Leading Your Church Through Crisis : Rusty George

Leading Your Church through Crisis - Rusty George - 39 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

We never know when a crisis may strike our church or community, so the question is: are we prepared to lead our church through that crisis? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Rusty George. Rusty is the lead pastor of Real Life Church, a multisite church with campuses throughout Southern California. Real Life Church is making a great kingdom impact, but they’ve also had their share of crises, including the suicide of a staff pastor and a school shooting in their community. Rusty shares some of the lessons that he has learned and some of the things that he wishes he would have known before they experienced crisis. Together, Rusty and Jason discuss some of the ways that we can minister in the midst of crisis.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Audio Links

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Additional Resource Links

Leading Through Crisis course – Rusty and his team have prepared this 12-part course to assist your church in leading through a crisis without becoming one. Use promo code PASTORSERVE to save 50% off the course cost (limited time)

Are you experiencing a crisis, desiring to better prepare for a crisis, or just want to talk? Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession

PastorRustyGeorge.com – Rusty George’s website with ministry resources, articles, and his podcast, Leading Simple

KayWaren.com – Kay Warren’s website, which Rusty mentions in our conversation. You can find a tremendous collection of resources related to suicide prevention, mental health, and more here.

Connect with Rusty George – Twitter | Instagram

Connect with PastorServe – LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook 

Ministry Leaders Growth Guide

Key Insights and Concepts

  • Anytime you take ground for the kingdom of God, the enemy takes notice
  • One of the toughest experiences you have in ministry is when a crisis occurs and the people you think will stick by your side and walk through it with you actually leave
  • It is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” crisis will strike your church. It may not be a major crisis, but the church is made up of people and people are often messy.
  • When you face a crisis there are several “audiences” you need to address and work with: your staff/key leaders, your congregation, your community, and yourself.
  • The key to navigating a crisis in a healthy manner is to be prepared before crisis hits
  • God can redeem every crisis for his good and his glory. You need to look for ministry opportunities in the midst and aftermath of any crisis you face.
  • When crisis comes, there is danger of sharing too little information or too much information. Discernment among your leadership is vital as you consider what and how you will communicate.
  • You must consider how you will minister to those closest to the crisis, as well as those in each concentric circle of impact from the crisis.
  • Thinking through and establishing a PR policy before a crisis occurs is tremendously helpful. You should discuss in advance how your team will work with the press, etc.
  • The lifecycle of drama in your church is two weeks because that is as long as people can go before they have to get back to their own drama
  • Crisis can be overwhelming, but you can grow closer to God as you trust him and face difficult circumstances

Questions for Reflection

  • How have I seen the enemy attack as our ministry has advanced the gospel?
  • Have I experienced a crisis in ministry? If so, what was it? What did I learn from it?
  • Have people left our church in the midst of crisis? How did that impact me?
  • How am I prepared for a crisis to strike our church? What do I need to do to better prepare?
  • What are some of the differences in how various audiences need to be addressed during a crisis?
  • Are we prepared to address the press? Do we have a PR policy established? If not, who will help us develop that and when will we do it?
  • Who needs to be on our core leadership team for discussing and discerning how much we will share when a crisis occurs?
  • How have I seen God redeem challenges for his good and his glory?
  • What are some ways I have witnessed ministry opportunities arise from crises?
  • What steps will our church leadership take to best prepare us for a future crisis?

Full-Text Transcript

We never know when a crisis may strike our church or community, so the question is: are we prepared to lead our church through that crisis?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m joined by Rusty George. Rusty is the lead pastor of Real Life Church, a multisite church with campuses throughout Southern California. Now Rusty’s church is making a great kingdom impact, but they’ve also had their share of crises, including the suicide of a staff pastor, and a school shooting in their community. Rusty shares some of the lessons that he has learned and some of the things that he wishes he would have known before they experienced crisis. And together, Rusty and I talk about some of the ways that we can minister in the midst of these crises. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, and welcome to another episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and I have the privilege every single week, of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader, and diving into a topic to help pastors, ministry leaders, just like you, embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm, for both ministry and life, both on the front stage and backstage of your life. And we do not just do a show, but we create an entire resource around the show, to help you dig more deeply. And you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. And there you’ll find a toolkit with all types of resources, including a ministry leaders growth guide, to give you some questions to reflect upon, some key insights from our conversation today. So be sure to check that out at PastorServe.org/network. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, take a moment to give us a like, and take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love to get to know our audience better. We’d love to have the opportunity to pray for you and for your ministry. So be sure to do that. And then whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to follow or subscribe so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And like I said, I’m very excited for today’s conversation. And I’d like to introduce to you, Rusty George. Rusty, welcome to the show.

