Archives For Rick Warren

Stone Tablets

Legalism is a ministry killjoy. It destroys the natural joy that comes from serving others in ministry like nothing else I’ve seen. I’ve seen more ministries ruined by legalism than anything else.

What is legalism? Legalism happens when we substitute our rules and rituals for our relationship with Christ. It’s a subtle trap that takes the focus off of what God has done for you and slowly turns it to what you have done for God.

In Philippians 3, Paul tells us flat out that he’s tried legalism. In the process, he points out five different ways he had been a legalist – ways that still haunt many of us today.

Legalism is putting your trust in rituals. Paul says, “I was circumcised eight days after I was born according to the Jewish law.” (Phil. 3:5a) Today, a Christian might say, “I was baptized,” or “I joined the church,” or “I took communion.” All of those are good, but they don’t earn God’s approval.

Legalism is putting your trust in a race. Paul says, “Of the people of Israel, I was of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Phil. 3:5b) I’ve got the royal pedigree here. It’s like…

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Growth

The New Testament says a lot about the health of the church. Consider just a few verses:

“As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing…” – Eph. 4:16b (NLT)

“The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church.” – 2 Cor. 2:9 (Message)

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other…” – James 3:18 (Message)

Church health is the key to church growth. All living things grow if they’re healthy. You don’t have to make them grow – it’s just natural for living organisms. As a parent, I didn’t have to force my three children to grow. They naturally grew up. As long as I removed the hindrances, such as poor nutrition or an unsafe environment, their growth was automatic.

If my children had not grown up, something would have been terribly wrong. I would have done whatever it took to discover the disease and correct…

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Tintern-Abbey-Inside

Church buildings can be a major barrier to exponential growth. Massive building programs are often a waste of money. History has proven over and over that future generations never fill the cavernous temples of previous generations. For instance, every time Spurgeon’s Tabernacle was rebuilt (three times) it was downsized. The list of empty great cathedrals would be quite long. God wants to do something new in each generation. He blesses anointed people, not buildings.

We also need to remember that the period of fastest growth for Christianity was during the first 300 years – when there were no church buildings at all. And today most of the rapidly exploding church-planting movements around the world are multiplying without having physical church buildings. They’ve learned to spread out!

Buildings should be tools for ministry, not monuments. I’ve said repeatedly to our congregation that Saddleback will never build a building that could not be torn down if it prevented us from reaching more people. Churches should focus on building people, not building buildings! (Tweet that!) That’s what being purpose-driven is all about. It’s a people-building process. Build your people before your steeple.

One of the goals we set at Saddleback…

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How do you structure a church so it just keeps on growing and doesn’t plateau? I believe there are ten essentials you must focus on as you structure your church.

You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.

First and foremost, you need to settle on the idea that God wants his church to grow. And he doesn’t want it to stop growing!

You don’t ever need to apologize for wanting your church to grow. God wants his church to grow; it’s his will and his command. The reason churches must grow is because people are going to hell without Jesus Christ. As long as there is one person within driving distance of your church that does not know Jesus Christ, you must keep growing.

You must change the primary role of the pastor from minister to leader.

You can grow a church to 300 with pastoral skills or ministry skills, but growing beyond 300 will require leadership skills. As a leader, you must learn to communicate your vision in very personal and practical ways. You must also learn to motivate your church through your messages,…

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Griffith Thomas Outline

It has been my experience that books on preaching lift up the wrong kind of sermons as examples. They tend to teach you to prepare academic outlines so vague and general that they are robbed of power.

For instance, here’s an outline for a sermon based on 1 Corinthians 12, “The Corinthians and Spiritual Gifts:”

(Does that title make you want to sit up and listen?)

Point #1 – The source of the Corinthians’ gifts
Point #2 – The function of the Corinthians’ gifts
Point #3 – The purpose of the Corinthians’ gifts

Now, here’s what I think is wrong with this outline:

1. It’s abstract and suggests an academic outline rather than a plain explanation of biblical application.
2. It’s in the third person, and therefore, not personal at all.  It’s about somebody else – the Corinthians.
3. It’s in the past tense, which gives the impression “that was then and this is now.”
4. It doesn’t mention either God or people. Do you really have a great sermon if you don’t mention either God or people?

In short, the points don’t say much of anything to anyone. You can avoid this pitfall by taking a few simple steps toward creating…

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Rick Warren Martin Luther King JrOne of the greatest privileges of my life was being invited by Dr. King’s children and family to preach from the same pulpit that he preached from at the great Ebenezer Baptist Church , the congregation Dr. King pastored in Atlanta. The occasion was the 40th Anniversary of Dr. King’s death, and the family told me that I was the first white preacher to preach there.

People forget that, first and foremost, Martin Luther King was a PASTOR, He was not a politician. He was a Baptist minister of the Gospel, and a pastor of a local church. Everything he did to promote freedom, justice, and racial equality flowed out of his understanding of God’s Word. I have read hundreds of his sermons and they are rich biblical content.

