During the COVID-19 crisis, our team gathers weekly to discuss the latest From the Front Lines of Ministry. We are using ChurchOS to stay clear and focused. See how other church leaders around the country are using ChurchOS as they navigate the new normal.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CALL:

  • Pastors get super honest about the weight of this season and share some tips toward health.

  • Why you should say “regather” and not reopen.

  • A word of caution about restrooms from a church having live services. 

  • Tips on communicating with your community as you prepare to regather.

  • Some grass roots evangelism ideas. 

  • Blending of physical and digital church experiences. 

  • Current thoughts on kids and student ministry. 

  • Right-sizing expectations for attendance when you are live again. 

IC TEAM MEMBERS ON THE CALL:

  • Bob Miller – Ministry Leader/Coach – Thomas Road Baptist Church/ServantOne – Lynchburg, VA
  • Tim Winters – Executive Pastor – Shepherd Church – Porter Ranch, CA
  • Matthew Robinson – Lead Pastor – First Baptist Church – Orlando, FL
  • Matt Wright – Lead Pastor – Willow Creek Community Church – Chicago, IL
  • Jared Perkins – Executive Pastor – Plum Creek Christian Church – Butler, KY
  • Jill Gille – Executive Director or Projects – Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA
  • Mike Shelly – Outreach Pastor – Real Life Church – Clermont, FL
  • Bruce Cramer – Pastor of Life Groups – Central Community Church – Wichita, KS
  • Jim Stanley – Coach & Facilitator – Indianapolis, IN
  • Mark Warren – Executive Pastor – Eastview Christian Church – Normal, IL
  • Dana Erickson – Executive Pastor – Illuminate Community Church – Scottsdale, AZ
  • Kevin Stone – Executive Pastor – Christ’s Church of the Valley – Royersford, PA 
  • Mike McDaniel – Lead Pastor – Grace Point Church – Bentonville, AR

IC Staff:

  • Doug Parks – Co-Founder & CEO
  • Bart Rendel – Co-Founder & President
  • Tasha Johnson – Director of Operations
  • Lynda Rec – Accounting & Special Projects

COVID-19 RESOURCES & PREVIOUS CALLS:
https://intentionalchurches.com/covid19/

CALL TRANSCRIPTION (05.29.20):

Doug Parks:

Hey everyone, welcome to our front lines call the next in the series, and thanks for tuning in. We’re going to slant a little more … This week toward thinking about our weekend or worship services meeting again. But first, I want to start us off just know about the rest of you guys out there, but it just seems like this run as taking a toll and a lot of us emotionally. So I’ve asked a few of our guys here and girls to share a little bit about First off, how are they doing, not just in ministry, but like as a parent and … In their house and working at home, but then also with their team. And then also if they have any tips on how they’ve kept their sanity and what they’re looking forward to, and ways that we could stay healthy through this thing. So, Tim Can I throw it to you first man, just tell us how you’re doing and maybe give us some things you’re doing to help?

Tim Winters:

Sure. Well, you asked how I’m doing on the right day, because if you ask me as this question on Wednesday, you would have found me calling another fellow[inaudible 00:01:02] And when he answered the phone today, Tim all I did was cry. I literally cried and went and said, I’m done. I’m done with all this stuff, and we talked and he got me through it. But I think what I’ve learned is, through this process and then early on, I just ran on adrenaline, Texas do this, fix that it was a battle zone that I had been in before I enjoyed. But as we progressed through it, it got to a place where people were just being [inaudible 00:01:32].

Tim Winters:

I’m talking about people I love, people I care about, people in my church, some are leaders. There was no … It was all black or white, start church, don’t start , there was just so definitive on opposite ends of the spectrum on almost every decision we [inaudible 00:01:45], and those things began to hurt. And I’m pretty thick skinned person but, they were starting to hurt a great deal and cause pain. For a guy that’s pretty strong and done it for 30 years, I know the [inaudible 00:01:58]. In talking to my pastor friend this week, we talked about the fact that, I see we talk a lot about the growth engine and these three pistons, and how they all have to be functioning.

Tim Winters:

Airlines we have the same thing and I’m really good at the knowing my physical piston is not good enough, I have to work out or even my spiritual piston, getting myself prayed up and for this job, but the emotional piston, I just never really pay much attention because I did everything else based on the physical and mental and the spiritual, but emotionally this season has been very damaging for me, because I didn’t have the emotional reserves to get through it. So I’ve been really [inaudible 00:02:38] our emotional stuff and trying to figure out what my needs are, ’cause we don’t think as XPS as leaders, we don’t think about our needs a whole lot because we’re dealing with everybody else’s needs and answering the questions.

Tim Winters:

So I’m really lean in these days, I have last three days, really been pouring into what are my needs? Why are these attacks hurting so much? So, I would say I’m really leaning the emotional side of our ministry and the leading emotional side of leadership and learn a lot about me, and it makes my days a lot better. I start off thinking when I’m not going to ask for other pastors some needs I have, because I’m not going to get them from the people I’m leading. And if I’m trying to give them people leaving a bad place to

start, so I’d say that’s my biggest thing now is dealing with the emotional side of leadership and feel like I’m doing good today.