Rusty George
Thank you, Jason, it is an honor to be with you and all of your listeners.

Jason Daye
Yeah, brother, so good to be together, to have a time to connect again. Now Rusty, as a lead pastor of a vibrant, groweing church, you’ve experienced your share of crises, and some of the crises that you’ve encountered, most would consider pretty major. Right? And not that we want to dive into all of them, but just sort of as a way to set, you know, the stage for the rest of our conversation. Rusty, can you share a bit about some of the crises that you’ve helped lead your church through?

Rusty George
Absolutely. You know, for the first 10 years I was here, we kind of prided ourselves in the fact that we were a no drama place. Everything was up and to the right, everything was great. And we moved in a building. The moment we moved in the building, two things happened. One, we exploded in growth. And we thought, boy, we have got the secret sauce. God is on our side, everything’s going great. And I remember hearing a seasoned, very successful pastor tell me soon after that, you’re going to see some stuff. And I said, What do you mean? And he said, anytime you take ground for the kingdom of God, the enemy takes notice. And that is exactly what happened. Over the course of about five to seven years, we had just a barrage of of strange, awful and crazy situations. We had an attempted coup d’etat of staff members who didn’t like the new staff members that came in post-building, and they were pre-building. And they didn’t, they didn’t like getting so big, and they tried to take a lot of people and start their own church and, and that that failed. But it was crisis. We had a staff member, go home to do a wedding. And when he got there, he was arrested for a crime he had committed years prior. And as a result, even though that happened in another state, it made our news about every day, for the next several months. We had a couple of moral failures that happened on staff that led to the suicide of two individuals. That was a devastating thing to walk through and to deal with our staff, to deal with those families left behind and to deal with a congregation wondering why, how did this happen? And then we had a school shooting happen in our community that just rocked our community, killed one of our students from our church and really It forced us to have to step up as the kind of the counselor for our community, which was a wonderful opportunity for us. But also very difficult thing for our staff and our, the families of the victims. And just people in our congregation wondering how could God let this happen. So that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But those are the high level ones that come to mind. And as a result, it forced us to have to deal with crisis. And the saying that we’ve always heard is you’re either in a crisis or headed towards one. And we found ourselves in a series of them. And you have to get to learn a lot about how do we deal with our staff? How do we deal with our congregation? How do we deal with the community? And how do I deal with myself? Because internally, I was beginning to become a wreck. I was beginning to think, Boy, what am I doing wrong? Have I brought this scourge upon us? Is there unconfessed sin in the camp? Why is this happening? Am I just destined to be Jeremiah, the weeping prophet? Is that what my lot in life is? And I began to learn a lot of key things through them, a lot of mistakes we made, things I’d do differently. And some things we got right along the way, we had some people in our church that worked for PR companies help us out with how to deal with the press to the point where now we’re able to leverage the press to our benefit, rather than just react to their questions to us, a lot of different things. But overall, in the last 10 years, we’ve learned a lot about how to deal and manage with crisis.

Jason Daye
Yeah, it’s fascinating, and Rusty, I’ve known you for several years. And I’ve kind of seen some of these things and seen you and your church navigate them, you know, it’s one of those fascinating experiences, to face crisis, to, you know, work through crisis. But then, to see how God takes even those things that were meant for ill, you know, and redeems them in some unique ways. I know you’ve experienced that you’ve shared that. But firstly, I’ve got to ask one question whenever you launched into ministry, right, fresh faced, you know, ready to win the world for Jesus? Did you, I mean, was this idea of your church having crisis, was that even on your radar as you entered into ministry?

