How-to: Connect With Your Church Staff During a Crisis

By: Pastor Alfredo Ramos

How you as the pastor can be encouraging your church staff during this time.

Your ability to pastor your team ties directly to you
first and foremost, being pastored by Jesus.

Even if you find your time with Jesus limited, I would also share that will your team. Sure, it’s difficult even when it seems like we have more time. It’s harder to connect with Him, but acknowledge the fact that despite that He is still good, He is still present and here is how He’s speaking to me. I want to encourage you with that because we can’t give to our church staff what we don’t possess as Jesus followers. So lead them in the way that Jesus is leading you during this time.

One thing that I try to do in light of that is to open up my time with my church staff every week with a psalm—both silence and scripture and praying that psalm into our all-staff meeting. There’s 10 of us, but it’s the thing that we open up with first and foremost. A lot of people easily forget that a third of the psalms are psalms of lament. Where people are praying and crying out to God, even in a poetic way that He would draw near to them, that He would be with them, that He would rescue them from what they’re experiencing. And so there is something unique and powerful as we pray into our meeting.

In that same spirit, I would encourage you as the pastor as you try to encourage your staff to create space in your meeting to grieve. Specifically, grieve the loss of what the have identified as their routine or their rhythm. We are now all living in this new normal world, and it’s strange, it’s bizarre.

We’ve lost the way we used to do things, and we must grieve that loss.

We cannot grow in this unique and troubling season if we don’t first grieve in this unique and worrisome season as well. Create space for your church staff to do that. I’ve been doing that over the last few weeks. And it’s been important to allow them to share. Often as pastors and people who work for a church, there’s a temptation and a tendency to feel like we have to say the right Christian thing. Faith over fear. And even though these things are true, they’re not necessarily accurate to how we’re feeling and what we’re thinking. And so this opportunity for your church staff to grieve allows them to be honest and to process out loud in the presence of God how they are doing during this time.

I would also encourage them to reimagine their role. This a unique time for not less creativity and imagination, but more creativity and imagination, especially when it comes to your staff thinking about what they’re doing for the church right now. Because their primary job when it comes to them and God is to abide in Jesus. They cannot do their job, apart from having a deep ongoing relationship with Jesus. I think it’s true to say that God is far more concerned about the kind of people we are becoming than he is with the kinds of things that we are doing right now. So remind your staff of that truth and encourage them as they remind themselves and really experience who they are before God, so reimagine their roles.

God is far more concerned about the kind of people we are
becoming than he is with the kinds of things that we are doing right now.

So one thing that I’ve had our church staff do over the last several weeks is to call every single person that’s attended our church who regularly attends our church. Maybe it’s a volunteer, or perhaps they oversee our volunteer team, have them reach out and begin connecting with their church and their church members in that particular way.

And as I said, reimagine what God wants to do with their role. We worship and follow the God of resurrection. God is going to do something new in all of us and through all of us. We should be asking Him as we ask each other and imagine our roles. What is something new that God wants to do in us and through us? I hope that in that process, your staff would be encouraged to know that God is still very active God is still very much at work and invites all of us to be a part of that work as well. And so, reimagine your role as a pastor to them,

There is undoubtedly so much for us to be considering and thinking creatively about what God is asking us to do. I think through those things of you first being led and encouraged by Jesus by you giving your church staff space to grieve in the meeting and to share the process with you and the others.

And then lastly, to think creatively, I try to execute this when I do my one-on-ones with my staff. And so, if you aren’t currently doing a one-on-one meeting either weekly or bi-weekly with each of your church staff members, I would start doing that today, right now. It is one of the most practical ways that you can encourage and still be with your church staff in some way, whether it’s to zoom a Google Hangout or FaceTime. Find a way to be with your whole staff weekly. Do one-on-one meetings with each one of your team members every other week. If you have a smaller team, you can do it every week. And I think in those conversations you’re going to be able to think with a fresh imagination about what they can be doing.

And man, remain optimistic about the work of God during this time. The kingdom of God is here. Even more, is coming, even in the midst of us being all scattered.

God is busy. God is at work doing something.

And the wonderful thing about that is that He invites us to be the church right where we are. There is so much still to do that we should take that on with confidence and joy.

