Preparing to Gather Together Again

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Scooter Kellum

Hey everybody! Welcome Alabama Baptists to round four of virtual round-table. We’ve got a group of our youth pastors that you have seen already, that are back. And they’re gonna introduce themselves again. Kinda talk a little bit about our setting today. They’re gonna be sharin’ kinda what they do on a regular basis, how many people come to their worship services. How many services they’ve got. Different things like that, because today we’re gonna be dialoguing about re-opening. The possibility, the what-ifs, just talk about what all we’re doing, whether we’re planning, whether we’ve already got a plan, whether we’re just gonna wait and see. So, we’re just gonna dialogue about that today. So, I’m really excited to have this group back. We come from all over the state of Alabama, in different size churches. It looks very different in each of our places. I wanna say thank you to these guys. As you know, the past few weeks, we met with this group as we talked about student ministry, COVID-19. We talked with some students about what that looks like, as seniors, as students tryin’ to live life during this time. Then, we talked with parents. We’ve enjoyed that time with them, and how they’ve invested in their students. As well as, they got a chance to talk about how their youth pastors have really come along-side to serve their families through this time. So, today, we get to dialogue about the possibilities of re-opening and moving forward. So, I’m gonna start and let them introduce themselves, kind of tell about their context. So then, as we launch into the dialogue, you’ll be able to know where they’re comin’ from, and things like that. So, go ahead and start, I’m gonna start with Josh Meadows. Then, we’ll let them introduce themselves as they go.

Josh Meadows

So, I’m Josh Meadows. I’m the family-life pastor at Spring Valley Baptist in Springville. And, we have about 150 people on Sunday morning.

Garrett Davis

Hey, I’m Garrett Davis. I am at Carolina Baptist Church in Andalusia, Alabama. We run roughly about 200 people on Sunday morning.

Clint Bryant

Hey, I’m Clint Bryant. I’m the student-pastor at Taylor Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, and we average about 450 on a normal Sunday morning.

Jeremy Jones

Hi. My name is Jeremy Jones. I’m the associate pastor of families at Crossroads Community Church in Elmore, Alabama. We run 250, 300 on a Sunday, with one service.

Denise Andrews

I’m Denise Andrews from Ozark, Alabama, at Chalkhead Baptist Church. We run between 115 and 130, on Sundays.

Cleve Mallory

My name’s Cleve Mallory, I’m the student-pastor at Eastmont Baptist Church in Montgomery. We typically, traditionally, run two services. But, in total probably around about 1,000 in attendance on Sunday.

Spencer Jones

I’m Spencer Jones, I work at First Baptist Trussville, we as well do two services, a traditional and a contemporary, and have about 850 at each service, depending on the Sunday.

Trent Nolan

And I am Trent Nolan. I’m at First Baptist Church, Demopolis, Alabama over in west Alabama. We typically, through one service on Sundays run 150 to 170.

Justin Caton

I’m Justin Caton with Thorsby First Baptist Church, student-pastor there. And, we have one service with 200.

Terrance Andrews

I am Terrance Andrews. I am the student pastor at Westmeade Baptist Church here in Decatur, Alabama. We typically run one service anywhere between 550 and 600.

Scooter Kellum

Awesome. Well thank you all for joining us today. So, I wanna just throw it out there at this moment, what are you thinking? Leading from the second chair, I know you’re there, you’re meeting with your pastors, and with leadership, and kind of in a room together. Are you, what are y’all doin’ so far?

Terrance Andrews

Well, I can speak into that just a little bit because it’s been a lot this week and some last week. But, we’ve strategized basically a three-phase plan. Phase one is all dependent on what we’re able to do via the governor’s decree. But, phase one looks very much like us going into a three-service period. Because, roughly our sanctuary will hold about 800. So, if we get normal attendance, we wanted to really be able to spread them across the sanctuary in safe distancing. And also be able to offer the first and early service out of the three, I’ll get to that, for the people that are, fall into the category of senior adults or that they possibly are battling some type of immuno-suppressant type of disease like cancer, or taking treatments, different things, high-risk individuals. So those three services would look like 8:00, 9:30, and then 11:00 with about a 10 to 15 minute window between services to allow for exiting and then re-entry of the next service. So, that’s our phase one.

Scooter Kellum

Okay, so, I want us to stop for just a moment. We’ll keep going, but, are there any thoughts or questions for Terrance, as we kind of dialogue about this that you might have from your standpoint, or where you’re at?

Cleve Mallory

Hey Terrance, our question, we’ve thought similarly, I think. And, we’ve reached out to several different churches that are kind of on those lines it seems like, how are you guys going at the disinfecting portion. If you’re talking about multiple services possibly.

Terrance Andrews

Yeah, one of the reasons, one of the additional reasons for the first service being for the high-risk or the senior adults, would be because that’s the time that the sanctuary would be the most pristine, because we have a professional cleaning crew come in. They’re going to disinfect everything. We’ll put together a serve-team of approximately 40 to 60 people, that will be asked to stay from about 7:30 in the morning until after services. Their jobs will range from door holders, which would be your typical greeters, all the way down to actual ushers that would be standing in the aisle-ways, the way our sanctuary’s set up, it’s kind of a semi-circle with a lot of tiered pews from front to back. They’re gonna be in the aisle-ways actually directing people where to sit. We’ve devised an every-other pew approach where we’ll have every other pew marked off, that they can’t sit in. Then, we’re gonna take a center mark from the pew and measure three feet on either side of the center mark and ask people to sit on the ends of the pews. Then, between services, we’re gonna knock everything down with Lysol, every bathroom, every door, every pew will get hit with Lysol, wipe everything down to allow for re-entry for the next service.

