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Saddleback 25th Anniversary

Easter is coming! And it will be one of the most well-attended Sundays for churches this year. Wise church leaders will take advantage of the opportunity to present the simple but profoundly hopeful message of Jesus’ resurrection to all of the extra guests who come.

One of the secrets to Saddleback’s growth over the years is big days. There are three holidays we’ve used powerfully – Easter, Christmas Eve, and Mother’s Day – and then a few other weekends such as the kick-off or celebration of a big campaign. We plan for those days and we use them as an evangelism tool and as a stimulus to motivate our members on to growth for the rest of the year.  These days are big high points and there are some real advantages to planning big days with a special emphasis, particularly around Easter.

Here are nine reasons why high attendance days can be so meaningful. 

1. Big days build morale.

Without a doubt, people enjoy being a part of something big, something exciting. It develops unity and pride among our people. When people work together, there’s just a sense of excitement. It’s hard…

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All Africa Pastors GatheringThe last of the pastors have arrived, from around the world this morning, for the next All-Africa Pastors’ Gathering here in Rwanda. This is the second gathering of leaders as we build toward the All-African Purpose Driven Leadership Congress in 2017. The next three days we will be moving leaders closer to catalyzing 54 nationwide movements of healthy, purpose driven churches who are transforming lives in their communities and planting churches where none exist. It is our desire to see the Great Commandment and the Great Commission fulfilled everywhere!

We are here in Kigali because what has happened in Rwanda is nothing less than miraculous! Romans 1:8 (TEV) says, “I thank my God… because the whole world is hearing about your faith.” The reconciliation, renewal and resurrection from the devastation of this genocide is inspiring and life-giving.

So, over the next three days, leaders from around the world will learn the story of Rwanda and the impact of The Global PEACE plan from the Rwandans who made it happen. Their stories of faith and perseverance along with the lessons they learned from this incredible journey are an example for a…

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If there’s one thing we know about Easter, it’s that many Senior Pastors go to great lengths to mobilize their congregations to get new people to attend on this day.

Many think this is a wasted attempt to pander to “Chreasters.” I completely disagree.

Increasing your Easter attendance is important, but not for reasons commonly thought. Here are four reasons why doing everything you can to increase your Easter attendance matters to the mission of your church.

1. More Than Likely 25% of All Your Visitors This Year Will Come On Easter

At CCV we know that roughly 50% of all newcomers will come at Easter and Christmas. The rest are evenly sprinkled throughout the year. That obviously means that half, or 25%, of all the visitors that come to your church this year will come this Sunday. Most outreach-focused churches have similar newcomer attendance and retention figures.

2. Only 10% Of Those Visitors Will Come Back

We also know that if 10 people visit our church, 1 of them will return and become a growing Christ Follower. Why is this important?

It’s important because if you are a church of, say, 150, that wants to break the 200 barrier and grow to…

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Rick and Kay Warren at the PEACE CenterBy Tommy Hilliker

It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. Our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation was out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and in need of real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched its food pantry, which two years later would turn into The PEACE Center.

Jesus said in Mark 9:41, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name … will certainly not lose their reward” (NIV).

Everything we do centers on providing practical help and connection to the church and sharing the hope of Jesus Christ.

People came to our doors the first day we opened them. We have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Ca. We also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL classes, medical services, and much more. And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through The PEACE Center. People…

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I’m a church planter, and most of what I’ve learned about the church has come the hard way.

Thirteen years ago, on the first Sunday in January, I launched Eastpoint Church. In the 25 or so years before that, I had helped start or reboot six other churches.

None of that makes me an expert, just experienced. I’m still learning. My most recent lesson is one I didn’t especially like, but I needed it nonetheless.

Here’s my latest discovery: At some point in your pastoring journey, you may end up in the land between “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and what you do then matters—a lot.

In this in-between season, things aren’t necessarily all bad. In fact, you might have much to be thankful for in your church. The bills are paid. The staff are gifted, capable, and faithful. People are showing up and still getting saved.

But the land between often means . . .

  • The buzz has faded, and you aren’t the hot new thang in town anymore.
  • The faithful are still with you but are much harder to inspire to sacrificial greatness.
  • When you announce a new series, the old regulars suspect it’s not…

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I believe one of the reasons so few churches 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 $100 on a Facebook 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 experiences as Saddleback grew from four members to well over 20,000.