Tim Winters:

So again, I’ve been surprised at how mean and unkind Christian people can be, I can expect about non Christians, but just the debate on whether it open or not open. We’ve got people in our church who are Christians, been a Christian 30 years I think we’re the Antichrist for not opening church right now. And we have other people thinking if we open, [inaudible 00:03:44] just can’t win that battle. So you have to do what you think is right, we live here in California … is a big debate on whether the forced ChurchOS to be open, and really Rick Warren said it so well, the letter to his church, … There’s a lot of smaller ChurchOS going to open real soon, and we’re going to celebrate them and be glad for them and excited for them, We’re not going to be resentful because we’re big, and we can’t …

Tim Winters:

We’re going to celebrate them, encourage them, and I think each pastor has to make that decision on their own, a very personal decision is your balance. We know well, the balance between Great Commission versus a first amendment, … that’s not the debate they want to make it that way. But it’s all about the Great Commission, period. And, you have on your heart decide what that means for your church. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Doug Parks:

That’s awesome. Well said and thanks for being vulnerable and sharing. That’s … I think there’s tons of pastors going through what you’re describing there, we’re feeling the pinch, Jill had asked you as well You are a mom as well as on the executive team, and then you moved, so no stressors in your life. So, how are you doing and then, any tips for us?

Jill Gille:

Yeah, I think that’s a good point just to acknowledge the stressors because I’m wanting to just … What Tim was just saying, like, “Let’s just keep moving. Life has to go forward. I can’t sit here and waddle in my sorrows.” But I think that’s the first thing I would say is just to acknowledge that this is hard. And no matter how we’re wired, or how strong of a person we are, no matter what our capacity is, I haven’t heard one person say, “This is awesome and I hope it stays this way.” Not one. I haven’t heard one parent say, they’re doing good. And so that brings me to my point of that we’re not alone, and I think especially in ministry, we have a hard time asking for help.

Jill Gille:

Probably in all areas of our life, because we try to be so strong, we’re on the executive team or we’re a leader and people look to us and I would just say to reach out for help and not feel bad about asking for help. And again, like Tim was saying, I’ll be vulnerable too that … Yeah, if this was yesterday, I was in tears yesterday, I’ve had a lot of late nights with the kittens because everything’s upside down. And that’s another word I used in my employee review actually the other day to my bosses like [inaudible 00:06:18] to say my world is just more upside down than I ever could have predicted.

Jill Gille:

Everything, is upside down. So bedtime, getting the kids out of bed in the morning, it’s flipped almost by 12 hours, and they see no need for it to be different. Because it feels like summer, but not. So then I was

thinking about this when you sent this question like, again, I went in assuming I can do this. I’ve worked from home before. And then I started analyzing what the difference was and, probably in the first 15 years of my ministry life, I was a workaholic. So working from home had a different view, different play. I’m not a workaholic anymore. I’m recovering all the time.

Jill Gille:

But in my next season, I had kids and so thankfully, I have a flexible role where I can be home when they’re sick, or if there’s no school, that’s six hours have gone free daycare, because now they’re home. And so I work from home during those times. But this is such a unique season, because it’s obviously a lot harder working from home now. Just even the layout of the house. I’ve moved so many different times trying to figure out where I can do these calls and not look silly, because this is going on over there and my eyeball is looking over there and I’m telling kids to stop and I’m checking their computers to see if they’re actually doing homework.

Jill Gille:
But nothing’s lining up, you know?

Doug Parks:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jill Gille:

And even during this call, someone’s ringing the doorbell and it’s some service person who wants to look at our solar I’m like, “You have to call because we’re all working from home, you can’t just show up anymore.” You know? So a lot of, texting. I’m sneaking a lot of texts, obviously trying to get help and ask, “Can you get this? Can you do that?” But I would just say again, as far as seasons, the good thing is they change. And I know it can sound hard because nobody wants change. But this is a season nobody wants to stay around. So, change will come. Because seasons do come and go and it’s going to look different, and that’s going to be hard for us, right?

Jill Gille:

What’s it even feel like to get up and actually get out the door on time to the physical workplace? You know?

Doug Parks: That’s right.

Jill Gille:
And put put on something besides shorts.

Doug Parks:

Yeah, that’s good. Thanks again, and then Bruce I’d asked you to also think about it. How are you doing first off, and then any tips on how to cope, how to be healthier, how to be better in this season?

Bruce Cramer:

Yeah. I would agree with both what Tim and Jill shared. But I would say it’s almost like a reverse bell curve. So at first it was so busy. And as Tim said, just running on adrenaline, get organized and, for a couple weeks, we still had people trying to show up, so, I was the bouncer at the door, because I would just talk them to death until they’d walk away. But, I was just putting out so much energy, what do we do with our groups? We’re in the middle of a small group series, how do we end it? How do we do all these things? How do you adjust? And so there was so much energy at first, but emotionally I think and spiritually the bell curve was the opposite.

