Archives For Steve Gladen

Fellowship Is a Verb

By Steve Gladen

In early 2000, our leadership team began asking the question: What does a healthy follower of Christ look like? If we are to be successful in fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples, we need to define the term “disciple.” Through a series of meetings, we determined that a healthy follower of Christ is someone who is balancing the five biblical purposes in his or her life and heart.

 

A healthy follower of Christ is:

  • Surrendering his or her heart and life to Christ on an ongoing basis.
  • Experiencing fellowship with other Christians.
  • Growing in Christ through “being” and “action.”
  • Discovering and using his or her God-given gifts and abilities.
  • Reaching out and sharing the love of Christ with nonbelievers.

 

Unless you know what the target is, you cannot hit it. For us, the target became health through balance. As we begin to reflect Christ and become more like him, the focus of our lives will shift away from self-centeredness and toward serving him through every area of our life. That is health and balance.

So if we as a church were trying to produce healthy followers of Christ, our leadership team had to decide what the best tool or delivery system is to produce that desired result….

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HeartA relationship full of love and passion will go on forever. Right? Reality shows tell us that statement just might not be true. Passion can fade very quickly. Every successful relationship works at keeping that passion alive. The same is true in ministry. In the 14 years that I have been at Saddleback Church and the 29 total years I have been in full time ministry, I have learned passion is the common trait that keeps you pressing on through the hard times and sparking your imagination to dream about risking for God in the good times. Passion can’t be faked; it must be born out of the soul. So where is your passion? What keeps you in the game? Apply these ten and stay in the ministry game!

1. Dwell in the Word. Colossians 3:16 (NIV) tells us, Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Dwell is to “live in” or “be at home.” It is a first nature, not a second nature. Not…

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You know the drill. You are waiting for an elevator, any elevator. The door opens; you walk in, face the door, press the button and stare at the door. Everyone does the same thing. Comedians have made acts out of the goofy behavior that happens in elevators. Something else also happens. It doesn’t have to do with human behavior or the people in an elevator; but the time that elapses in an elevator ride. It is called the elevator pitch.

If you are starting up a business and you are trying to get a person to invest into your new startup company, sometimes you are only going to get the amount of time as an elevator ride to state what you are trying to do, in a succinct enough way to capture their attention. Once you have stated “why” you are doing your start up in this elevator pitch, then and only then, will you get the chance (if the person is interested) to share more of “how” and “what” you will do. Simply put, an “Elevator Pitch” is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your company that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would…

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ConnectingBefore I share four current learnings we have had here at Saddleback Church in the last couple of years on connecting people, let me give you a bit of background. In the book Small Groups With Purpose (SGWP), I explain probably our two most effective strategies for connecting people at Saddleback Church over the last 15 years. Since 1997 we have taken our connection percentage from 30% to 120%. Yup, we have more people in small groups than attend the weekend service!

In chapter 16, I explain in detail the Connection Strategy we used from 1997 to 2002, primarily taking attendees and helping them raise a leader and find community. From 2002 to present we have been using our Campaign Strategy (chapter 17) to mobilize attendees to reach their friends to start groups. This strategy using out HOST concept took us from 70% connected to where we are now. If you are not familiar with these strategies or what a HOST is, I would highly recommend taking what we have learned and adapting it to your culture.

Here are 5 learnings we have had over the last couple of years

YOU’VE GOT TO…

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Before you can build your small group strategy, you have to realize the importance of working on your own spiritual journey. We all have a dark side – something broken inside us. If you are not aware that you need to work on your own issues, you are wasting your time. If you don’t realize your spiritual journey needs to be engaged and developed, you are missing what being formed in Christ is all about. Before you can guide your small groups in achieving balance, you must understand how to work on balance in your own life.

On the first Friday of every year, Lisa and I get together and share our personal Spiritual Health Plan for the coming year. In 1999, when my daughter Erika was just a baby, Lisa and I hired a sitter and went out and exchanged our plans over dessert. I looked hers over quickly and said, “Hey, this looks good,” and returned the plan to her. She held mine in her hands and was still reading. I waited for her response. A few long minutes passed, and eventually she…

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What follows below is a post from Guy Kawasaki who was for many years a “chief evangelist” for all things Apple and who continues to write about excellence in design, marketing, innovation, and retail. In this piece he summarizes some key insights from a book about the phenomenal retail success of the Apple store. As I was reading Guy’s post, I couldn’t help but think about how many of these same insights might apply to the ways we think about church.

