Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

Friends

Some of the greatest preachers in history were great at introducing and delivering sermons, but poor at closing them. We preach Christ and we preach a Gospel that calls for commitment, so powerful preaching presses for a verdict.

This is an area I spend a lot of time on when I’m preparing a message because a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. Changed lives come from great conclusions. John Stott said, “If there is no summons, there is no sermon.”

First, avoid these four common mistakes:

  • Don’t just summarize the message. Ask people to act.
  • Don’t announce that you’re concluding, especially if you don’t mean it.
  • Don’t blame the clock and rush to a conclusion.
  • Don’t introduce new ideas or extra points in your conclusion.

Instead, conclude by doing these things:

1. Always point back to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is center stage. The goal of preaching is not to get people to fall in love with you as the preacher but to get them to fall in love with Jesus. Since the Bible is the story of Jesus’ redemptive work, every sermon ought to draw people to the cross…

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Give Thanks

Some of you have had a tough year. You’ve endured your share of criticism. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage.

Now comes Thanksgiving. Can we thank God even when times are tough? Yes, we can.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

This verse does not say to give thanks for everything. It says to give thanks in every circumstance. I see it misinterpreted all the time.

You don’t have to give thanks for evil in the world. The Bible does not tell us to be thankful for evil.

But in every circumstance, no matter how bad it is, I can give thanks to God because . . .

  • His purpose is bigger than my problem.
  • He will give me the power to overcome my problem.
  • I know I will grow through the experience if I allow God to help me grow.

I may not be thankful for evil, but I can be thankful despite evil.

How can you be grateful when you’ve lost your job, your health, or a spouse? You look not at what you’ve lost,…

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Ministry Leadership Action

Procrastination has a high cost. When we cram for tests, we get lower grades. When we wait until the deadline to file taxes, we miss things and make costly mistakes. When we put off difficult conversations, we hurt people and relationships.

And the cost of procrastination in ministry can be significantly higher. For us, procrastination isn’t measured in dollars; it is measured in ministries never started, people with needs going unmet, and those who are spiritually lost never hearing the Gospel.

The Bible says in James 4:17, “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not to do it” (NLT). When God calls you to do something, but you don’t do it, it’s not just a bad strategy or a missed blessing. It is sin.

If God has called you to do something in your ministry and you are not doing it, do it now! Not next month, next week, or even tomorrow—do it right now.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (NLT). None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. You may not have the opportunity tomorrow to do what…

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Walk Happy

Being a pastor isn’t easy. It’s hard work. It’s emotionally taxing. We’re just as subject to the pressure to hustle and grind as anyone in a professional role, and sometimes, the grind gets to us. You can only hustle so long until you’re out of energy.

I’ve found that when discouragement attacks, it usually attacks on Mondays, even after a great weekend of worship services and seeing lives changed.

James Draper once described the Southern Baptist Convention as “a denomination of discouraged leaders.” I think that’s true of most denominations and churches. I’ve heard from tens of thousands of leaders who have attended our Purpose Driven conferences and training events, and I’ve concluded that a majority of pastors struggle with chronic discouragement.

Thankfully, there is an antidote. The fourth chapter of Nehemiah gives us a four-point plan for bouncing back when we’re feeling down.

1. Rest Your Body

Nehemiah rested. The psalmist wrote about rest in Psalm 127:2, “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?” (The Message).

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do in a…

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Project

As a pastor, you need to be able to put together projects efficiently and effectively. Whether you are starting a new church, planning a new ministry, opening a new building, or just preparing for next weekend’s services, you need to mobilize people around a common task. That’s leadership in a nutshell.

When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city’s wall, he had a monster project on his hands. How he tackled that project provides us with seven key principles for getting things done.

1. The Principle of Simplification

Nehemiah kept his plan simple. He didn’t randomly assign jobs, he didn’t create a whole new organization, and he didn’t force any complex charts.

He organized around groups already associating together, such as the priests, the men of Jericho, and the sons of Hassenaah. The point is: Don’t create an organization if you don’t need it. If an organization already naturally exists, try to work through it and with it.

Sometimes a new leader comes into a situation, and the first thing he does is start changing the whole organization. Think: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Strong organizations are often the simplest ones.

2. The Principle of…

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Joyful Ministry

As Saddleback Church continues in our 40 Days of Prayer campaign, I’m mindful of the fact that a lot of leaders around the world might not be in the best place, spiritually, to lead a church in such an intense prayer effort. If you want to lead your church effectively through a campaign, you need to be keeping your own relationship with God fresh.

