Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

The most fundamental question that teenagers in your community will ever wrestle with is, “Why am I here?”

Unlike past generations, teens today aren’t looking for the meaning of life. Instead, they’re searching for meaning in life, a purpose for living, something that makes their lives worth living.

The fact is they’re seeking the very thing for which God made them, and that’s why it’s important you consistently teach teens about their purpose in life.

The Bible teaches that God made everyone – even teenagers – with a purpose.

For instance, in Colossians we’re told, “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible … everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him” (Colossians 1:16 MSG).

Do you think you would see a difference in the life of your teenage son or daughter if he or she felt truly and wholly accepted by God? What if they understood – deeply – that they belonged to the family of God? Or that the hand of God will guide them – deliberately – throughout life?

How do you think your teens would react if they discovered that God created them for a specific mission in…

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Church Building

This week, walk around your church campus and try to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest.

We become so familiar with our surroundings that we become oblivious to the faded paint, the frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the stack of stuff on the piano, or the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact Report on your church. Take pictures throughout your facilities and show them to your leaders in order to figure out what needs to be changed.

Here are some environmental factors to pay close attention to:

1. Lighting: Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. I’ve noticed that even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow, churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that dimming the lights creates a more “spiritual” mood. I completely disagree.

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light. God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is…

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Keep Climbing

Stress is just a part of ministry. If you don’t have stress in your ministry, you’re probably not being very effective. You need a certain amount of stress in your life to accomplish anything. Stress is what gives you the energy, the effort, and the ability to actually accomplish what God has called you to do.

Take a violin, for example. You have to put stress on the violin strings to make music. If you add just the right amount of stress, it creates beautiful music. On the other hand, if you tighten it too tight, the strings snap.

Stress can be a problem for our ministry as well. When you get so stressed you feel like you’re ready to pop, that’s bad for your ministry. The Bible gives us four things we need to do when we’re stressed to a breaking point.

Release your frustrations.

Stress creates all kinds of negative emotions – like anxiety, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and depression. And it can create frustration as well. What do we typically do with that frustration? Instead of taking it to God, we push it down deeper inside of us and pretend everything is…

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Frustration

Many of our biggest mistakes in life can be traced to handling disappointment in unwise ways. In times when we’re emotionally low, it’s easy to slip back into the habits that wreaked havoc on our lives in the past. Sometimes, we just need better coping mechanisms!

Here are five simple steps for dealing with frustrations in your life, based on the Bible.

1.  Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?”

The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV). Many things in life frustrate us because we brought them on ourselves. We don’t have anybody else to blame.

It’s frustrating to run out of gas on a trip. But if you didn’t stop to get gas before you left, or decided to push your luck, who’s to blame?

2.  Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?”

Use the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character and become more like Christ.

How does God produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life? He places you in the opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, he will put you around unlovely people. If God wants to teach you peace, he will put…

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Pastor, if you’re like most men out there, you’re probably still looking for just the right gift for your wife this Mother’s Day. You may be searching the Internet, walking the aisles of a department store, or thinking through the perfect lunch.

But you may already have the perfect gift within your grasp.

In just about any survey you find about women’s needs, affection is at the top of the list. Affection symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. When a husband shows affection to his wife, he sends a powerful message to her: “I care for you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll protect you. I’m concerned for your needs. I approve of you. I’m proud of you.”

Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (NIV). The Amplified Bible says this in the verse, “be affectionate and sympathetic with them” (AMP). As long as Jesus Christ is first place in your life, it’s impossible to give your wife too much honor. The more you appreciate her, the more you love her, the more you show affection for her, the more she will mature in Christ.

You can learn to be affectionate. It doesn’t…

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One of the reasons people are hesitant to try attending a church for the first time is that they’re not sure what to expect. In fact, they probably expect it to be a little bit awkward and uncomfortable.

Over time, it’s important for your church to become known as a place where people will be able to understand what’s happening. That doesn’t mean changing the message, but it does mean clearly explaining what is going on during the worship service.

If you use words like “prelude” or “convocation” without explanation, you’ll send the message that the service is intended for insiders and those who already understand what’s happening.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make people more comfortable in a church worship service that might be brand new to them.

1. Use easy-to-understand terminology.

Instead of “Invocation,” call it an “Opening Prayer.” Or better yet, don’t call it anything. Just have the prayer. No one really needs to know that a “Prelude” will be happening. Just play the music.

If you have a traditional altar call, or even an invitation for people to go somewhere for prayer, be very clear and specific in how you invite people to respond.

