Archives For Rick Warren

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Big-attendance days, like Easter and Christmas, are important for the growth of a church. You get to meet a lot of guests and then follow up with them after they visit. You also get a visual picture of what your church can look like a year down the road on an average Sunday.

The problem with big days, however, is that we sometimes see them as the end goal, and they’re not. High-attendance days are just one part of a bigger picture when it comes to making disciples.

After Easter, a lot of churches start preparing for what many leaders refer to as the “summer slump,” when attendance and giving decrease because of vacation travel, sports, and other interests competing with the church for time on the weekend.

That’s why it’s vital to focus, on a regular basis, on the systems you have in place for making disciples in between those big days.

To put it another way, you have five or six weeks per year to invite as many people as possible to attend a special worship event, but you have 52 weeks per year to help people take their next step in their spiritual walk.

Every week,…

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Television

We think all the time. We observe, record, and process information faster than any computer on earth. And we store information and imagery better, too.

The human brain is absolutely amazing in its capability to capture and catalog things.

And what we take into our minds definitely influences what comes out in our lives. Our habits are the results of our actions, which are the results of our thoughts.

So be choosy when it comes to what you allow into your mind.

Be discriminating. Don’t just allow anything and everything to filter into your mind.

I read a book one time called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. It’s about how advertisers compete for your attention. Whether you realize it or not, everybody wants to get your attention, usually for the purpose of profit.

So it’s up to you to take control of your thought life. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV).

Guard your mind and be disciplined in the way that you think.

There are four kinds of material that you can fill your mind with.

1. Poison.

Poison includes pornography, the occult, trashy novels, things that blaspheme God, and anything that is bad for…

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Growth of a Plant

The world needs the influence of the church more than ever before. And, at least in Western culture, the church faces many significant struggles as it seeks to influence its surrounding culture.

The solution, at its root, is to plant, grow, and build as many healthy, vibrant local churches possible — churches that believe and teach the biblical Good News about Jesus.

In other words, the growth of the church is for the good of the entire world, so your church needs to grow!

But how?

There are plenty of answers in terms of systems and methodologies, models and approaches. But before we go about the reshaping of the structure or ministry of a church, we first need to experience a change in our mindset.

You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.

An opinion is something you’ll argue about; a conviction is something you’ll die for.

You need to settle the issue that God wants his church to grow. All living things grow. If a church is alive, it grows. Growing a healthy church is hard work, and unless you clarify your convictions, you’re going to be tempted to give up.

You have to develop this conviction because:

Ministry is full of stressful moments. Sometimes it’s conflict between members or staff. Sometimes it’s just the week after a high-attendance Sunday, like Easter, and we’re concerned about following up.

We all face a variety of issues in ministry that raise our blood pressure. Fortunately, we’ve got a great model for ministry in Jesus.

His life was under constant demands. Crowds were always pressing up against him, asking him to take care of their needs. He was misunderstood and criticized by religious people. Sound familiar?

But through it all, Jesus never got depressed or discouraged. He never gave up.

How did he manage to be at peace under pressure? And how can you experience that kind of peace, too?

1. Know who you are.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 NIV).

More than 18 times in the Bible Jesus says, “I am . . .” and then gives a descriptor. He was always defining himself. He was saying, “I know who I am.” There was no doubt about it. As…

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Pastor, you may have a large crowd of attendees on Sunday morning—and still not have a congregation. The fact is that the crowd must become a church. People must be assimilated.

Assimilation is simply the task of moving people from an awareness of your church, to attendance at your church, and then to active membership in your church.

  • The Community talks about “that church.”
  • The Crowd talks about “this church.”
  • The Congregation talks about “our church.”

Members have a sense of ownership. They are contributors, not just consumers.

Because the incorporation of new members into your church does not happen automatically, you have to develop a system and structure to assimilate and keep the people you reach. At Saddleback, our system is composed of two parts.

The first part of our assimilation system is a set of questions we ask ourselves:

  1. What does God expect from members of his church?
  2. What do we expect from our members right now?
  3. What kind of people already make up our congregation?
  4. How will that change in the next five to 10 years?
  5. What do our members value?
  6. What are new members’ greatest needs?
  7. What are our long-term members’…

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Crosses on a Hill

On Easter Sunday, churches around the world invite their communities to come in and listen to two big, bold claims. First, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, died for their sins and then came back from the dead. And second, that anyone who puts their trust in the risen Jesus will live forever.