Rusty George
No, not at all? No, I wasn’t, I wasn’t immune to it. Here’s what I mean by that. I grew up in a church that had a lot of crisis. We had a string of about two to three pastors in a row that had multiple affairs, stole from the offering, you know, that kind of stuff was back in the glory days of the 70s and 80s, when that was going on a lot, you know, but nobody knew about it, because there’s no social media, right. And so I watched just as my parents navigated that, and what I saw with them is we never left the church. We didn’t go church shopping, we were committed to the people that were there, as pastors would come and go, as scandals would come and go. I was so impressed. I didn’t know it at the time. But we didn’t leave. And I think that that did a couple of things for me as I got into ministry. One, I assumed that there might be some difficult road ahead, nothing like what we’ve experienced, but I assumed there might be something, but I assumed I could control it, if I didn’t make the mistake. And so what I saw from my, my parents church, and my church was the pastor made the mistake. And I thought, well, if I keep my nose clean, that everything will be fine. And I feel like I’ve done that. But there’s still other people. And somebody once told me, If Satan can’t get to you, he’ll get to your staff. And I think that’s what began to happen. Certainly a rapid growing church is dealing with unchurched people. And this, this is kind of the way it works. You see someone come to Christ, they have an incredible testimony, and you hire them. Well, that’s a that’s a really cool story. But now you have put them in the vise of ministry, and whatever’s in them is going to come out of them. And oftentimes, their sanctification hasn’t caught up with their justification. And so we had a lot of that going on, where people were not equipped to deal with the pressures of ministry, and the enemy got them. So I had that learning as far as it’s possible, but I thought maybe I could avoid it, which I can’t. And then the other side of it was I assumed that everybody stayed. You know, my parents stayed. And maybe that was just our Midwestern values. But out here in California, people are pretty flippant with their loyalty. And they just you know, that’s why everybody shows up to Laker games 15 minutes late, and they don’t come up if your losing because they just, you know, whatever. And I was really surprised the people that left me during some of our most difficult times because they thought I don’t want to deal with this drama. That really hurt and we deal with that in this course we’ll mention later. But I think, you know, out of all the highs and lows in ministry, one of the toughest things was the people I thought would walk with me through it, some of them didn’t. And when you have that happen, that that really makes you feel alone.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I imagine, because you’re not only facing a crisis, but then those who you you, you know, may be expected to help face that crisis with you, step away.

Rusty George
Right. Yeah.

Jason Daye
You know, so I know you’re not a doom and gloom guy. I mean, you’re a kingdom guy. You’re a passionate pastor, your a hope-filled leader. And do you, do you sense that, because you mentioned a little bit earlier, but do you sense that it’s not a matter of when it’s a matter, or not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when” when it comes to crisis? Like, is every church going to experience crisis to some degree?

Rusty George
Yes, because there’s people involved. And let’s say you’re a church, that’s not advancing the gospel, you’re just taking care of a holy huddle until Jesus returns. Even in that element, you’re gonna have people that just go through the trials of life, it could be a cancer, it could be a struggle in their family. But nowadays, I think what we’re seeing is, the churches that are watching this podcast, the churches that are trying to get better, they’re trying to advance the Kingdom of God. And when you do that, well, you really do put, you know, you kind of wave your arms at the enemy and say, over here, and what happens is, is you do see a lot of lost people show up, but they, they bring a lot of baggage with them, which is great, we’re there to serve them and to help them. But it does create some of the, of the difficulties that you have to navigate. You know, for instance, we had a guy show up at church one day, wearing knives all over his belt, just dangling off of his belt. You know, one of our security guy starts talking to him and kind of find out, you know, his wife, who attended church there and had an affair, and he was showing up to take care of her and her lover, you know, it’s just do I want those people to come to church, sure, but they bring with them their crises. Now, that’s a bit of an extreme. But you have, you know, the adulterous relationship going on, you have the staff member that’s addicted to porn and hasn’t told anybody, you have a drug addict that’s one of your leaders, and it becomes a crisis you have to manage. And unfortunately, you can do it really well, and you can, you can help them and serve them and all that. But the public perception then becomes how could you even let this happen? This is supposed to be a holy place, I thought you all had it together. In our case, we had a campus pastor commit suicide. And, you know, the public narrative was, wait a second, if he can’t make it through life, how can I? And so we had some big issues to deal with, not just why would he do that? What’s going on there? What are you not telling us? But rather, can I even go on with my own life? So it became a point of ministry? But to answer your question, I think, certainly post-COVID, certainly with the anxiety and depression levels the way they are today. Crisis is just a matter of time, and unfortunately, for a lot of us, we don’t think about it until we’re in it. And then we feel like we’re, the water’s coming in quicker than I can bail. And I’m a little bit overwhelmed. So, you know, the way that we have redeemed our pain is we share our story, my executive pastor, myself, the more we can tell the stories, the more we can share what we did wrong and what we did, right. The more it feels like, boy, God is going to use this for something good. And that’s my prayer for all your listeners.