Cleve Mallory

So, when you say that y’all are gonna use a professional cleaning company, are you meaning that you do that through the week to prepare for Sunday morning? Or are you meaning that you will have a professional, out-sourced company come in on Sunday, post-first service, pre-second service?

Terrance Andrews

We won’t have, we’ll have it post first service, but we’ll have our volunteers trained by the cleaning crew and they will be able to clean thoroughly in between services. The cleaning company that does our professional cleaning, there’s only like seven employees. They wouldn’t be able to manage that type of area in that short period of time.

Scooter Kellum

Terrance, a couple of things. You said cleaning bathrooms, so y’all are gonna open your bathrooms?

Terrance Andrews

We’re gonna have four bathrooms available. The way that we’re set up, we can funnel people to those four bathrooms and we can have doors open. They don’t have to open doors. The way the bathrooms are set up, thankfully. And, we’ll have an attendant that’s outside, of course, of the same gender. After each person enters and exits the restroom, they’ll go in and try to spray it down, at least. So, yeah, we will have restrooms open. And we–

Scooter Kellum

I was just gonna say, one more question: What are y’all doin’ as far as child-care or–

Terrance Andrews

There will be no child-care provided. Your children are asked, we actually divided the other two services so our 9:30 service will be primarily families with children in elementary and below. Then, our third service, we’ve asked for all the families that have students to attend the third service. Now, there are some families that have students and kids, and they are asked to attend the 9:30 service. There will be no child-care. But, we just actually talked over this morning. We’re going to offer, kind of like what the restaurants have, like a coloring sheet and a pack of crayons that they can take with them or chuck in the garbage every single Sunday for that 9:30 service. ‘Cause there’s a lot of kids that are in that age-range that just can’t sit there. And, our services are pretty condensed. It’s gonna be worship and preaching of the word. It’s about a 50-minute block. So, we’ll try not to extend it too far because of those situations with the kids.

Garrett Davis

I’m assuming y’all are not gonna pass the offering plate. Are you gonna have like a central location to give your offerin’, or how’s that gonna work?

Terrance Andrews

Yeah, we’re gonna have a bucket, one bucket, at each entry and exit door. Actually, that will happen on their exit. Which is the same place. They’re gonna be asked to come in, three different sections, and then when we dismiss each service, we’re gonna actually recognize sections in the sanctuary to dismiss and exit those doors and they can drop their tithe and offering in those. And, we’ll have one person in attendance at each bucket.

Clint Bryant

That’s good Terrance. I think we’re similar size, so maybe you can help me with this question. I know this is a moving target with what’s gonna be coming down the pike with the announcements of social distancing stuff, but have y’all considered limits on how many people can come to your worship service? And, if too many show up, will you turn them away? Have you talked through that?

Terrance Andrews

Yeah, so we have recognized if we measure off and delete every other pew, we can sit comfortably within the social distancing-type of scheme, about 200 in our sanctuary that normally would sit 800. If more people indeed do show up, we have a balcony area. It doesn’t have pews or chairs in, but it lends itself very well to an overflow, and we can roughly sit about another 75 people up there spaced out rather well. That is also a place that we are going to intentionally try to allow people that just walk in, that are not already connected with us. They might not feel comfortable sitting in the same pew with somebody else, we’re gonna have an area upstairs in that part of the sanctuary for them to go as well. Anybody else?

Scooter Kellum

It’s good. The thing is, you have that plan. It’s a great plan. There’s several things that could happen. What if she says you can only have 100? What if the governor says that? You gotta resize that, and things like that. Which is okay. But, it’s good to have a plan and to be thinking through things. Y’all have done that well. Yeah, Cleve.

Cleve Mallory

Can I play off what you just said, Scooter? For churches that are larger, I guess, in number, one of the questions I thought we have to ask, I don’t know, there’s not an easy answer. It’s tryin’ to balance the practical versus the spiritual. We don’t want to be unspiritual, for sure. We long to be together as a church family. But, at what point is, is there a breaking point where we go, like for instance if you take our numbers, or if you take a First Trussville, if the number’s 100, is that feasible for us to try to limit our number to 100? Because we’re gonna be turning away, it just feels like we’re setting ourselves up to really upset some individuals. Because we have so many that want to be here. Do any of y’all feel that way? I gotta know, have y’all thought about that?

Garrett Davis

One thing I thought about with parents, nothing against Westmeade, I think that’s an awesome plan. But, at what point does all the regulations and rules start takin’ away from the actual worship. Some of the feedback we’re gettin’ from our people, listen, we’re ready to meet more than anybody. I mean, we miss our people. But, some of the feedback we’re gettin’ from our people is that they’re enjoying this worship as a family. Nothin’ against y’all’s plan, it’s a great plan. But, at what point does that, you begin to say, okay all these rules and regulations are gonna begin to take away from the actual family environment of a worship service?

Terrance Andrews

Yeah, we did prayerfully consider those things as well. Like Cleve mentioned the hundred. It would not behoove us to begin meeting in person if we could do just a hundred. It would stretch our services out to six or more. That’s not feasible on pretty much anybody. We’re not trying to record first service and then just play it up on the screen. Everybody would do everything live, praise and worship, the pastor preaching. But, yeah, I hear you Garrett. We considered those things. What do we do in service two if in service one people are wanting to get saved? We’ve talked about the whole process of staff members being able to be available, like what we would do during a youth event afterwards. You know, all the student pastors will be down front if you want to come talk to them. We would do something like that. We could withdraw two rooms that are off the wing of the sanctuary itself. But, yeah, you’re right, Garrett. When is the point where we are squelching the spirit just to enable the flesh to meet.

