Some Mergers Take Time

From our Ten Things the ROGO Foundation has Learned About Church Mergers series:

#4 -Some Mergers Take Time.

Many churches that find themselves in decline weren’t always in trouble. The pastor has a particular way of doing things. The board members or elders have a system to assist the pastor that has worked for generations. The church members have their self assigned seats, ministries they believe in and have run for as many generations. Usually, the decline is due to this exact thing. No one wants to change. It is how it has always been. It is familiar, routine, everyone knows everyone else, and they like it that way. They don’t see a need for it to change and, in reality, are dead set against change even if it means the church might close. 

You can’t go at your own pace. 

It takes time for people to work through the various stages of change. A merger will be virtually impossible if the church body is not given the time and space to accept that change will be good for the church. The lead church must make sure that the members of the joining church see the need for change and be ready and willing to make the change in a patient, compassionate, and empathetic way. 

The lead church must go at the pace of the joining church’s members. 

The lead church must have, above all, a love for God’s people and the foresight that with time, relationships, and trust will form. And only then can a church member, that has been vocal about not wanting a merger, accept that it may be the best thing for the church.


For information on our eight church mergers visit our impact page.

We Have Been Here Ever Since: Meet Don Williams

We want to continue to introduce you to a few of the devoted members of New Life Community Church, now Sandals Church Fresno, as we honor them and ask God to multiply their faithfulness. 

Meet Don.

About three years ago, my wife Karee and I were looking for a church, so I went online to find one in our area. There was a church about three blocks from where we live, so I thought maybe we could try that one. Then I saw one in Easton that looked like one we should try. My wife thought it was a bit of a drive, but we decided to try it out. 

We came to New Life Community that next Sunday, and after the first service, we went out, and I said, “Are we going to try the one close to home next week?”


said, “No, we are going to stay here.” 

We have been here ever since. I serve as a greeter, and I love it. I like saying hello and getting to know everyone who is coming to church. We have a lot of regulars that I enjoy seeing each week and being the first person they see when they come to church. I also help another member named Jesse fix things around the church. We fix toilets and rain gutter and sprinklers, anything that needs to be done. We have spent – I don’t know how many hours – repairing the sprinklers over the years. 

When our pastor left and things started to get tough, I was not ready to become part of another church, especially a big church. I had gone to another big church. It was huge, and it is nice, but when we walked in and sat down, no one came over and said hello. And when we left, no one said goodbye. We would come and go, and no one ever noticed we were even there, and I didn’t like that.

Knowing that Sandals Church was a big church when we started talking to them, and when the vote was getting close, I said, “No, I don’t want that at all, no way.” I told Karee, “I’m not gonna like this.” And she said, “Let’s wait and see.” We drove down to Riverside to visit the Palm Avenue campus. I didn’t go into the service right away. I wandered around to look at the campus, and when I walked into where the service was, I had three people walk up and say, “Hello, how are you doing? My name is…”

And I thought, “Wow.” 

I still wasn’t sure, and when it was time to vote, I told Ron McCoy from the ROGO Foundation that I wasn’t sure I could vote yes – that I would abstain from voting until I was certain. 

And it has been great. I like it, and I like what they have done here. I still serve as a greeter, and I enjoy saying hello to everyone. I love it when certain people run up and give me a little hug and say, “Hi, Don, I’m glad I made it this week.” 

I continue to repair the sprinklers, and we have a few that need some work soon. I can’t wait to get those fixed.

I enjoy working with my hands, and I wish I was retired so I could spend more time doing stuff here.

Don served in the Air Force and spent time in Europe, Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Along with his service to New Life Community and Sandals Church, we want to thank Don for his service to our country.


Last Post: The Doors Kept Opening: Meet Nancy Marthedal 

The Doors Kept Opening: Meet Nancy Marthedal

In our final week of preparations to launch our Sandals Church Fresno campus, we want to introduce you to a few of the devoted members of New Life Community Church as we honor them and ask God to multiply their faithfulness.

Meet Nancy.

I have been at New Life Community Church since 1970 when I was a sophomore in high school. The last three years have been a little bit rough for us. We had several pastors come and go. Our last one left over a year and a half ago. We were asking God what was next four us as we were considering getting another pastor, but that didn’t seem like the best option. We started praying. We heard about some churches partnering with other churches and knew of a church in Fresno that had a satellite location and thought about talking to them. My daughter, Anna, had attended Sandals Church when she was in Southern California, so she emailed Ron McCoy from the ROGO Foundation. When started talking with Ron, it was pretty exciting.