So I’ll place the whole of the original post below so that you can read Guy’s insights. But I’ll also comment (in italic) after each section, offering a “translation” intended to suggest how we might apply this to our congregational lives. They won’t always be a perfect fit – like any translation, there are always some things that get lost. Still, I found it a helpful exercise and hope you do, too. So please feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions in the comments and if you find the post helpful share it with others.

One brief note before getting started: some of us…

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Small group ministry is all about people.

Day in and day out at Saddleback Church I could spend the majority of my time dealing with people and mess. After all, that is why we went to Seminary—to deal with people. People aren’t an interruption, they are why we exist! So, here is the question, in a ministry filled with people,

When and can we say “no” to the people God set before us?

I know for me it is a constant struggle.

I was looking through the book of Luke the other day and saw a cool leadership point that Jesus so delicately walked—one that every small group point person and pastor must walk each day. In Luke 4:42-44 we see a part of scripture where Jesus was ministering to people. He was a huge success, so huge that we see Jesus withdrawing from the people. Scripture even says “they tried to keep him from leaving.” Jesus’ response was in essence, “No. I must keep moving.”

Now imagine the people to whom he told this. They wanted their agenda fulfilled. They probably used everything within their power to persuade Jesus to…

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Can Virtual Community be Biblical?

Let’s start this conversation by clearly stating Saddleback does not have this figured out. I would also like to state that Saddleback isn’t afraid of messiness or trying to figure out how to build this plane while we are flying it! Yes, many times we discover we don’t have all the parts, but sometimes we figure it out and a cool God thing gets opened up for us and hopefully other churches. So let me catch you up on our latest strategy.

We know God knows everything, but the Scriptures seem very quiet about specifically mentioning virtual community.  Maybe, you say, because the internet wasn’t around? Although scripture is silent, history and biblical context gives us some perspective. History shows us that whenever technological advancement happens, when it was used rightly, the Gospel spreads (i.e. the printing press, telephone, television, smart phone, etc). However, none of those technological advancements stretched our thinking of redefining community like the internet.

Biblical community is clearly done in the first century “face to face”. The “one another’s” throughout scripture clearly need “another”. Are virtual small groups a STEP in the process for biblical community or can they BE biblical community? It…

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Diagnosing Spiritual HealthWhen was the last time you made an appointment with your doctor for a physical examination? Have you avoided it because you thought he might tell you something you wouldn’t want to hear, something like, “You could stand to lose a few pounds,” or maybe, “A little exercise would do you some good,” or “Your cholesterol is looking a bit high, time to cut out the bowl of ice cream before bedtime”?

Like our physical health, our spiritual health needs to be assessed and managed so it can continuously grow and mature into all that God desires it to be.

Getting a picture of spiritual health

So what does spiritual health look like? At Saddleback we believe health is based on living a life that balances the five purposes of God: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Too many times we tend to major in one aspect of health while ignoring the others. For some, spiritual health is measured by having the right answers to theological questions. For others, spiritual health is demonstrated by acts of service. While these are good things, our spiritual life suffers if we do…

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Small Group
image credit: Creation Swap User Stacey Lewis

Small group ministry is all about people.

Day in and day out at Saddleback Church I could spend the majority of my time dealing with people and mess. After all, that is why we went to Seminary—to deal with people. People aren’t an interruption, they are why we exist! So, here is the question, in a ministry filled with people,

When and can we say “no” to the people God set before us?

I know for me it is a constant struggle.

I was looking through the book of Luke the other day and saw a cool leadership point that Jesus so delicately walked—one that every small group point person and pastor must walk each day. In Luke 4:42-44 we see a part of scripture where Jesus was ministering to people. He was a huge success, so huge that we see Jesus withdrawing from the people. Scripture even says “they tried to keep him from leaving.” Jesus’ response was in essence, “No. I must keep moving.”

Now imagine the people to whom he told this. They wanted their agenda fulfilled. They probably used everything within…

Continue Reading