Jason Daye
Yeah, no, I love that, Rusty. I love your posture. And that, because, you know, your emphasis now. I mean, the drum that you’re beating is, as ministry leaders, we need to prepare ourselves for crisis. Like you said, we don’t, you know, if you wait until it hits, just like any crisis in life, if you’re not prepared for it when it hits, then you’re behind, and you’re playing catch up in the midst of an environment that is chaotic, oftentimes. So this whole idea of preparation, what are some of the things that you wished you would have known as you encountered crisis, you know, things that you had to learn the hard way that you’re really trying to help others get ahead of and be prepared for? What are some of those key lessons?

Rusty George
You know, I think I wish I would have learned how our, even our staff and our team members, they view things differently than I do. Meaning, and one of the things we cover in this, this Leading through Crisis course is there’s three different ways your staff and your key leaders think. They either think as family, they think as organization, or they think as cause. You think about it, right now the people you work with the most. Some of them are boy, don’t we all just love each other? And some of them are more. Okay, who do I report to? And who reports to me? And some are, you know what? Forget org charts, forget your feelings, people are lost and going to hell, let’s get to work, you know. So when I stand up before our staff and share bad news, they all interpret it through that filter. For some it was, oh, no, you had to let somebody go. I feel so bad for them. Okay, how can I help that individual? For somebody else? It’s alright, that’s fine. But who do I report to now? And for somebody else, it’s like, can we just get back to the main thing. So understanding how to, to tailor your message to meet all three of those demographics on your staff, or even in your church, that would have been great to know. Another little thing that I had no idea, and Bible college and seminary does not prepare you for, how to handle the press. Because what happens is, the press shows up if there’s a crisis at your doorstep, and now as a result of podcasts, like the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill and other things like that, the public persona is every church is led by some kind of narcissist. And so we’re just waiting for the shoe to drop. And so when something bad happens, they’re just looking and going, what’s going on? What’s the real issue? We had a guy just give us some great pointers on how to leverage the press, how to be ready for them, when they show up, how to give them information, how to get to them before the story breaks, just little things like that. And now what happens is, is when something has come up in our community, for instance, well, when COVID hit, the news called us and said, How should the church respond? When there’s a school shooting, we go to the press ahead of time and say we’re here for the community, and they get your message out for you. Little things like that, that I had never thought of before. And then even some things of how do you deal with people that leave your church, it’s such a painful thing, especially when you thought they were trusted friends. And one of the things that we’ve learned that we share is this, this idea of understanding where people sit in your congregation, and, and not everybody deserves the most amount of your time. And for many of us, we spend the most amount of our time with the people that are already convinced and our raving fans, when really we need to spend with a little bit of the fringe people that will move towards that. And that’s a whole other nuance of how to manage people that I’d never thought of before, which really ends up helping mitigate some of those crises.

Jason Daye
Yeah, so in that, are there some specific things that, Rusty, you would have done differently had you known some of these things? You know, can you think of some of those?