 

Alfredo Ramos was born and raised in Riverside, CA. He graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a BA in Philosophy and later received a Master’s of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Alfredo previously served as a high school teacher and VP at Woodcrest Christian High School before becoming pastor at Sandals Church Palm Avenue. More importantly, he’s been married to Ashley for eight years and has two children, Eli (6) and Ella (2). He’s passionate about food, people, culture, and loves to help people find their real-life in Jesus.

Connecting During Covid-19

By Justin McVey

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has completely changed the way we do church, but I need you to understand that:

Social distance does not mean emotional isolation.

There is nothing more important than staying connected on a deep level with the people God has called us to minister to. And so that’s what I want to do today. I want to give you three incredibly easy, super simple ways that you can connect with the people that you love so much, and care for so much. They’re going to be so easy and so simple that you can do it from your garage.

Number one is my favorite.

We’re going to go old school, on you, you won’t believe what has been the single most effective thing we’ve done to connect with people. The single most effective thing we’ve done to connect with people at Sandals Church East Valley is to call them. You thought phone calls were dead, right? The only people who call are telemarketers. Well, that was before Covid-19 hit.

Right now people are isolated and feeling alone. They want to connect with people, and they’re answering their phones. Not only are they answering, but guess what? They’re are talking. I have had amazing conversations where people have poured out their hearts; they’ve shared with me what’s going on deep within. They shared with me their struggles, their hurts, and they’ve also shared with me how they are going to help out and their desire to be part of the solution. It’s been amazing. I have had in-depth conversations with people I’ve never talked with before.

How We Did It:  We printed out our database, we divided it up among our staff members, and we began calling people. And I can’t tell you how appreciative they’ve been for us to check-in and to know that we care about them. We want to have a conversation with them. We want to hear what’s going on in their lives. Listen, if you’re worried about people answering, send a text ahead of time. Let them know who you are and why you’re calling and when you’d like to connect. They will call you back before you have a chance to make the call because people want to hear another human voice. Parents are on lockdown with their kids, and they want to have an adult conversation. I’m telling you, making phone calls, is an incredibly simple way to connect.

The second one is social media. I want to encourage you to, as you use social media, don’t just use it as a one-way means of conveying information to people. Let it be a two-way thing.

I challenge you to figure out how to use the Livestream platforms on all of the social media channels. You may need to bring some people in on your team to help you with this to watch the comments section and to reply to people. I’m telling you, people will love it. They’ll jump online. They’ll watch it. They’ll make comments and begin connecting. And don’t be stiff. That’s one of the biggest problems I see. People get nervous, and it feels like they’re teaching a class on theology at a seminary, somewhere. It’s just so stiff and rigid. Be relational.

How We Did It: Record it on the couch with your family. Don’t push them away; let them come in. If you’ve got pets, bring them in. Have your dog sit on your lap. People will love that. Maybe record in your garage or an interesting location in your home or yard. The audience will think it’s great because they will be able to see that you’re a person just like them. You’re struggling just like they are. We have to be honest and real with ourselves. We need to connect too. The great thing is that people will begin connecting through that as well. Don’t be surprised if all of a sudden, the comment string is people talking to each other and asking how they’re doing. That’s what we want.

We need people connecting on a deep level because that’s
what the church is about, it’s about family.

I want to challenge you to get creative with number three. Using online meeting platforms that allow you to connect face-to-face in live time. The one that I have loved using the most is Zoom. It’s a great platform that facilitates a lot of different people.

How We Did It: We sent a how-to sign-up email to everyone that stated the times that we’re going to be setting up these group chats. We let them know that we would love for them to sign up for a time. We told then to expect an invite with the time to log in. It’s super easy and super simple.

Make it incredibly relational. Do it while you’re prepping dinner and joke about what you’re eating. Have your kids run through once in a while, and make a mess of it. People will connect, and they will begin to share what’s going on in their lives, they’ll be open, they’ll be transparent and honest, and there will be opportunities to pray for each other.

The kids even begin to connect. Let them take over the group chat or create one for them. It’s just this beautiful, beautiful picture of what happens when families come together— that’s what we want more than anything else.

We want people to realize that social distance does not equal emotional isolation. They are still connected and loved, and a part of God’s family.

Three simple, easy ways that you can connect with your people from your garage.

One: give them a phone call
Two: set up live feeds on social media
Three: use live meeting platforms like zoom to facilitate groups of people coming together and interacting.

