole service to the beach. Now I know many churches do beach baptism but I do not know of many that move their whole service to the beach. Our band did an amazing job leading worship with the Gulf of Mexico as a backdrop. When they went into the song "How Great is Our God" I was overwhelmed at just how great our God really is and the fact that He would allow us to partner with Him in His work.
I pinch myself sometimes because I get to do this job with the most amazing staff in the whole world. I am serious I have been on staff at a lot of churches but I can not think of any staff that is better than ours or works harder than ours does they are awesome. So Carl, Jamie, Jason, Susie, Kristin, and Carly THANK YOU for making ministry so much fun. Let's do this till Jesus comes.
Now back to the baptism. It was so awesome to hear the stories of people who a year ago were not thinking about church or a relationship with Jesus but because of Relevant their relationship with Christ and their community at Relevant are the most important things in their life. I do not know of a more incredible thing to witness than when someone who has had a major life change comes out of the water of baptism. I guess you just have to see it. So check out the media section of our web site this week we will be uploading the pics and some video of this event. God is so amazing.