Hanging on the wall of my study is hand typed and signed note from Dr. King. It hangs next to a handwritten note from Mother Teresa and a letter of encouragement from Billy Graham. Each of these 3 Christian leaders left their mark on me as I was a young man.

In honor of Pastor Martin Luther King…

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Purpose Driven LifeEveryone in your congregation wants to know if life really matters. Members, visitors, even your staff want to know, “What on earth an I here for?”

They’re asking three basic questions:

First, there’s the question of existence: Why am I alive? For thousands of years people have asked this question. Many people of the Bible did. Jeremiah asked this question, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow? To end my life in disgrace?”

Second, there’s the question of significance. Is there some meaning and purpose to my life? Is all that I’m doing just a waste of time and energy? Is my life significant?

In Psalm 89, David asked, “I remember how short my life is . Why did You create us? For nothing?”

Job asked the question, “Why should I work so hard for nothing?” If there’s no meaning and purpose, why am I even doing this?

Solomon even questions the significance of pleasure. He says, “Laughing and having fun is crazy. What good does it do?” Is there any significance to what I do? Why keep…

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Framework

In my last article, I talked about the first four actions you need to take to reach your biggest goals. After you’ve…

  1. Determined your present position,
  2. Described exactly what you want,
  3. Found a promise from God, and,
  4. Asked God for help,

Then you…

5. Identify the barriers.

Identify the barriers between you and your goal, between you and your vision, between you and your dream for the next year or two or ten years of your life. The question you want to ask is this: Why don’t I have it already?

There may be relational problems, financial barriers, or educational barriers. There may be emotional barriers that keep you from your dream. A lot of people sabotage their own success because they don’t feel they deserve it.

Faith says, yes I see the problem but I believe God is bigger than the problem. Faith doesn’t deny the problem, it just believes God is bigger than those roadblocks.

6. Create a step by step plan.

To reach your goals, you must plan it one step at a time. You need to…

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Tune to Clear Vision

There is nothing more powerful than a focused life. The more focused your life is the more impact it will have. Goals are extremely important in life, as is the action on our part it takes to reach them, but too few of us set goals in life. And when we do, we usually overestimate what we can get done in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.

You will always need a dream in your life. You will always need a vision in your life. No matter how old you are, whether you’re retired or not, you need a goal, a dream, a vision. Because if you don’t have a dream you’re not living; you’re just existing. You’re just drifting. Without a dream you drift.

To focus your life and reach your biggest goals, there are at least nine actions you need to take.

1. Determine your present position.

You can’t figure out where you want to go until you know where you already are. You’ve got to know your present position, your current condition. You have to know where you are right now.

Where am I now financially? Where am…

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World Map

Based on what we know about the rest of the world and how they live, would you consider those of us living in America to be unusually blessed? I think we’d all have to admit that our country, even with its present social and economic challenges, has been blessed by God. That’s wonderful — but with blessing comes responsibility.

If we want to take those responsibilities seriously, we’d be wise to look at the four laws of God’s blessing:

Our blessings should flow to others

Some people have the mindset that God has blessed them just so they can be happy and comfortable. But that’s not so. The Bible teaches us that we are blessed so that we will bless others. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 (NCV) was: “I will bless you … and you will be a blessing to others.” Blessings must flow outwardly.

When we bless others, God takes care of our needs

There’s almost nothing God won’t do for the person who really wants to help other people. In fact, God guarantees a particular blessing for the one who is willing to share what he’s been given instead of hoarding his wealth. In…

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Keep Out

Before I started Saddleback church 34 years ago, I spent 12 weeks going door-to-door in our area trying to discover the answers to that important question. The answers I got were not at all what I expected or what I wanted to hear! But over the years, I found these same 4 complaints and excuses still being used by folks who don’t attend any church.

“Church services are boring, especially the sermons. The messages don’t relate to my life. Why should I go? I don’t understand it and it doesn’t really help me.”

In our area, this has been the number one excuse for not attending church. It’s amazing how some pastors are able to take the most exciting book in the world and bore people to tears with it! Miraculously, they’re able to turn bread into stones!

The tragedy of being a boring speaker is that it causes people to think God is boring! So when I heard this first complaint over and over, I determined to somehow learn to communicate God’s Word in a practical, interesting way. I hope I’m getting better at it, because I do everything I can to…

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Candle LightsWhen man landed on the moon, that was big news. It was almost as if the whole world stopped to watch Neil Armstrong’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. But it is nothing compared to the news that God landed on the earth. Jesus Christ is God, and his birth is when God came to Earth.

The Relevance of Christmas: God Came to Earth

Jesus “always had the nature of God …” (Philippians 2:6 TEV) Jesus was God, and he came to live among us for a while (John 1). That is the relevance of Christmas.

Jesus didn’t start in the stable. He existed even before Creation. The preeminence of Christ is explained in Colossians, where we are told he is the exact likeness of the unseen God, he existed before anything else, and, in truth, he is the Creator who made everything in Heaven and on Earth (Colossians 1:15-16).

We may have a hard time relating to a vague being in the sky, but Jesus is God in the flesh. The Bible says if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen God (John 1). If Jesus really is God and God…

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