Archives For Rick Warren

How to Focus Your Ministry Like Jesus Did

Your ministry will be shaped by either your priorities or your pressures.

If you don’t decide what’s really important in your ministry, you’ll have people lining up to do it for you. You know as well as I do that many people in our churches have lots of ideas for our ministries. Without a sense of focus, you’ll be pressured to do all kinds of things in your ministry, regardless of whether it’s what God wants you to do.

You must line up your priorities by God’s standards.

It’s like light. When you concentrate light, it has the power to burn. Light defused has no power at all, but if you focus it under a magnifying glass you can burn grass. If you concentrate it even more, it becomes a laser that cuts steel.

When you learn to concentrate your ministry, you’ll be more effective.

But you don’t just need a to-do list. You also need a not-to-do list. Why? Because effective ministry means knowing what you personally are and are not called to do. The more you concentrate your life, the more your life will have impact.

How Jesus…

Continue Reading

Easter services are among the most important events at your church each year. You not only celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but you also have one of the best opportunities all year to reach new people.

In chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Church, I shared some ideas on how you can improve the guest experience at your church. With Easter coming up, I’ve put together this checklist to help you prepare for the big day.

Now is the time to get started!

  • Include a map of your church on all advertising. A small map can provide clarity, especially if mapping apps can’t locate your church accurately.
  • Create a system to give guests the best parking spots. At Saddleback, we have a sign at our property entrance encouraging guests to turn on their headlights if they want a reserved parking spot. Then our parking team directs them to spots near the worship center.
  • Make sure you have clear signage. Show people how to find the most important places on your campus, including restrooms, information tables, coffee/snacks, kids ministry, and student ministry.
  • Prepare greeters to welcome your guests. The first…

    Continue Reading

6 Key Evangelistic Strategies to Help Your Church Grow

I believe church health matters much more than church growth. Healthy churches grow. They grow stronger through worship, warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, and broader through ministry.

And they also grow larger through evangelism.

Healthy churches follow Jesus’ pattern by reaching out to new people with the Gospel.

Here are six evangelistic principles, modeled by Jesus, that will help your church reach new people.

1. Know who you’re trying to reach. No church can reach everyone. The moment you plan a worship service and pick a music style, you’re telling people who you’re trying to reach (and, conversely, who you’re not). If you try to reach everyone, you probably won’t reach anyone.

We know Jesus had a specific evangelistic target. He tells us that directly in Matthew 15:24: “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel” (NLT). Of course, that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t love everyone. He did—and still does! But he was evangelistically targeting the lost sheep of Israel.

The same is true of Peter and Paul. Paul writes in Galatians 2:7, “Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility…

Continue Reading

Helping People Change Their Autopilot

We’re all tempted by something. It’s proof of being alive. If you’re not tempted, you’re not breathing.

So the question isn’t, “Are you tempted?” The question is, “What are you doing about it?”

The key to overcoming temptation isn’t to resist it. You need to replace temptation, not resist it. Whatever you resist, persists.

You might be thinking, “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘resist temptation’?”

It doesn’t.

The Bible tells us to “resist the devil” (James 4:7 NIV). We’re to resist the tempter, not the temptation.

When I was a little kid, my mom would make chocolate chip cookies, usually before dinner. When I would go up to the table to look at them, my mom would say, “Don’t you eat those cookies, Ricky.”

“I’m not, Mom. I’m just smelling them.” Of course, right?

But those warm, freshly baked cookies had my attention.

That’s where a lot of people are when they come to Celebrate Recovery®. Something has their attention. Maybe it’s alcohol. Maybe it’s sex. Maybe it’s codependent behaviors. Maybe it’s shopping.

Or maybe it’s chocolate chip cookies.

And here’s the worst part: Whatever gets our attention, gets us. The Bible tells us in James 1 that whatever gets…

Continue Reading

What's More Important for Your Church: Growth or Control?

The church has been on the front lines of some of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past few decades. The church has 2.3 billion people worldwide and is the biggest institution on the planet.

You might look at those numbers and ask yourself, “Why isn’t the church making a bigger impact in the world?”

I believe one reason is because the most creative people in our congregations must go outside of the church to start new ministries.

Why are they doing this?
Because the church wants to control them.

Instead of working within a church, many of these leaders form a 501(c)(3) to tackle the pressing issues of their communities. Today, there are tens of thousands of nonprofits in America doing what the church did for generations. We’ve structured these ministries right out of the church.

To broaden the ministry impact of your church, you will need to make the difficult choice to give up control.

You can choose control, or you can choose growth. But you can’t choose both.

Choosing growth over control means looking for ways to say yes when someone wants to start a new…

Continue Reading

Sharing the Dream

By Kay Warren

Sharing the Dream

I’ve noticed one common trait in couples who thrive in ministry over the long haul: the ability to see themselves as a team who shares a God-given dream. I believe this one factor can actually make or break the ministry God has called you to. Being a team sharing a dream can revitalize a marriage, a family, a local church, and ultimately the Kingdom of God.

