Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

7 Ways to Welcome Guests to Your Celebrate Recovery Ministry

I’ve said this over and over again at Saddleback.

Out of the 200 ministries we have at our church, Celebrate Recovery® is my favorite.

CR is all about changed lives—and that’s the biggest thrill of my life. If you want to know what makes Rick Warren tick, it’s pretty simple: changed lives.

All I need to do is hear one story of a life changed—a marriage saved, a teen who gets off drugs, or someone liberated from codependency—and I’m good for another month.

Changed lives keep me going.

I’ve never been around a ministry that sees so many lives changed by Christ as Celebrate Recovery. It’s a life-change machine—and I love it!

I know that God didn’t design the church to be a hotel for saints. He designed it to be a hospital for sinners. Your church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry demonstrates this on a weekly basis.

But if your Celebrate Recovery ministry is going to be a hospital for sinners and an incubator for changed lives, it needs to be a place where guests feel comfortable to attend.

Think about the first time you showed up at Celebrate Recovery. It…

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3 Ways to Keep Your Listener’s Attention as You Preach

Preaching is tougher than ever these days. For one thing, we can’t assume that people come to our churches with a basic understanding of the Bible like they may have in the past.

But it’s also tougher because of all the media we interact with on a daily basis—from television to email to social media. It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something or convince us about a new idea.

Just open your email, and you’ll likely see a full selection of pitches asking you to buy anything from lunch to a new fishing pole to a vacation. Turn on the television, and the pitching from commercials continues.

Because of this, when unchurched people hear you preach, they assume you’re trying to sell them something. They believe you’re trying to sell them on religion.

That’s not your purpose, but your listeners often don’t know that.

Every week you’re preaching to people who are more skeptical than ever before.

You used to be able to turn up the volume when you had a weak point and keep people’s interest that way. But you can’t do that…

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4 Steps to Achieving Your 2019 Goals

You’ll never find the ideal time to take the next step toward your goals.

So do it now. Those three words could change your ministry. The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB).

You can’t wait until your life settles down to reach for that elusive goal. You can’t wait until everyone else is on board to do what you know the Lord has called you to do.

The time is now.

Your ministry must thrive under imperfect conditions or it will never thrive. So get started today with these four steps.

1. Clarify your goals.

God gave you an amazing ability to choose what’s important in your life. Many ministry leaders never stop to think through and identify what’s really important to them. You can’t do what’s important in your life until you clarify what it is.

Take a half day, if possible, and pray about two specific things: What do I value? What do I want to change?

Yes, you should think about your ministry goals, but don’t stop there either. I also usually think through:

How God Gives You His Vision for Your Church

You hear ministry leaders talk all the time about what a church needs to grow. Some say it’s preaching. Some say you need a great location. Others suggest you need a vibrant ministry to children or youth.

All of those aspects are important for a healthy, growing church. But I don’t think they are what’s most important.

You start with leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. I see churches in great locations that struggle because of bad leadership. I see churches with great preaching struggle because of poor leadership. Leadership matters.

And leadership rests on vision.

Charisma doesn’t make a great leader. Vision does. In fact, communicating vision is your number one job as a leader. As a pastor, you need to continually clarify the vision of your church. It gets harder and harder (but more and more important) as you grow.

But where do you get vision that will propel your church forward in the new year?

You have to get vision from the Holy Spirit. God’s vision never wears out. His vision will never fail. His vision is better and grander than anything we can think…

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9 Ways to Spot a Great Book for Your Ministry Library

Churches don’t grow without growing leaders.

If we don’t take in truth, we can’t give it out. Over the years at Saddleback, I’ve developed a habit of reading myself out of a rut. When I’m struggling to figure out what’s next or to break past a growth barrier, I’ve leaned into reading before taking my next big step. Few habits will help you in ministry as much as a regular diet of reading.

Every profession has its tools. You can’t be a doctor without a stethoscope. You can’t be a carpenter without a hammer and a saw. The minister’s tools are his books. We’re in the feeding, leading, and communicating business. Reading helps us do that more effectively.

With the new year just a few days away, it’s a good time to start a new reading habit.

But what kind of books should a Christian leader read?

Good ones.

I agree with James Bryce, who is credited with saying, “Life is too short to spend it reading inferior books.”

Here are nine ways you can find a jewel amid all the books out there.

1. Start with the author.

This…

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Lights are everywhere this time of year. In Southern California where I live, you’ll see the first lights go up in the early fall as stores start decorating. Then the cities follow by getting theirs up. Finally, as we finish up Thanksgiving leftovers, many of our neighbors are adding Christmas lights to their homes.

Christmas falls just four days after the longest night of the year; so all of this light comes at a good time.

It’s fitting. When we’re in the darkest part of the year, the light of Christmas breaks through.

Light is a major theme in the Bible. In fact, in the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, we read of a star showing the wise men the way to Jesus. We read of the angels performing a dazzling light show to get the attention of the shepherds, so they could make their way to Jesus.

In fact, Jesus tells us that the reason he came on that first Christmas was to bring light into the world. He says in John 12:46, “I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to…

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5 Ideas for Your New Year’s Sermon

After almost 40 years at Saddleback, I know how tough it can be to come up with a holiday sermon. I like preaching around holidays because I know I’m connecting to something that’s on people’s minds, but it’s hard to come up with something fresh and engaging year in and year out.

