Archives For Rick Warren

Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. We don’t save people – Jesus does that. We just have the privilege of helping them make their big outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.

While I don’t believe we should manipulate people or manufacture results for the sake of numbers, I do believe it’s significant that the Bible records how many people trusted in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” (NLT)

We ought to do all that we can to share the gospel well, to make it very clear what the new believer’s next steps are, and celebrate the results of more people on their way to heaven. At Saddleback, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people in the last 36 years, and I’d…

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Caring for the Sick

The Christian approach to pain, suffering, and sickness is compassion, mercy, tenderness, and caring. Matthew records, When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)

  • He didn’t write off their illness as an illusion.
  • He didn’t blame them for their illness.
  • He didn’t discourage them or tell them to give up.

He had compassion. If you’re going to be like Jesus, you have to learn to be compassionate toward people when they’re sick.

Millions of people are suffering unnecessarily from preventable and sometimes curable diseases. Three hundred million people will contract malaria this year, but we know how to prevent it and treat it. Every day three thousand children die of a mosquito bite.

And then there are the diseases we don’t have a cure for yet, but we’re working on it. Three million people die each year from HIV/AIDS. We don’t have the cure yet, but we do know how to prevent it.

We cannot delay. We cannot procrastinate. If we’re going to be people of compassion,…

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The quickest way to destroy a team is to burn them out. And you don’t have to look around the field of ministry very long to realize that the ministry is filled with burned out leaders. But it’s possible to find a healthy working rhythm and ultimately increase the effective energy with which your leaders serve without causing them to burn out.

Every minute of every day we are using up energy, and every person has a limited amount of energy. If we keep the pace high all the time, we use up the energy people have to give like the way a car with its lights left on will wind up with a dead battery.

This is especially true in times when your ministry is growing. Growth brings change, change brings problems, and problems consume a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy from your leaders.

Here are seven ways to discover a good working rhythm and raise the energy level of your team.

1. Don’t expect every leader to work at the same energy level all the time.

We are all unique, and every leader serving in your ministry is wired differently. Some need more quiet and…

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High Pressure PreachingPreaching to people who aren’t accustomed to church isn’t like preaching to a well-churched community. Too many preachers say they want to reach people who are far from God, but they don’t adjust their preaching style to impact the spiritually lost.

One change in your preaching style to consider is how you ask for a commitment. I believe it’s essential that every Gospel preacher ask his listeners to make a commitment. Jesus did it. Paul did it. Faithful preachers throughout the ages have done it.

But an effective invitation to make a commitment to Christ isn’t a high-pressure pitch. I’ve found that pressure is actually counter-productive. It becomes a battle of the wills. It often simply hardens the heart of the listener. That’s the last thing you want!

If the fruit is ripe, you don’t have to yank it. People who listen to God’s Word on a regular basis will commit to him and his ways. It’s just a matter of time until the Holy Spirit draws the person to the Lord. Evangelism is usually a process of repeated exposures to the Good News.

In fact, we tell people at Saddleback to take…

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When we are insecure, our first reaction to change is almost always negative. We resist change. This can be particularly true of veterans with a military past who have moved away, moved around, seen hard and difficult things, and then returned home again.

Resisting change seldom works because change is inevitable. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not. You can’t stop growth. You can’t stop change. Sometimes we resent it. And sometimes we just ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist and we resent it.

The older we get, the more we want security and anything that shakes our comfortable nest threatens us. We don’t like that. We don’t like things to be unpredictable. We don’t like things to change. We want to know exactly where it’s going. We want everything to be programmed, right in place. If anything comes up that is a surprise, we resent it, because it gives us that feeling of uncertainty. So we complain and criticize and we gripe and we grumble.

Change always produces stress. Even positive changes. Negative things like an illness or death, divorce, getting fired from your job, or uprooting your family to move to…

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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.

For instance, when I first started Saddleback Church, fresh out of Southwestern Seminary, computers were in their infancy, slow and cumbersome and capable of very limited functions. The Internet was just a crude academic network and nobody had even heard of email. Now I often sit in my pajamas and have conversations with people across the globe.

In addition, you can get on a plane and within a few hours fly to almost anywhere in the world, and that means there’s even less of an excuse for not being involved in foreign missions, even if just for the short-term. The times, they are a-changing, and they’ll keep right on a-changing whether we want them to or not.

