Archives For Rick Warren

Did you know that God uses a very predictable process to build your character?  I call it the Six Phases of Faith.  If you don’t understand the process, you’ll get discouraged when problems arise.  You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me?”

But if you understand and cooperate with what God is doing – in your life and with your faith – you’ll develop great strength. It’s like stretching a muscle to make it stronger.

PHASE 1: A DREAM
God gives you a dream: an idea, goal, or ambition.  Every great accomplishment first begins as a God-given dream in someone’s mind.  “God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”  Eph. 3:20 (LB)

PHASE 2: DECISION
A dream is worthless until you decide to do something about it.  For every ten dreamers, there’s only one decision-maker.  This is the moment of truth where you decide to invest your time, money, energy, and reputation – and to let go of security.  If you want to walk on water,  you’ve got to get out of the boat!  “You must believe…

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“… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind … Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27 (NCV)

Cultivating community requires commitment
If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you would like to cultivate real fellowship and a loving community in your small group, Sunday school class, and church, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.

Cultivating community takes honesty
Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.

Cultivating community takes humility
Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.

Cultivating community takes courtesy
The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: we are family.

Cultivating community takes confidentiality.
Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality…

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West Angeles Charles Blake

I recently had the privilege of honoring one of America’s great pastors –  a wonderful co-worker in ministry, a powerful force for good in the city of Los Angeles, and dear friend of mine. Bishop Charles Blake has pastored West Angeles Church in the heart of L.A. for forty-six years! That’s what you call “putting down roots” in a congregation and city. There aren’t many pastors who’ve cared for one congregation for that long. (One of my 6 mentors served his church in Dallas for 50 years.)

A big reason why many churches are plateaued and declining is because they change leaders every few years. There’s no way a church can grow healthy and strong if the office of the pastor has a revolving door. What would happen to a family that got a new daddy every 3 or 4 years? The children would have massive trust issues from not knowing who they count on, and all kinds of emotional wounds, including a fear of abandonment, poor self-esteem, and a suspicious attitude in every relationships. When so many pastors move around every few years (or…

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Conflict happens. There’s no avoiding it.

Conflict happens at work, at school, in the home – even in the church! Many people try to ignore conflicts that arise, hoping the situation will just go away. It won’t.

When conflict comes up, you have to deal with it head on. If you’ve got a conflict with those you work with, or in your home or at school, deal with it quickly. Don’t let it fester. It’s a big mistake to think, “Let’s ignore it and hope it will go away.” I can tell you from experience, that doesn’t work. Ignoring conflict does not get rid of it.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (GN) says, If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin and do not stay angry all day. Don’t give the devil a chance. Some people are very surprised when they first read this verse. They ask, “Is it ever right for a Christian to get angry?” Yes. How do I know it’s all right for a Christian to get angry? Well, let me ask you this: Did Jesus ever get angry? Yes. Did Jesus ever sin? No. Evidently there are times when anger…

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Vision

It’s been said many times by many different people that everything rises or falls on leadership. I don’t think that’s ever truer than in ministry. Charles McKay, a former professor at California Baptist College, used to tell us if you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth. That’s a good statement. You can’t ever take people farther than you are yourself, spiritually or any other way.

I remember when I was interviewed on the Acts television network by Jimmy Allen, and he asked me about starting new churches. He said, “How important is location?” I said it’s very important, the second most important thing. But the most important thing is not location, but leadership in a church. I see churches in great locations that aren’t doing anything and I see churches with good leadership in poor locations doing great things.

Leadership is the key.

You don’t have to be a charismatic leader (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader. Some of the greatest charismatic leaders of this century were also the worst — Stalin, Mao, Hitler. They were all very charismatic people, so personality has nothing to do…

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Simple and Interesting

Don’t miss the first two parts of this series:

Part One: Start with People
Part Two: Get Practical

The crowd loved to listen to Jesus. Mark 12:37 (NCV) says, “The large crowd listened to Jesus with pleasure.” The New International Version says they “listened with delight.”

Some pastors actually think they have failed in their preaching if people enjoy a message. I’ve heard pastors say proudly, “We’re not here to entertain.” If you look up the word “entertain” in a dictionary, you‘ll find this definition: “capturing and holding the attention for an extended period of time.” I don’t know any preacher who doesn’t want to do that! We shouldn’t be afraid of being interesting. A sermon doesn’t have to be dry to be spiritual.

To those outside the church, dull preaching is unforgivable. Truth poorly delivered is ignored. On the other hand, the unchurched will listen to absolute foolishness if it is interesting.

