6 Ways to Prevent Vision Drift in Your Church

Your most important job as a church leader isn’t to hire and fire. It isn’t to manage a budget. It isn’t to mentor younger leaders. It’s not even to preach.

All of those tasks are important. They’re part of what you do as a church leader.

But your main job as a leader is to remind your congregation continually of your church’s vision. Everything else you can delegate. You can’t delegate vision.

Proverbs says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” You have a lot riding on the vision you communicate to your church.

Communicating vision get harder and harder—and much more important—as your church grows. I saw this firsthand at Saddleback. If you’ve heard the story of Saddleback, you know I shared a vision for the future of the church during our trial run, a week before our official launch.

At first, it was relatively easy to keep the church focused on the vision. When we were small, the only people who came were non-Christians. They had zero expectations about what church should be like. All they knew was Saddleback. We didn’t have a children’s ministry, a youth…

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How to Be a Decisive Leader

One thing that will create stress for you, your staff, and even your congregation is when you are indecisive. It is a form of double-mindedness, and James says that leads to instability (James 1:8).

I think part of the problem is that we complicate decisions, often factoring in information that isn’t really important, relying on our own wisdom while failing to specifically seek God and his wisdom.

When I find myself stuck over a decision, I go back to the basics with these four steps:

1. I admit I need God’s guidance to make any decision. 

None of us can see the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow—much less next year or 10 years from now. The Bible says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). On the other hand, God knows everything that has happened to you, that is happening to you, and that will happen to you. In order to keep our ministries heading in the direction God desires, we have to go to him for guidance in making decisions.

2. I ask…

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By James Daman

I used to work in a juvenile detention facility. I took the job expecting to make an impact, but I was the one that was impacted. I met so many bright, affable children. But in all my time there, I noticed one commonality in what each child needed. After security and safety, they just wanted to be loved.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

I didn’t know it at the time, but a lack of loving myself is what brought me to Celebrate Recovery. Matthew 22:39 says to love your neighbor as yourself, but if you don’t love yourself, how can you love others and love God? Celebrate Recovery taught me how to love the person God designed me to be, and the overflow of that love led me to love God and love others.

I began…

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You’ll go through lots of doors in your life. Some of them are incredibly important, like the door you’ll open to walk into your first home or the one that leads to your child’s classroom on the first day of kindergarten.

But you’ll walk through more important doors than those. Recently, I’ve been studying what the Bible teaches about doors. They are all over the place as metaphors for opportunities that God provides. You’ll face many kinds of doors of opportunity in your life—doors to happiness, to abundance, and to achievement.

The most important door of all, is the door to freedom. Before you can ever take steps toward where God wants you to go, you’ll have to exit the prisons in your life.

You may have never been incarcerated, but you don’t have to be behind bars to be in prison. The most significant prisons in life aren’t the physical ones. They’re the prisons in our minds.

Pretending to be someone you’re not traps you in a prison of other people’s expectations.

Unforgiveness traps you in a prison of bitter resentment.

Guilt traps you in your own failures.

But here’s the good news about those prisons and…

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By Danielle

My name is Danielle, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus who suffered from the overuse of opioid medicine. The oldest of four siblings, I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I was raised in a dysfunctional family, and my life was far from picture-perfect. I was baptized at the age of 1 and was in and out of church my entire life; however, I never attended on a regular basis and didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I also never had a healthy relationship with my father. My parents separated when I was young, and my father took off with me to Florida when I was about 3. I lived with him till I was about 5, but I always wanted to be with my mom. I don’t have any happy memories of living with my father—just memories of being left with a babysitter for days on end and waking up to a house filled with smoke from an alcoholic father leaving food in the oven. When I was about 5, a judge allowed me to go live with my mother. But I always wanted the loving relationship…

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3 Ways to Replace Busyness with Purpose in Your Ministry

More than 70 percent of pastors say they work between 55 to 75 hours every single week.

Those numbers may not surprise you. But they should.

Just like all the people you serve in ministry every week, you were created for a specific purpose—and that purpose isn’t fulfilled simply through activity and busyness. You might think those late nights hunched over your computer and all those times you’ve skipped family meals are helping you fulfill your unique purpose.

But your purpose is more than what you do on Sunday mornings. It’s more than what you do in meetings and hospital visits. Those activities may helpyou fulfill your purpose, but they must not define your purpose.

