environments,
15M 14S

Episode 53: Environments Speak. What Does Yours Say?

May 01, 2018

Episode 53: Environments Speak. What Does Yours Say?

Rommel is Saddleback’s Pastor of Campus Experience. His expertise serves hundreds of thousands of guests each year. He points out attributes of a good shepherd, preparing intentional places, and understanding how your environment speaks to your guests and members.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. Twitter: @romzinator
  2. Instagram: @romzinator
  3. SaddleBack.com

Episode Quotable

Grab your reading glasses and download the PDF here.

Episode 53 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Hello and welcome to the PD Podcast where we dialogue with some of today’s most insightful ministry leaders on topics relevant to the next generation. I’m Mingo Palacios, your host and Pastor of Evangelism in Culture at Saddleback Church. Every episode you’ll meet a future focus leader who’s changing the face of ministry from millennials by simply observing the past. It’s our hope that these conversations challenge you to dream bigger, lead better, and intentionally make time to honor those who let us stand on their shoulders. Thanks for joining us.

Vince Freeman:

So, this is actually my first time here at Mariners Church and Catalysts, but just you can’t help but look around and see the beauty of it. I’ve been to the Lake Forest campus of Saddleback a handful of times. Tell me how incredible it is to work at a facility like that and when you come to another beautifully designed place, like how are you soaking all that in and being able to take those things back?

Rommel Manio:

Yeah. What I love when I come to this campus, is they really create pockets of a place for you to have community, we gather together with five people to 20 people, right? There’s always pockets all over campus where you can literally sit, whether it’s shaded or just grass area, right. You’re able to take yourself apart from what’s happening and go do that. So when I come to this campus was that one of the things I love about it is it literally you walk anywhere you go through the student ministry area, you’ll find a spot just to detach yourself for a little bit and just reflect on whatever you need to do. But a lot of times it’s hard to find that at church, you know, everything’s always so busy.

Mingo Palacios:

And strategically accounted for.

Vince Freeman:

That’s probably a good way to put it.

Rommel Manio:

Yeah, absolutely. So I love it.

Vince Freeman:

Saddleback is often described as like the Disneyland experience of churches.

Rommel Manio:

Yes, that is correct.

Vince Freeman:

For someone who has such a unique role in that what’s one of your favorite places are pieces that you offer as far as your campus experience? So what’s the stand standout for you that you helped design?

Rommel Manio:

Yeah. For us, about four years ago we created what’s called Camp Hope. So a lot of things that are camp. We were definitely all about young families, our target towards and there was areas, we always look for opportunities we can create and there’s this blank space. No one was using it, like how can we turn this into something that families can hang out and stay? Right? So, we went to this idea of our team’s just going through like what could we put here? With this old school vibe of summer camps. That’s what we turned it into.

Vince Freeman:

It’s got the teepees.

Rommel Manio:

You got a cabin in there in.

Mingo Palacios:

You had a canoe in there.

Rommel Manio:

This bad boy lived in there for a little bit. But it was a place where families could just hang out. There was games, there was food for them for sure, but it was a nice place. It was in the center of our campus but it was just opportunity for them to hang out and have community and that’s what we’re all about. Bringing them, inviting them in and hang out a little longer than just a service.

Vince Freeman:

Yeah. For so many churches, the congregation may not used to be sticking around after a service. What would you say to maybe a church that doesn’t have the largest budget about creating a campus experience beyond just the sanctuary aspect?

Rommel Manio:

Yeah, I think a lot of people think, and probably because of maybe social media and Etsy and Pinterest, all those guys, think that you have to buy these elaborate things like our tables there from Home Depot $99. It’s like there’s things that we put there that doesn’t need to be so expensive. A lot of times one of our guys always is being fresh, so we refreshed something but refresh doesn’t mean you have to buy something new. So, for our campus we literally move things around from one area to another.

Vince Freeman:

That’s good.

Rommel Manio:

Right? So that way it refreshes that area that, that family walks by. Now they’re seeing a new furniture piece something new there that came from somewhere else. So we refresh the area from something else that we switched it over. It’s not about you must spend x, y, z, you must now do this and that, like it’s OK to refresh it in different ways from a different place.

Vince Freeman:

I like that.

Rommel Manio:

I’ve visited a church one time where they had posters on the wall. I said, “All you need to do is out of frame to it.” Add a frame to it and then the poster then brought life to it instead of just it being, stagnant for them, it was the same thing all the time. They want to paint the wall colors. Add a frame and you just change that look instantly.

Vince Freeman:

That’s good. It gives people hope for, you know, not having to dream so large and being like, “Oh if only we had more money than we could something better.”