Scooter Kellum

And, I think that we need to, it’s really interesting because the joy of this group, and the joy of being a part of the church, the body of believers, is that you’re in Carolina, a community outside of Andalusia, Alabama which is an awesome place and I love it. And, you’re in Decatur. So, our communities, our people, our church is different. And, so it’s fun to get those different perspectives of that. It’s not that you’re not thinking about it. And, it’s not that we’re not, but we’re all looking at different things in front of us. Even though Clint, you said a while ago that you and Terrance, y’all had some similarities in numbers and things. But, there’s also a lot of difference between Taylor Road Baptist Church and Westmeade. That’s why this is so fun, but also I think this is why this is of great value. And, such a need for us to dialogue in this way.

Terrance Andrews

Let me throw this monkey-wrench out there. During our strategy and prayerful consideration of all things considered, we had a monkey-wrench. And, the monkey-wrench is this: What if a person or two or three, test positive for COVID in our congregation after we begin to meet? What is our plan after that happens? Do we withdrawal from all meetings? We have to prayerfully consider these things. Especially for that first service, those people that are high-risk. We have recognized over 40 people that have, in our congregation, most likely have some type of immuno-suppressant situation. Whether it’s MS, treatments, or cancer, or you name it. They’re struggling. At what cost does it come for us to meet? So, we’ve tried to think through those things. And, we’re just asking God for wisdom when it comes to everything. But, especially that type of situation.

Scooter Kellum

That’s good, and that’s a good thing to pray, prayerfully consider as well, and talk about. Thanks for throwing that monkey-wrench out here for us to think about.

Jeremy Jones

Yeah, I think for me, and our staff, as we’ve been trying to struggle through this, I know currently May 3rd, we are going with what we’ve been doing, we’re doing total pre-recorded live worship. I mean, YouTube worship, nothing in the sanctuary. Just because we don’t know the parameters, and that’s kind of a process for us. But, one of the struggles we’re havin’, you know there were a lot of things, several, six months ago put out, that the whole meet and greet needs to end because it’s awkward. At our church, if you’ve ever been to our church, man, folks love to hug and love on each other. We have to actually draw them back from that meet and greet time because it’s somethin’ that’s huge. It’s a big part. So, our struggle is, we’re such a loving, hugging church, even with it is where we are, how do we hold, when we decide to meet back, how do we stop our folks. We got some folks we know, they’re gonna come in, they’re gonna start huggin’ folks just because they’re in church. That’s the struggle we’re going through, thinking through for us. And, the other question I have is something that we haven’t really mentioned: We know that when we come back, there’s gonna be an influx of numbers. More than we’ve ever, you know. What we’ve averaged, maybe 250, we may have 350 because there’s a lot of people that come to our church, they just don’t come on a regular basis. They come once or twice a month. But, all those people are gonna want to come back. So, then all the sudden, for us, let’s say we do three services, or two services and try to do 125, 150 each. Well, let’s say 400 people want to come, well then that throws us all of a sudden into a, and so that’s some of the questions we’re trying to struggle through. We don’t know the number, we don’t know what people are thinking, as well as how do we control our folks from not social, from getting within the six feet, and most likely gettin’ all up, huggin’ and those things.

Scooter Kellum

So, Jeremy, you’re sayin’ that y’all have met. But really it’s hard to make a decision as a staff, or the church to move forward right now because y’all are waiting to see what Governor Ivey and the numbers and all that look like for y’all. Is there anybody else? Is that right, Jeremy?

Terrance Andrews

Yes. And we didn’t want to preemptively just run over things. Everything that we have in accordance to phase one can be moved back, scaled down, scaled up, different ways, different angles that we’ve tried to think through it. But, you’re right Jeremy. And, that is one of the reasons why last night we began our program of trying to educate our people in what has to happen. Not what could happen, but what has to happen for us to be safe. For those to be safe, our pastor got in on our live, then today we’re mailing out a two-page document. It’s very thorough. It’s asking people to please, please. ‘Cause we know, hey we all have those students that are still hanging out in pockets of 10 to 15. Right? They’re chillin’ til 3:00 in the morning, playing card games. I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos, but I have. It’s gonna be difficult to tell them, yeah, you’ve been hanging out at home. But, this is not your home. This is a place where we’re going to try our very best to help the family, together, be able to meet together again. Because, it’s not about us, it’s about the family.

Scooter Kellum

Would you, with the permission of your pastors, would you send me a digital copy of that letter?

As a resource. Obviously, with permission. But, just in case there’s somebody else who says, hey this could be good, I’d like to take that and look at it, whatever. And, we would use that, and put that online with this video as well, so that we can help be a resource, ’cause that’s what we’re trying to do. Denise, were you fixin’ to say something a while ago?

