Archives For Rick Warren

No other institution on earth has the potential to change the world and address global issues as the local church. No force on earth is as unstoppable as the local church when it is functioning as a unified body of believers. And nothing brings a church together in unity better than a growth campaign.

The greatest waves of growth that Saddleback Church has ever experienced have been the result of the various church-wide campaigns that we’ve done. When we set aside six to eight weeks to concentrate, as a church family, on a single theme, amazing things happen, such as…

  • People bring their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church.
  • Hundreds of people are baptized.
  • All kinds of new small groups form and launch.
  • Some people give financially for the first time, and everyone sacrifices for the Kingdom.
  • The church grows larger, deeper, broader, warmer, and stronger.

As you plan your preaching over the next twelve months, plan at least one, if not two, opportunities for your church to align around a single theme. Some of our more well-known campaigns have included Decade of Destiny, 40 Days In the Word, What On Earth…

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Church health is the result of balance.

Balance occurs when a church has a strategy and a structure to fulfill the five New Testament purposes for the church: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry.

If you don’t have a strategy and a structure that intentionally balances the purposes, the church tends to overemphasize the purpose you as a pastor feel most passionate about.

We tend to go to seed on one truth at a time. You attend one seminar and hear that the key to growth is small groups. At another, it’s volunteer recruitment, or dynamic worship, or creative outreach, or strong preaching.

The fact is, they’re all important.

When a church emphasizes any one purpose to the neglect of others, that produces imbalance — it’s unhealthy. And being unhealthy stunts a lot of churches.

To keep things balanced, four things must happen. You’ve got to:

  • move people into membership
  • build them up to maturity
  • train them for ministry
  • send them out on their mission.

And you need a clear discipleship process to be able to gauge whether you’re doing these things effectively or not. Just as our vital signs tell us whether our physical bodies are in good health or not, the health of a church is quantifiable. For example, I…

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The question often comes up: How can a service be both worship and seeker-friendly? At Saddleback, we believe you can have both without compromising either.

When we speak of worship, we’re talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.

Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate with at Saddleback: “Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”

We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions. God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship.

God is the consumer of worship

Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how worship encourages, strengthens and changes us. They…

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I believe one of the reasons so few churches engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?” The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $100 on a Facebook ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experiences as Saddleback grew from four members to well over 20,000.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense;” it’s always an investment. The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service of Saddleback, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the “miracles” of our dress rehearsal service…

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Every member of your congregation is driven by something, and you need to discover what those forces are in order to better disciple those under your care. Ultimately, you want to lead each member to be driven by God’s agenda – to live a purpose-driven life.

Most dictionaries define the verb drive as “to guide, to control, or to direct.” In your congregation, there are some driven by a problem, a pressure, or a deadline, and others driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief.

There are hundreds of circumstances, values, and emotions that drive people’s lives, and understanding what’s driving them is a key to reaching them.

Here are five common “drives” –

Some people are driven by guilt – They spend their entire lives running from regrets or hiding their shame. Guilt-driven people are manipulated by memories. They allow their past to control their future, believing their past mistakes to be bigger than God. They often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success. When Cain sinned, his guilt disconnected him from God’s presence, and God said, “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Gen. 4:12, NIV) That describes…

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For thirty-five years, Saddleback Church has been making disciples through a very intentional, purpose driven process. And we’ve helped train tens of thousands of other churches to do the same. We’ve always been concerned with five big goals, and as we face another new year of ministry, we’re working toward these same five goals again.

As you plan your preaching, prepare your budget, and arrange your calendar, I’m convinced the following questions will help you to make more disciples, more effectively.

GOAL #1: We will increase our weekend service attendance.

The first step in our disciple-making process is drawing our surrounding community together on Sunday to be part of our crowd. Jesus drew large crowds and then challenged them to commit. Peter challenged the enormous crowd to follow the resurrected Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, and three thousand did so.

We want as many people as possible to be brought into close proximity to the gospel, so that they will hear about Jesus. That’s the starting point, for most people, on the journey to spiritual maturity. So what will you do in the upcoming year to increase your primary weekend worship attendance?