The word team comes from the Old English and referred to a set of draft animals yoked together.  A more modern definition expands on the concept by adding “a number of people who act together as a group, either in a sport or in order to achieve something.”  Rick defines a team as two or more people who have common goals and also deep communications about those goals.

During seminary Rick began to dream of planting a church. It made me anxious to think about planting a church–the part about no money, no building, no members, no security or stability bothered me. Rick asked me to go with him to a church growth conference. It was at that conference that Rick’s heart for church planting…

Continue Reading

Four Habits that Help People Become Like Jesus (discipleship)

There’s no such thing as instant spiritual growth; it’s a gradual process of development. The Bible says, “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

Spiritual growth is a journey, and that means it takes time. Sure, we want to speed up the process, but we can’t. It’s a lifetime journey where God teaches us one lesson at a time to develop our character so we become more like Jesus.

At the core of this journey are disciplines that help us grow spiritually. These disciplines—or habits—aren’t new; they’ve been around for thousands of years.

We are the sum of our habits. Here’s the truth: You can preach the greatest sermons in the world, but your congregation won’t grow deeper spiritually until you help people learn how to practice spiritual habits on their own.

At Saddleback, we focus on spiritual habits in CLASS 201. We teach four specific habits that are essential to every growing Christian. These aren’t the only habits that help you grow spiritually, but they…

Continue Reading

Growing Stronger Through Worship

There’s a word in the Bible for focusing on God: worship. Some people think worship is a ritual—that it’s all about a regimens, rules, and regulations. But, it’s not, worship simply means focusing on God.

God wants our focus because he is focused on us.

Our ongoing focus on God is the only real antidote to the worries, frustrations, and stress which causes so much exhaustion in our churches. Our churches need the kind of strength only God can bring.

In The Purpose Driven Church, I wrote about how church growth was more than numerical growth. Actually, God wants every church to grow:

  • Stronger through worship
  • Warmer through fellowship
  • Deeper through discipleship
  • Broader through ministry, and
  • Larger through evangelism

The Bible gives us three ways we can help our congregations grow stronger through worship.

1. Provide an opportunity for vibrant corporate worship.

Let’s face it. Your people can listen to sermons, read Christian books, and sing along with the latest worship music. People can worship on their own, but worship is better when we do it together. All of those acts of devotion are good, but they aren’t enough to truly…

Continue Reading

7 Ways to Welcome Guests to Your Celebrate Recovery Ministry

I’ve said this over and over again at Saddleback.

Out of the 200 ministries we have at our church, Celebrate Recovery® is my favorite.

CR is all about changed lives—and that’s the biggest thrill of my life. If you want to know what makes Rick Warren tick, it’s pretty simple: changed lives.

All I need to do is hear one story of a life changed—a marriage saved, a teen who gets off drugs, or someone liberated from codependency—and I’m good for another month.

Changed lives keep me going.

I’ve never been around a ministry that sees so many lives changed by Christ as Celebrate Recovery. It’s a life-change machine—and I love it!

I know that God didn’t design the church to be a hotel for saints. He designed it to be a hospital for sinners. Your church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry demonstrates this on a weekly basis.

But if your Celebrate Recovery ministry is going to be a hospital for sinners and an incubator for changed lives, it needs to be a place where guests feel comfortable to attend.

Think about the first time you showed up at Celebrate Recovery. It…

Continue Reading

3 Ways to Keep Your Listener’s Attention as You Preach

Preaching is tougher than ever these days. For one thing, we can’t assume that people come to our churches with a basic understanding of the Bible like they may have in the past.

But it’s also tougher because of all the media we interact with on a daily basis—from television to email to social media. It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something or convince us about a new idea.

Just open your email, and you’ll likely see a full selection of pitches asking you to buy anything from lunch to a new fishing pole to a vacation. Turn on the television, and the pitching from commercials continues.

Because of this, when unchurched people hear you preach, they assume you’re trying to sell them something. They believe you’re trying to sell them on religion.

That’s not your purpose, but your listeners often don’t know that.

Every week you’re preaching to people who are more skeptical than ever before.

You used to be able to turn up the volume when you had a weak point and keep people’s interest that way. But you can’t do that…

Continue Reading

4 Steps to Achieving Your 2019 Goals

You’ll never find the ideal time to take the next step toward your goals.

So do it now. Those three words could change your ministry. The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB).

You can’t wait until your life settles down to reach for that elusive goal. You can’t wait until everyone else is on board to do what you know the Lord has called you to do.

The time is now.

Your ministry must thrive under imperfect conditions or it will never thrive. So get started today with these four steps.

1. Clarify your goals.

God gave you an amazing ability to choose what’s important in your life. Many ministry leaders never stop to think through and identify what’s really important to them. You can’t do what’s important in your life until you clarify what it is.

Take a half day, if possible, and pray about two specific things: What do I value? What do I want to change?

Yes, you should think about your ministry goals, but don’t stop there either. I also usually think through: