Never Start a Ministry Without a Minister


Green Cross.CrossesSaddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance.

And I’m glad we didn’t.

It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. It’s backwards. Your most critical component to a new ministry isn’t the idea to start it—it’s the leadership of the ministry. Every ministry rises and falls on leadership. Without the right leader, a ministry will just stumble along. It may even do more harm than good. I could tell you some horror stories about poorly-led ministries.

Be patient and trust God’s timing. Don’t try to outrun or outthink Him. The staff at Saddleback never starts new ministries. We may suggest an idea but we let the idea percolate until God provides the right person to lead it.

Don’t push people into ministry either. It’s not about you finding the right person to start your dream ministry. It’s about God raising up the right person. If you push people into ministry spots, you’ll be stuck with a motivation problem for the life of the ministry.

Most small churches get in a hurry and try to do too much. Pray and wait for God to bring you the person best shaped to lead it, then let them start the ministry. If there’s no interest in a particular ministry, don’t worry about it. It is so important for church leaders to have a long-term perspective concerning their church’s development.  Solid growth takes time.

Study the book of Acts and you’ll discover that any organization always followed what the Holy Spirit was doing first. Not once in Acts do you find people organizing a ministry and then praying, “Now God please bless our idea.”  God would begin moving in peoples’ hearts, a ministry would spontaneously spring up in a small way, and, as it grew larger, they would add some structure to it.

Follow the model of the early church!

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Rick Warren About Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • Carldee

    I’m very blessed to stumble on this untimely ministerial guides. This direction is what I have seeking and searching for as a minister.
    It’s really opened my understanding deeply to reconsider my approach for the vision l have for the future. If you have books on this topics l will like to purchase.
    Thank you pastor Rick…….

  • Dave

    It’s a Great blessing to share this to our fellow Christians who started a Church and Ministries their own ways not God’s way…Will continue to pray for whatever God is trying to bless the world through you and your team out there…the world surely need people like you that always open for God’s voices and willing to share it to others…:) God will surely bless u without me asking for it :)

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  • JB

    Great article!

  • Israel Mbulo

    An eye opener, indeed!!!

  • Bijoux Neto

    That is so good!

  • Elijah Hansen

    Thanks for todays message ,am about to start my own ministry and what you said has been the dirrection am going through and i may need more teachings from you . Thanks and bless you

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  • Jeff

    Our challenge is what to do when the original leader steps down from leading that ministry? In our case, it’s Children’s Ministry. We didn’t start the Children’s Ministry without a minister, but we have to keep it going without one if that leader did not prepare another leader. Otherwise, we just stop Children’s Ministry? I’m trying to figure out which is wiser – stop children’s ministry or try to keep it going with someone who is not the right person.

  • Art

    Thanks Rick this is absolutely accurate in my experience. I learned this lesson the hard way a number of years ago.

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