I’ve…

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Clear Lake

No matter how many times I hear it, it still shocks me: A pastor announces his resignation because of adultery. Often it’s with someone within his church, sometimes even someone actively involved in ministry, such as a choir member or Sunday school teacher.

It’s such an incredible waste of God’s resources that it not only grieves me, it angers me. I have told my staff that if any of them even flirt with temptation, I will come after them with a baseball bat, and I’ve told them to do the same with me.

As Christian leaders, we need to be above reproach. Paul wrote, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 MSG).

That’s why I established these Saddleback Staff Standards for maintaining moral integrity:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex. *
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you. *
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attendee of the opposite sex or show…

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Temptation

We’re struggling! More people than ever before are falling prey to sexual temptation, especially through viewing pornography.

Unfortunately, many pastors admit (anonymously) to viewing pornography as well.

If this is a temptation for you, here are some steps to take . . .

Be honest when you’re fatigued and take a rest.

When you’re tired, you are vulnerable to a lot of things – discouragement, depression, and temptation. The Bible encourages us to work for six days and rest on the seventh. If you’re not taking a day off every week, you’re breaking the fourth commandment. Take a day off.

It’s particularly important to take some time off after a spiritual and emotional high. No doubt you’re familiar with the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18, where he had a big God contest with the prophets on Mt. Carmel. Right after that, he’s in the desert saying, God, I want to die. Take my life. Fatigue is a hazard of being in the ministry, and it lowers our resistance to temptation.

Don’t believe your own hype.

In ministry, you’re put on a pedestal with lots of people admiring you. After one high-profile leader sinned sexually and stepped down temporarily from…

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Baptism at Saddleback

Many people came through the front doors of our churches during Easter – and many people were saved. But, as you already know, not all of those who come during Easter return the following week. And not everyone who gets saved during Easter services grows spiritually either.

So how do we make sure those who attend our Easter services return, become active in our churches and get involved in ministry?

Keeping the fruit of your ministry is as important as winning the fruit in the first place.

What did the early Church do after big evangelistic harvests?

  • They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said (Acts 14:21-22 NIV).
  • Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. But Paul…

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Field at Sunrise

Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, history was split. Every time you write a date, you’re using the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point.

What’s so important about Easter? It’s important because it proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and he came to earth to save us.

Three events occurred in a dramatic succession on that Easter weekend: the trial of Jesus, then the death of Jesus, and finally the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s look at each of those events and their implications.

The Trial

Jesus actually went through six trials. In that one night, he was brought before Annas, Caiaphas (the high priest), the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court), Pilate (the governor of Jerusalem), Herod (the governor of Galilee), and then back to Pilate. At the end of those six trials, what did they find to accuse him of? Nothing. He had done nothing wrong. They brought in people to make up phony charges, but those didn’t stick. Finally they convicted him on one count: claiming to be the…

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Conversation

The longer you’re a believer, the less you think like an unbeliever. After you come to Christ, your interests and values change.

Because I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, I think like a Christian. I don’t normally think like an unbeliever. Worse than that, I tend to think like a pastor, and that’s even further removed from an unbeliever’s mindset! That means I must intentionally change mental gears when seeking to relate to non-Christians.

If you look at most church advertising, it’s obvious that it was written from a believer’s viewpoint — not from the mindset of the unchurched.

When you see a church ad that announces, “Preaching the Inerrant Word of God,” what group of people do you think that ad appeals to? Certainly not to unbelievers!

Personally, I consider the inerrancy of Scripture as a non-negotiable belief, but the unchurched don’t even understand the term. If you’re going to advertise and promote your church, you must learn to think and speak like unbelievers. The spiritual terminology that’s familiar to Christians is just gibberish to the unchurched.

I’ve often heard pastors complain that unbelievers are more resistant to the Gospel today than in the past….

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Preaching to Unchurched

In terms of seeing radical life changes in individuals, nothing can take the place of Spirit-anointed preaching. The message is still the most important element of a worship service for the unchurched.

Saddleback’s growth — in spite of hot gymnasiums, cold tents, and crowded parking — has shown that people will put up with a lot of inconveniences and limitations if the messages are genuinely meeting their needs.

Here are a few tips I tend to share with pastors when they ask about preaching:

Provide an outline with the Scriptures written out.

I provide a printed outline of the message with all the Bible verses that will be used — and the verses are fully written out. There are a number of reasons that I do this:

  • Unchurched people may not own Bibles.
  • It relieves embarrassment in finding texts.
  • You can cover more material in less time. I once counted the number of times a well-known pastor said, “Now turn to this” in his message, and I timed how long he took. Seven minutes of his message was spent just turning pages!
  • You can have everyone read a verse aloud together because everyone has the same…

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