Rommel Manio:

You can definitely take a space and see how can you freshen this up and not put a dollar amount to it.

Mingo Palacios:

I got to believe that you’re not the only person that gets to make decisions when it comes to developing campus experience. So can you speak to some of those communities that there’s like a tug of war maybe between the preferential style of one person or one generation. This podcast always engages like the segments of generations that operate. They have their hands in the church ministry culture expression. How have you navigated the preferential differences between, let’s say, an older generation and an emerging one?

Rommel Manio:

Camp Hope, what I just mentioned we have our singles ministry, our 20s 30s community. They’re like, “Well, we’re not going to go down there. It’s just much of kids.” We’re like, “Come on down we’ve got this and that.” “But they’re a bunch of kids.” So I was like, “Dang it. So how can we create a space for them?” So we’ve got space for singles out on the patio now that’s just for them. We added more adult type of look and feel on the patio with lounge furniture, yes, but it was more like it’s their space versus down where the kids are at. It is a little hard because you want to obviously focus on young families where our target is. But we also have that 20s and 30s community. What’s, what is it for them? Even the events that my team does, like there’s events that we do obviously targets young audience, but like we got to figure out what events can target the older, the one with no kids yet, but there’s still fit in that they’re married young couple just not kids yet.

Mingo Palacios:

We call them dinks. Double income. No kids.

Rommel Manio:

I’ll say it is a struggle because you have to figure out from student ministries to our Saddleback kids, to our singles ministry. There is that. And I try and get everyone together, figure out, is there an event we can put all hands on deck. Is there something we can do that? And we tried that last year. We did a whole end of sermon barbecue. And it was like, “Hey, we’ll have pockets of you guys’ area to hang out in. But the whole big umbrella is it’s end of summer barbecue.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s actually really compelling to think that you can give it a theme and then you create spaces that engage each segment of your population.

Rommel Manio:

Yeah. Because we found the hard way, we’re like, “Let’s do this and have a little dance party over there,” and it’s like, “Uh, it’s all kids around. That’s a dance party for five year olds.” But it was not supposed to be and you can’t control that. It just happens. So let’s have those pockets, but have one umbrella title of that theme with that event.

Vince Freeman:

That’s good. Its like how the church is set up, you have different pockets of ministry that are happening. It’s all under the umbrella of the ministry of the church.

Mingo Palacios:

I like that. I had another question when we were talking before we got on the line about whether or not you felt like campus experience was something that was something well paid attention to in most ministries. What have you discovered connecting with other churches? Are we talking to a dead horse? Are we just kind of like talking about something that already has mastered inside of so many places or is there a lot of room for growth? I mean, what’s your take on the landscape of campus experience and do we need to look at it differently?

Rommel Manio:

Right now all the people that I connect with under guest services, for example, none of them have the look and feel part of the role. They’re all the volunteer base, right? So, a lot of them aren’t thinking through the environment. So their experiences is all just people related, how the volunteers are treating the guests, how the volunteers serving well and they stopped there. The other part of the experience is the-

Vince Freeman:

The aesthetics.

Rommel Manio:

Right the look and feel of it. We started researching that and were like, “Environments matter.” Every environment is going to create an emotion, good or bad, right? Good or bad is going to create some form of emotion. We know this by going to nice restaurants, nice hotels, right? We walk in the space in a hotel lobby, you can walk in that space and automatically you think it’s the best vacation is going to be because the way to lobby looks.

Mingo Palacios:

Or you’re like, “Ooh, you got me.” Right because your picture online was all nice and then you get in there and then you get in there, you got me.

Rommel Manio:

All of a sudden you’re at the high level of like something can happen, negative or bad or whatever, but you’re still on that high like, “Man, look at this lobby. Look at the space where I’m at.” And we want church to feel like where I’m walking into that space. I don’t need to wait until I hear God’s word from that pastor. I can take the walls down as I’m walking through the church, right? Cause a lot of times when you don’t think that way, people will come in with anxiety, with their fear, if they haven’t been to church in a while or they’re unchurched, environments can change that for somebody.

Mingo Palacios:

They can be disarming.

Vince Freeman:

That reminds me of a quote from Michael Hyatt, he talks about limiting beliefs and that you experienced what you expect. If you were able to build that experience for someone where they’re walking in and not only do they feel welcomed, but it’s pleasing to the eye. You know, it’s a god given design for things and people are going to expect that feeling and by the time they hear the word, they’ve already been primed.