As we head into the new year, I know you’re probably preparing for one of your most important sermons of the year. Sure, Christmas and Easter sermons get lots of attention because you’re likely preaching to larger crowds. But the first sermon of the new year tends to bring in people who are trying to fulfill a New Year’s resolution to get back into a church.

So as you prepare your New Year’s sermon for 2019, I thought I’d share with you five of the ways we’ve tackled New Year’s sermons at Saddleback through the years. Some of them started off a new series, while others were stand-alone sermons.

I hope these titles and topics give you some inspiration as you prepare.

1. New You for a New Year 

Our happiness tends to revolve around our ability to…

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5 Tools to Help People Grow Spiritually

All living things grow. It’s evidence of life. If a child doesn’t grow to physical maturity, that’s a tragedy.

And if people in our congregations don’t grow spiritually, that’s a tragedy, too.

Many churches focus on getting people in the doors and maybe making a salvation decision. But that’s only a small part of our responsibility.

Jesus gives us another example. During his ministry, he started by urging people to “come and see.” And they did! People began to follow him. But then Jesus slowly turned up the heat. He began adding qualifiers, statements that start with “You’re my disciple if”:

  • You love one another (John 13:35)
  • You abide in his Word (John 8:31)
  • You deny yourself (Matthew 16:24)
  • You make Jesus your prime allegiance (Luke 14:26)

Eventually, Jesus took it a step further and said that a person had to “come and die” (Luke 14:27) to be a disciple.

But Jesus didn’t start with “come and die.” He moved people slowly from “come and see” to “come and die.”

That’s what discipleship is all about. And I learned early in my ministry at Saddleback that I couldn’t grow the church….

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5 Ways to Break Through a Growth Barrier This Christmas

A few weeks back we talked about some of the reasons churches plateau. I know it’s a popular topic because so many pastors tell me their churches are stuck at a certain number of members or attenders.

Here’s the good news: Christmas is a great time to get unstuck.

People who wouldn’t come some other time of the year show up at Christmas. And we have a great opportunity to tell them about Jesus and to encourage them to come back to church. You can use Christmas services to help your members sense that they are a part of something big and exciting. It can be tough to keep people motivated consistently over the long haul, but we can get them fired up for a specific day.

A “Big Day” can help people feel like they’re on a winning team.

And a “Big Day” like Christmas can help break through growth barriers (whether it’s 200, 300, 400, or 1,000).

At Saddleback, we refer to it as pyramiding growth. You push past a barrier on a “Big Day,” then the numbers might drop a little bit the…

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Four Ways Every Youth Pastor Can Bring Out the Best in Students

The first job I ever had in a church was as a youth pastor. When I took the position, I knew nothing about youth ministry. Honestly, I was as green as they come.

I’ll never forget the church’s pastor, W.C. Bryant, pulling me into his office after he hired me. We couldn’t have looked more different. He was in a three-piece suit. I was in jeans and a t-shirt. But W.C. looked me right in the eyes and said, “Rick, if I didn’t trust you, I wouldn’t hire you. If I didn’t trust you, you wouldn’t be on this staff. The very fact that you’re here means that I do trust you. So go for it. Do whatever it takes to reach kids for Christ.”

And that’s what I did. After he showed that kind of trust for me, I went all out engaging our community’s youth with the Gospel. We reached hundreds of teenagers for Christ. That experience profoundly changed the course of my future ministry. I learned lessons that would eventually help me found and lead Saddleback Church. I’ve taught…

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Four Ways Your Church Can Care for the Poor

I’ve always found it significant that Jesus mentions the poor in his very first sermon: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor” (Luke 4:18 NLT).

We must care about the poor because Jesus did. We don’t have a choice. So how can we help the people in our churches minister to the poor? Here are a few ideas I have; perhaps you have more:

1. Treat the poor with dignity.

We’re not smarter, we’re not more talented, and we’re not more valuable than people who are poor. The Bible says, “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2 NIV). I like to say that our self-worth isn’t based on our net worth.

2. Offer the poor opportunities.

The Bible says, “When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it” (Galatians 6:10 NCV). As I’ve talked to people in various ministries, they all say that the best way to help the poor isn’t to give them a bunch of money. It’s to give them opportunities.

Maybe people…

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The way you see your life shapes your life.

I wrote those words 16 years ago in The Purpose Driven Life, and I still mean them today. We’re tempted to see ourselves as everyone else does. You know the way it goes. You see yourself as broken and beaten up. You see yourself as an addict or former addict. You see yourself as a failure.

If that’s what you believe about who you are, you’ll never become who God wants you to be. How you define your life determines your destiny.

That’s one of the reasons why, when John Baker first started Celebrate Recovery®, he didn’t ask people to identify themselves by their addictions.

Instead, in Celebrate Recovery, participants each identify themselves as “a believer who struggles with” a specific issue.

There’s a huge difference between the two. Your identity isn’t your sin. Your identity is in your Savior.

Don’t let the ugly words in your past (or even in your present) define you any longer.

Other people may see you as broken and damaged goods. But that’s not how God sees you.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with God today, but if you truly…

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