And…

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God expects you to know not only what you believe but why you believe it. And now, more than ever, our world needs Christians who can explain what they believe and why they believe it to others. Why? Because most of the people in the world don’t have a clue as to what they really believe.

Our culture shows obvious signs that we live with a confusing hodge-podge of worldviews. Some are guided by materialism – the idea that all there is to this world is what we can see and touch. Others are dominated by hedonism – the idea that the pursuit of pleasure is higher than every other pursuit. Still others are governed by pragmatism – the idea that whatever works for you is all that matters.

So how, in a generation represented by such a confusing mix of viewpoints, do we strengthen our biblical view of the world? In at least three ways…

1. Learn the truth

Jesus concluded his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, with a story about two different men who built houses. One built his house on the shaky foundation of sand. The other built his house on the solid foundation of a rock. When the storms…

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God never wastes your pain. In fact, out of your greatest pain will come your greatest ministry.

It was in my role as a father that I heard the call to be an advocate for people living with mental illness. Our youngest son, Matthew, struggled terribly with mental illness almost his entire life; his suffering was immense.  Then, in 2013, in an impulsive moment of despair, he took his own life. As a family, we were crushed and devastated.

Over the difficult months that followed, Kay and I decided to not waste our pain, but to allow God to use it to help others.

In Luke 4:17-21, Jesus talked about his model for ministry, which he has passed on to the church today:

The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free and that the time of the LORD’s favor has…

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When it comes to fellowship, size matters: Smaller is better. You can worship with a crowd, but you can’t fellowship with one. Once a group becomes larger than about 10 people, one or two will dominate the group, and someone – usually the quietest person – will stop participating altogether.

Unfortunately, creating small groups within your church does not guarantee your people will experience real community. Many Sunday school classes and small groups are stuck at a superficial level and have no clue as to what it’s like to experience genuine fellowship. They may share a meal together, but they don’t share their lives.

As a pastor, you can build small groups that matter – groups that provide a place for members to fully experience biblical fellowship – by focusing on four essential elements: authenticity, mutuality, sympathy, and mercy.

Authenticity

Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It is genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing. It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives – when they share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and…

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Re-Ignite Your Passion

Passion is what energizes life. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact, if you don’t have any passion in your life, ministry will become boring, dull, routine, monotonous. I’ll go so far as to say if you don’t have passion in your life you are not living. You are existing. God made you to live a passionate life and to serve him and his people with vitality. With vibrancy. With energy. With enthusiasm. He wants you to have this in your life.

In John 10, Jesus said “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” God wants you to live a full life, a fulfilling life, which is the basis for a fulfilling ministry. If that’s true, that’s the kind of life God meant for us to live. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Sadly, however, countless thousands of pastors and ministry leaders are simply enduring, holding on for the ride and hoping to survive until death without blowing it too badly.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son…

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There are a lot of reasons a church might grow. Sometimes people come because of the preaching. Sometimes people come because of the music. Some people like the great programs for kids and youth.

But I’m convinced there’s an often overlooked factor in church growth: Growing churches are friendly to guests. All churches think they’re friendly, but when you take a good look at them, you often discover they’re friendly to people who have been attending for 15 years or more – not to new people.

A guest’s first 12 minutes dramatically influence whether they’re coming back or not. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When non-Christians come to your church for the first time, their number one emotion is fear. What will people think? What are they going to do? Am I going to have to sign something, sing something, sacrifice something, or say something? They don’t know what’s going on, and they’re scared to death.

Your first goal with guests (and by the way, I never call them visitors) is to get them to relax. Then you can communicate with them. When people are afraid, their barriers…

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Everything you have is a gift from God – your health, your life, your salvation, your freedom, your friends, your family, your opportunities. God expects you to make the most of the things he gives you. The word for that in the Bible is called “stewardship.” Stewardship is the Old English word for “management.”  And just as you manage your time and your money, you also manage your influence.

God expects you to use your influence to help other people. What is influence? The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as, “the power to affect how someone develops, acts, or thinks.” God expects you to be an influence.

You should want to be influential. In fact, it’s quite selfish to say, “I don’t really care about the rest of the world. I don’t care about helping anybody else.  I’m just thinking about little ol’ me.” In fact, Jesus commands that you use your influence for good in this world. You were put here to be an influence for good. God wants you to do that. Someday we’re going to give an account to God of how well we influenced others for good and for God.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus…

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