It never ceases to amaze to me how some Bible teachers are able to take the most exciting book in the world and bore people to tears with it. I believe it is a sin to bore people with the Bible.

The…

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Part One: Start with People

I love the practicality and simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. It was clear, relevant, and applicable.  He aimed for application because his goal was to transform people, not merely inform them.

Consider the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount:

  • Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness;
  • Then he talked about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.
  • Next he spoke of keeping promises and returning good for evil.
  • Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven, and how to overcome worry.
  • He wraps up his message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs, and warning us about false teachers.
  • Finally, he concludes with a simple story that emphasizes the importance of acting on what he’s taught: Put into practice what you’ve just learned!

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today. It changes lives! It’s not enough to simply proclaim, “Christ is the Answer.” We must show the unchurched how Christ is…

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There has never been a more appealing and interesting preacher than Jesus. Why not model him?

Jesus’ preaching attracted enormous crowds, and the Bible often records the positive reactions of those crowds to his teaching.

  • Matthew 7:28 – “… the crowds were amazed at his teaching.”
  • Matthew 22:33 (TLB) – “… the crowds were profoundly impressed.”
  • Mark 11:18 (TLB) – “… people were so enthusiastic about Jesus’ teaching.”
  • Mark 12:37 (NASB) – “The great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”

These crowds had never heard anyone speak to them the way Jesus did. They were spellbound by his delivery.

To capture the attention of unbelievers like Jesus did, we must communicate spiritual truth the way he did. I believe that Jesus – not anyone else – must be our model for preaching. Unfortunately, some homiletics classes pay more attention to Aristotle and Greek rhetoric than to how Jesus taught.

In John 12:49 Jesus admitted, “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”  Notice that both the content AND the delivery style were directed by the Father. This is extremely important to note. We often overlook the manner in which Jesus preached.

There’s so much we can…

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Weak Rock

I think there are two great confessions in the Bible. One of them is Peter’s great confession in Mark 8:29: “You are the Christ.” Our faith is built on that great confession. Then there’s what I call Paul’s great confession in Acts 14:15 at Iconium: “We too are only men, human like you.” (NIV) I know a lot of pastors who are quick to agree with the first confession, but they’re more cautious to proclaim Paul’s confession. A lot of us are more interested in proclaiming our spirituality than admitting our humanity. We want to deny that we are mere mortals and appear super human.

But to deny your humanity is not only untruthful, it’s a disservice to both yourself and those you serve. The fact is that God likes to take weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

In this context, I’m not talking about sins of character – like greed, overeating, or laziness. I mean any limitation in your life or ministry that you’ve inherited and can’t change.

Maybe it’s a circumstantial limitation or a disadvantage that you’re facing in your church. It could be emotional limitations, scars we all carry from childhood. It…

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saddleback-church

If God allowed you to baptize hundreds of new believers, add hundreds of new members, and increase your average attendance by thousands in just 40 days, would you call that a revival?

If, during those same 40 days, God prompted people in your church who were previously uninvolved to start serving in ministry, and caused others to commit to a world missions project, what would you call that? An Awakening?

What term would you use if God led your members to become so concerned for their lost friends that they convinced their neighbors to study the Bible for six weeks in one of thousands of small groups meeting in homes around your city? A Miracle?

Well, whatever you call it, all this has actually happened at Saddleback Church during the various campaigns that we’ve conducted over the years, and we stand in awe at what God has done. And God has repeatedly worked through campaigns hosted by thousands of churches around the world in similar ways.

Untold thousands have come to Christ, been baptized, welcomed into church membership, connected to a small group or Sunday School class, taught the meaning of real worship and fellowship, equipped for ministry, and then sent out for their…

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Team

I first began to understand the importance of teams as a seminary student. I did a study of the 100 largest churches in the United States, and I asked them a series of questions related to staff and ministry. This may come as no surprise, but the study showed strong churches have a strong team spirit.

They do this by combining two things: a common goal with good communication.

Both of these elements have to be present. You can have people working on the same project but not communicating with each other, and they ARE NOT a team. You can have people who communicate well, but are not working toward the same goal, and that is NOT a team, even if you call them that.

Let me give you some foundation on why I think this is important:

First, the body of Christ functions as a team ministry.

Romans 12:4-5 says that, just as there are many parts to our bodies, likewise there are many parts to Christ’s Body. Essentially, God designed it so that we all need each other to have a fully functioning ministry and EVERY ONE of your staff members (or lay ministry leaders) plays…

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Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

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