That’s a lot to take in for someone who has never given serious thought to the Good News of Jesus before. So when people find their way into your congregation on this very important Sunday, remember how vital it is to practice the ministry of hospitality and be good hosts to spiritual seekers.

Obviously, we should be preparing for the evangelistic opportunity of Easter Sunday long before the big day, but there are still some things you can do in the last 24 to 48 hours leading up to your Easter weekend services that can make a big difference in how effectively you reach people.

1. Do one last big promotional push on social media.

It’s easy and affordable to sponsor an ad on most major social networks. Advertising for Easter Sunday several weeks in…

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Man Praying

We’re looking for better methods, machinery, and motivations, which are all okay, but God is looking for people to use. He is looking for leaders.

And for God to use the leaders, they must be men and women of God.

We have a sample of a leader’s prayer in the book of Nehemiah. You can learn a lot about people by the kinds of prayers they pray.

Remember that Nehemiah, when he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, prayed for four months before taking action. This is not just a casual prayer. The prayer we’re going to look at this week is just a sample prayer he prayed. It gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray as a leader, study the book of Nehemiah, and particularly examine the prayer Nehemiah prays in the first chapter.

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah.

1. Base your requests on God’s character.

Pray like you know God will answer you . . .

I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a…

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In Nehemiah 5, the Israelites faced conflict for one of the same reasons we do today: selfishness. So, what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Take the problem seriously. (v. 6)

Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem; he took it seriously. When the unity of your church gets challenged, it’s your job to protect that unity. It’s serious business.

In times like this, a certain level of anger is completely appropriate and right. Leadership means knowing the difference between the right kind of anger and the wrong kind of anger.

2. Think before you speak. (v. 7)

If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind” (NIV). Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God, and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do you want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God…

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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 that amid all of our emphasis in the last few decades on building weekend services that are more attractive to outsiders, 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 experience in the first 12 minutes dramatically influences 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…

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5 Ways to Relax When You're Overworked

As ministry leaders, we approach each day with passion because we’re working for God, and our mission is literally to see the world saved. But the fact is, there will always be more work to do in ministry, and that’s why we must deliberately take time away from work.

God did it, resting one day after working six, so why should we think the world will fall apart if we aren’t on the job 24/7?

Here are five steps you can take toward recovery from ministry workaholism.

R – Readjust Your Values

The costs of workaholism are enormous: divorce, alcohol abuse, heart attacks and other illnesses, fragmented and fractured relationships, unhappiness, and loneliness.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why am I working so hard? Do a motive check. What drives you to do this? Are you trying to prove something?

Is the payoff worth it? Why do you keep fighting to get to the next level? What can you realistically expect? Is it worth sacrificing your life for it?

Your life is too important to waste on second-class causes. Readjust your values.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with…

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Small Groups

The designation “active member,” in most churches, simply means those who attend regularly and financially support the church. Not much more is expected. But God has far greater expectations for every Christian.

God expects every Christian to use their gifts and talents in ministry. If we can ever awaken and unleash the massive talent, resources, creativity, and energy found in the typical local church, Christianity will explode with growth at an unprecedented rate.

I believe that the greatest need in evangelical churches is the release of members for ministry. A healthy pastor nurtures a healthy church by creating an intentional, well-planned system for uncovering, mobilizing, and supporting the giftedness of its members. People must be given a simple process to follow that will lead them to deeper commitment and greater service for Christ. They need a track on which they can move forward.

At Saddleback, we use the CLASS system to accomplish this. We offer four separate classes, all designed to move people forward incrementally in their commitment level to Jesus and to the church.

  • In Class 101, we move people into membership.
  • In Class 201, we teach members how to be spiritually mature.
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Colorful

God intentionally created everyone to be unique. And when we appreciate the uniqueness that we see in others, we truly honor the creative work of God around us. The world is a work of art, full of color and full of diversity.

Nobody looks quite like you look. You’re not one in a million; you’re one in 7 billion! And if you have a problem with people who are different from you, you really have a problem with God. Racism is essentially believing that God should have made everyone else to be just like you.

First Corinthians 15:38-40 says, “God gives everything the kind of body he wants it to have. People, animals, birds, and fish are each made of flesh, but none of them are alike. Everything in the heavens has a body, and so does everything on earth. But each one is very different from all the others” (CEV). That’s intentionality.

Then the Bible says, in Acts 17:26, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be” (CEV).

We all ultimately descended from two mutual parents, Adam and Eve. Our unity was fractured by sin…

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