Archives For Rick Warren

Transformation

Nothing thrills a pastor more than seeing real transformation happen in the lives of people. We want to see people grow up and become completely mature—completely like Jesus Christ. Another word for this is sanctification, and sanctification always begins as God’s Spirit uses God’s truth to change the mind, heart, and will of his follower.

Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Use the truth to make them holy. Your Words are truth” (GW). Transformation is change, and change happens as we apply God’s truth to every area of our lives. The first responsibility of pastors and shepherds is to preach God’s truth, which transforms the lives of our hearers into the image of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary marks of spiritual immaturity is when other people can easily sway us away from the truth. Not knowing the truth of God’s Word causes us to change our beliefs back and forth, repeatedly, which creates an unstable life. Paul said in Ephesians 4:14-15 that when we are mature and know God’s truth, “Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different…

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Love Your Neighbor

Last year was a very difficult year in many ways.

Our culture has been battered by one crisis after another: scandals, shootings, angry protests, and a constant barrage of mad pundits shouting at each other in the media 24 hours a day. Our nation is deeply polarized and fractured into splinter groups that demonize each other on the internet. And, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in violence in our streets, schools, theaters, and now even in churches.

We’ve seen the rise in vile bigotry, hateful racism, and ignorant prejudices against different cultures and immigrants—in a nation that was built by immigrants! I imagine the Statue of Liberty is weeping. And we’ve seen the videos and heard the voices of people genuinely hurt by injustice or poverty, or by having their job shipped overseas.

How should followers of Jesus respond to all the anger we see erupting today? How can God’s family, the church, be the “peacemakers” and the “ministers of reconciliation” that Jesus commands us to be? How do we build bridges to each other instead of walls around our hearts and homes? We can begin by loving like Jesus loved.

Here are five important ways to do just…

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Vision

You may be overflowing with vision for your ministry, but there is a point where you have to stop thinking about it and talking about it, and instead, start doing something about it—moving your vision toward a tangible reality. I’ve met thousands of pastors with incredible vision for ministry in their community, but sadly they never got past the thinking stage.

What good is a vision when it stays stuck in your head? Or if it languishes in the “talk stage” and never launches into the sea of faithful action? The vision behind Saddleback Church would be nothing more than that—a vision—without the steps of faith taken to plant, and then grow, the church.

God rarely asks you to take leaps of faith; rather, he encourages you to take small steps that grow larger as your faith grows larger.

But you’ve got to take the first step to get to all the other steps!

In the opening chapters of Joshua, the Israelites faced a faith-step: They stood just across the Jordan River from the Promised Land, a vision of home burned into their hearts during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Their new leader,…

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Life can get busy for anyone, and this is certainly no different for pastors. And for pastors, there is a rhythm to our year that involves seasons of more intense ministry, like Christmas and Easter.

Regardless of the season you’re in right now, it’s always appropriate to withdraw and spend time seeking God’s favor on your life and ministry.

If we want to fulfill God’s vision for our lives and ministries, we must continually hear from God. We must believe that hearing from God daily is a requirement for us to truly shepherd our congregations. It is not just an add-on to our list of things to do; it is a necessity for being a loving and effective pastor.

The prophet Habakkuk says, “I will climb up to my watchtower” (Habakkuk 2:1 NLT).

This is his way of saying, I’m going to get alone with God.

It doesn’t matter where you get alone with God. You just need to find a place. I happen to like outside.

When my kids were growing up, I actually built a little prayer garden down on the slope behind my house where I could get away to pray and focus on…

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The difference between being a church attender and a church member is commitment.

Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get involved in the ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors. Attenders want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility.

Yet one of the biggest hurdles you face as a church leader is convincing attenders they need to commit themselves to the church family and become members.

Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans who hop from one church to another without any identity, accountability, or commitment.

Many believe it is possible to be a “good Christian” without joining a local church. How can you convince them otherwise?

God is not silent on the issue. The Bible offers many compelling reasons why every believer needs to be committed to and active in a local fellowship. And one of the best things you can do is communicate this biblical reasoning on a regular basis.

Here are six biblical reasons to commit yourself to membership in a local church.

A church family identifies you as a genuine believer.

I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples….

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The Path

Why do churches have so many members who give little or no evidence of Christian commitment or even conversion? Why do many churches find it difficult to motivate members to give, serve, pray, and share their faith?

The answer is simple. The members were allowed to join with no expectations placed on them. You get what you ask for!

While becoming a Christian means to commit yourself to Christ, becoming a church member means to commit yourself to other Christians. Paul mentions two different types of commitment in 2 Corinthians 8:5 – “First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well” (GNT).

At Saddleback, we call these the first-base commitments. You commit yourself to Christ for salvation, and then you commit yourself to other Christians for membership in our church family.

At Saddleback, we only expect of our members what the Bible clearly expects of all believers. These expectations are summarized in our membership covenant. It is the most important element of our membership class.

We have four requirements for membership:

A personal profession of Christ as Lord and Savior, baptism by immersion as a public symbol of…

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Giving and Multiplying Fruit

God came up with the idea of multiplication.

If you give him your time, he multiplies it. If you give him your money, he multiplies it. If you give him your talent, he multiplies it. If you give him your energy, guess what? He multiplies it.

It’s the same principle as planting seeds. Second Corinthians 9:10 says, “God gives seed to the farmer . . . God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval” (GW).

Think about that: God will increase the things you do that have his approval.

Farmers know that seed must be given away for it to increase. If you keep seed in a sack, it doesn’t do any good. But when you plant it, it multiplies. When you plant one corn seed, do you just get one corn seed back? No, you get a stalk with hundreds of corn kernels. When you plant one watermelon seed, do you only get one seed back? No, you get a bunch of watermelons with hundreds of seeds in them. God multiplies whatever little bit you give him.

“Remember that…

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Vision and Direction

It’s been said many times by many different people that everything rises or falls on leadership. I don’t think that’s ever truer than in ministry. Charles McKay, a former professor at California Baptist College, used to say, “If you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth.”

You can’t ever take people further than you are yourself, spiritually or any other way.

I remember when I was interviewed on the ACTS television network by former SBC president, Jimmy Allen, and he asked me about starting new churches. He said, “How important is location?” I told him that location is the second most important thing. But the most important thing is not location, but leadership in a church.

You don’t have to be a charismatic leader (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader. Personality has almost nothing to do with dynamic leadership.

Vision Matters

It’s not the charisma of the leader that matters, but the vision of the leader. Whatever your assignment may be in your church, no matter what your ministry concentration may be, your number one responsibility of leadership in that area is to continually clarify and communicate the…

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Friends

Some of the greatest preachers in history were great at introducing and delivering sermons, but poor at closing them. We preach Christ and we preach a Gospel that calls for commitment, so powerful preaching presses for a verdict.

This is an area I spend a lot of time on when I’m preparing a message because a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. Changed lives come from great conclusions. John Stott said, “If there is no summons, there is no sermon.”

First, avoid these four common mistakes:

  • Don’t just summarize the message. Ask people to act.
  • Don’t announce that you’re concluding, especially if you don’t mean it.
  • Don’t blame the clock and rush to a conclusion.
  • Don’t introduce new ideas or extra points in your conclusion.

Instead, conclude by doing these things:

1. Always point back to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is center stage. The goal of preaching is not to get people to fall in love with you as the preacher but to get them to fall in love with Jesus. Since the Bible is the story of Jesus’ redemptive work, every sermon ought to draw people to the cross…

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Give Thanks

Some of you have had a tough year. You’ve endured your share of criticism. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage.

Now comes Thanksgiving. Can we thank God even when times are tough? Yes, we can.

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

This verse does not say to give thanks for everything. It says to give thanks in every circumstance. I see it misinterpreted all the time.

You don’t have to give thanks for evil in the world. The Bible does not tell us to be thankful for evil.

But in every circumstance, no matter how bad it is, I can give thanks to God because . . .

  • His purpose is bigger than my problem.
  • He will give me the power to overcome my problem.
  • I know I will grow through the experience if I allow God to help me grow.

I may not be thankful for evil, but I can be thankful despite evil.

How can you be grateful when you’ve lost your job, your health, or a spouse? You look not at what you’ve lost,…

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Ministry Leadership Action

Procrastination has a high cost. When we cram for tests, we get lower grades. When we wait until the deadline to file taxes, we miss things and make costly mistakes. When we put off difficult conversations, we hurt people and relationships.

And the cost of procrastination in ministry can be significantly higher. For us, procrastination isn’t measured in dollars; it is measured in ministries never started, people with needs going unmet, and those who are spiritually lost never hearing the Gospel.

The Bible says in James 4:17, “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not to do it” (NLT). When God calls you to do something, but you don’t do it, it’s not just a bad strategy or a missed blessing. It is sin.

If God has called you to do something in your ministry and you are not doing it, do it now! Not next month, next week, or even tomorrow—do it right now.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (NLT). None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. You may not have the opportunity tomorrow to do what…

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Walk Happy

Being a pastor isn’t easy. It’s hard work. It’s emotionally taxing. We’re just as subject to the pressure to hustle and grind as anyone in a professional role, and sometimes, the grind gets to us. You can only hustle so long until you’re out of energy.

I’ve found that when discouragement attacks, it usually attacks on Mondays, even after a great weekend of worship services and seeing lives changed.

James Draper once described the Southern Baptist Convention as “a denomination of discouraged leaders.” I think that’s true of most denominations and churches. I’ve heard from tens of thousands of leaders who have attended our Purpose Driven conferences and training events, and I’ve concluded that a majority of pastors struggle with chronic discouragement.

Thankfully, there is an antidote. The fourth chapter of Nehemiah gives us a four-point plan for bouncing back when we’re feeling down.

1. Rest Your Body

Nehemiah rested. The psalmist wrote about rest in Psalm 127:2, “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?” (The Message).

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do in a…

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