Bruce Cramer:

I was just draining myself. And so then when I figured that out, I didn’t go to the normal ways. I was like, “Oh, well, people are talking about binge watching. Well, maybe binge watch Star Trek, and I’ll feel better.” So, I would do that on my day off and be like, “That really help.” And so, of course my wife is like, well. We need to read through the Bible together and I’m like, “I read the Bible all the time.” But we started that together, and just making that a discipline in the morning because now I have a little more time in the morning. So that was one thing that helped her and I doing that together, kept us connected.

Bruce Cramer:

The other thing I found is just, well, exercise ended up being a cure, but how am I going to exercise? Normally I exercise early, and I go to work, and … I couldn’t do that. And so what I found is, I had some morning Zoom calls and meetings, and I would do it at lunch. So I would discipline [inaudible 00:10:49] it two hours every day that I’m going to do a walk with my wife or I’m going to ride my … I’ve been riding my bike like crazy, but I could do that in the middle of the day or the middle of the afternoon. But I just had to schedule it and I had to schedule and arrest time, and I had to make sure my days off were a day off.

Bruce Cramer:

Because I found for three or four weeks I didn’t take that. And so, I had to learn boundaries on people calling me and not answering their calls. So basically for me it was, schedule and then just paying attention to my spiritual health in that, so that I schedule the time off and discipline to take it, even though it looked different.

Doug Parks:

Yeah, thank you guys, all for sharing it’s super helpful. I just think so many of us in the past [inaudible 00:11:35] are in this same spot and trying to figure it all out. And yeah structure for me has been the most helpful. Trying to get structure, I’m trying to bring it to my kids but like Jill said, Now that we’re in summer, oh my goodness, I’m like, “You still need to go to bed and get up.” So … Okay, thank you guys again for sharing that. So Bart, if you’ll just real quickly if you guys haven’t seen these before, we do use one of our tools that is a strategic conversation inside of ChurchOS called the Great Commission Engine to set a frame for its discussion.

Doug Parks:

And so I’m [inaudible 00:12:08] asked Mark to fly through that. And then we’ve got a couple things. We’re gonna talk about their own innovations, and then we’ll head into a re opening conversation. Bart, go ahead.

Bart Rendel:

Sure. I’ll try to go through this quickly and efficiently. We in ChurchOS … Are we going to throw the graphic up? Just want to make sure. Okay, so in ChurchOS, we have a lot of tools. This one we start with every church period. And it’s the fundamental conversation that begins all perspective. So that’s why we use it to drive our calls and our thinking in times like this. And that is, it’s an analogy. There’s five components. We go to Matthew 28, Acts 2 and Luke 15 to combine what we think is the strategic fundamentals of every church dating back 2000 plus years.

Bart Rendel:

Piston One would be the gathering which is, the preaching of the word and worship, and we’re trying to gather right now digitally and we’re thinking about gathering again, physically, some of us already have started. We’re going to talk about that on this call. Life changing relationships, component number two, piston number two. That is, the gospel is powered when relationships are made, and discipleship happens best in the context of those relationships. And so every church has got to be thinking about that comes from Acts 2, meeting in homes daily, and with glad and sincere hearts true community.

Bart Rendel:

Piston Three is the power of surrendered living. That is life change is going on at all levels in our churches, so what are we doing to harness that and foster it, but then to harness it as well, so that we can power the gospel forward in our church? All that is connected and centered around our one, which comes from Luke 15. Jesus pursued said the shepherd pursued the one, while taking care of the 99, but made the one the priority. So we make the one the priority in our conversations. And then lastly, the fifth component is the Engagement Pathway, which we’ve done some good digital work on out there you can find recently.

Bart Rendel:

And that is, how are we going to connect the ones us Jesus in one another? And that conversation in all of these components has got to be thought about at all times, because the one is easy to forget. And for some reason during this season, it has been a little easier to forget, than it other times, so the lost have to remain the focus. And we have to work hard to make that the case. So, those are the fundamentals and that’s going to drive our conversation today.

Doug Parks:

It’s great Bart, thank you for doing that. And I’m going to jump in here in a moment. Just as we’re discussing this cross country, there’s varying levels of stages that every state or communities act from Illinois who were being told, no gatherings until Maybe 21 to Florida, which is opening Disney World soon and Universal Studios I think opens this week there, this coming week. And so I just want to remind us, we’re all at varying levels, but we can learn from one another, especially those who’ve gone before us. I did for a minute before we deep dive on relational evangelism.

Doug Parks:

I find it tied to this fascinating development in our country where, churches are bounding together to sue in essence, to reopen. And so that is happening right now in California. I [inaudible 00:15:35] asked some of the California pastors on the call that just talk about how you’re thinking about that, as you’re seeing it. And we know there’s a real heart and desire from those pastors to provide spiritual direction for their flocks and get them together. But at the same time, there’s this whole tension we’re bouncing in it.

Doug Parks:

So any of you guys in California want to share just for a couple of minutes about how you’re thinking about that, and how it’s affecting you? How about Tim? I’m calling somebody. Tim.

Tim Winters:

We’ve watched it a little from the sidelines, we’ve not been a part of any of the rallies or anything. Again, partly because we’re not … We’re doing church, we feel like we’re having church. We don’t feel like we’re being limited necessarily. Our tenders [inaudible 00:16:25] numbers are bigger than they’ve probably ever been as far as online. And we’re effectively ministering online. We do have a few people pushing every week about our rights and a lot of that stuff, but we’ve ignored that conversation and we feel like we haven’t really stopped doing church.

