Just about everyone has had to “pivot” in some way during the unprecedented times of the present global pandemic, and churches across California are no exception. From not gathering physically for months, to meeting indoors with no singing, to outdoor meetings with social distancing in place, churches as a whole have had to navigate a smorgasbord of substantial operational changes. Mega churches and multi-campus churches are faced with a set of unique challenges, namely, increasing the number of services when multiple services are already in place, options for childcare during services, and the option for consistency across all church campuses due to varying campus property sizes and unique mandates per county.

Sandals Church, a Christian church based in Riverside, has a membership of 13,000, which spans 12 physical campuses in the state, within four different counties, as well as its global presence online. Two of their campuses, Sandals Church East Valley, and Sandals Church Banning, have joined efforts to host services at the Yucaipa Performing Arts Center’s (YPAC) open air plaza, which can accommodate up to 3,000 people under normal circumstances.

The church is renting the outdoor stage at the YPAC Saturday nights at 7 p.m. through mid-October. “We would like to thank the city of Yucaipa for allowing us to hold services here,” were the first words Lead Pastor Matt Brown spoke from the stage before he preached a message from his series “Pivot,” on Aug. 29, with practical directions from the Bible for “How to Change When You Don’t Want To.”

Sandals Church had to once again pivot during last Saturday’s service due to the El Dorado Fire. The flames were visible from the YPAC plaza on the day the fire started, and by the following Saturday, the air quality was too poor for the church to meet. Instead, Sandals discovered a need requested specifically by CAL FIRE and its their scheduled time at the YPAC to collect items to donate to firemen and first responders, such as soap, toothbrushes, powder, and protein snacks. “Even though the fire may keep us from meeting, that doesn’t stop us from being the church,” said an email from Sandals Church to their members.

Anyone who would like to donate financially to this effort may still do so at www.give.sc and select “local relief” under the “fund” drop-down. Services, which include a new message and live worship, will continue each Saturday at 7 p.m. as scheduled starting this weekend, weather and conditions permitting.

Attendees can easily follow sermon notes on the Sandals Church app, which is also a resource for Bible reading plans and past message videos. The event is free, and those who attend will have the option to purchase shaved ice, ice cream, cold brew coffee, lemonade, or other special surprises from nearby small businesses over the span of the next month and a half. Chairs are provided and are spaced to accommodate social distancing; there are also areas designated for those who wish to bring their own chair. All ages are welcome every Saturday night at 7 p.m. as Pastor Matt continues his Pivot series.

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