Rusty George
Yeah, my posture because I fall in that organization circle, and I’m just thinking, okay, yeah, that happened, and that’s awful, but I’ll compartmentalize that. And I’ll grieve later, as the cliche is, ministry is a series of angry losses. I’ll just put that over here. And I’ll deal with that. Right now the show must go on. And here’s how we’re going to manage this. I assumed everybody else would do that, too. And so when I stood up, and I communicated things on stage, like so and so is no longer on our staff or this individual died by suicide, when those kinds of information, pieces of information come out, there’s this conspiracy theory of mind and all of us, especially post-COVID, that we want to know why, you know, what’s really going on? What are they not telling us? This sounds like propaganda or fake news, tell me what’s really going on. I wish I would have shared more information than I did, I erred on the side of, you know what, everything’s okay. We’re gonna take care of his family. We’re moving ahead. And I wish I would have shared, this guy had some really dark demons. And we uncovered some things that I I’m not privy to tell you right now. But we’re beginning to learn. And I don’t have to tell everything. But you have to tell enough to know that I acknowledge it. I’m not acting like this guy was better than he really was. And kind of deal with that. I think churches tend to lean one way or the other. We say nothing and people make up their own story. Or we say, well, way too much, and it becomes wow, I thought you were a church of grace, and now you’ve just thrown this guy and his family and everybody else under the bus. There is a middle line. I felt like we leaned too far on the saying nothing. I wish I would have done that differently.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good. It’s interesting you bring that up. Personally, because I do think that that you know, churches do tend to gravitate towards those extremes when something crops up. And you know, my own personal experience, the church I grew up in, I know there was a scandal with the lead pastor, and when I was like, in middle and high school, and it was just pretty much not even mentioned, you know, it was just like he was gone and they just, you know, tried to not say anything and move on. And so, you know, I’ve seen that where they just tried to, you know, kind of avoid the conversation altogether, or like on the flip side, you just kind of all, suddenly, all these salacious details and all this, you know, becomes almost like a fake gossip zone and none of those really serve the kingdom. So I think that middle way, as you mentioned, is a piece that, you know, is incredibly helpful. We’re looking at how do we honor God in the midst of this? How do we, you know, lead our people through this, because that’s a big piece. And then ouyr witness in the community. And those pieces, together, are all, you know, all combined in every crisis. So one of the things I want to ask you about, Rusty, is when it comes to the congregation, right, because there are a lot of churches, you know, a normal church in the US is not a huge church, right? 200, 150, whatever that might be. So don’t necessarily have a huge staff and those types of things. But they, every church has a congregation, right, some are smaller, some are bigger, but every church has, you know, every pastor has a flock that God has entrusted to them. So when crisis occurs, Rusty, what are some of the key elements when it comes to, you know, being the pastor to your people in the midst of a situation where, again, maybe you don’t even know all the details, or you can’t really share all the details, or shouldn’t share all the details, but at the same time, you’ve got to shepherd these people God has entrusted to you?

Rusty George
So somebody gave us a great metaphor during one of our crisis situations, and that was: Imagine yourself, that you’re standing in a in a pond, a lake, and a giant rock falls from the sky and hits the water, the closer you are to the impact zone, you feel a bigger splash. If you’re at the shore, your ankle deep, you probably don’t know much. And for many of us, for all of us, when crisis hits, it depends on how close we were to the impact zone. And so you have to think about and kind of in these concentric circles, and it starts with, okay, how do I deal with those immediately impacted. In the case of a suicide, it was the family, and we had to sit down with a guy’s kids and explain to them what their dad had done, and he’s not coming home. And that was grueling. To have to walk, you know, I had to call an individual’s family from another state and his parents and sister and tell them what their loved one had done. And he was gone. That’s that’s closest to the to the the splash zone. But then you kind of move further out. So it starts with the individual. And then it moves to maybe those closest to them the staff. It could be even the leaders that worked with them. And so we had a meeting with those people immediately after one of these situations. And so and we had counselors already in the room, I broke the news. And I said, I’m going to tell you everything I know, there are some things that I don’t know yet. And there are some things that I know that I can’t share yet. But we have counselors around ready to talk with you. The next step out was the congregation. Okay. So in this situation, we went to the press ahead of time, as soon as we found out the news, and dealt with some of the family issues, we went to the press and said, the story’s about to break, you’re going to find this out from the police. And we’re going to give you the full story. We’re asking you to wait a day. So we can tell our congregation because we have church on Thursday night, it’s our first service of the weekend. So I said, Let me tell my congregation first. And then I’ll give you the whole story. And they said deal. So I was able to communicate that to our church, we were able to put a message out on Facebook, and then the press broke from there. So I began to deal with the church. And here again, we began to say if you need to talk to somebody, if you want to pray with somebody, we have people here for you. But then we begin to deal with the community. Because what this does is it brings up all these feelings of I had somebody that I knew that that died by suicide, or suicide ideation, I’ve been thinking about committing suicide, and if this individual was a Christian, and now you’re telling me he still goes to heaven, why shouldn’t I do this? So we brought in Kay Warren, who was just wonderful. And if anybody’s dealing with this, kaywarren.com has so many great resources to help people out dealing with suicide and the loss of somebody, but to deal with the community as they’ve dealt with these issues. And so you begin to kind of get out of the splash zone a little bit, but recognize that each of them have certain needs. And that’s going to be this grief cycle that kind of comes and goes. It’s not always just over in a few weeks. So allowing people to process it really became a helpful way to do that. And so we used that same methodology after a school shooting, even after the Vegas shooting that happened. I think it was like five years ago now. A lot of our you know, a lot of the people that were at that concert in Vegas where the gunman opened fire weren’t from Vegas. As they were from other places, many from California and some were from our community, and so, you know, dealing with them through that process, it just becomes, Alright, where are we in this impact zone? And how can we provide support?

