We Are The Champions!!

CFCC State CHAMPSIn 1997 when we planted Carolina Forest Community Church we had a vision for our church to be the hub of all recreational sports for children in our community.  Three years into the vision we were able to build a multi-purpose building which allowed us to start Carolina Forest Community Center, a place where children could experience a Christ Centered environment and build their character and athletic competence. In that building we started our first basketball league and were shocked when that first season over 300 children signed up.  Next we built our first baseball field and then the vision really began to take off.  By the second year Carolina Forest Community Center was running basketball, baseball and football leagues with hundreds of children participating.  The Community Center is now in it’s 10th season and I’m proud to announce that The Carolina Forest Little League baseball team won the 2010 South Carolina State Championship title.  Congratulations to Senior Pastor Rick Adkins, Coach Greg Lembcke and his team for this exciting victory.  Below is the article from the Myrtle Beach local newspaper telling their story.  The boys have traveled to Georgia and are playing in The South East Regional Tournament today!  Watch for them on ESPN and pray that God will use them to be a strong testimony for Him as they represent Him, CFCC and SC Little League.


Carolina Forest Little League wins state title

By Todd Garvin – tgarvin@thesunnews.com

IRMO — The Carolina Forest All-Stars prayed for a stellar showing before the state tournament. On Wednesday, those prayers were answered.  The 11- and 12-year-old Little League team from District 5 captured the South Carolina state championship Wednesday with a 10-5 win over Greenwood Abbeville to advance to the Southeast Regional next month in Warner Robbins, Ga.  “It’s all still just surreal right now,” said coach Greg Lembcke. “We knew since coach-pitch that God had put a special group of kids together.

“It just shows you that with hard work, prayers are answered.”  Answered prayers included a rally from a 4-1 deficit on Wednesday.

Carolina Forest plated three runs in the third to tie the game at four and then broke it open with four more runs in the fourth.

Jared Lembcke had two RBIs, Daniel Covert chipped in two RBIs and Aiden Stewart also had two RBIs, including a solo home run.

“I’ve never coached a more determined group of kids,” Greg Lembcke said. “We were confident that whoever we put in there was going to get the job done.  “It was a total team effort.”  Austin Schmitz struck out 10 in five innings to get the win. Dylan Roberts struck out a batter and enticed two popups to close out the six-inning game.

Carolina Forest will face host Georgia at 1 p.m. Aug. 7 in Warner Robbins. Other teams in the regional are North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama.

Leadership Lessons from Seacoast Church, pt 2

In yesterday’s post I shared some key leadership lessons I’ve learned in my seven years at Seacoast Church.  Here are a few more to add to that list.

  • LESSON #4 – Dream Big and then Dream Bigger.  Before I came to Seacoast I felt like I had a big vision for how God wanted to use my life.  But being in this environment for this long has expanded my thinking far beyond what I ever imagined.  I will never forget the first Management team meeting I attended where Pastor Greg talked about his vision.  Everyone in the room acted like it was normal, but for me it was mind blowing and way beyond my comprehension.  In fact, it was “seemingly impossible”.  But I’ve watched God provide again and again in miraculous ways all because Greg and the Seacoast staff believe God for the impossible.  Every weekend at the end of every service, at all 13 campuses the Campus Pastor closes the service by reading Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Greg and the staff at Seacoast believe this to the core and as a result have witnessed the reality of this promise on a regular basis.  
  • LESSON #5 – Failure is a necessity for success.  When other churches come to learn from Seacoast it seems that we share more stories about what we’ve done wrong than what we’ve done right.  The willingness to try and fail has lead to a great deal of wisdom and positive outcomes.  I’ve learned that the strongest successes are built on a series of failures.  Failure processed correctly produces greater wisdom than easy success.  Don’t allow a fear of failure cause you to miss the opportunity to learn, grow and increase your understanding.  Unfortunately many leader are embarrassed and try to hide from or cover up failure rather than allowing the organization to learn from it. 
  • LESSON #6 – Be willing to change.  Okay, Greg will correct me on this one because he says, “We don’t change anything at Seacoast, we only make adjustments.”  But the adjustments I’ve observed over the years are what has kept Seacoast relevant, growing and life giving.  Some of the changes work, some don’t…but remember failure is a necessity for success.   All of us here will admit that sometimes we change too much, too fast, too clumsy BUT we change in order to stay relevant and continually reach people with the Gospel.

Recommendation:  Don’t wait until you leave your organization to learn positive lessons from it.  Make your own list today!

Leadership Lessons from Seacoast Church

Last week I announced that my family will be moving to Atlanta and starting a new journey as I take on the role of Chief Launch Officer of the Launch Network, a new church planting network.  While I’m very excited about this new season I must admit that leaving Seacoast Church is a very difficult thing to do.  Honestly, I feel as if I’m leaving one dream job for another dream job.  In my seven years at Seacoast I’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing, passionate group of people.  Over the next couple of days I want to share some of the key leadership lessons I’ve learned during my time at Seacoast.