Tim Winters:

We’re still having church every week. We’re still putting out content every week. We have our groups meeting constantly, more people in groups than we’ve had before. Again, we’ve heard the conversations, we’ve not been a part of some of the rallies. We don’t think it’s time to do that. And then there comes a day when we feel like we need to stand up the government and say, “Enough is enough.” We feel like we’re doing church and people are administered to be [inaudible 00:17:11] and saved every week for preaching the gospel, is just a little bit different way of doing it.

Tim Winters:

So, we’re not judging those who are taking those stances. They got do what they think is right. But we again, we [inaudible 00:17:27] talk, we’re doing okay, and getting the message out every week as effectively as we were before. So, I don’t know if it’s a good answer or not. But …

Doug Parks:

No man, that’s great. I think it’s great. I think, when you referenced Rick Warren’s letter where he said, “We’re going to cheer for those small churches who were able to meet together again physically and be that.” I think our push with IC would be just as you’re making decisions about all this, keep in mind that part of our job in the Great Commission is to reach our community and that’s far from God. So, let’s use that as a filter as well when we’re in these conversations. So thanks for sharing that Tim. All right, so relational evangelism, Bart in the Great Commission Engine was talking about R1.

Doug Parks:

And so, just a quick update on my personal quest to win my neighbors. some of you know I stole this idea, we did that Kona Ice truck a couple of weeks ago, or probably a month ago, had tons of people show up. It was awkward at first, but then it was awesome. Tons of bridges built. So then we had a neighbor who took the challenge, a week and a half ago and did an awesome deal. They rented a tent and tables and had a sliders truck in and there were more people. A few people in the neighborhood freaked out about social distancing. But again, the connections among neighbors are off the charts and then we just got noticed that somebody’s doing a popsicle truck next week.

Doug Parks:

So it’s getting infectious here, this relational evangelistic piece that we’ve been facilitating, so anybody out there, it’s well worth a few hundred bucks to put Kona Ice trucks in your neighborhood, to try to get

some relationships built. Okay, Matt, you guys have been using yard signs and get some traction with that. You want to share just a little bit about the idea what it is and why you-

Matt Wright: Yeah.

Doug Parks:
… and go ahead.

Matt Wright:

Yeah, so just a little bit of traction out of it. We’re trying to do as much as we can to say, “Hey, how can you pay attention in your neighborhood?” Just what you’re saying just now, Doug about taking ministry to your neighborhood. And right now in Chicago, it’s starting to get pretty again. And for those of you who [inaudible 00:19:27] spent any time in Chicago, you know when the sun comes out, and it’s summer, everybody gets outside because you’ve been inside for so long. So, people are walking around all over the place. So we decided, “Hey, why don’t we try yard signs?”

Matt Wright:

So, they’re real simple. We’ve got a couple of them, one says, “You are not alone.” The other one says, “We are in this together.” And we match that with the sign that’s out in front of our building, as well. And so we have some of our regionals. We just filled the lawn of the regional with hundreds, thousands of these signs and told our congregation, “Come pick one up, grab one, grab as many as you want to grab, put it in your yard.” And it’s got a simple website. So we can track how many people are coming back. It’s a little landing page to it. There’s a place where you can get help, or where you can give help, and where you can connect to the service on it.

Matt Wright:

It’s not magical. But it’s a way for people to focus on their neighborhood. And we’re starting to see a little bit of connection when you’re walking around, you’re like, “Oh, hey, I didn’t know that that person lived here. I don’t know that they’re a part of our church too.” Just a good little community thing for us to be doing.

Doug Parks:

That’s great, man. Love it. And then, Jill, I know we’ve had all kinds of innovations around home baptism kits and instructional sheets, but you guys are getting ready to do a big baptism emphasis here in a couple of weeks. Tell us how you’re thinking about that and what are the practical things another church leader could do, as you prep for that?

Jill Gille:

Yeah, well, we’re studying other churches that are ahead of us on this too. And we all do that, we look at what we like and don’t like, or agree with or don’t agree with. But that’s all based around us. It’s not like what’s right or wrong, it’s our church, our values and, we’re looking at how we’re set up with the Great Commission Engine and all of our language. That’s what we’re filtering through. So again, it’s not … I don’t want to sound like I’m saying who’s doing what, right or wrong. We’re all trying to figure out what works for us and we reach out to others.

Jill Gille:

So we’ve read a lot of documents that other churches have done and we’re obviously looking at our message series, we try to do baptisms, large baptisms around our message series and how we’re ramping up and getting that stirring in people’s hearts to make that commitment. So, in a couple weeks, we’re going to promote it and encourage it and we’re doing that with … Well our document isn’t finished yet. So I was just doing some looking around and we’re not quite done with it yet. But, it’s going to encourage people to baptize with their families, again trying to stay in that small group environment.