It’s way too easy to just go through the motions instead of basing your ministry on a growing relationship with Christ. In fact, your ministry will have no impact if you’re not developing a more intimate relationship with Christ.

Philippians 3:10 says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (NIV). The word “know” in this verse speaks of a deeply intimate relationship, like the relationship a husband and wife have with each another. Part of what kept Paul joyful in spite of being imprisoned as he wrote the book of Philippians was his intimate relationship with Christ.

Here are three big ways you can do the same …

1. Spend Time…

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Clay Pots

I’ve been a Christian for many years. I’ve been around thousands and thousands of believers and I would say most Christians have yet to experience the depth of Christ’s power. Why? Because they haven’t admitted their weaknesses and they haven’t expressed gratitude for them.

I love 2 Corinthians 12:9b in The Living Bible: “I’m glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities.” You may not realize it but your weaknesses are actually blessings in disguise.

Here are four ways that’s true:

1. Having weaknesses guarantees God’s help.

When you attempt to face a challenge or solve a problem in your own power, God says, “I’ll step back and watch. Be my guest. Go ahead and do it. If you think you can handle this on your own, great. If you think you can solve that problem at work, if you think you can make that marriage hang together, if you think you can turn that kid around in your own power, be my guest.”

But the moment you come to God and say, “God, I’m weak. I don’t have what it takes for all the pressures that are in…

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One of my fondest memories of growing up is my father’s garden. It seemed my dad grew everything in his garden. In fact, he always grew enough to feed the entire neighborhood. Whenever people would stop by our home for a visit, they’d usually leave with a sack full of fresh vegetables and fruit.

The kind of fruit my father grew is just one kind of fruit—natural fruit. There is also biological fruit, the offspring of animals and the children of people. Then there is spiritual fruit, and that’s what God is talking about in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV).

These nine qualities describe the character of a fruitful, productive Christian—the kind of Christian all of us in ministry want to become and help others become in the process.

The question is: How do we get these character qualities? Obviously, God doesn’t just zap me one day and all of a sudden these qualities materialize in my life. He uses a process.

Here are two important facts you need to know about developing spiritual fruit:

It’s a partnership

The apostle Paul describes the…

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Plateau

I hear it frequently: “My church has hit a plateau. What can I do to get it moving again?”

While this can be a common crisis, it’s not unfixable. There are several things you can do to help your church move beyond its growth block.

First, though, it’s important to understand that the longer your church has been plateaued, the longer it’s going to take to get it going again. There is tremendous power in momentum.

At NASA, most of the energy – the jet fuel – in a rocket engine is used up in the first several hundred yards. It takes all that fuel just to get the thing off the launch pad. Once it’s in orbit, it takes very little power to keep a rocket going. But you still have to get the thing going, and that initial push takes a lot of time and energy up front.

If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it’s been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it’s been plateaued for twenty years, you’ve got to set in for the duration!

For…

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No other institution on earth has the potential to change the world and address global issues as the local church. No force on earth is as unstoppable as the local church when it is functioning as a unified body of believers. And nothing brings a church together in unity better than a growth campaign.

The greatest waves of growth that Saddleback Church has ever experienced have been the result of the various church-wide campaigns that we’ve done. When we set aside six to eight weeks to concentrate, as a church family, on a single theme, amazing things happen, such as…

  • People bring their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church.
  • Hundreds of people are baptized.
  • All kinds of new small groups form and launch.
  • Some people give financially for the first time, and everyone sacrifices for the Kingdom.
  • The church grows larger, deeper, broader, warmer, and stronger.

As you plan your preaching over the next twelve months, plan at least one, if not two, opportunities for your church to align around a single theme. Our newest campaign, 40 Days of Prayer is available now! Some of our other campaigns have included 

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Believe

The real foundation of great leadership is character, not charisma. And one aspect of a leader’s character is the convictions to which he is deeply committed. Great leaders have strongly held beliefs. An opinion is something you’d argue about; a conviction is something you’d die for. Pastors, especially, must define the convictions for which they will endure every kind of hardship, and the only way to stand for those kinds of convictions is to live from a deep sense of God’s calling.

If God has called you to the task of leadership, nothing can stop you. Your identity rests in your relationship with him, not the approval of the people you are leading or the watching world around you. Instead of living in the comparison trap or the fear of what people will think, you must develop your convictions – theological, ethical, and practical – and stand by them.

Believe in advance that your convictions will be tested from at least eight angles:

1. Derision. When you’re in leadership, one of the first ways people will try to get you to deny your conviction is to make fun of you. Your convictions may very well…

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There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”

The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a social media ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense,” it’s always an investment.

The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in…

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