Jason Daye
Yeah, you know, what’s so interesting, Rusty, is that your church, as it has experienced some of these things, has kind of taken a posture that these are, these are ministry opportunities, because these are moments of brokenness. And that’s what Christ came to heal, our brokenness, right. And it’s very, very, very interesting to step back and look, because some churches have taken an approach to crisis, as bury it, and hope it never comes up. You know, I mean, and like, because we don’t want there to look like there’s a stain on the, you know, the bride of Christ type of approach, right? But it seems that you and your team, your church, even, have really recognized that we live in a broken world, that as you said, the enemy is at work, you know, trying to cripple the church, and cripple the testimony of the church. But you viewed it as it seems, you know, not that we were trying to polish, you know, polish everything up and make everyone think everything’s all right. But we’re going to step in and say, No, the world is broken. And this is exactly why we all need Jesus. And this is exactly why our church is here in this community.

Rusty George
Yeah, unfortunately, not everybody is going to see it that way. You know, they’re going to take their shots at you, they’re going to say, Well, look, look at all the problems they’ve got, at the end of the day, they know they’ve got problems, too. You just look at the New Testament man, it’s just still broken people. And they didn’t leave out the fact that Judas took his life, you know, and, uh, Peter said stupid things. And Paul and Peter got into it, you know, it’s just there. And I think what’s happened is is, is we really have become the church for people with any kind of brokenness, because we’re the quickest to admit our own. That’s difficult for your older church members that have maybe, you know, kind of lived with a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell mentality, we don’t bring up that kind of stuff, where the Bride of Christ Jesus, is all we talk about that kind of mentality. But the reality is, I mean, Jesus was among the broken and we hear about, you know, the difficult things he dealt with, and even his own weeping at Lazarus’ grave. So we just decided to lean into, this is who we are, we don’t always get things, right. But we know that we have a perfect Father, and He loves us, and He will redeem all things. Everything does not happen for a reason. But everything can be redeemed. So let’s move towards that. And, you know, obviously, there been some people that have left us that have moved on, we’re not holy enough for them. Okay. You know, I’m glad they’re going to heaven. I’m glad heaven’s big, too. So I’ll stay away from them. But the reality is, we want to just swing wide that door for people that are hurting and broken. And I think that’s become what’s what’s happened.

Jason Daye
Yeah, no, that’s good. And I think just a reminder, for any church, no matter how big, how small, that goes through a crisis, that again, those opportunities can be redeemed, and you have the opportunity to, you know, meet people in their brokenness, because of the brokenness that you guys are experiencing as well.

Rusty George
And I would just add to that, Jason, you know, the reality is, everything comes to light. It just does. And that’s biblical, too. What’s done in the darkness will be brought to light. But even think about our culture. We’re all, everybody’s got a phone and got, you know, a social media account, and they’re just looking for dirt. So the quicker you address it and get it out there, the more it speaks to your benefit, because you’re not trying to hide anything. This is just who we are. This is what we’re dealing with. If you have questions, here’s what you talk to, have a point person that can answer those questions and roll with it, it will definitely limit some of the crisis. Last thing I would say about that is this. I heard a seasoned pastor say one time, the lifecycle of drama in your church is two weeks. Because two weeks is as long as people can go before they have to get back to their own drama. And he was dead on. I mean, we almost set our calendar by it. Now this happened, okay? Weather it two weeks, it’s almost 14 days to the day when people just move on, because there’s just something new and they gotta get back to their own stuff.

