Church Teaching

You need supportive relationships if you’re going to make it in life, and God has put people in your life for your health and your healing.

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, and while it was a perfect environment, God also acknowledged that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. God had designed him for relationship, just as he has designed all of us for relationship.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:3 that God “has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family” (TLB).

When you were born physically, you joined the human family, the human race. When you’re born spiritually, you join God’s family.

The church is not an institution, a religious club, a society, an organization, or a business. The Bible describes the church as a family. That’s how we are to relate to each other.

The Christian life is not just a matter of believing; it includes belonging. And belonging to a church family is essential to our recovery and our healing.

You can measure your spiritual commitment by how much you love the church. The Bible says Christ loved it…

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Every relationship — even a good one — has conflict. If you don’t know how to deal with it, how to resolve it, how to manage it, you can kill your relationship.

The Bible says conflict is caused by selfishness. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?” (GNT). I am basically a selfish person. I think of me before I think of anybody else. And you do, too. I want what I want and you want what you want, and when these competing desires collide, that’s called conflict.

The night before I got married, my father-in-law sat down with us and said, “There are five areas where marriages usually have conflict: money, sex, in-laws, children, and communication.”

My father-in-law was a prophet. In our marriage we’ve gone five for five! We’ve hit every single one of them.

Some of you are in major pain right now. You are frustrated. You feel stuck in your relationship because you have argued about certain issues over and over with no resolution, much less reconciliation. You don’t know what to do.

If you’re going to…

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Discouragement is unique to human beings, and it’s universal.

Eventually everyone feels it, including those in ministry. I have no doubt you’ve experienced discouragement at times. You might even be discouraged as you read this article.

Do you know how often I have wanted to quit being pastor of Saddleback Church? Every Monday morning!

So here’s what I’ve learned about battling discouragement:

4 Causes of Discouragement

#1 Cause – Fatigue

When you’re physically or emotionally exhausted, you’re a prime candidate to be infected with discouragement. Your defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are. This often occurs when you’re halfway through a major project and you get tired.

#2 Cause – Frustration

When unfinished tasks pile up, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. And when trivial matters or the unexpected interrupt you and prevent you from accomplishing what you really need to do, your frustration can easily produce discouragement.

#3 Cause – Failure

Sometimes your best laid plans fall apart, the project collapses, the deal falls through, no one shows up to the event. How do you react? Do you give in to self-pity? Do you blame others? As one man said, “Just when I think I can make…

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Psychology Today once asked 52,000 Americans, “What does it take to make you happy?” Their answers varied, but the interesting thing is that most of them dealt with external situations instead of internal issues. The popular idea of happiness involves having the right circumstances. It’s what I call “when and then” thinking.

When I get out of school, then I’ll be happy.

When I get a job, then I’ll be happy.

When I get married, then I’ll be happy.

When I have kids, then I’ll be happy.

When the kids leave home, then I’ll be happy.

Perhaps happiness isn’t the goal. At least not the way most people think about the word happiness.

Joy is a much better word because it describes a state we can choose regardless of our circumstances.

Joy is a choice. You choose to be joyful — often in spite of your circumstances. Right now, regardless of what you are facing in your ministry, you’re as joyful as you choose to be.

Life is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Ministry is difficult! There are a lot of things that don’t go right and don’t go your way in life. If your joy in ministry depends on…

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Calendar

Big-attendance days, like Easter and Christmas, are important for the growth of a church. You get to meet a lot of guests and then follow up with them after they visit. You also get a visual picture of what your church can look like a year down the road on an average Sunday.

The problem with big days, however, is that we sometimes see them as the end goal, and they’re not. High-attendance days are just one part of a bigger picture when it comes to making disciples.

After Easter, a lot of churches start preparing for what many leaders refer to as the “summer slump,” when attendance and giving decrease because of vacation travel, sports, and other interests competing with the church for time on the weekend.

That’s why it’s vital to focus, on a regular basis, on the systems you have in place for making disciples in between those big days.

To put it another way, you have five or six weeks per year to invite as many people as possible to attend a special worship event, but you have 52 weeks per year to help people take their next step in their spiritual walk.

Every week,…

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Thirsty

By Celebrate Recovery

Thirsty - Waterfall Imageby John Eklund

I am not really much of an outdoorsman.

So when my brother-in-law, Luke, suggested a weekend camping trip along the Appalachian Trail, I resisted. I’m quite fond of roofs, mattresses, refrigeration, and indoor plumbing. I really like indoor plumbing. Conversely, I am not such a fan of malaria, poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, and poison ivy. I pretty much like to avoid anything poisonous. He shrugged off my quick refusal, challenged my manhood, and began painting pictures in my imagination rivaling the best L.L. Bean and Cabela’s catalog covers. The next thing I knew I was trudging up the side of a mountain with a hastily purchased army surplus rucksack bouncing heavily against my back.

Luke had mapped out our trip, meticulously gauging and packing the precise amount of supplies we would need for our journey. We planned to hike up to and then down the trail several miles, make camp, and spend the night. We would wake up early, make for a spring that marked our halfway point, refill on water, and spend the rest of our final day trekking back to the start.

The first day went as…

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God Even Calls Broken Believers into Ministry Imageby Andy

I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with insecurity, anxiety, and sexual addiction, and my name is Andy.

I was raised in a wonderful home, the middle child of three brothers, and a son to a mom and a dad who loved their children dearly. My parents both grew up in homes with alcoholic fathers who would occasionally turn abusive. Due to this, my parents endured a great deal of dysfunction growing up but promised each other that their children would grow up in a stable home. Mom and Dad achieved this to the best of their ability. They gave my brothers and me a home where we were loved, and they raised us to work hard and always do our best.

Growing up I became quite competitive with my siblings, particularly my older brother. When I compared myself to him I always felt like I fell short somehow, and I began to deeply resent him and became jealous of him. I wanted to show him that I was better than him, that somehow I had worth and value. It would mean that…

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Television

We think all the time. We observe, record, and process information faster than any computer on earth. And we store information and imagery better, too.

The human brain is absolutely amazing in its capability to capture and catalog things.

And what we take into our minds definitely influences what comes out in our lives. Our habits are the results of our actions, which are the results of our thoughts.

So be choosy when it comes to what you allow into your mind.

Be discriminating. Don’t just allow anything and everything to filter into your mind.

I read a book one time called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. It’s about how advertisers compete for your attention. Whether you realize it or not, everybody wants to get your attention, usually for the purpose of profit.

So it’s up to you to take control of your thought life. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV).

Guard your mind and be disciplined in the way that you think.

There are four kinds of material that you can fill your mind with.

1. Poison.

Poison includes pornography, the occult, trashy novels, things that blaspheme God, and anything that is bad for…

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Growth of a Plant

The world needs the influence of the church more than ever before. And, at least in Western culture, the church faces many significant struggles as it seeks to influence its surrounding culture.

The solution, at its root, is to plant, grow, and build as many healthy, vibrant local churches possible — churches that believe and teach the biblical Good News about Jesus.

In other words, the growth of the church is for the good of the entire world, so your church needs to grow!

But how?

There are plenty of answers in terms of systems and methodologies, models and approaches. But before we go about the reshaping of the structure or ministry of a church, we first need to experience a change in our mindset.

You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.

An opinion is something you’ll argue about; a conviction is something you’ll die for.

You need to settle the issue that God wants his church to grow. All living things grow. If a church is alive, it grows. Growing a healthy church is hard work, and unless you clarify your convictions, you’re going to be tempted to give up.

You have to develop this conviction because:

Ministry is full of stressful moments. Sometimes it’s conflict between members or staff. Sometimes it’s just the week after a high-attendance Sunday, like Easter, and we’re concerned about following up.

We all face a variety of issues in ministry that raise our blood pressure. Fortunately, we’ve got a great model for ministry in Jesus.

His life was under constant demands. Crowds were always pressing up against him, asking him to take care of their needs. He was misunderstood and criticized by religious people. Sound familiar?

But through it all, Jesus never got depressed or discouraged. He never gave up.

How did he manage to be at peace under pressure? And how can you experience that kind of peace, too?

1. Know who you are.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 NIV).

More than 18 times in the Bible Jesus says, “I am . . .” and then gives a descriptor. He was always defining himself. He was saying, “I know who I am.” There was no doubt about it. As…

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Pastor, you may have a large crowd of attendees on Sunday morning—and still not have a congregation. The fact is that the crowd must become a church. People must be assimilated.

Assimilation is simply the task of moving people from an awareness of your church, to attendance at your church, and then to active membership in your church.

  • The Community talks about “that church.”
  • The Crowd talks about “this church.”
  • The Congregation talks about “our church.”

Members have a sense of ownership. They are contributors, not just consumers.

Because the incorporation of new members into your church does not happen automatically, you have to develop a system and structure to assimilate and keep the people you reach. At Saddleback, our system is composed of two parts.

The first part of our assimilation system is a set of questions we ask ourselves:

  1. What does God expect from members of his church?
  2. What do we expect from our members right now?
  3. What kind of people already make up our congregation?
  4. How will that change in the next five to 10 years?
  5. What do our members value?
  6. What are new members’ greatest needs?
  7. What are our long-term members’…

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Crosses on a Hill

On Easter Sunday, churches around the world invite their communities to come in and listen to two big, bold claims. First, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, died for their sins and then came back from the dead. And second, that anyone who puts their trust in the risen Jesus will live forever.

That’s a lot to take in for someone who has never given serious thought to the Good News of Jesus before. So when people find their way into your congregation on this very important Sunday, remember how vital it is to practice the ministry of hospitality and be good hosts to spiritual seekers.

Obviously, we should be preparing for the evangelistic opportunity of Easter Sunday long before the big day, but there are still some things you can do in the last 24 to 48 hours leading up to your Easter weekend services that can make a big difference in how effectively you reach people.

1. Do one last big promotional push on social media.

It’s easy and affordable to sponsor an ad on most major social networks. Advertising for Easter Sunday several weeks in…

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