Archives For Rick Warren

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America is in its worst condition in our generation. Politically, our government has been paralyzed by partisanship. Culturally, we’re becoming more and more secular. And internationally, our reputation has never been lower.

America needs healing.

We need healing in our economy. We need healing in our businesses. We need healing in our schools. We need healing in our marriages and our families. And, most of all, we need healing in our hearts.

But our wounds are not fatal. I’m very hopeful. My hope is not based upon some vague wish. It’s rooted in the Word of God. It’s rooted in the belief that even when life is tough, God is good and he has a plan and purpose for our lives and for our country.

So what will it take to heal our land?

Almost 3,000 years ago God made a promise to King Solomon that’s particularly appropriate for us to internalize today. It’s a promise that he has made to all of us – even 21st century America. God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I…

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Leaving

Staff, just like members, come and go in the normal rhythm of church life–20% of Americans move every year and that one factor alone affects all churches and staffs.

This may alarm or even scare other staff or members of your congregation. They may wonder, “What went wrong?” Was it a result of sin or incompetence or conflict? Yet, this is rarely the case. In Saddleback’s history only a very small handful of staff have left for negative reasons. Instead we rejoice as staff members step out in faith to follow God’s will into new areas.

Why Staff Leave:

1. A Stage of Life

Sometimes staff leave because of a change in their life or family: having a baby, kids entering school, spouse changing jobs or being transferred, having to care for an aged parent, getting married, needing greater income, going back to school, or retirement. These are just a few of hundreds of valid stage-of-life reasons.

2. A Stirring of God

Sometimes staff leave simply because they sense God wants them to do something else! They feel a “stirring” or restlessness in their spirit, which often indicates that God has other plans in mind for them. Some people…

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What God made you to BE determines whatIf you’ve ever doubted your calling to ministry, consider this: God has been molding and shaping you for ministry since before you were born!

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous–and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.”   (Ps. 139:13-16 TLB)

This passage indicates that –

  1. God shaped you for a purpose,
  2. You are unique, and
  3. You are wonderfully complex.

You are a composite of many different factors, summarized in the acrostic, S.H.A.P.E.:

Spiritual gifts

Heart

Abilities

Personality

Experience

Spiritual gifts

The Bible teaches that God gives every believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry (1 Cor. 12, Rom. 8, Eph. 4). However, I believe spiritual gifts are only one part of the picture. In my opinion, spiritual gifts are often overemphasized to the neglect of other equally important factors. Natural abilities that you were born with also…

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Cross Church Door

In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary…

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Saddleback Church Staff

The success of your ministry depends largely on developing a strong team with a deep sense of team spirit. I’ve witnessed the incredible power of a unified team to create growth and have counseled many churches who weren’t growing because their team members worked as individuals and not as a team.

A team spirit is never accidental; it is always intentional. Teamwork is built on three factors:

  • a compelling purpose,
  • crystal clear communication,
  • and a code of commonly held values.

At Saddleback Church, we express the eight values of teamwork in a simple acrostic, T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K.:

T – Trust

Trust among your team is the emotional glue that binds them together; it’s essential to producing true confidence in each other. There are three factors that create trust within a team:

  1. Consistency – People will trust you if, time after time, they see you responding in a consistent and reasonable manner. You also need to be readable, in the sense that they need to know where you are coming from in your decisions and responses.
  2. Loyalty – Defend members of your team when they’re criticized and then check the facts later in private, always assuming the best until there is…

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New Life

I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.

For too long we’ve separated the Word of God from the work of God. As the church, we’re called to be the body of Christ – the whole body. We’re not just called to be the mouth of Christ, but the feet and hands as well.

Every time a new reformation has come, five renewals have preceded it. The awakening and reformation of the global church will begin with churches like yours. The same five renewals will precede this movement in your church.

Personal Renewal

It starts with the heart. If God is going to renew your church, he’ll begin it with you – and then it has to continue with the rest of your church. You might call it rededicating your life, being filled with the Spirit, or the “deeper life.” I don’t care what you call it. Just get it! Pastor, the bottom line is this – you need to fall in love with Jesus again. Do that and all of a sudden it’s not about religion…

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Fruitfulness

Most people are interested in productivity. But the Bible doesn’t use the word “productivity;” instead, you’ll find there the word “fruitfulness.”

God wants us to have fruitful ministries, so I want to show you some principles that will produce a godly fruitfulness in your life. I believe there are four conditions that are essential for a fruitful ministry.

First, you must cultivate roots.

God says there’s no fruit without roots. You need roots particularly when your resources are limited, for when times of drought come along.

Drought, as you know, is a long period without rain. We had one here in California that lasted seven years!

A drought in your life is whenever you have to do without something you need, perhaps time, energy, money or support. There will be times of drought in your ministry; perhaps you’re even in one now.

Second, you must eliminate the weeds in your life and ministry.

The weeds in your ministry, and in your life, are any things that hinder or limit your spiritual growth. Weeds are the things that choke your relationship to Christ or that prevent you from further growth.

How much effort does it take to grow weeds? None at all!

You…

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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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