Jill Gille:

Because for us, we have not entered phase two, which would be where we would encourage small groups to get together. At least not in our SoCal campuses, or our Minnesota campus is in Phase Two and small groups of 10 or less in homes and also encouraging church at home. We’re at two different phases going on for us, for a multi site church. So yeah, we’re gonna encourage the beach, lakes, places like that. So, another way to say it is it’s not at any campus. We’re not sending staff out. We’re not sending pastors out. Just really trying to keep it a little bit more intimate and with people that people are feeling safe with.

Jill Gille:

That this is who they’ve been staying at home with. And then we’re going to put online for them and we announce it and it’s going to have some simple steps on do’s and don’ts. Again, just trying to stay in line with where we’re at right now in California. And then, we’re going to encourage people to let us know that this happened, that they made a decision. It’s important for us to follow up, just like we would if we were meeting physically on a campus. We want to follow up and give them next steps. I accepted Christ and I got baptized, what do I do next? So we’ll follow up with that, as well of course, just tracking.

Jill Gille:

So, again, we’re going to apply things that we would have done if we were together physically, but just with a little detour, because we’re asking people to stay, go out to oceans and things like that, which we can do here.

Doug Parks:

So are you going to do in your online service, anything differently to prepare for that, or it’s going to be just your normal series and a call to baptism at the end, or a normal week?

Jill Gille:

No, Gene will definitely hear his whole message leading people to make a … We can’t do the, hey, everybody stand right now with me necessarily. That might be a little bit awkward. But no, it’ll definitely be a part of our series and ramping up to people making decisions. Because like Tim said, we’re still having church, and we’re still seeing decisions and we’re putting so much effort into that. Like, let’s do the best we can online. And we’re not getting so caught up in the other.

Doug Parks:

Great. Good, that’s great. Well love to hear the reports. I can’t wait to hear some stories. Matthew, talking about the gathering, worship service. You guys are getting ready to reopen this week. So just guide us through how you’re thinking about the physical service. Just give us a couple thoughts about-

Matthew Robinson:

Yeah, awesome. But, I see one of the ChurchOS constructs is the 70/30 rule when it comes down to the one and the 99. We’ve recognized, like it or not, we have a new online campus. And in our thinking about how we approach the one, there’s not a 50/50 split with our energy and where it goes between the one and the 99, we’re also in the season as we think about reopening our doors, recognizing we’ve got to put even more emphasis on our online campus than our in-person campus, because of where that [inaudible 00:25:33] is going to take us, and thousands of people are going to continue to join us online.

Matthew Robinson:

So with that, we’re saying, just because we may be reopened again, for you to come in person doesn’t mean everybody needs to be here and you’re part of the first Orlando family no matter where you’re joining us from, and how you’re attending online or in person. So, we’re taking a lot of cues from the theme parks, we’ve got Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter down here and the theme parks have put out great stuff. And also recognizing that there is an inherent level of risk someone’s accepting if they go into the grocery store, or if they’re coming to the church.

Matthew Robinson:

All the precautions we can take are there. But we’ve got a big room and with social distancing measures and the precautions that we’re taking, we are able to accommodate what we think is going to be a significantly reduced number of people, but still be able to provide that experience, but the focus with us continuing with an online host, making sure we’re communicating to the camera, making sure all of our baby steps we’re asking people to do are digital, we are more viewing as we transition to having a studio, now we have a live audience in the studio. But our target is still all the people out there on the other side of their screens and sets.

Doug Parks:

That’s great man. And you talked about once you’re broadcasting or once you have a live service again, trying to sync up some inside of the service between the online and the physical. So talk about that for just a minute.

Matthew Robinson:

Yeah, so we’re making the technical switcheroos. I’m not an expert on all of that. But to allow us to have an online service hosted [inaudible 00:27:07] the consistency that happens there, we’ve got a team that rotates our on stage hosts, but allowing us to be able to talk to the camera there, and then go and sync up with the message or with the music from the big room and then come back to the host, in a way so that it’s still live, but is allowing us to target a message to that audience, so that we’re not always in every mouthful, having to explain the difference from who we’re talking to.

Doug Parks:

Oh, it’s great. It’s great. So I’m going to move us in the GC Engine with Piston Three, surrendered living, it’s giving him time and money and talents. And Matt, you guys have been doing a build a box thing. So just give us the details of that super quick, and how it’s been helpful.

Matt Wright:

Yeah, so we do a food pantry as a normal thing at Willow but, we found that actually, our demand went way up throughout this crisis for the people who needed food. And we were starting to run a little bit low on food and we wanted to get as many people involved as possible as well. So we did this thing where, we bought simple boxes that you would build just like a normal moving box kind of a deal. But we had a list of … It was about 45 bucks worth of groceries and staples that were the most common staples that folks would need. And we told a congregation, “Come pick up a box. Here’s a list of all the stuff that you can buy, decorate it, you can write encouraging notes, whatever you want to, and then come and drop it off again.”

Matt Wright:

And we had all of our young adults who have got time to burn and just want to be excited about something, we’d have a couple of them come at a time, and throw a little like build a box party. So whenever you’re dropping your box off, it’s full. They’re like, “Yeah, way to go.” All that stuff, cheering them on. And we had literally thousands of boxes that then for the people who needed help, we were able to give that to them. We couldn’t do our normal food pantry the way we did it before, because we just couldn’t keep the safety thing work. And so, here we’ve got this already pre done box, you don’t have to have them come in through picking up food.