Denise Andrews

Well, I was just gonna say as a small church, I can’t imagine what Cleve and Terrance and you other guys are going through. But, ours, like Jeremy, it’s kind of on hold. We have a couple of ideas. But, he hasn’t really talked about two services. So, the first one is just to have no children or youth. Just the older, the ones that want the more traditional-type of worship, if we do open up, open it to them. Bein’ smaller, they can meet in our family-life center. We could space out the chairs. And we are very, very huggy also. So, I told ’em, let’s give ’em somethin’ visual. Give ’em, in every spot where somebody can sit, put a Hershey’s Hugs, and say that’s it. That’s all you can do. But, again, we’re kind of on hold. The only plan right now if it’s a-go, and 100 people even, like y’all were sayin’, to have to shut the doors and say, oop, we’re at our limit. You gotta go back home. We don’t want to do that. So, possibly start out with the older population. Have a traditional service in the family-life center, spread out. But, that’s about it.

Cleve Mallory

We talked about if you were to hit capacity, you could have an overflow possibly in a fellowship hall. Maybe, I don’t know. Obviously, your internet capabilities, things like that are a key component of that. We talked about the possibility of an FM transmitter, and so when you do hit the over, you can give people the option. You can either come back for the next service, or you can remain in the parking lot. You can still watch on your cell phone, we’ll still be broadcasting live, things like that. But, yeah, that’s a bug, that’s a bugaboo.

Terrance Andrews

For us, we don’t even have the capability of live-streaming from our AV equipment at this moment because when all of this hit, we weren’t live-streaming anything. We were recording and then posting. With all of our AV equipment, we’re not able to do that. We ordered it a month and a half ago, to be able to live, go live, and it still hasn’t come because everything’s on back-order. So, a lot of people are struggling with that too. They were in the same position as us. We know several churches in the area that are struggling with that.

Garrett Davis

So, one issue, one thing we’re doin’ is, our deacons met a couple weeks ago and we’ve decided that, just like all you guys are sayin’, you know a lot of people here in Andalusia, and in Covington County in general, are doing drive-in services. Which, from what we’ve understood, and Denise, this would be closer to you, the city of Enterprise, I think, has banned those. Is that right? Do you know?

Denise Andrews

I have not heard.

Garrett Davis

We had heard the city Attorney for Enterprise said no drive-in services from the churches. So, our deacons met together, and just like you guys are taking about, with huggy and interaction. Our deacons said, “Look, let’s don’t get back together “until we can actually hug, “we can shake hands. “Even if we have a drive-in service, “you’re not gonna keep people “from gettin’ out of their cars. “They’re going to.” And, just so that we can be above reproach, we said, “Look, let’s keep doin’ what we’re doing. “Whenever we can all hug each other, “we’ll meet back together.” So, right now, that’s our plan possibly til June 1. I mean, we’re just gonna have to wait and see. Considering quite a few of the Corona cases in Covington County came out of our church. Patient zero was in our church. So, for our county. With that being the case, we’ve kind of pulled back a lot.

Spencer Jones

So, we’re in a boat where this is, we’re filming this on April 23rd, but I don’t know when this will air, but. We’ve come to the conclusion that we won’t be meeting until June, at least. With that, everybody’s been talking about like, “That first Sunday back’s gonna be like Easter, “it’s gonna be everything.” I think, we’re realizing for our church, that’s just not gonna be the case. People are still gonna be skeptical. Now, there’ll still be the people who are gonna be running to the doors, which will be, I will be one of them. Because, I can’t wait to be around people again, and not just Zoom calls. But, I think what we’re planning on is a big kick-off in the fall. So, when it’s back to school, that’s gonna be kind of like an Easter Sunday for us. All that to say, we’re still planning on hopefully opening up in June. I don’t know if it’ll be before that, depending on this update here next week, but we’re doing all the things Terrance said. We’re sanitizing, all this stuff. Right now, we’re thinking about having child-care. Not sure how that’s gonna work as far as safety and if the teachers are wearing masks, will that terrify the children that their teachers are wearing masks? You know, there’s all these different things that are just unknown. One question we got a lot, and we might be covering this later is: What’s your summer activity schedule lookin’ like? Are y’all still doing camp? Are you still doing VBS and those things? Right now, yes, we are. Like camp, our camp is June 5th through the 9th. So, I’m holding dear that when it comes out, we’ll be able to do it. We’re going to the beach camp down in Panama City. So, I’m crossing my fingers, I’m hoping for the best. But, also planning for the worst in that. So, I wish we all had a crystal ball so we could see the future. Right now, we’re planning as much as we can, and going with it. But, also just being very hesitant because like you said, there’s a lot of people who will be coming through the doors, a lot of elderly people. And, a lot of people with immune disorders. Trying to play it safe. One resource, I’m not sure if you guys, or if people listening have listened or tapped into this resource of the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast? But, if you haven’t, I would encourage you. Two weeks ago, well, a month ago now, actually. It just feels like a year because it’s been so long. He released a podcast. The name of the podcast was Leading Through Crisis, and since then, he’s released another one. But, he has some fantastic quotes. It’s I think, an 18 minute podcast. But, two of the things he talks about in planning which I’ve been trying to do for our student-ministries specifically is: One, expect to get it wrong at first. And, I think everybody on this screen, if you go back to a month ago, you look back and you’re, what were we doing? We were doing so many different things, trying to do all these things. ‘Cause we didn’t know what we were doing. We still don’t know what we’re doing. But, expecting to get it wrong at first. The second thing he said, which hit me, because for me, I’m a planner. I like to plan things out a lot. His second point, and I’m reading it from his script, he says, “Think long term, but plan short term. “You always want to think of the future “and where your organization ultimately ends up. “But, during a crisis, it’s just not practical “to make solid plans when the situation “is constantly changing. “So, have long-term goals, long-term guidelines, “but only put short-term actionable plans into motion. “Short-term plans ranging from a few days to a few weeks, “also help insulate you and your people “from disappointment as things invariably change.” So, for me and for us, we’re trying to plan, because we do need to have a plan, an action. But, also being willing to know that depending on what happens next week, what the governor says, it could be completely different than anything we expected.

