Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

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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You can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three Ts for a thriving walk with Jesus . . .

1.  Time

It takes time to get to know somebody. I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did 5 years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It just takes time. When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious. It makes you more natural. In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious. He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd. My wife tells me this all the time. My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people. Meanwhile Kay would like to get with one person and…

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Purpose Tree

God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each has a particular role to play based on the way it was shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or shaped, to do certain things.

Before architects design any new building, they first ask, “What will be its purpose? How will it be used?” The intended function always determines the form of the building. Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.

The Bible says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works . . . ”   Our English word “poem” comes from this Greek word translated “workmanship.” You are God’s handcrafted work of art. You are not an assembly line product, mass produced without thought. You are a custom designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece.

God never…

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Race

Ministry is a marathon: it’s not how you start in ministry; it’s how you finish.

If you look at 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, Paul gives seven suggestions for finishing the race:

Remember God’s mercy (v. 1): God has given us our ministries. We don’t have to prove our worth through our ministry, and we don’t have to wallow in our mistakes. You don’t have to earn your place as a pastor or leader in the church.

Be truthful and honest in all you do (v. 2): Maintain your integrity because integrity produces power in your life, while guilt zaps your energy. You need to finish with your character intact. Your integrity includes how you handle the Word of God. Don’t distort it or make it confusing.

Be motivated to work for Jesus’ sake, not out of selfish desires (v. 5): We need a right motivation. A lot of guys start off as servants and end up celebrities. You need to learn to live your life for an audience of one, and that one is Jesus Christ.

Realize that Christians are only human (v. 7): We must accept our limitations, and the quickest way to burn out is…

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God wants you to grow up.

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything” (Ephesians 4:15 The Message).

“We are not meant to remain as children ….” (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).

Your heavenly Father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love and humble service.  Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up.  They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is because they never intended to grow.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.

Discipleship – the process of becoming like Christ – always begins with a decision.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him” (Matthew 9:9 ESV).

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need…

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Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin, to slack off from our responsibilities, or to substitute our own…

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Freedom

In John 8, Jesus made an incredible, profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36 NLT).

You’ll be really free. What was he talking about? What does he set me free from?

The Bible says that Jesus wants to set you free in three dimensions.

1. Jesus wants to set you free from the pain of your past.

That’s a good thing. I’ve discovered the number one cause of unhappiness is people who are stuck in the past. They’re holding on to hurts. They can’t relate to the present because they’re still reacting to the past.

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of things that people have a hard time getting over – resentment and regret. Jesus wants to set you free from both of them.

First, he wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everybody has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live…

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When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and you must decide what will drive your congregation.

A lot of churches are driven by tradition. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches are driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings, or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, are driven by God’s purposes. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and they’ll discover that God wants his church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship – Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism – Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to Jesus.
  • Fellowship – Healthy churches will bring people into membership in God’s family, the church.
  • Discipleship – Healthy churches will help people become more like Christ.
  • Ministry – Healthy churches will help…

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In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles…

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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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