Rommel Manio:

Exactly. Yeah. We stay for us at Saddleback, we want to make sure that we never get in the way of some hearing God’s word. We’re not getting away from an environment standpoint or people standpoint. You will make sure that when they come through, by the time they get there, they’ve literally lowered any walls they might have had, bring it down, any anxiety they might have had and be able to openly hear what’s going on and not be able to think in the back of their mind, “Man there was trash everywhere walking in. Oh man, those people just ignored me as I walked by.” All of a sudden you’re thinking of that versus what you know that pastors teaching at that moment. Right?

Mingo Palacios:

I’ve got a question for you. How do you mitigate your own expectations? Because I think for a lot of creatives, we want to have the highest elevated experience, but you’re working within limitations and so more often than not in my own confession, things are never as great as I ultimately imagined them to be. How do you manage those disappointments personally?

Rommel Manio:

It’s tough because you envision certain things and then I personally would get to the point of like that I did I miss somebody today because I didn’t get that done or didn’t do that. Was someone missed? But same time I look, I thrive on that. That’s going to get me to make sure that my team is doing that, your volunteers are doing that, I’m doing that to make sure that we’re at the highest standard of each experience. So when they walked through the doors of something or to this grass space, is it planted, is it placed where it all needs to place? I look at things like is that book signing spot where it needs to be? Is that line going right into your area? Is that where it should’ve been? I think of those little things of someone’s experience.

Mingo Palacios:

I think there’s like a confession card about that, but that’s good. Just the idea of…we spoke about it earlier about how Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd and one of the attributes of a great shepherd is that he’s pre envisioning all that could be and as leaders that’s our job with people? That we would go and prepare a place, right? Jesus says that’s what he’s doing for us, so as emulators of Christ, when it comes to environments, we have to be responsible for preparing a place that their best experience is going to come on the backs of our greatest effort.

Rommel Manio:

And you can do everything so well on the people side but if things just look bad, your impression-

Mingo Palacios:

It can invalidate it.

Rommel Manio:

I can. People that aren’t thinking that the thing out in the world, like I said, hotel lobbies, restaurants, coffee houses-

Mingo Palacios:

Why would you expect them to think any different and I actually think that people probably travel with less grace rolling into a church seemingly enough because they’re looking for an opportunity to check out.

Vince Freeman:

Imagine people will go to a restaurant, they might wait 20 minutes before they’re seen. If you go to a church and 20 minutes nothing’s happened people are already going to check out.

Rommel Manio:

Right so you have to put things in place for them to allow them to be like, “It’s OK for this to be like this.” It’s ok for x, y, z to happen.” Because how they’re treating me from the volunteers, what it looks like when I’m walking in, all that stuff matters. Again, they’re creating an emotion in you regardless whether you’re thinking through it or not, you’re walking into a space and there’s some emotion happening.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Vince Freeman:

The last question I have is, how are you continually inspired? What fills you up when you have such a great campus, a great experience? Something that a lot of churches would like kill for? How do you stay on top and just be like, “You know what, there’s always something that we could add.”

Rommel Manio:

Yes, this might be a simple answer but I know that someone new is coming this weekend. Like I literally know there’s someone new. I’ve been doing some stuff with our core about all about the one person you’re going to affect today. You don’t know that one person is. So you have to treat each person like they’re that one.

Vince Freeman:

That’s good.

Rommel Manio:

And that one’s coming this weekend. That one’s coming on Saturday and on Sunday. It’s not like there’s no one new coming today. Right? So that’s what I put in the forefront of my mind knowing that I got to hit that next one coming through and I want the volunteers do the same thing. I want our team to do the same thing because if not, then what are we doing this for? Just because of the high of Easter? Well, we got church again five days later, six days later, right?

Vince Freeman:

Awesome. Rommel, thank you so much for your time.

Rommel Manio:

Yeah of course, man. Of course.

Vince Freeman:

We’ve learned so much. In closing, if there’s something that you would like to share with someone who’s never been to Catalyst before what would you say?

Rommel Manio:

I’d say this is the place to get inspired. This is the place to get refueled from the teachers that are here, that pastors from the music. You really do. You really walk away feeling refueled from what you’re doing in ministry. Especially if you’re struggling or having that down moment in ministry, this is a place to get refueled and getting back on that track, get back on that horse and move forward knowing that you’re not alone in your ministry, in your world. Awesome. Pleasure to meet you.

Rommel Manio:

Yeah, you too man. You too.

Mingo Palacios:

We’ll talk to you guys soon.

Rommel Manio:

Thanks.

Mingo Palacios:

We’d like to thank Purpose Driven Church for making this podcast possible. If you’ve been feeling burnt out or plateaued in your ministry, we invite you to join us for Purpose Driven Church conference happening this June right here in Southern California. You can learn more and register by visiting PD.church. We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top