Trent Nolen

Yeah, for us, we’re in that exact boat that you described, Spencer. We’ve talked through some plans. We’ve talked through what we’d love to see, what we might see, and everything in between. But, we came to the realization that we’re not gonna know a lot, concrete, until one, we know when we can meet again, and two, until we have that very first meeting and we see the actual response of our people. Because we’ve got people in our church that may stay home because they are high-risk. They may take their own safety and comfort and things like that into hand, and stay home because we’re one of the few, that we had a local cable television ministry. So, we just had to buy one piece of equipment and we were live-streaming. So, we could maintain that. We have plans to maintain that. We’re also waiting to see how many people are gonna show up. We’re thinking through how do we handle that very first Sunday? And, that’s where our biggest focus is, is how do we handle the first Sunday as best we can? And, then learn from that, and make quick changes, quick adaptations as we go.

Justin Caton

Has anybody created a survey that they’re gonna send out to their congregation? We’re considering that too, actually me and my pastor were talking this this morning, was creating that survey, sending it out, and just seeing. ‘Cause, I’m the guy that I definitely want to worship with everyone and be in the building with everyone. But, I don’t know if my wife and my son will go that first Sunday. I’m the kind of, I’m very hesitant about sending them to church just because of my son having allergies and things like that. You know, that’s something that we’re thinking and trying to consider as well. What are the vibes of the people, even thinking, and that might be something else too, is to create something like that. We’re in the process of trying to make that. Maybe create a survey, send it out to everyone, and get what people are thinking.

Scooter Kellum

Well, Justin, and I know several others heard this too, we are in the middle of a clean-up too. So, you’re now trying to plan clean-up efforts around your neighborhood, your community, and the church, as well as from the tornadoes and storms. And, you’re also now trying to plan on COVID-19. I know that that falls in for Denise, y’all as well, probably. Then, Garrett, y’all as well? Did y’all have, you got storms comin’ through right now. So, what’s that been like for y’all? Justin?

Justin Caton

It’s been, well, so Sunday it happened Sunday morning. So, since then it’s just been on the ground. Like, all week, I’ve just been the guy that’s been cutting trees down. Or, I guess, I’m more of a log-mover, instead of a tree-cutter down. I’m not a real man I don’t have a chain-saw.

Lumberjack, there you go. I don’t have a chain-saw. So, I have a flannel shirt. But, I don’t have a chain-saw. So, it’s been really, you drive around our town, it looks extremely rough. There’s a lot of devastation. But, God is doin’ some really cool things through this. It’s been neat, because I haven’t been, we haven’t been around people for a month now. But, we kind of have to be because we’re out here trying to clean up our yards and help church families, and just try help people in the community as well. So, it’s been really good just to be able to get out and have these conversations. Things like that. So, yeah, we’re disaster relief in the middle of pandemic, so.

Scooter Kellum

Well, I’m gonna shift gears just a little bit unless somebody else has something to talk about more specifically on worship service. I’m gonna shift gears just for a moment and let us talk about something else. Anybody else on anything with worship service, re-opening church?

Garrett Davis

Scooter, I have one thing.

In all honesty, with our digital stuff, right at the beginning of this, we built a green room, put a green screen up, lighting, all that kind of stuff. And, honestly, we are reaching more people right now than we have been in a typical, like last night, our pastor does a Wednesday night bible study. His video has been viewed over a hundred times. Now, on a typical Wednesday night, he may have eight people there. So, I mean, for my service, I’m seein’ close to a hundred views, and you know that’s not typical of my Wednesday night as well. So, one thing that we’ve noticed on Sundays, is that our videos, excuse me, our video, our sermon that goes out, is being viewed like 700 times. A lot of the people that are watchin’, says that they’re watchin’, are not members of our church. But, they’re people in our community that really don’t have church home. So, a lot of time, we’re looking at this as an opportunity for missions. So, I mean, as much as we want to get back together, we’re kind of enjoying being able to reach those people, you know, with the digital.

Terrance Andrews

What platform are you on, Garrett?

Garrett Davis

We do Facebook and YouTube live. But, at first, we were gettin’ a really big bump on Facebook, but then a lot of people asked us to move over to YouTube so they could watch on their smart TVs. So, now our YouTube is takin’ off, and our Facebook’s dwindling down a little bit. So, a lot of families get in the living room together. They say they pull it up on the TV and watch it on YouTube. But, we stream both of those live. Which is difficult here because our speed for our internet is, y’all would be surprised what our South Alabama internet speeds are. So, Denise knows what I’m talkin’ about. But, it’s tough. I mean, our upload speed is like a four. Last night, I was in the middle of doin’ my sermon and YouTube says, warning, your speed’s too low. So, it kind of cut out for a while. Facebook kept going. So, that’s a lot of our problems there, our internet. We could probably do way more with a little more internet speed.