  • LESSON #1 – Champion God’s work in the lives of those around you.  I put this one first because that’s what Pastor Greg Surratt has done for me.  Time and time again he has expressed his belief and confidence in me.  Before going to Atlanta to interview for this new position, I sat down with him and shared what God had been doing in my heart.   I wanted to seek his blessing and fully disclose what I was thinking.  After I shared my “God story” he said, “I don’t want to see you go, but I always want to champion what God is doing in your life.”  He embraces people with great loyalty, yet holds them loosely.  In my time here I’ve watched numerous young talented pastors move on to go start their own church.  Each time they were championed, celebrated and supported.  It’s sad but sometimes leaders are actually threatened by the work God is doing in the lives of those around them.   I want to be a leader that looks for what God is doing in the lives of others and champion it rather than dampen it.
  • LESSON #2 – Always, I mean ALWAYS be looking for Opportunity.  I’m a bit of a visionary always looking toward the future.  But I’ve mostly approached vision as innovating a new idea that solves a problem. At Seacoast I’ve learned to keep my eyes open for opportunities that enhance the vision. Combining someone elses idea, resource, need, problem or talent is sometimes the very thing that takes your organization to the next level.  In my years here I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Pastor Greg or Pastor Geoff Surratt  walk into one of our Executive Team meetings with a new opportunity that they had discovered.  While many management teams seem to sit around and talk about the fires that need to be put out, our team always seems to be talking about the emerging opportunities that are in front of us.  I believe this is one of the key factors that contributes to Seacoast’s extra-ordinary growth. 
  • LESSON #3 – Be Kingdom Minded.  From day one I discovered that Seacoast is about The Kingdom, not their kingdom.  Being a highly visible multi-site church creates a desire in others to learn from what God has done through this church.  We recieve phone calls every week from churches around the country.  The staff humbly and willingly makes themselves available sharing time, resources and learnings to help others in their journey.  Spiritual leaders understand that we are here to complete each other not compete with each other. 

Check back tomorrow for three more Leadership Lessons I’ve learned from Seacoast Church.

Tim Smith

I was in Jackson Mississippi recently where I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Tim Smith, Senior Associate Pastor, at Pinelake Church.  Pinelake is a three Campus Multi-site church lead by senior pastor Chip Henderson.  In this five minute video Tim shares some great insights on nurturing a healthy staff environment. Makes sure you check out Tim’s Blog and follow him on Twitter.

Model Leader – John Brunette

Last week I had the opportunity to spend two days with John Brunette and the staff of Faith Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri.    While many Lutheran Churches are experiencing decline, Faith is experiencing steady growth.  And once there it is easy for me to see why.  Here are just a couple of take aways from my time with John:

  1. Never stop learning.  I was so impressed with the hunger of this staff, they were attentive,  inquisitive, and asked challenging questions.  This is obviously a reflection of their leader. John makes a habit of bringing in people from the outside to challenge, teach and stir their thinking.  This is a great discipline and benefits all the leaders on his team.  QUESTION: Who are you inviting in to challenge and stretch your thinking?
  2. Continual Growth requires Continual Risk.  The Lutheran Church is steeped in wonderful tradition.  They have a rich heritiage that they value and honor.  John has not abandoned the valued traditions of his faith but has challenged ones that need to be challenged.  John has taken multiple risks in his 20 years of leadership that has helped the church remain progressive in their outreach.  It was this innovative spirit that drove the leadership of Faith Church to  move to a multi-site strategy. They have taken some heat for it, but it has allowed them to reach more people for Christ and expand Faith’s reach into the community.  QUESTION: What risk is God prompting you to take?

In the following video Lead Pastor John Brunette shares about Faith’s Multi-site journey.  You can learn more about Faith Lutheran at their website www.faithstl.org

Leadership Development in Action!

This week Chuck and Lea Jackson, Seacoast House Church leaders were in town visiting the original campus.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with Chuck and Lea and catch up on the latest news from their House Church.  Check out the video to hear their exciting news.

The Power of Celebration

In yesterdays post I shared about my recent experience at Crossroads Church in Freeport, IL.  On Sunday night I spoke at their Leadership Rally which was followed by a night of worship.  At the worship service they showed the following video.  The crowd errupted in cheers and applause…they were witnessing what God was doing through their church. 

Freeport from Maclake on Vimeo.

What is God doing that you need to celebrate?  Are you sharing the wins with your congregation?

Model Leader

This past week I had the privilege to go to Freeport Illinois to share the Seacoast Leadership Development Strategy with the leadership team of Crossroads Church.  Crossroads is a multi-site church with 5 locations in…get this… Illinois, Wisconsin and Colorado.  Yes, you heard me right – Colorado. 

Lead Pastor, Keith Boyer, had pastored at Crossroads for 19 years when he felt God calling he and his wife Julie to plant a church in Colorado.  When Keith shared this calling with his elders they told him they wanted to pray about the decision as well.  After two weeks they told him they supported his decision to plant in Colorado but they wanted him to consider staying on as their lead pastor.  They reasoned that since they were a multi-site church anyway, why not let Keith lead from Colorado?  Besides, where is there a rule that the main site always has to be the main site?  That was three years ago and Keith will tell you it wasn’t easy but the church has continued to thrive.  In fact they will be starting their 6th location in just a few months.

After spending three days with Keith and his leaders I walked away thinking these guys are model leaders.  Here is what I learned…

  1. Love those you Lead.  When a leader truly loves people they desire to be a part of what God is doing in that leaders life.  Keith obviously loves people and when he was called to leave they wanted to continue being a part of his vision.  QUESTION: Do those I lead know I love them?
  2. Allow Others to Speak into Your Vision.  Keith, didn’t want to impose the calling on his life upon his church.  He was going to willingly surrender to God’s call and walk away from Crossroads.  But as he shared his calling and sought counsel a unique idea emerged from his leaders that has ended up being a blessing in the lives of all those involved.  QUESTION: Am I allowing others to speak into my vision?
  3. Be Willing to take Ridiculous Risk.  I’ve learned after 38 years of being a Christ follower that God sometimes asks us to do things that do not make sense.  Transitioning a site that has a live speaker to a site that has video teaching is risky.   The audience at the original site would no longer have a live teacher.  The live teacher would no longer have an audience. (He knew no one in Denver so he was starting all over).  But this risk has paid off, Crossroads has grown and they are reaching more people today than three years ago.  QUESTION: What ridiculous risk is God asking me to take?

Who is a model leader you have seen lately?  What can you learn from them?