I am one of those people who is pretty passionate. So the thought of moving forward in a direction where God was going to be here and move and we could be a beacon in our community was thrilling to my heart.

I have worked with the Washington Union Fellowship of Christian Athletes for quite some time. We have 160 kids coming to lunch every week, and most aren’t plugged in at a church. At New Life, we didn’t have something for them. We had a youth group, and they were awesome, but we needed more. Someone be able to connect with the kids, help them be more loved, be more discipled, learn more about Jesus, and help them develop their relationship with Christ.

From the beginning, I was very hopeful that merging with Sandals Church
would be what God’s plans were for us.

He put it in my head and heart before we had the last Pastor that maybe joining another church was a good option for us. The minute we started talking to Ron, it was like, “Okay, God, is this it?” Our little church Council leadership group had prayed that the doors would either be flown wide-open or slammed shut. We did have a couple of those slam shuts along the way, which was extremely difficult, but we knew God was leading us. The doors to Sandals Church kept being opened and opened, and so as it drew closer, we thought we were going to be a yes. We keep hanging on and moving forward as they kept asking more questions and wanting to know more about us, which to me, was wonderful. I thought, If they want to know more about us, then they are serious about us becoming a Sandals Church.

When it became apparent that it was going to happen, it was overwhelming to me, so I am so thrilled
that we could bring Christ in a real and authentic way to our community.


Sandals Church Fresno launches February 16th at 9:00 am with a second service at 10:30 am.

It All Started With an Email: Meet Anna Campbell

I was born and raised in Fresno, California. I moved to Southern California to attend Azusa Pacific University and after I graduated, I lived in Riverside and started attending Sandals Church. Sandals was relatively small at that time, and we met in the gym at Cal Baptist University. I loved attending Sandals Church. It was a big part of young adult life and made a real difference. I had a dear friend at Sandals Church named Scarlett, who I’ve continued in relationship with for these last 15 years or so.

“After I moved back home to Fresno, I said the two things that I missed about being in Southern California are Scarlett and Sandals Church.”

About two years ago, our pastor chose to move on. We tried to find a new one, but it was challenging to find somebody who was a jack of all trades. We wanted someone who’s a really good speaker, a really good lover of people, and a really great leader and good administrator, and so to find somebody good at all of those things was difficult. So we just have not had great luck. We were without a pastor, without any leadership and so our church council talked about where do we go from here? Scarlett mentioned that I should reach out to Ron from the Sandals Church ROGO Foundation. 

I sent Ron an email, and I wrote:

“I know this is probably crazy. I know that we’re far away but I’ve heard Pastor Matt talk about how God has given him this vision for 500 churches. I know you haven’t gone outside of the Inland Empire yet and although Fresno is far, it’s not actually that far in the grand scheme of things. So, is there any chance that this might be a possibility?” 

And I expected him to write back and be like, “Oh, that’s a cute idea, thanks but no thanks” But he wrote back and said, “I’d love to talk to you.” My heart skipped a beat. When I left Southern California, I just had this hole in my heart for Scarlett and Sandals Church. I just have wanted to share the vision of sandals Church of being real and bring it here. And so then when it was like, “Oh, that could be an option that really could happen!”

I think that the vision of being real could transform Easton, Fresno, the Central Valley. It is a diverse place. There’s a lot of tough stuff here. Life is difficult, not that it isn’t everywhere, but I think that sometimes people don’t feel free to be who they are. I believe that this vision of authenticity, hopefully, will allow people to do that and to be that into really allow God to infiltrate our lives here and make a change to bringing light to the darkness.

“I think there’s no limit to what God could do here and I can’t wait to see what he does.”


Last Post: Multiplying Their Faithfulness: Meet David Chavez

Multiplying Their Faithfulness: Meet David Chavez

New Life Community Fellowship now Sandals Church Fresno

Here is David’s story:

I was 13 years old when I came to New Life. My family lives within a mile and our roots are in this area. One day I was playing basketball and I believe God spoke to me. I was being a grouch and not living his way and getting into some pretty bad stuff. He said, “Why are you going to ask me for help if you’re going to continue to do what you always have been.” I just stopped, dropped the basketball and just started crying.

Then my uncle who is a meth addict asked me, “Do you know about Jesus?” This was no coincidence. From that moment, I believed who God was. I started to discover that God wanted not only to love me but love me in order to straighten my life out and discipline me. It was something I never received from either one of my parents and so that was the greatest gift of love that he showed me. I completely gave my life to Christ and continued to go to New Life, being faithful to the place where God met me and even though it wasn’t culturally vibrant or diverse or what I wanted, I knew it’s what God wanted for me.