Scooter Kellum

Right. That’s good stuff. Hey, let me, is it okay if I shift gears? Or is there somebody else that wants to speak into that? So, I know that for a lot of you, we’re youth pastors, we do summer camps. If we don’t do ’em on our own, we’re kind of waiting to see what’s going on. I know that, I guess my question is, what does that look like for you? I know that for one of you in particular, Clint, y’all drive to Oklahoma to go to Falls Creek, which is a phenomenal camp. And, now you just went from a full week, to I think, three days, right? So, talk to us about what that looks like for y’all because now you’ve got some decisions to make, I would assume if you’re willing to share with us, because you gotta rent a bus to go, and a lot of things like that. So, talk to us if you don’t mind a little bit about that thought process. Then, we’ll talk about other camps as well, as you look at that.

Clint Bryant

Yeah, Falls Creek is our thing, every year. They condensed it to, essentially, a two-and-a-half day camp and moved us to July. That just doesn’t work when you’re driving 12 hours to a camp. So, we’re in the process of looking at three or four different venues that can hold us. Thankfully, Falls Creek, we’re already planning a camp within a camp. So, we’re just taking those same plans and taking them to a different location. Havin’ to scale back a couple of things. ‘Cause, obviously, we don’t get Ed Newton this year. But, you know, somebody will work.

So, my thought process on that was, we’re tryin’ to get as late into July as possible, with hopes that some of this stuff will clear up enough that we won’t have any issues traveling with a group of 70 across state lines. We had looked at some dates in June, but if something happens, I’m gonna have to cancel that June date, there’s no way I’d be able to reschedule to July. So, we’re tryin’ to go as late into July as possible, to give us some more space to let all this stuff clear up.

Cleve Mallory

See, or dilemma with that, in tryin’ to push back later, from calendar-wise, well from a church-calendar, it’s not an issue. But, our problem comes, I’ve got kids that I know are gonna be involved in football, volleyball, whatever other fall sports or extracurriculars at their churches. You know, their entire spring season was cut out. So, my kids, even if they would want to go, they’re put in a position that I don’t think it’s fair for me to say, hey you have to choose church over this. It’s hard for them to commit right now, knowing that if we’re able to travel in late July, then football’s probably also able to do their stuff. So, it just cuts major into a lot of your kids’, whether it’s football, volleyball, cheerleadin’, band. Because they’re gonna have a condensed amount of time that they can put whatever they have to have onto the field and that kind of stuff too.

Clint Bryant

Yeah, I can see that point. I get that. You also have a lot those students that don’t do anything. You want to be able to provide an option for them. Not throwing out the ultimatum that you have to choose church or sports. I understand what you’re sayin’.

Cleve Mallory

Not so much that as it is, what can I plan? If I know I’m takin’ 20, all right, then let’s plan something for 20. Am I takin’ 20 or am I takin’ 70. You’re just in this weird, where can we stay with that vast difference of people, and how much money can we invest? So yeah, it’s a challenge, for sure.

Scooter Kellum

What are some of the others doin’ for camp? Specifically, with bus rental and drivin’ a long way, with Falls Creek in particular. But, I know that FUGE, Trent, you were at FUGE in Mobile. That got canceled, or whatever. So, what all are you doing? Let’s just talk about that for just a minute. And, kind of see what each other, or where you’re goin’.

Trent Nolen

Yeah so, FUGE came out, canceled all their June camps. There was an offer to move to July. But, for us, I’ve already got my July scheduled and programmed. We do Super Summer for my leaders, and then we do our SPEAK conference here at the state. I think SPEAK’s really gonna fill that gap well because it’s a short-term. It’s a two, three-day, it’s local, it’s not super hard travel for us, and our size. I know some bigger churches bring large groups, sometimes it is. But, for us, we’re pushing more focus into those events. But then, personally what I’m doin’, once we can start meeting again, so-to-speak, I am looking at providing some of that stuff that my kids lost. Some just fun stuff. We’ve got an amazing sports-plex here in Demopolis. We’re gonna go take advantage of it. We’re gonna have water-balloon wars. We’re gonna have glow-in-the-dark capture the flag at night. We’re gonna do fun stuff like that with some small, short teaching involved with it. But, it’s gonna be community-building, fellowship focus to try to bring our kids back together and provide some momentum going into some of those late summer events.

Denise Andrews

We usually, well for a three-year span, we were goin’ to WIRED in Dothan, which is like over 2,000. It’s awesome. And, I got an email from Mark this past week. Kind of, wait-and-see. But, when this first started, I sent, I did a video-thing with my youth counsel, and I told ’em, we gotta have somethin’ in the back pocket. So, I reminded ’em again. Bein’ from a small church, I have 28 kids, that are going to camp. So, what we’re talking about doing, if WIRED, it’s the last week in June. I don’t think it’s lookin’ real good since it’s such a huge camp. So, they’re thinkin’ about doing it virtually. So, that’s somethin’ for us to think about. Do we want to do that? Our church funds this. One fundraiser, and they, it’s phenomenal. So, what we’re thinking about doin’ is just doin’ somethin’ together. Because we miss each other so much. The first zoom meeting I did with them, one mom said her daughter was so hyper, she didn’t think she was gonna settle down. Even our guys are excited, so I think, again, this is not solid ’cause we don’t know what Governor Ivey’s gonna do. But, I think what we’re gonna do is just do somethin’ together. Some of our folks have places down at Lake Eufaula. So, we’re gonna put the girls in one cabin, and the guys in another cabin. Do the virtual worship with WIRED, do their study, have our small group time, and do a local mission in Eufaula in the morning, and then just hit the lake in the afternoon. That’s kind of the one thing, as a small church, we have that advantage, that we can do. I hope WIRED is still on, but if it’s not, that’s my plan. I don’t know, I’ll come together with my youth counsel next week and we will. I told ’em we have to have a decision, or some ideas, so that we’re not at a stale-mate. You know, we can move.