You won’t be sorry that you took the time to invest in this. If some of you out there may be a little hesitant with the technology, you don’t understand it, or you’ve never used it before, YouTube.com has so many tutorial videos. Type in what you’re looking for, and there’ll be people who can walk you through the process and teach you everything.

As pastors, it’s our job and our calling as ministers. God has put us here to care for people, connect with them, and love them. We’ve got to be creative. We have to be wise. We must find new ways to do it.

I love you, and I’m praying for you all.

Justin McVey has been in ministry for 17 years, working as a Worship Leader, Youth Specialist, and Family Pastor. He currently serves as the campus pastor at Sandals Church East Valley. Justin and his wife Heather have three awesome/crazy kids, Teagan, Terek, and Tinley. The McVey Fam currently lives in Redlands, California with their dogs Ty and Tilley. Justin loves ESPN (GO CHIEFS!!!), pizza, snowboarding, long walks on the beach and binging on Netflix. Justin is the founder of #NEVERALONE and has a passion is to reach others with a message of hope so that they can encounter the power and presence of Christ and connect with others in a meaningful way.

 

How to: Move Your Community Group Online

So, you just found out that your group is transitioning from in-person to meeting online and I’m sure you have a few questions. This guide is designed to give you the answers as well as a slew of best practices and pro tips to help you continue to lead your group into community.  

  1. What does “Online” even mean? An Online Group is a Community Group that gathers weekly through a video chat, conference call or a text platform (preferably in that order) to share life, discuss the sermon notes and pray for each other. 
  1. How do I tell my Group? You are free to use any avenue you would like, but we have provided an easy copy and paste response below to help you get ahead of any questions you may be asked.  

Hey Friends, here is a message that I just got from (Your Church Name)…

Greetings Leaders, In an abundance of caution, to best align with the direction of our government and in care for our (Your Church Name) family, we are asking that all groups suspend meeting together in person until further notice. 

Instead of meeting together in person, we are inviting all of our groups to continue meeting online through video chat, conference calls or group texts

This means that we won’t be meeting together in person this week, but it doesn’t mean we stop being a community. I would like us to (insert your preferred method of meeting here).”

If you get asked questions about “why” or “how long,” feel free to point people to (Your Church Website) for the latest information.

  1. What Tech do I use? There are a lot of options out there, but here are a few of our favorite digital platforms to choose from. We have linked several different platforms that you can choose from as well as their help pages if you have any questions. 

Pro Tip: If tech isn’t your thing, see if someone in your group enjoys it and invite them to lead the charge of connecting the group in this new way.

We have also written the aptly named How to Have a Good Video Call to help you lead at your best through this new medium.

 

For any questions email jeremymcallister@sandalschurch.com

How-to: Livestream

Good news! Live streaming is simple to execute, and it is widely offered across several different common media platforms! Your first step should be identifying which platform your audience uses most. For simplicity’s sake, we have included a broad age range for each social media platform below!

Equipment Requirements:

  1. A smartphone or video media device that has a camera and the ability to livestream. This should just be anyone’s latest iOS or Android phone.
  2. Something that can hold your device stable during the livestream to avoid any camera shaking or unnecessary movement during service. Generally, your best option is a phone tripod (if you don’t have one they can be purchased from Amazon for less than $30 here)

Steps to begin your Livestream:

Facebook (Primary Age Range: 18-65)

  1. Check to make sure your Facebook app is up to date. This can be done through the “App Store” on iOS, or the “Google Play Store” on Android.
  2. Open the Facebook app.
  3. Click the “Create Post” option at the top of your news feed (this may just show up as a text box that says “What’s on your mind?”)
  4. In the “Create Post” menu, scroll down through the available options until you see the “Live Video” option.
  5. If you don’t see the “Live Video” option, you can select “Camera”, on then scroll left until you get to “Live”
  6. Write a description for your live video/service.
  7. Click “Start Live Video”

You’re all set! Once you press start your livestream should be sent out to your primary Facebook audience/friends. Make sure your phone is in position on your tripod before starting your livestream!

 

Instagram (Primary Age Range: 13-29)

  1. Check to make sure your Instagram app is up to date. This can be done through the “App Store” on iOS, or the “Google Play Store” on Android.
  2. Open the Instagram app.
  3. Tap the camera icon on the top left corner of your screen.
  4. Looking at the options at the bottom of your screen, scroll left until you get to “Live”
  5. When you are ready to start your livestream, select the button in the center of your screen and it will be broadcasted to everyone who follows you! Make sure your phone is in position on your tripod before starting your livestream!