When I visited Sandals I realized this could be so much more. My main concern for New Life was the diversity inside did not reflect our demographics in Easton or Fresno. God completely satisfied that concern visiting Palm Avenue and seeing quite a collection of different faces and different races.

They don’t make it scary or judgmental or a cultural thing they make it a God thing

God cares not only for the people who were brought up in the church but also for the minority and for those who have a story similar to mine – coming from a broken home and a broken family. Sandals has a way of making that line between church and the outside world so easy to run into. That’s what I really appreciate about it. They don’t make it scary or judgmental or a cultural thing they make it a God thing and so people are able to come in thinking, “I just have friends here,” and then BOOM! God meets them there and shows them that love and from that point, they’re able to step into this church feeling at home and not aware of how different they are or how different we are, but really just able to be held and comforted and realizing that they’re at home.

As we launch our 11th campus, we are thankful for the faithful people, steadfast and true, who remained to join us, affording us the honor of multiplying their faithfulness.


Next Post: It All Started With an Email: Meet Anna Cambell

Seven Principles for Building a Culture of Honor

…in your organization, your business, or your church.

God Blesses Houses of Honor. As God looks down, He sees a house, a home, a husband and wife are respecting and honoring one another, I believe that God blesses that house. When God looks down and sees a church were the elders, the Pastor, the board, the members are respecting and honoring one another, I believe that God blesses that church. This principle works for all types of organizations, all kinds of places where people gather together. So as leaders, how do we build a culture of honor, so that God will bless that house?

Seven Principles for Building a House of Honor. 

#1. Honor People When they Don’t Deserve it and Despite their Inadequacies. 

This is tough because, just in our human nature, we respect someone if they respect us, but if they don’t respect us, we don’t respect them.

Look at the relationship between young David and King Saul from the Bible. This relationship illustrates this point. At the time, King Saul became very envious. He became jealous of young David so much so that Saul started to pursue him and even tried to kill David with his own hands. Armies were sent to kill him because he was so envious of this young upstart leader. Still, God flipped the script, and he delivered King Saul into David’s hands. Not once, but twice.

And what did David do? David chose to honor Saul and not kill him. Even though he could, and the reality is, he probably should have killed King Saul, but he decided not to. He chose not to so that he would be honoring to the Lord, and he would be honoring to who the Lord appointed as the king. This is such an excellent illustration for us today to think about honoring people when they don’t deserve it.

Think about what happened through David’s line. Think about the House of David. Who shows up at the house of David and David’s line? Jesus shows up. This is a great picture for us when we honor people that don’t deserve it. God blesses that house. God blessed the House of David as he honored King Saul and chose not to kill him. This is a difficult and challenging principle. Think about as a leader, what do I need to do to start honoring people even though they don’t deserve it?

#2. Make Allowances for one Another’s Faults. 

Colossians 3: 12-13. “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves. You must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, make allowance for one another’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

This is very challenging. Make a little more room for people when they blow it or make a mistake. But this is the charge that God gives us. To make more space and to give grace and forgive people when they blow it. As we do that, we’re honoring them, and hopefully, in return, when we blow it, they will honor us.

People do not feel honored when their leaders are constantly criticizing them. If you’re negative or if you’re continually picking on someone, it’s not creating an excellent work environment.

#3 Be First and be Quick to Apologize. 

No one wants to go first and apologize. When we’re in a confrontation or conflict, we want the other person to go first. This principle is all about the leader going first.

Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

At the end of the day, leaders set the tone for their organization. They set the pace. People repeat what they see their senior leaders do, and if a senior leader is the one who, when they blow it says, “Hey, I am sorry I blew it. Please forgive me.” People who are watching will follow the lead.

That is honoring the person that receives the apology. Hopefully, they’re setting the pace, so that when the person that they’re apologizing to blows it, they will apologize to the next person. If that’s happening consistently in an organization or a home, honor becomes present in that place.

#4 Have Reverence for the Senior Pastor and his Wife or the CEO of the Organization.

If there were a hierarchy of these three words, it would start like this, it would begin with respect. Then up a level to honor. Then at the very top, would be reverence. Reverence would be this particular kind of respect.




I have a son, and I want my son to know and feel and believe that I respect him as his dad, but with my grandparents, I want my grandparents to feel a special kind of respect.

The word for that is reverence.