Terrance Andrews

So, we like most of you, had planned a camp. Ours was through Student Life, and we were June. It of course, got canceled about three weeks ago with the offer of moving to July or even early August, I think they had one camp. Or, rolling everything over to 2021. I chose to do the latter because I utilized that google forms and sent out a survey. One of the questions on the survey was, would you allow your child, once everything got back to normal, would you allow your child to participate in something like that? And I got a straight 50, 50. I got a no-way, and I got a maybe. That was it. I didn’t get a yes. There was maybe and no-way. So, that kind of gave me the perceptive, perspective on the parents, how they’re feeling about this whole thing. Because, yeah, you’re right Cleve, sport camps are gonna open up, parents are still gonna be hesitant to send them to those things, and they’re gonna be probably more hesitant when you say, well there’s gonna be about 2,000 people there, 2,000 students, or 500, or 700. That starts to think, okay we need to scale back much like the rest of you. We’re just gonna do in-house. We’re gonna celebrate who King Jesus is in-house. What that looks like is all determined on what we’re allowed to do, and what we can safely do.

Josh Meadows

So, we have the, we were doing three different camps as far as both kids, middle school camp, and a high school camp, and we have canceled all of those for various reasons. One of them was canceled ’cause we were takin’ high schoolers, and we do MFuge. But, I’m looking at, we’re gonna do SPEAK. We do VBS, neighborhood VBS. So, in people’s yards and all of that. So, we’re pushin’ our students to be involved and serve in that. We may have to scale some of that back, just because, there’s so much still up in the air with all of it. But, we always do Disciple Now, right when they go back to school. So, they go back to school like on a Wednesday. We do Disciple Now the following Friday, Saturday. So, what, if all goes well, and we can go back to school, and things are normal, then I think that, our church is gonna try to spend some more money. Maybe bring in a better band, and kinda go all in on that for them when they go back. I know, when they go back to school, you have to fight with football on that. So, we just start late. We do a late night on Friday night, it’s 24 hours that are long, or whatever. I think that’s, then, like Terrance said, handling stuff in-house depending on what the guidelines are and just havin’ fun together. You know, in my case, I’m leadin’ both youth and kids in that, so havin’ to cross over that, and keep boundaries, but also make things great for the whole family. I love the way you said it, Terrance, sayin’ that, celebratin’ King Jesus in-house. That’s what we’re gonna do because we’re trying to teach them that camp is not just the only place, camp is a catalyst for spiritual growth, but it’s not the only place that you can grow and take steps with Jesus. And, I think like never before is that gonna be more real than this summer with what we’re doing. But, trying to communicate that over and over and over again, lettin’ ’em know those things. Because it is disappointing, for sure. For those seniors, when I called those seniors and told ’em, hey listen, we’re not goin’ to FUGE, they cried. They did, they’ve been going to FUGE, this is what they do. That was, I don’t think it was just the FUGE thing, it was just all of the stuff that’s been so, their world’s been flipped upside down that they’re seniors, that’s been taken from them. So, tryin’ to make that special, we’re gonna build a little senior get-away, if possible. Again, that really depends on what everything looks like. Because we want them to finish well too, in the same sense. So, it stinks to not have camp, I love camp. I know every one of us love camp and think it’s a great catalyst for their faith, but at the same time, it doesn’t have to be the only catalyst. That’s what we’re trying to communicate with them, with our families.

Garrett Davis

Well, one thing for our camp, we are still on. YM360, I usually go to Generate camp, and they’ve done a great job this year of keepin’ us updated. Roger Davis sends out an email every Monday morning, says, “Hey, this is where we are. “If we cancel, this is the financial side.” So, he’s done a great job of keepin’ us up-to-date. But, I got a call Monday, we were going to Stetson University, and Stetson University says, “We want to give our campus “the entire summer to be clean.” So, they’re not gonna allow any camps there this summer. So, one thing that I’ve done, we transitioned. YM360 is tryin’ to put a camp together. Shocco Springs called and says, “Look, we heard y’all canceled, “we’ve got that week open at Shocco, “bring the camp there.” So, they’re trying to fill that camp up June 15th through the 19th. So, we don’t have to change weeks, we don’t have to, I mean, everything’s the way it’s supposed to be. But, they’re like, if not, we’ll bump you to the next week. So, we’re still gonna be in June. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to go. But, I really don’t know. A lot of my youth leaders are sayin’, “You know, I just don’t think it’s gonna be clear by then. “I really think that’s gonna be too soon.” We have a college mission trip to Chattanooga on the last week of May. I’ve been very optimistic with my college kids. I’m like, hey look, I think we’re gonna be able to do this. I really think it’s gonna work. But, deep down, I just don’t think we’re gonna be ready to travel and go do that. So, even though we still have camp on the books, I just don’t know what’s gonna happen. So, I’m just tellin’ my kids, hang on. Right now, we’re a-go, but hang on. I haven’t had any kick-back from any of my parents. They’re fine with that, they’re like, “Hey, we trust your judgment. “If you think it’s gonna be safe, “then, good, go. “If you don’t, we’ll be okay with that as well.” So, that’s where we are. On a side-note with that, talkin’ about rental vans. We were in the process of buying a van, so I wasn’t gonna have to rent one this year. Now, all that’s been stopped. We’re not gonna spend that money right now to buy a van. So, now I’m like, do I need to try to pursue a rental van? Or are we gonna pick up buying as soon as this is over? So, there’s so many question marks in this. There’s no way of planning one way or ‘nother, because of the question marks. That’s where we are, here at Carolina.

