Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

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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When tragedies occur in communities or nations, pastors can wind up working tirelessly to comfort congregations looking for help, both physical and spiritual. Counselors call it compassion fatigue, and it affects anyone who works in human services of any kind, especially those deeply involved in soul care.

In American life, we’ve all been focused on the recovery effort that has followed the flooding and devastation from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Communities are coming together to aid one another in the recovery.

To pastors and ministry leaders who are in the middle of the work of comforting and consoling others, let me give you three pieces of advice.

1. Release Your Frustrations

Stress and exhaustion create all kinds of negative emotions in your life. They bring on anxiety, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and depression. And the most common thing we ministers tend to do with our negative emotions is stuff them. We think we’re being better Christians if we never admit to our own fear, anger, and depression.

But God created you as a human being with emotions, and he wants you to be real – to let them out by expressing them to him. If you don’t…

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We’ve all been shocked by the flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. So many people have lost everything they’ve worked for in this world. And yet the response we’ve seen from churches and relief organizations has been amazing to watch.

This disaster gives us all an opportunity to share God’s love in the lives of people affected by Harvey who need to hear about the abundant, eternal life in Christ Jesus. We have an opportunity to teach our congregations about facing a crisis.

Whether you’re planning to help in the Gulf region, or whether it’s the next time a wildfire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or hurricane devastates your own community, sooner or later, your congregation will be called to minister in a time of unparalleled grief. When that happens, here are five biblical principles you can teach your members about helping spiritually in the midst of a massive crisis:

First, teach them to release their grief

People feel all sorts of emotions when they face crisis, such as fear, anger, worry, depression, resentment, helplessness, and grief. The most important thing to teach people is that they must acknowledge these emotions before God. It does…

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From Brokenness

It’s possible that, as you read this article, you have conflict and chaos happening in your life right now. Perhaps you’ve just lost a job, or a significant relationship in your life seems to be falling apart, or you’re dealing with a loss or health crisis you didn’t see coming.

Here’s the good news . . . God wants to bless you when you’re broken!

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1,4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (NIV). In other words, life is a series of opposites.

The Bible says that sometimes weeping is appropriate. Sometimes mourning is appropriate. Sometimes grieving is appropriate. In fact, God blesses you when you grieve.

Processing grief is absolutely essential and is the healthiest choice when you experience a loss. It is essential to your emotional health, your spiritual health, your physical health, and your mental health. In fact, grief is God’s tool to get you through the transitions of life.

There is no growth in your life without change….

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Prayer on the Beach

“I will . . . station myself . . .” (Habakkuk 2:1 NIV).

If you want to get God’s vision for your life and ministry, you must want to hear it, you must withdraw to hear it, and then you must wait to hear it.

The New International Version says, “I will . . . station myself“( Habakkuk 2:1 NIV). What does it mean to station yourself before God? It means stay put. It means, “I’m not moving.” It means, “I’m going to be still. I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.”

Hurry is the death of prayer. And, as pastors, we feel all kinds of pressure to get in a hurry. Yet God won’t speak to us as we run out the door. He wants us to care enough to linger and listen in our prayer time.

So many times, we’re running so revved up, we can’t slow down enough to tune in to God.

So, how do you slow down? You calm your mind by relaxing your body. You take deep breaths and you relax your muscles and let the…

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Thinking

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building his church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility with fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses; humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul was able say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was honest about his weaknesses. In addition he said, “I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but he does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility, but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that he wants you to be because of fear.

We…

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Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down neglect, conflict, or from misunderstanding. 

Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?

The Bible tells us that the secret to great relationships, is humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward on another” (NIV).

You’re not dressed for successful relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility.

The cross shows that you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed. Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It is does not mean denying your strengths, but rather it’s being honest about your weaknesses. 

Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself. 

One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because, frankly, many people are unwilling to do the serious difficult work that humility requires. There are five steps that you can take in humbly restoring a broken relationship.

1. Ask…

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Success

Success can ruin a ministry. I’ve seen it happen too many times. It sounds strange. We plan for success, we dream about success, and – most importantly – we pray for success. Yet when it comes, we often self-destruct.

God blesses our ministry. Our church grows. People respond to our preaching. Hurting people are helped. At first, we’re just excited to see God work. We’re just pointing people to him. But then we’re tempted to turn our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves. In a matter of time, success can erode our ministry.

It doesn’t just happen to senior pastors of big churches, either. Whether you’re at a church of 20 or 20,000, you could be next.

I understand the temptation. When I came to Orange County to start Saddleback in 1980, I dreamed big. You can read in The Purpose Driven Church about the vision I presented to the church on the very first Sunday. God gave me a vision of a church with tens of thousands of people in it. In the first 25 years of the church, God fulfilled every promise he gave me before I started…

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Baptisms at Saddleback Church

At Saddleback Church, we’ve always given a lot of attention to baptism, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve had so many baptisms over the years. A little boy asked me one time, “When can I get advertised?” That’s the mindset I want our congregation to have about baptism: “When can I get advertised? When can I publicly proclaim that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ?”

The most basic way I spotlight baptism at Saddleback is by talking regularly in my sermons about the value, the purpose, and the benefits of baptism. The sermon doesn’t have to be specifically focused on baptism to make the connection either.

We have found that a sizeable number of people intend to be baptized, but they never do it. They say, “I’ll do it next month,” but then the next month they forget. So any time I promote baptism, I challenge people to commit on the spot to being baptized. There are a couple ways I do this.

First, during our services, we give everyone a card that includes a place where people can indicate a desire to be baptized. Asking people for a commitment…

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Photo Credit: Aaron Burden

If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the New Testament shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations.

Rely on supernatural power

“Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:3-4 NLT).

We don’t just talk about God; we experience him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit.

Microsoft doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The United States government doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The Red Cross doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. No other organization has the power of God in it. God promised his Spirit to help his church.

Use everybody’s language

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4 NLT).

This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the Gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their…

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Slow

You don’t have to be a prophet to know that technology has ­­made the world smaller, more complex, and faster. You live a much faster lifestyle than your parents did. Your children will live an even faster lifestyle than you do.

As you and I know, pastors aren’t immune to time pressures. With meetings, ever-shrinking sermon preparation, and a crowded pastoral care schedule, our office calendar can stay full if we’re not careful. Then we get home and rush our kids to after-school events, grab a quick dinner, run to the hospital, go home, jump in bed, and hope there are no late-night phone calls.

We can identify with what a USA Today article said about life for many people. “Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled.”

The Bible tells us that hurry and worry and scurry have dramatic negative effects on our life and ministries. If you’re serious about slowing your life down to a more humane pace of life, you’re going to have to make five countercultural changes in…

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You can be a homebuilder, bodybuilder, reputation builder, or a retirement-nest-egg builder. None of those things will last, but there is something that’s going to last for eternity, something you can put your efforts into now that will last forever.

You can be a people builder.

The Bible encourages us to do just that in Romans 15:2, where it says, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (NIV).

How do you build your people? The key is kindness – giving people what they need, not what they deserve.

If you consider the way Jesus built people up, he did four things, and you can do these same four things as you encourage members of your congregation.

1. Give them a personal challenge.

Ephesians 4:1 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (NIV).

Paul is saying, don’t waste your life – make it count. Be all that God made you to be.

Challenge your members to live beyond themselves and to discover their strengths and abilities. God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing…

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