Reverence is a special kind of respect, and I have reverence for my grandparents because of the place that they have in my life. The trail that they have blazed for me, how they’ve loved me, cared for me, and helped to raise me. I believe this is what must happen in organizations and especially churches. The reality is there’s a unique weight and pressure and responsibility for a senior pastor and their wife. You have to settle the fact that God has anointed and appointed the Senior Pastor to lead the church. Once you do that, you can usher in this whole idea of showing reverence to the senior Pastor and his wife. I believe this is how a church can build a culture of honor. This is how they can build a house of honor that God can bless. It starts with showing that special kind of respect for that senior leader that God has anointed and appointed to lead the church.

#5. Supervisors Over-deliver to Your Subordinates.

We’re going to flip the script. This is for the supervisor. If you’re leading people inside a business or church, then you are to over-deliver to your subordinates.

That’s right over-deliver. I heard this phrase years ago from a CEO named Jack Welch. He was running one of the largest companies in the world, General Electric. His philosophy was to over-deliver to its customers. They didn’t want just to deliver. They didn’t want just to do a good job. They tried to surpass expectations for their customers. I think to be a great leader and manager and supervisor of people and to build this house of Honor. We need to think about “how I can over-deliver to the people that I’m leading and serving in my organization?” I want you to think about one of the best ways to do this is when someone on your team that you’re managing is struggling, they’re going through a difficult time. This is an excellent opportunity for you to over-deliver. They’re going through a difficult season, and how I can over-deliver to them is to care for them to love them in a very unique and special way. When someone on your team is in their worst as a supervisor, I want you to be at your best for them. This is a way for you to over-deliver for them.

#6. Stop Dishonor People on Social Media. 

This is so relevant in our day and age today. Where most everyone has access to and is on one form of social media or another. If I had a big megaphone to the big C Church and all of Christendom, I would say, “Hey Christian, stop dishonoring people on social media, especially those that you don’t know. Politicians, police officers, whatever acts you have to grind stop dishonoring people on social media.”

I want you to listen to the Apostle Paul’s words from a letter he wrote to Timothy, a young pastor. He writes, “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God, not to wrangle about words.”

Paul goes on to state, “…which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.” Think about what Paul’s saying. He’s saying, don’t get twisted up in conversations where you’re fighting over words that don’t matter and think about how that translates online. So many Christians are on social media, Twitter, or Facebook, and they have these arguments with people. They’re wrangling about words, and this is a problem. Paul says that when we wrangle about words, we ruin the ears of the hearers.

Here’s a picture of my mind where if I’ve been dishonoring people on social media. I see an old friend, and he is walking towards me, and I’ve got this essential message that I want to share with him. The most important message I could ever share with this friend. Then as we’re walking towards each other, I’m talking, and I’m starting to share this vital idea with them. I see him, but he is pointing to his ears like, “Hey, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” and I think about this message as a Christ-follower – the message of the Gospel. It’s the message of what Jesus did for me, but because I’ve been wrangling with words and arguing with people on social media. My friend who doesn’t know Jesus, he can’t hear what I’m saying, I’ve ruined his ears.

Another way to translate this is you’re ruining your witness when you wrangle with words on social media. If you are a leader in the church, or if you’re just someone that follows Jesus, stop angling with words and stop arguing and dis-honoring people on social media. Use social media as a platform to express what God has done in your life and the grace that He has shown you.

#7. Submit to One Another Based on Gifting and not just Position. 

In an organization, we submit to the boss or whoever holds the highest position on the org chart. I want to flip that. It is not always the boss, who is the most gifted in any particular area. And when there is a need to lead in that specific area, say, “Hey Sally, you have the gifting when it comes to this ‘thing.’ God has placed something unique in you, and I want you to be empowered to make this decision. I want you to lead the team as it relates to this ‘thing’ that we’re working on. Sally, I am submitting to you and the gifting that God has placed in you.” When you do that as a leader, and a supervisor, people feel loved, cared for, necessary, and they feel honored. Who’s making the tough decisions, who is figuring things out, it’s should be who has the gifting, in the room. You start to move that through your organization. People will love working there, people will feel empowered, and it is an excellent way for you as a leader to build a house of honor.

God blesses a house of honor. As a leader, you have the opportunity to create a culture of respect in your organization, at home, school, or your business. The hope and the prayer and the belief are when God looks down and sees a house, church, or company where honor is present, God’s will place his hand upon it on bless that place.

As the leaders, when you honor your team, they will honor others. Soon honor will become a part of the fabric of your organization and your culture. Remember, as a leader. You set the pace.


Pastor Dan Zimbardi has been the Executive Pastor of Sandals Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America, for the past eight years. Dan spent twenty-two years as an entrepreneur and corporate executive and has worked with some of the most dynamic brands in the world, including Google, Nike, and Burton Snowboards. Dan’s passion is to train and develop leaders both in ministry and the marketplace.