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 of Saddleback, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the “miracles” of our dress rehearsal service…

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By Danny Parolee

I have yet to meet a church planter who hasn’t faced a growth barrier.  I also haven’t met a church planter who is ok with that barrier holding them back from what God has placed in their heart.  This is why I’m excited about the Breaking Barriers pre-conference event at Exponential East this year.  Church planters bump up against a number of different growth barriers (volunteer base, small group development, weekend attendance, finances, adding service & sites, multiplying plants, etc).

After coming to Christ in college, I ended up at a church plant that was all about planting more churches. There’s no doubt that God used this time not only to grow in my walk with Him but also forming my call to church planting. After finishing college and  seminary, my wife and I loaded up the U-haul and moved to Milwaukee, WI to plant epikos church in 2005.  We started in our living room, but even after 1 year post launch we were under 80 attenders, our annual offering was $40,000, and we were desperate for volunteers.  There were amazing stories of people coming to Christ and experiencing great life transformation.  There were also times of discouragement and…

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Screenshot 2015-12-17 10.59.33Bob Roberts eats, sleeps and breathes church multiplication. He is a true practitioner, having been involved in the planting of hundreds of churches throughout the world, including the church he pastors, NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas. The author of multiple books for church leaders, including The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches, Bob also speaks about multiplication throughout the world, including Exponential conferences. We caught up with Bob to talk multiplication and what we as church leaders must do to see a multiplication movement in the West.


Bob, what would you say is the first step to igniting a church multiplication movement in the West?

We have stop thinking church “planting” and start thinking church “reproduction.” Once we’re reproducing, then we can begin to think multiplication. I’ve heard Dave Ferguson talk about that on different occasions. There will be no multiplication movement without first a reproducing mindset among senior pastors. Dave’s evolution of thought over the years is accurate and spot on. Most of our conversations on church planting center around the planter, and this is just not enough. To get a movement going, we’ll need to spend more…

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God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world…” From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him.” (Acts 17:26)

Much of world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast foods. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing, and much of what you ate today was produced in another country. We’re more connected than we realize, especially with the advent of social media.

These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now that ever before. Paul was right: “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:16)

The first way to…

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One of the essentials for leading an outreach-focused, growing church (and likewise RARELY present in a stagnant one) is a detailed 12-month church growth calendar created six months before that calendar year begins.

What I mean by this is the Senior Pastor and team must create a roadmap for the congregation to follow, which, when executed, will ignite church growth.

I always tell Senior Pastors I coach to picture themselves as the vacation planners for the entire church.

Have you ever been on a trip that someone else organized, only to show up and realize that nothing was planned? Don’t you hate that? You stand around wasting time and feeling frustrated.

It turns out that the people we lead hate that too.

Your job as a Senior Pastor is to go out 12-24 months into the future, map out the terrain, get a tangible feel for what your church will look like when it is 25% larger, then come back and put together the action steps to make that happen.

Your annual church growth calendar is the roadmap you create to take your entire church back to that place (12-24 months away) that you just came from.

As Senior Pastors…

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Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt.

To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there.

Jesus clearly taught this notion of spiritual receptivity in the Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matt. 13:3-23). Like different kinds of soil, people respond differently to the Good News. Everyone is not equally ready to receive Christ. Some people are very open to hearing the Gospel and others are very closed. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that there are hard hearts, shallow hearts, distracted hearts, and receptive hearts.

If you want your ministry to maximize its evangelism effectiveness, you need to focus your energy on the right soil. That’s the soil that will produce a hundred-fold harvest. Take a cue from those who work with actual dirt. No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop. In the same way, I believe…

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From 1795 to 1810 the Baptists and the Methodists planted 3,000 churches in 15 years on the western frontier: Kentucky and Tennessee. But today, Methodists and Baptists are declining.

Methodists and Baptists—now in many different denominations—are seeking to recapture that passion. Of the denominations in decline, the ones that have a chance at growth will embrace a church planting focus.

Even mainline denominations are asking how to engage in church planting.

Many from mainline denominations get frustrated when they see the urgency with which evangelicals try to reach people. They’ll lose this frustration when they realize those are the people who plant churches.

How will mainline denominations need to go about this kind of change? Some haven’t planted churches in a while. They’ll have to relearn a part of their own history. They’ll also need to look into other traditions, denominations, movements, and networks to see what else is being done in this area.

I was recently with some mainline denominational leaders and was asked how they might accelerate their church planting focus.

How Mainline Denominations Accelerate Church Planting

If you are a part of a mainline church and recognize this need for change, first I would say,…

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