Helpful Tips

Communication

This is the key to making any online content work! In preparation for any online content you plan to share, you should be communicating to your congregation what is coming and how they can check it out for the entire week(s) leading up to your livestream. This is best done through having your pastor and staff share graphics or any social media post talking about your content and when it can be seen.

Engage

Make sure you and a few others are there in the livestream chat room ready to engage with other viewers about their experience! Watching service online can be hard, especially when you are not used to it. Providing a voice that people can tangibly interact with and maybe even pray with makes them feel that much more connected with their community, despite not being in person.

Have a plan

While livestreaming is a simple process, it’s important that you have a plan going into it! Who is going to interact with your audience? Who will fix any issues that might arise in the middle of your service? How can you get more people to watch and engage with your broadcast? Take some time to discuss these ideas with your staff! 

Avoid copyright

Unfortunately, we live in a world of copyright infringement and music possession. With this being the case it’s important to avoid streaming any song that has been recorded by anyone else. Facebook will shut down livestreams if their software detects that a copyrighted song is being played via your broadcast, which can impede your ability to livestream in the future. If you are performing copyrighted worship songs, we suggest visiting Christian Copyright Licensing International to look into a streaming license.

Maybe it’s Time for Daily Communion with God

Note: As we continue to offer stories, helpful articles and words of encouragement through our content page and social media platforms, know first and foremost that we are praying for you, our community, our country, and our world during the Covid-19 virus outbreak. -ROGO Foundation

The last post in our series: How to Be at Your Best

Number Five: Daily Communion

By Dan Zimbardi

With all that is going on right now, maybe today is the day to begin intentionally experiencing daily communion with God. I am not talking about the physical sacrament of communion, though it is always good to start each day in remembrance of Christ and all he has done for us. We are referring to spending time daily with God. 

Lori and I were with this counselor for a couple of days, and he said something that was so incredibly profound. I will try to get this quote right, “Commune well with God in the first half of your life…” What does commune mean? In this context commune well means to spend time with. Commune well with God in the first half of your life. Here is the second part of what he said, “…so in the second half of your life, you can live the freest creative life possible.” 

The moment he said it—if I do communion well with God now, in the second half, I can live the freest and creative life—I immediately thought about the possibility of living in this ridiculous freedom. That’s for me! A lot less stress. A lot less worry. A lot less concern about performing.

“Commune well with God in the first half of your life so in the second half of your life,
you can live the freest creative life possible.”

Thinking about my most creative life possible, I started to think about the things I love to do. Spending all of my days creating and using my imagination. Not bogged down by all the other things I don’t enjoy. Commune well with God. Commune well right now. 

John 10:10 states that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly. God wants us to live an abundant life. Abundant life in this context doesn’t mean more stuff. Abundant life means a deeper communion with God. A deeper relationship with God—this is abundance.

Here’s a question for you if your focus is on daily communion. 

Question: What are my daily spiritual disciplines and rhythms? 

Action: Describe and process your most free and creative life. What fruit might you see if you are free from worry and stress? Write it down and talk about it. Then what does your most creative self look like? What are you doing? How are you spending your days?

As we wrap up our How to Be Your Best in 2020 series, I know things are a bit different in the world now than when we started. But we might just have a little more time while we are isolating ourselves from the outside world to work on the one thing that will help us be our best. 

Pick the one thing that you will work on this year. 

  1. Pursuing healing
  2. Growing in self-awareness 
  3. Conquer deep-rooted insecurities
  4. Mature and grow up 
  5. Make a big change. Especially during this time when businesses are shutting their doors. Maybe getting creative and doing something you never thought you would do is the thing to pursue right now.
  6. Daily communion 

Once you’ve picked your one thing, here are some next steps for you. 