Jason Daye
That’s interesting. Human nature is interesting. So Rusty, with all of the experiences you’ve had, you and your team have put together some resources because like you said, your heart now is, your heart’s for your community. You’re ministering, you know, you are a gospel-advancing church in your community, but you want to steward the experiences that your church has had in a way that honors God and helps build the kingdom and so you have actually taken the time to think through and process through all of these different experiences that your church has had to create a resource for other churches. So talk to us a little bit about that resource, because I just love how you are allowing God to use this in such a cool way.

Rusty George
Yeah, soon after some of these crises happened, what I noticed was there were other churches out there dealing with it that would call me up and say, Hey, can you help me navigate this. And I remember soon after our school shooting, somebody from Sandy Hook called me and said, Let me tell you what we learned. So helpful. So I thought, the more we can get this out to people, the better. So we put together a 12 episode video course, just short little TED talks of, here’s what we did right, here’s what we did wrong. Here’s what we’d do different. Here’s some resources for you. For instance, here’s a sheet on how to deal with the press. Here’s a great little tool you can use with your staff. Here’s something you can use with your leaders. Here’s a way to look at people in your church to know who needs more time and who needs less, just a lot of practical tools, we wanted to put in people’s hands to help them navigate everything from an internal crisis, to crisis on staff, to a crisis in the church, to a crisis in the community. We even talk about the loss of an icon in your community. For us, it was Kobe Bryant and his death that rocked Southern California and all Laker fans, that’s a big part of our population. How do you honor somebody who’s not always that honorable. So everybody’s going to deal with something like that in their community, we walk through all of those things. So the course is called Leading through Crisis without Becoming One, we have a free compilation video, you can watch some of the highlights of the course to get a feel for if this is for you, you can just get that at my website, PastorRustyGeorge.com. And if you’re interested in purchasing the course, we’re going to give it to all of your viewers for 30 days, for half off, if they just use the code pastorserve. They just type that in and that will give us a way of knowing where they came from, we will give it to them half off. And my hope is that it helps you. And if you want to do a deeper dive or want to call me up or our executive pastor and have us work with your staff or with you, we’re happy to do that as well. And all that information is on there. So just go to PastorRustyGeorge.com for all that information.

Jason Daye
Awesome. And we certainly appreciate that generosity for our viewers, brother, and all of the work that you’ve put into really processing, again, through your experiences and saying, Okay, now how can we use this to benefit the kingdom. So we love that. And all the links, all the things that Rusty and I are talking about, you can find in the toolkit for this episode, you can find that PastorServe.org/network. And we’ll have resource links and all that stuff. So you don’t have to remember everything that Rusty just said. But we’ll have it all for you because we want you guys to avail yourselves of this opportunity. And certainly appreciate that, Rusty. As we are winding down, I can only imagine that there are pastors right now watching. You know, ministry leaders right now who are listening, and are in the depth of a crisis. And brother, I want to give you just an opportunity to speak into their lives.

Rusty George
This too shall pass. It sucks right now. It hurts. It’s dark. You think this is not why I got into this… where is God? Is my calling finished? Did I do something wrong? Has he left me? It will be in this season you grow the most. It will be in this season, you’ll you’ll feel closer to God than ever before. Just keep going. A pastor friend of mine who was in pastoring for 40 years said to me one time, “Rusty, Sometimes the only way I could show Jesus I loved him was just to get out of bed in the morning.” And sometimes that’s all you can do. But it will get better. As a friend of mine sent me a passage of scripture from Lamentations when we were going through one of our crises. And it just simply said, I will never forget this awful time. But I do believe your joy comes in the morning and the blessings are new each day. And out of this God will bring some of your greatest fruit. It’ll be tough. But it will end.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I love that. Good work, brother. Rusty, thank you so much for making time to be with us. Certainly appreciate your openness and willingness to share from your heart and from your experiences.

Rusty George
Thank you, Jason. I always love talking with you and love what PastorServe has been doing for years helping out so many pastors, grateful for you and all the people there.

Jason Daye
Awesome. Thank you, brother. God bless you. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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