Archives For Rick Warren

Mountain View

William Rainey once said, “Why didn’t somebody ever tell me that I could become a Christian and work on all my doubt afterward?” The fact is, every little step you take toward Christ moves you further away from the four “D”s — doubt, discouragement, depression, and despair.

We’re all moving, but sometimes we move slowly. Are you struggling this Easter with one of these “D” issues?

Are you doubting God’s love because you’re in a crisis? “God! I’ve just found out I have a terminal illness! Don’t you love me?”

Are you discouraged because you don’t think he cares for you? “God! Don’t you see the trouble I’m in? Don’t you care?”

Are you depressed because life has not turned out the way you thought it would? “God! My spouse is leaving me! Can’t you stop this from happening?”

Are you despairing because you don’t think he’s forgiven you for your latest sin? “God! I still feel guilty. Haven’t you forgiven me?”

The Bible makes this statement in 1 John 5:13: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (NASB).

There’s…

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Church Planting

When Kay and I arrived in Orange County, it wasn’t our mission to plant a mega church. We wanted to plant a mission church.

That is, we wanted to plant a church that would plant other churches.

  • We wanted to plant at least one daughter church per year, and we’ve gone beyond that.
  • We wanted to send out at least 200 career missionaries, and we’ve sent out hundreds more than that.
  • We wanted to send thousands to the mission field, and we’ve sent tens of thousands.

I’ve been saying this for 30 years now: You don’t judge the strength of a church by its seating capacity, but by its sending capacity!

The ultimate goal of the Purpose Driven paradigm of church leadership isn’t just maturity. It’s missions.

If you’re just starting out, or have any interest at all in church planting, carefully read these 10 basic principles of planting a multiplying church.

1. Start with focused prayer.

Kay and I spent six months praying and asking God where we should go. The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1a NIV).

More than any skill, talent, or resource, you need God’s guidance, direction, and blessing! So…

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I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?” I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, with all different methods and styles. But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor. So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The very first task…

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January is the perfect time to add more small groups. Tell your members small groups are important because:

1. Small groups move us out of self-centered isolation. It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NCV). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Ephesians 4:16, Romans 12:4–5, Colossians 2:19, 1 Corinthians 12:25).

Real fellowship means being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16b NIV). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects us to show other believers — loving them in the same way Jesus loves us.

2. Small groups help us develop spiritual muscle. You’ll never grow to…

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RebelAs a pastor, more than other people, I see the hurt and the heartbreak that happens in a family when a child makes rebellious and destructive decisions. And thankfully, there’s a story in the Bible that offers us a lot of insight.

What has often been called “the story of the prodigal son” is really a picture of how God shows his holiness, his goodness, and his kindness to his children — each son in this story was rebellious in his own way. Some of the insights we learn about parenting from this story might surprise you.

The story, found in Luke 15:11-32, unfolds in three stages.

Stage 1: Rebellion.

Beginning in verse 11, “Jesus said, `There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.'”

Stage one is rebellion. In every parent-child relationship, there’s going to be a struggle. It’s a struggle for control, a power struggle.

At birth, as a parent, you are…

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Church planting is part of Saddleback’s DNA. We’ve started at least one church every year since the beginning.

It is simply who we are. We believe that mature churches are just like mature plants or mature people: They bear fruit.

You can tell an apple tree is mature when it starts growing apples. You can tell a Christian is mature when he or she starts winning other people to Christ. And you can tell a congregation is mature when it starts having babies — planting other churches.

I believe any definition of fruitfulness for a local church must include the planting of new congregations, in addition to growth by the conversion of unbelievers. If we’re not reproducing, then it is a sign that something is unhealthy in our congregations.

As I’ve often said, a church’s health is measured by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.

Regardless of size or location, your church can help start new congregations. At Saddleback Church, we started our first church plant when we had 150 people coming to the weekend services. The truth is, it doesn’t take a megachurch to start new churches.

Over the course of our history, Saddleback Church has planted…

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Exposed Film

I once heard Howard Hendricks say that a lot of people’s lives are like poor photographs: overexposed and underdeveloped. I think that’s true of pastors, too. Many of us are overexposed. We know many people and spread ourselves very thin relationally, but our private lives are underdeveloped.

We need to balance our lives if we want to stay in ministry for the long haul. Why?

First, a lack of balance leads to frustration. Maybe you can relate to this: Sometimes I find myself working on one part of my life and then another part crumbles. It’s like playing a game of “Whack a Mole.” It’s a struggle to get everything under control.

Second, a lack of balance leads to fatigue. When you buy a new set of tires, it is important to get them balanced. If you don’t, they will wear out faster and more easily! The same is true for us in ministry. When you’re out of balance, you get tired.

We need to find balance in these five areas:

  • Mental: You don’t allow just anything into your mind. You…

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VisionOver the years, I’ve learned that – contrary to popular opinion – the bigger the vision, the easier it is to reach that vision, and, ultimately, the size of your vision should be determined by the size of God.

How big do you think God is? The issue is not who you think you are, but who you think God is. In your dreams for your ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do in this place?”

How many people could be reached here?

When determining the size of your vision, you need to keep three factors in mind. The first factor is the ultimate population of your ministry area. Obviously, if a church planter is going to start a new church, he doesn’t plan a church of 2,000 in a town that only has 500 people in it. Be pragmatic.

I tell people: Go get a map of your community, draw a circle that would include approximately 15 minutes’ driving distance to your church, and find out how many people are in that area. Then you say, “Ultimately, we want to try to reach everybody. We know we can’t reach everybody. But we assume…

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“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10b NIV).

Did you know God likes to party? He’s constantly throwing parties. In fact, the Bible says that God’s angels throw a party every time a person trusts Jesus as the Lord and Savior of his or her life. They party for joy whenever someone turns away from self-centeredness and turns toward Jesus.

Christmas is a party — a birthday party for Jesus. It’s why we say “Merry Christmas.” Yet we often leave the guest of honor out of our Christmas parties! Thinking about this irony, I started asking people, “What are you celebrating this Christmas?” This is what a few of them told me:

  • “What am I celebrating? Not a lot.”
  • “The blessings that we’ve had in our family this year.”
  • “Just the Christmas spirit.”
  • “Being home and not being on the road for the holidays.”
  • “This Christmas? I’m celebrating the birth of Christ.”
  • “Nothing. I just want to get through it.”

This last comment is true for a lot of people. Christmas may be a season of celebration, but they feel they have nothing to celebrate. Perhaps…

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“But the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people’” (Luke 2:10 NLT).

Knowing God is for you will change your whole perspective on life. You’ll stop thinking of God as someone looking down from Heaven, ready to yell “Gotcha!” any time you mess up.

God is for your success in life; he created you for a purpose, and he wants you to succeed. It is God, your Creator, who will measure your success in life, and no one else.

This is extremely good news!

It means you don’t need to be afraid of God because God is for you. Yet some people are so afraid of God they get nervous just talking about him. Do you know why? They feel guilty, and then they start thinking, “If I get close to God, he’s going to lecture me. He’s going to remind me of all the things I’ve done wrong, and then I’ll feel even worse!”

Nothing could be further from the truth of God. Jesus said, “I did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” In effect,…

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Christmastime is, for the most part, an enjoyable season for most people. But for many of us, it’s a season of painful memories, depression, and loneliness. Sometimes we choose to isolate ourselves from others, and sometimes we face loneliness through no fault of our own.

Loneliness is so painful that people will try anything to relieve it. We medicate with drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and other addictive behaviors. Loneliness can be especially dangerous to people in recovery.

So how do you deal with loneliness? How do you let go of it?

1. Utilize your time well

Make the best of a bad situation. Resist the temptation to do nothing. If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade. Make the most of what you’ve got. Loneliness tends to paralyze. Think of a creative way to take advantage of the situation.

While we should be careful not to medicate with busyness, it is important to be good stewards of the time we spend alone. We’re dangerous when we’re bored and we get discouraged when we aren’t using our time in a purposeful way.

2. Minimize the hurt

Don’t ignore it, but don’t rehearse it either. Deal with your hurt in…

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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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