Scooter Kellum

Well, I do want to say a couple things. Super Summer is July 6th through the 10th. As of right now, we are still good to go. So, anybody’s who’s watching this, who has some leadership kids that really want to dig into God’s word, on Samford’s campus. ‘Cause right now, we’re all a-go. By the time, you know, a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, it may cancel. And, there will be an announcement about that. But, as of right now, we are still good to go. We have Jamie Dew, the president of New Orleans Bible Theological Seminary, that will be our camp pastor. We have Iron City Worship who’ll be leading worship for us. So, we love that. Then, also, SPEAK, it is on July 24th and 25th. It’s even later in July. There’s three sessions. We’re lookin’ at possibly expanding that, just ’cause we know of all the many people that are not able to go to a camp this year. And that might be a good way for you to come and be a part of that. It’s at First Baptist Trussville. Spencer, thanks for hosting us. As of right now, we still have all of our personalities are still comin’. We haven’t canceled any of those. So, Clint, there’s your Ed Newton if you want to come. He will be there. So, we’re excited, Ed will be there, we’ve got Davidsons, as well as Jeff Myers, so we’re really excited. Iron City Worship will be leading worship there as well. So, we’ve got a great line-up. It’s gonna be a great time. We’ve got some things this summer. I do want to start to end with one more quick question. Then, we’ll kind of leave, and thanks for your time again. The question is this: Say the number is, say this number is a hundred for instance, and your youth group is less than a hundred. Is it reasonable that our youth ministries can start meeting again on a regular basis before our actual churches can, and age-specific? And, what are your thoughts on that? What do you do? I’m just asking a question as a dialogue, not sayin’ hey, let’s do this. I’m just askin’ the question.

Terrance Andrews

Yeah, we came to heads with that because if the number is a hundred, or 200, sure we can meet. Let’s do it, right? But, I think we came to the general consensus of the fact that we need to focus on the entirety of the family of the body of the church, in corporate worship together. It’s not so much that, it does well to destroy the silos. Right? Come with your family, sit with your family, worship with your family, praise God with your family. So, it does well for us to do this. I’m not saying that if you do gather students apart from corporate worship in any way, you’re wrong. That was our lean.

Cleve Mallory

Yeah ours, I’m with Terrance on that. Sorry for the wind, it’s making this loud. Yeah, we talked about some of that. You know, anybody under 16 can’t drive themselves, so now you’re talking about parents needin’ to drop off and pick up, how long are you gonna keep them there to make it worth-while for our parents to drive? We have families that live 25 to 30 minutes away from the church, in a tri-county area. So, you’re askin’ folks to do a lot there. But, ultimately, it all came down to when we can get back together as the faith-family in its entirety, is really what we’re longing for. It’s honestly caused us, not to say that we’re getting rid of student-ministry, ’cause I need a job too, but this really made us think back through, what are the most crucial aspects of the faith-family? What is it that we are biblically required to offer and what things do we do that makes the outside world say, hey, we need that in our life too? We’re trying to peel back simplicity, I guess, and go, let’s do those first, let’s do those well. So, it almost allows us to serve as a little bit of a reboot. Where some things that may have gotten stale may have their opportunity to be pushed aside, finally. For us to really focus on where scripture says we need to be. So, yeah, we’re with you on that Terrance.

Trent Nolen

I was gonna say, it’s not entirely different. But, we have people comin’ from 20, 35 minutes away, like Cleve mentioned. But, it’s because we’re in a rural setting. We’re farmin’, we’re west Alabama, people come from two cities over to come to our church just because their kids come to school in our system. So, for us, for me, that’s an always, never-ending consideration whenever I program anything for student ministry, is these kids that can’t drive themselves, or that are comin’ from two communities over. You know, 25, 35 minutes just to come do something. So, for me, I’ve always had to have that simplicity mind-set of tryin’ to stay with the things that are already gonna be happening. So, some of, or a lot of these kids work for me. Not for me, but in my ministry, a lot of my kids are working. Whether it’s babysitting, or working at the mills as interns, or workin’ for mama and daddy at the house, and on the farm, these kids are workin’ a lot. So, for me, that’s why my focus is not on getting us back together as Wednesday night worship, because the church needs to come first in that. But, to get them back together, seein’ one another, providing some of that peer-to-peer interaction that they’re wanting, that’s where my focus is. That’s why I talked about doin’ just some of the fun things that just gets them that peer-to-peer interaction that so many of them have told me they’re missing by not being physically at school. They’re not missing school, they’re missing one another.

Scooter Kellum

Anybody got anything different before I? Okay, this has been phenomenal, this has been better than I could have ever imagined it being. I was, I’ve been looking forward to it, and really excited about it. Thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for serving your churches, thank you for serving the Lord, and thank you for your time here. Just in doin’ what you did today, you’ve served many. As many maybe able to relate where you are, whether that’s in the context you’re doing it in, or what you’re doin’, or maybe somebody could get the resource or hear the idea, or somethin’ like that, and use that. So, thank you all for doing that. Thank you, Alabama Baptists, for watching and for bein’ a part of this time today. I hope that you have a great day. I want to thank all of you for bein’ a part, and for serving the Lord as well. Y’all have a great day.

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