Every pastor, just like every person, is driven by something. Many are driven by the pressures around them. Others are driven by responding to crises in their midst—and there are plenty of those, right? Some pastors are driven by the expectations of those they lead.

But God wants something more from us. He wants us to live purpose driven lives. You can’t lead others to make the most of their lives if…

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Why Every Pastor Must Empower and Release Leaders

I know my leadership style. I’m a big-picture, vision-casting leader. The details, frankly, don’t hold much appeal to me.

By itself, my leadership style wouldn’t accomplish much. But surrounded by staff and volunteer teams whose gifts complement mine, I’ve watched God achieve many milestones through Saddleback Church.

He is, after all, both the giver of vision and the giver of those who can handle the details that breathe life into vision.

There’s nothing inherently right or inherently wrong about being a vision-casting leader. It’s simply the way God wired me. He may have wired you differently. The key is for each of us to recognize our personal style, up front.

Then we can recruit a team with gifts that will enhance and supplement our style. This is important because God calls the church a body with many different parts, each having different gifts. Each part is necessary for the overall health of the body.

There’s tremendous power in cooperation. We do our best work when, instead of jockeying for position or trying to build a base of power, we work together—building on each other’s strengths and shoring up each…

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During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command operated 24 hours a day as a shield of protection for our nation. This meant that at any point in a given day, there were fully combat-configured bombers flying to assure the safety of our nation.

Since these planes flew constantly, how did they remain full of gas? They did what is called mid-flight refueling. A refueling plane actually flew up next to the Strategic Air Command plane, docked in, and filled the plane with gas.

As a pastor, you need to learn how to refuel your life in mid-flight. You can’t just hop off to a tropical island every time you get tired and discouraged. You have to keep going. You have to learn how to recharge yourself in the middle of your hectic lifestyle.

The fact is, it takes energy to do God’s will. What do you do when you run out of energy? Psalm 94:19 says, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer” (TLB).

I suggest that once a day, you should go outside in your yard, sit down, and…

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Share With Newcomers These Six Reasons to Get Plugged In

The difference between being a church attender and a church member is commitment.

Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get involved in the ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors. Attenders want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility.

One of the biggest hurdles you will face as a church leader is convincing attenders they need to commit to their church family and become members. Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans without any identity, accountability, or commitment.

God is not silent on this issue. The Bible offers many compelling reasons why every believer needs to be committed to and active in a local fellowship.

1. A church family identifies you as a genuine believer.

I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said,“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT).

When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, races, and social statuses, it is a witness to the world. No one believer can be the body…

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By Bob Newby, Regional Director for the West

I walked through the doors of Celebrate Recovery 14 years ago on the recommendation of a family counselor. She suggested that I might be struggling with some codependency. I wasn’t sure why she thought that. I was fine. The fact that I was unhappy and anxious was not my fault. It was everyone else who was messed up! I’m a pastor! I knew my marriage wasn’t perfect, but we hadn’t cheated on each other. We were deeply committed to staying together. Sure, we had conflict, but I thought that if my wife would just respect me, our marriage would be so much better.

I was angry with our teenage son for using marijuana. I remember thinking, I am not the one who needs help in this family. If my wife would change, if my son would get his act together, things would be fine. My focus had been on pointing out how they needed to change. I tried quite diligently to get them to change but to no avail. I would use my loud voice. I felt shame when I did that. I would offer…

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God never intended for anyone to walk through life alone. He made us for each other, and he wants us all to belong to his forever family.

One of sin’s effects on the human race has been the separation from God and from other people that we all experience. From Adam onward, we’ve all had the tendency to hide in shame.

But there is help, not only from the redemptive work God accomplished through his Son, Jesus, but also in the form of other people.

Part of your healing will always be found in the context of healthy community.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (NLT).

These verses teach about the principle of mutuality, and there are three significant needs met in our lives by the mutuality of biblical community.

First, we all need mutual accountability.

In other words, you need a prayer partner. You check in on each other and support one another in your spiritual journey.

Not everything you do in a small group has…

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By Carol Holmstrom, National Assimilation Coach

“‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ . . . But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” Genesis 2:18, 20-23 (ESV).

The Bible goes on to recount how Adam and Eve fell into temptation and did the one thing that the Lord told them not to do. They then played the “excuse and accuse” game. They blamed each other for their mistakes and bad choices.

How often do we do that in our relationships—especially in marriage? “If my husband wasn’t this way, I wouldn’t respond like that.” “If my wife…

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