Matt Wright:

It got a ton of the congregation involved with it. It was a really great engagement item for us that several people decided I’m going to do many of them. And it’s not a cheap price tag either. 50 bucks is about how much it costs to fill that box, or something like 45 bucks, but people were really excited to be able to do and help folks out.

Doug Parks:

It’s great, man. It’s great. And then I’m just going to share a little bit about us here in Vegas. So, I’m sure there are a couple other parts of the country that are similar, but we’re just shy of 30% unemployment. We’ve lost about 219,000 jobs since this thing started. And our church has been really trying to prepare for what they call the coming economic storm. And so they got a three prong strategy they’re putting together with Dave Ramsey training for people, going through FPU. Again, trying to right size finances through the summer and then, also working with a couple of partners in town who now we’re able to help them scale more, to help people who are out of work.

Doug Parks:

As well as some counseling and stuff alongside that. They’ve got four or five points on their strategy but, we felt like in Vegas it’s really going to be really bad here economically in the third, fourth quarter. And the other thing that’s happening here, now I wonder if there’s anywhere else in the country, what we’re hearing on the strip is, the casinos are really going to use that opportunity to reinvent, by going to a lot more technological for instance, a lot of more robotics and facial recognition. And so employees … numbers are going to get cut substantially. We’re being told on the strip.

Doug Parks:

And I don’t know if that’s happening anywhere else. But, I got to think the innovations from technology, you’re going to change the workforce, not just here in Vegas, but in other places, too. So yeah, let’s get into just the reopening conversation and Mike Shelley, before we started on recording you shared this

insight, I think this be good for all of us to remember about the idea of reopening. Mike [inaudible 00:31:03].

Mike Shelly:

Yeah man. So perspective shift based on Great Commission Engine as you were talking about it. And Piston One being the gathering, so we keep talking about … I don’t know if it comes out right, but we’re not reopening because we’ve never closed. We are re gathering, because that’s the only thing that we have not been doing. Because we’ve been open the whole time. We’ve been online. We’ve been meeting people in the community. So it’s just really a perspective shift on that. Just trying to make sure that we all stay on the … re gathering.

Mike Shelly:

And we’ve even broken it down to re gathering, worship service, because really, it’s just that. Everything else has been moving along.

Doug Parks:

That’s great, man. Thank you for the word. Dana. You guys are already starting to think through students and maybe kids a little, tell us how you guys are approaching re gathering with kids and students. What’s your thinking right now?

Dana Erickson:

Yeah, we’re using the re gathering as well. And it’s been fun to listen to everybody. We do have people on both ends of the spectrum. And so, we just knew that we needed to start of course, things here in Arizona are a little bit looser than they are in California. So we have some options that they don’t have. So we’re going to do our preview service or our dry run on the seventh, with key leaders, staff elders and things like that to make sure that all of the things we do have in place for social distancing, basically a touchless service and all that, are going to work out and then we start again on the 14th.

Dana Erickson:

And then we’ll be there from that point on without children on the front end, because we want to get the room right first, we feel we’ve got to do kids right. And that’s going to take a lot more effort. And we want to learn from those who will do it better than we do. And so we’re watching even some of the kinder cares and things that just started to open here, what they’re doing. We wanted to time our starting in the services with when schools start here, which they start middle to end of July.

Dana Erickson:

And so, the schools are still making decisions and what they’re doing so, we felt that to give ourselves some flexibility, work on the main first, make sure that that experience goes well, but also to make sure that we don’t lose the online experience. Because we know we’ve reached people that we’ve never reached before with that experience, and our pastor uses the three lanes approach. You’re driving down a road and you’re feeling good about things. You got people zooming past you to go, “Hey, slow down.” And you got people in front of you going, “Come on speed up a little bit.”

Dana Erickson:

But we got the same people going. So our lane one is, stay at home, watch it on the service, do what you’ve been doing. We’re going to [Lavanya 00:33:59], we’re going to take care of you. Lane two is, open up your home to a neighbor, to friends, to the rest of your life groups, community groups, et cetera. Lane three is if you’re uncomfortable and feeling well and you’re not in one of those awkward groups, or the groups that shouldn’t be there and not feeling well. We’re going to crack the door and hopefully you’ll come without your kids.

Dana Erickson:

Without kids ministry, they’re welcome to bring families. But because we’re not going to say don’t bring your kids, but we’re going to have to play that by ear. With the classrooms being closed, we figured we’ve got eight to 10 individual cry rooms, we can throw a TV into each and throw a family in each if we need to. So we’re just going to play by ear and see what happens. So that’s a lot in a few seconds. But there you go.

Doug Parks:

That’s good. Thank you, Dana. And then Bob, your … Thomas wrote your Baptist Church in Virginia. You guys are have regathered sorry, almost said, reopen Mike. Bob, tell us what you guys did learn because you had three or four bullet points there. And some words of caution too for people.

