How-to: Connect and Serve Your Family During a Crisis

By Rocky Stone

I have to tell you right off the bat; I’m not an expert in this. In fact, I’m struggling in this area. But I want to talk to you about three key areas that I’m pressing into, and my hope is that this will encourage you and help you connect with and serve your family better as we continue in this current pandemic.

Number One: Be Flexible.

I am a person that loves my schedule. I’m the guy that has my alarm go off at the exact same time every single morning, whether or not that’s actually when I need to be up. Even on my days off my alarm goes off and wakes me at the same time as it does on days that I have to work. I love having a schedule, I love being in a routine, I love doing things regularly, and right now we find ourselves in a place where our routines are being flipped on their heads? Nothing is happening as I expected it. Routine and planned have gone out the window, things are continually changing. I want to encourage you, and encourage myself in the same breath, be flexible. This is the best thing that we can do right now. Embrace the day as the day comes. Be willing to change and move things around. This is our new reality. I’m not used to working at home. I’m used to traveling from place to place and meeting with people while working out of Starbucks or an office. Before this pandemic, I worked from home only a fraction of the time that I do now. Working from home and working through this with my family has its challenges. But in those challenges, some beautiful things are happening.

Be flexible about how you’re working, and when you’re working. Before this crisis, I lived and died by your calendar and schedule, but that can’t happen right now. In this new reality, work can happen at any time which brings new challenges into the home. I have found great importance in making sure that my family knows when I’m working and when I’m off work. The temptation, at least for me, is to continue working well into the evening. Everything becomes a ministry, and everything becomes work.

In this, I’ve learned that my kids need to know when daddy’s off work and when I’m not. Having me at home and seeing me throughout the day is confusing to my two younger kids, all they see is that daddy is home and he doesn’t have time to play. As a family, we can establish new routines that respect my work time if I let them know when I’m working and when I’m not.

Number Two: Be Intentional.

Let’s remember that this crisis isn’t going to last forever. Even though it feels like a few weeks is forever, this time will soon pass. Recognize what this time is, it’s a gift.

There are some scary things going on in the world. In the midst of this, some people are sick, and some people are losing jobs. This isn’t to minimize any of that, but to keep it in its proper place. These things are happening, but for the most part, we do not have any control over that. Let’s focus instead on what we can control, our time. I want to encourage you to capitalize on this time by being intentional with your family. Spend this time talking to your kids. I have four boys, my youngest is three, and my oldest is 12. I’ve sat each of my kids down, even the three-year-old, and asked about how they’re doing. How are they processing this, and what are they missing? What are they sad about, and what are they enjoying? We’ve had some great conversations about how they are feeling. It has helped me realize that I’m not the only one that’s had a significant shift in my routine, this shift has hit my kids and my wife as well. I want to encourage you to remain flexible, to embrace the time that you have with your kids and your family and be intentional with that time.

Number Three: Be Loving

I think this is probably the area that, at least for me as a dad, I’m struggling with the most. As my kids run around and make a bunch of noise and get into different things while I am trying to work, it’s easier for me to snap and jump and correct them. It’s harder for me to be quiet and embrace the difficulty that they’re having as their world has also been interrupted. We have a choice on how our kids experience us during this time. Let’s choose to set the example and lead them well in love and compassion.

Often, as pastors and ministers, we talk about our families as our first ministry. If we are honest, that’s something we love to say, but it’s oftentimes not evident in our life. As the world hits the pause button, we get the opportunity to make that statement a reality and allow our kids and our spouse to be that first ministry in our life.

I think many of us are finding creative and exciting ways to connect with our church, to love our neighbors, and to serve the people around us. Many of the ways that we are serving others can also be applied to how we serve our families. Match the time and energy you’re putting into serving your community and your church with the time you are serving your family. Let those balance each other, let your kids and wife be more important than the next crisis or this current pandemic.

These are things that I have been trying to do. There are some days when I succeed, and there are some days when I don’t. Each moment is a new opportunity. Keep loving your family. Have extra grace for them and be thankful. Be thankful for the time you have with them because we all know that in just a short amount of time, life is going to come roaring back. We’re going to have tons of responsibility, an overwhelming amount of conversations, and lots of tasks to accomplish as we put life back together.

Take advantage of this time. Love this time. Cherish this time.

I’m praying for you.

 

Rocky Stone was born in LA and raised in Moreno Valley and Riverside. He served in the US Army for 11 years and graduated from California Baptist University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and Religious Counseling. Rocky previously served on a church planting team as a teaching pastor and was a General Contractor in Chicago, before becoming pastor at Sandals Church Menifee. He has been married to his best friend, Nicole, for 8 years and has 4 sons, Amere (12) Avante (11) Owen (5) and Graham (2). He loves tacos, woodworking, and walking with people as they discover how amazing it is to be all in with 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.

 

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

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

Communities are Transformed When Dying Churches are Transformed

A thriving gospel-focused local church represents hope, love, and purpose in a community. As a local church continuously declines in attendance, giving, and a well-maintained facility, it’s light often dims in its community. As its light dims, the eternal hope of Christ in that community dims as well. Ministries and outreach halts, the facility falls into disrepair, the pastor takes on all duties of the church, even those outside his gifting, and mere survival becomes the focus.

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A thriving gospel-focused local church represents hope, love, and purpose in a community.

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When restoration happens to a dying church through a successful merger, attendance, giving, and hope in the community rises. The Gospel message emanates into the community. The good work to care for and love their neighbors is once again a priority. Outreach and community events become a regular activity in the neighborhoods. People come to faith, get baptized, and are sent out on a mission. It is inevitable that post-merge a sense of life and purpose return to the community.

 

Next Post: God Does so Much More with an Open Hand than a Closed Fist.