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My prayer for you this week is that God will bless and anoint your ministry. I’m so thankful for your testimony of faith and obedience. For such a time as this, God placed you in leadership at your church, and he has equipped and provided you with everything you need to be the servant leader he requires for your congregation.

God is glorified and honored by your tireless work and sacrifice. What you are doing now will bring so many people into God’s family! The time, energy, and sacrifice are worth it all. Because of your obedience, God is doing a great work through you.

You bring pleasure to God because you have a heart full of praise and thanksgiving. God is pleased with this worship, and he knows it works both ways. When we express our thanks to God for what he has done for us, it brings him joy — but it also increases our joy. The book of Psalms says, “The righteous are glad and rejoice in his presence; they are happy and shout for joy” (Psalm 68:3 TEV).

Our joy is a continuation of the joy sent that first Christmas. The angel…

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At Saddleback Church, holidays are a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to reflect on God’s infinite love, which he pours into our lives. We’ve seen thousands of people trust in Jesus at our Christmas week services, so it’s a great opportunity for evangelism. But we also need to remember how easy it is for people to remain lost even while we’re talking about the birth of Christ.

Here are three principles we should all remember as we enter the Christmas season that will help people experience God’s love…

Keep it simple

Jesus was born into some pretty sparse circumstances. The son of two poor Galileans, he lived a life of humility and simplicity that became a key element of his ministry here on Earth. We try to reflect these same Christ-like attitudes at Saddleback, and that’s why all the activities we focus on at Christmas tend to be small and personal.

We want people talking to each other, helping each other, and growing together. Despite the fact that we have more than 20,000 regular attendees, we’ve found that the larger we grow, the smaller we must become. We want our members and…

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God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world…” From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him.” (Acts 17:26)

Much of world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast foods. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing, and much of what you ate today was produced in another country. We’re more connected than we realize, especially with the advent of social media.

These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now that ever before. Paul was right: “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:16)

The first way to…

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Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

People want to know God’s will for their lives, and when people ask about God’s will, they’re typically thinking about what they should do next in a particular area of their lives. Who should I marry? Where should I go to school? Which job should I accept? But these are all “number two’s” when it comes to God’s will. His will is, first and foremost, that we learn to give thanks.

Why is it always God’s will no matter what happens in my life that I am to give thanks, not for my circumstances but in my circumstances?

1. Gratitude honors God.

Gratitude honors God. Anytime you thank anyone you honor them. You need to learn to thank God not just for what he does but who he is.

“God, I thank you that you’re smarter than me… I thank you that your wisdom is greater… I thank you that you know what will make me happy more than I do… I thank you that you’re consistent when I‟m inconsistent… I thank you for your love… I thank you for your…

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Many preachers believe the purpose of preaching is to explain the Bible, or to interpret the text, or to help people understand God’s Word. But these all fall short of what it really is.

Paul gives us God’s purpose of preaching in Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV): “Christ gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Why did God give prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? To produce Christ-like people. That’s the purpose of preaching: to help people become like Jesus.

How does this happen? Through application. The only way lives are changed is through the application of God’s Word. The lack of application in preaching and teaching is, I believe, the number one problem with preaching in America.

Too many sermons are nothing more than lectures on biblical backgrounds or obscure Greek and Hebrew words. As a result,…

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Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an interview originally published in 2002. Click here to read part 1


81IKhq3H3xL._SL1500_Walker: It took you a long time to get a building erected at Saddleback and it’s an unusual one at that. Tell us about your building philosophy.

Warren: First, buildings are to be instruments, not monuments. We would never build a building we couldn’t tear down – if we needed to in order to reach more people – because people are the priority not buildings.

Winston Churchhill once said, “We shape our buildings and then they shape us.” Most churches build too soon and too small. Then a permanently small building shapes a permanently small future. That’s why we postponed our building as long as we could. That meant, in order to keep growing, we used 79 different buildings in 13 years. We often joked, “We’re the church that, if you can figure out where we are this week, you get to come.”

Walker: You also have a strong opinion that churches should not try to mix traditional with contemporary worship styles.

Warren: Absolutely. If you try to please everybody you will end up…

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