Bob Miller:

Sure. Well, our governor in phase one allowed us to regather last Sunday 50% capacity but because of the social distancing, a family has to have six feet on either side of them every other row. So we’re even going to three services only able to be at 30%. We’re not finding a lot of young families, good attendance with young professionals. Those in midlife are empty nesters. And we do have later in life people coming, but they’re still cautious. One of the practical things that we need to work on is, because we have multiple services, we’re closing a section of bathrooms between each service to clean and to sanitize.

Bob Miller:

But our bathrooms weren’t constructed to hold that many people in that quick amount of time. So, even when it comes to washing your hands at the end, we’re finding a backup. So, needing to work on a strategy of that, whether it be monitoring how many people enter at the same time, or opening up additional ones and trying to cleaning during service, something that is unique to the situation.

Doug Parks:

Just a poll, did anyone in seminary have a class on restroom capacities during a pandemic? I can’t believe that this is where we’re at. Right? Good man. Thank you for sharing that. Hopefully that helps some of you guys out there to think through your restrooms, because that probably would not have been on my list. Yeah, Bruce talked about you guys have made a decision, that one or even the staff will make the call on when to regather. Why did you go with the decision to be a consensus of the board? Talk us through that.

Bruce Cramer:

Again, that our senior pastor basically made a decision for us to close, because he just felt God convicted him of that. As actually, Pastor Dudley Rutherford said that, “Government didn’t force us to close and they’re not going to force us to open, we’re going to do that when we feel God is leading us to do that.”

And so he felt the weight of the decision to regather. We have a lot of older people, a lot of families too and so, on our board is actually … We have a mom that has small kids. We have a doctor. We have older business people, younger business people.

Bruce Cramer:

And we felt like they would have a good [inaudible 00:37:34] and we commit them to begin praying daily for this. So that together, they will best understand what’s in the best interest. And we say why we gathered. And our thing is, we gather because God has called us to. And we re gather because that’s in the best interest of not only our people in our church, but in the people in the community we want to reach, and so we feel that consensus is going to be the best way to decide, is that really where God is leading us?

Doug Parks:

That’s great. I love the mix of men and some doctors and moms and business people in the mix. I think that’s why … So, yeah, Matthew, I’ve got three things here because you’re hot on this re gathering thing. So you’ve been thinking through it hot and heavy because I know you’re a couple days out here. So I want you to talk about three things. All right, what you’re getting ready to do with students and kids. Look like maybe some outdoor stuff? What’s happening with your campus in a school? And how are you finding maybe some solutions that are alternate out there.

Doug Parks:

And then, even way beyond the local authorities recommendations to reopen. And so I’d like for you to talk about those. If you forget any of those three, I’ll remind you. All right.

Matthew Robinson:

Thanks. Yeah, I’ll start on the local authorities. One we’ve been in constant contact with our local authority is government, and there is gathering attend, a social distance, the President’s directive, the houses of worship, recommendations, but not acceptances of state task force and all of those. And we haven’t moved forward without the blessing of our local authorities. And I’d encourage that for every church, that’s the community that you’re in. And that’s where we are. How we communicate that in a proactive manner, especially with any of the news media, we’re taking very cautiously and seriously with that as well, so that we can show how we’re loving our community the best through that.

Matthew Robinson:

Kids and students. We’re not launching immediately with kids. One of our biggest challenge is, a lot of our peers that we’ve talked to, many of those on this call is with volunteers and our kids programming, they’re not ready to come back. In addition to mainly moms we’ve talked to. We have a lot of volunteers and kids who are also part of those most vulnerable populations, who we don’t want to come back. So we’re taking a phased approach and making it acceptable in celebrating devices and headphones in the service, and making stuff super easy and accessible for our kids.

Matthew Robinson:

They’ve been watching it at home by mom and dad starting it, and if parents do choose to come, it’ll be real easy from a tablet that they bring, and that not be some [inaudible 00:40:18] or anything like that. With students, we’re looking towards about four weeks after we begin meeting with weekend services, some socially distance outdoor events for them, so they don’t lose all aspects of coming back together

for the summer. Teenagers, we think will be more apt to wear a mask if needed, and socially distant in their small group. So, we’re going through on those.

Matthew Robinson:
And Gosh, I wanted to bet 1000 here the third one was what?

Doug Parks:
I forget no. Campus, it’s in the school. And-

Matthew Robinson: Oh, yeah.

Doug Parks:
… it creates [crosstalk 00:40:55].

Matthew Robinson:

We have a campus that is in a school and our issue there is with schools closed, the school district has said, “You’re not coming back here to set up this portable campus right now. And we can’t give you any time frame.” So, what that has led for us is, really some new investments and relationships with church buildings and churches in the area, who in an amazing kingdom way we had within a day, three opportunities from churches approaching us saying, “Hey, we’d love to work out a way for you to be here on Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening, as you look at reopen.”

Matthew Robinson:

Which was just so cool. It gets us closer to where we wanted to be neighborhood wise in the school that we’re in right now, with this campus, and with our brother and sister church leaders, that’s been incredible. Conversations that would probably not have happened prior to the virus, that are taking place now. It’s a win for everybody.