It is called the Four C’s 

  1. Commitment – I think all six of these are the tough things. I don’t think you pick any one of these and it’s like, man, no problem I’m going to go whiteboard this out, and I’m good. These are difficult things, and it requires a significant commitment. You have to work on it consistently. You’re going to need some tenacity, so once you identify your one thing, focus on commitment.
  2. Community – Invite people into your one thing. Don’t go it alone. Invite your community group. If you’re not in a community group, getting into a group. Right now, online groups are readily available. They are not always ideal, but they are easy to join and be a part of from home. 
  3. Courage – You will need courage. When I think about this deep-rooted issue, I shared in the first post of feeling left—it is a big deal. I’m going to need courage. I have carried this baggage for a long time. I’m going to talk about it and get real about it. For some of us, courage looks like going to a therapist. For others, courage looks like going to see a doctor. Be courageous. It takes courage to share your story. 
  4. Clarity – So that we know what God wants us to do. We all have busy, complicated lives. Clarity will help us have direction and give us the energy and the commitment to process through and work on hard things.

Invite God into your one thing and then submit yourself to him you can’t just do it with your small group, and you can’t just do it on your own you need the work of God. 

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.

 

 

Banner Photo by Noah Silliman

How to Be at Your Best in 2020. #4: Grow Up and #5: Make A Big Change

by Dan Zimbardi

What is the one thing you need to work on this year to be at your best at work and at home?

We are continuing in our series on How to Be at Your Best in 2020 with the next two on our list. 

Number 4: Grow up.

For some of us, this needs to be a year of maturing.

You mature by identifying and stopping the childish behavior in your life.

Growing up is accepting responsibility for your actions and the outcomes. Realize and take responsibility for where you are at, and part of that is to stop blaming other people and circumstances.

If you are recently married, for you, maybe this is the one thing. It is time to leave and cleave, right? Put some more distance with Mom and Dad and connect more deeply with the person that God has given you. It is essential to honor your mother and father, but your spouse comes first.

For some, growing up this year means pushing the pause button on PlayStation. There is a time and a place for gaming. Unless you work for a gaming company, the middle of your workday or when you should be attending to your family’s needs is not that time or place.

For some, perhaps growing up is stopping the childish behavior of gossiping. I saw this great quote from Dawson McAllister, “The most dangerous part about gossip is that it steals another person’s reputation. A reputation is very fragile. When you gossip, you are helping to destroy something extremely valuable.” And I would add, you are destroying your reputation as well.

If you feel like that’s what God is leading you to work on is this year. That it is a year of maturing, the question is:

Question: What impact is my immaturity having on my life?

What is the impact on my marriage when I put my mother or my father above my spouses? What is the impact on my kids and my wife when I spend four and five hours playing a video game? What impact on my reputation and other reputations does my immaturity having on my life?

Action: Find a mentor or mentors.

Find someone who’s ahead of you and spend some time with them. I think in life, I have matured the most in all aspects by simply spending time with people who are ahead of me. I have read some great books and gone to seminars, but nothing replaces someone in your life.

Number 5: Make a Big Change.

For some of us, to be at our best at home and work, we need to make a really big change.

It could be anything, a living situation, a relationship, a job, or even ministry. Maybe you’re not in the right spot, not in the right role, or perhaps now is not the best season to be working in ministry. Maybe now is the time to think about the significant change.

There was a season when I had to walk away from my brother, who I love desperately. In my mid-twenties, my brother and I were at odds over our life choices. I was on a different path, and we had an unhealthy fracture in our relationship. Remaining in close proximity and unhealth was not good for our future.

I needed a significant change in my life, and I needed to take a break. Not walk away. Just a break.

It was a big change. Because of this change, we were able to heal and come back together and go forward in a healthy way. I needed the change, and it provided the space for us to reconcile.

I want you to process through if a change might be the best thing for you this year. The question for you is not—do I want to make a big change, or would it feel better and be easier for me to make a big change? The question is:

Question: Is God leading you to make this big change?

Action: There are two actions.

1. Ask God for courage and clarity. If you are on the cusp of a major life change, you likely will need courage. Read Joshua 1. It is my go-to reading for courage. God tells Joshua several times to be courageous. You will need courage if you’re facing something hard. Ask God for courage and then clarity.

2. Look for an intersection as it relates to this big change in your A. Prayer life B. Read the word of God C. Seek wise counsel D. Evaluate the circumstances happening around this big change. If you think God is leading you to make a change, you are looking for the intersection of those four things. If you are a reader, you will want to read the Blackaby’s— a father and son who wrote a book called “Spiritual Leadership.” They write about discerning God’s will in decision-making. This is the process they recommend. Finding that intersection of your prayer life, reading God’s word, what your wise counsel is telling you, and the circumstances happening around the situation.

 

Next Post: How to Be at Your Best in 2020. #6: Daily Communion with God

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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.