Doug Parks:

I’m going to ask you one more question back to the local authorities and how you’re communicating to the community. So you’re doing press releases and even tours. What-

Matthew Robinson:

[crosstalk 00:42:08] press preview tour. Yeah, what we recognize is the most annoying time a lot of the opportunities on a Sunday morning when media just show up. We just want to be able, with relationships we’ve got to say, “Hey, come and walk through, get your B roll on Friday or Saturday when it’s most convenient for you. Let us walk you through what we’re doing, meet some of the people that have been a part of our decision making.” To be able to lend to the narrative that they’re offering our community. Rather than this being, “Oh, look what these guys are doing.”

Matthew Robinson:

Helping tell the story of how we’re being able to impact the community is one in which we think we’ll have some positive gains.

Doug Parks:

Love the productivity, man. Good job. Love it. And then Matt, right? You have some insight. You were on another call and it just what LifeChurch.tv’s been experiencing as they’ve reopened, some or gathered. Sorry, Mike Shelly. Go ahead.

Mike Shelly:

Yeah, I was on another call with other large churches and just learning from them, some of those churches that have began to re gather. And I think we all expect that, whenever we could re gather, it’ll probably be less. And maybe there’s an expectation that maybe it’ll be 20% less, maybe it’ll be 25% less as people feel comfortable. The churches that had reopen, had experienced much more of a decrease than what they anticipated. To have to even more than half as a decrease. Now, they’re still having plenty of online engagement. Online engagement off the charts.

Mike Shelly:

But this idea of, we’re going to have to change our mindset going back into this thing. I don’t think as pastors, we can think, “Oh, if pre COVID, we were at this number, you might take a quarter off of that number. And then we’re just going to bounce back in a couple of months.” Really, there’s a really cool opportunity here for us to look at this as … As like a relaunch. We get a chance to relaunch, and if there are things that we wish were a little bit different if there are things that we would adjust or do differently, this is a great opportunity for us to relaunch.

Mike Shelly:

So, I just felt encouraged by those other executive pastors from other large churches of … Yeah let me change my mindset a little bit here. This is a good chance for us to restrategize, relaunch, regrow, how do we look at evangelism in a new way? How do we rebuild this thing? How do we just get excited about that side of things? So, tempering expectations and then shifting the mindset as we go into it.

Doug Parks:

That’s a great word. For those of you who haven’t, regathered, we’ve heard the same thing done in Texas for churches that have been meeting. They’re running about 20% to 30% of what their attendance was prior. And so, I think just for all of us as pastors when we’re all emotionally worn out, we need to right size our expectations and then remember, we’ve learned a lot about digital that we don’t want to neglect [crosstalk 00:45:07] go.

Mike Shelly: It’s true.

Matt Wright:

They are also hearing the idea of guys, digital wasn’t like some fad to take us through the last few months. Digital is here to stay, and having somebody not just an operational person who’s … I’m not saying the operational people are bad. Of course we need operational people. We’re executive pastors. We are operational people. But somebody with vision and passion and strategy, leading your online church experience, not just keeping the wires moving in the bus and showing up on time, but somebody who has … really I’m spending the best hours of my day dreaming about how do I reach these people, a full Great Commission Engine experience, how do we move forward in this online environment?

Matt Wright:
And that’s a theme I’m here into.

Doug Parks:

It’s good. And then Bart, I’m gonna throw it to you to wrap us up. Do you have any closing comments for us? And then would you pray for just pastors in general man right now?

Bart Rendel:

Sure. I don’t know that I have any closing comments really appreciate the honesty and sincerity of our leaders sharing earlier. So, taking care of yourself, like I’ve said at the end of almost every one of these is paramount. And, I don’t think we’re done having to think like that. So, just encourage you to do that. Whatever it takes, dig deep and God will move and work in your life in the way that’s needed. So, let me pray for yeah, all of our pastors once on the call and once listening as well, in general.

Bart Rendel:

Father God, just thank you so much for the good work you’ve given us to do. We feel like we’re wandering in the wilderness, but we know there is a promised land if it’s not to be had on Earth, it is in heaven. So, just guide us and give us those signposts of your guidance. Each and every single day remind us that you are with us and the direction we should go. Pray for our leaders, please encourage them, give them strength and let your Holy Spirit do its full work to encourage, strengthen, comfort, give wisdom, convict, eliminate fear.

Bart Rendel:

All the things that you are with us to do and that you have given us the Holy Spirit inside of us to do so, pray for all of that. I know you will lead us, and you already have led us and in some ways we are excited and anticipating what you’re going to do through these tumultuous times, when all the norms are being broken. And when you’re doing a new thing. And I feel like the old wine skins, as the scripture talks about are bursting, and new things are emerging. And so our churches are going to be new wine skins for ministry and containers of work that is yet to be done.

Bart Rendel:

So, just thanks again God that you give us this frontline position to be involved. Give us brothers and sisters in ministry to be encouraged by to do this with, and let us lean into those relationships fully, and not be filled with pride that won’t allow us to be honest with one another and share life together, like you really want us to even when we’re distributed. So thank you again God, thank you for Jesus most of all, who makes pandemics and all things meaningful, and redeems all things in it’s in his name I pray, Amen.

Doug Parks: Thank you guys.

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