Archives For Rick Warren

There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively 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 $500 on a social media 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 experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

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 at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in…

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Have you ever met a verbal arsonist? Their words are always inflammatory.

In the Bible, the book of James says that words, like a fire, can burn people. We grew up saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But words do hurt. Words destroy. Fire and words under control can give tremendous warmth and light, but fire and words out of control can be devastating. They can destroy miles and miles of homes and lands and peoples.

James wrote in his letter, “All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body” (James 3:2 CEV).

In other words, if you can learn to master your tongue, everything else about your life will be easier to manage.

The problem with our words is that they can create a chain reaction. You can say something that you didn’t mean to have any harm, but it can have devastating effects that are beyond your control. Just a few inflammatory statements set off a chain of events that we now look back on and call World War II.

On a more personal level, your words can create a…

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When tragedies occur in communities or nations, pastors can wind up working tirelessly to comfort congregations looking for help, both physical and spiritual. Counselors call it compassion fatigue, and it affects anyone who works in human services of any kind, especially those deeply involved in soul care.

In American life, we’ve all been focused on the recovery effort that has followed the flooding and devastation from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Communities are coming together to aid one another in the recovery.

To pastors and ministry leaders who are in the middle of the work of comforting and consoling others, let me give you three pieces of advice.

1. Release Your Frustrations

Stress and exhaustion create all kinds of negative emotions in your life. They bring on anxiety, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and depression. And the most common thing we ministers tend to do with our negative emotions is stuff them. We think we’re being better Christians if we never admit to our own fear, anger, and depression.

But God created you as a human being with emotions, and he wants you to be real – to let them out by expressing them to him. If you don’t…

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We’ve all been shocked by the flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. So many people have lost everything they’ve worked for in this world. And yet the response we’ve seen from churches and relief organizations has been amazing to watch.

This disaster gives us all an opportunity to share God’s love in the lives of people affected by Harvey who need to hear about the abundant, eternal life in Christ Jesus. We have an opportunity to teach our congregations about facing a crisis.

Whether you’re planning to help in the Gulf region, or whether it’s the next time a wildfire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or hurricane devastates your own community, sooner or later, your congregation will be called to minister in a time of unparalleled grief. When that happens, here are five biblical principles you can teach your members about helping spiritually in the midst of a massive crisis:

First, teach them to release their grief

People feel all sorts of emotions when they face crisis, such as fear, anger, worry, depression, resentment, helplessness, and grief. The most important thing to teach people is that they must acknowledge these emotions before God. It does…

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The first time Rick publicly prayed at a weekend church service for people living with a mental illness, his words were simple. He asked God to bring comfort and strength to anyone living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness. He asked God to reassure them that their pain and suffering mattered to God and to their brothers and sisters, and to remind them that as a church family, we would do all we could to offer support to them and their families.

The response from the congregation was astonishing. As he stood on the patio following the services, dozens of men and women who were living with a mental illness, or who loved someone living with a mental illness, lined up to give him a hug and to thank him for bringing their struggle into the light. Many spoke through their tears about the deep gratitude they felt to hear mental illness mentioned from the pulpit in such a loving and positive way. “I’ve kept my illness a secret at church,” several said. “I didn’t know it was okay to talk about it.”

That simple, grace-filled prayer instantly changed…

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From Brokenness

It’s possible that, as you read this article, you have conflict and chaos happening in your life right now. Perhaps you’ve just lost a job, or a significant relationship in your life seems to be falling apart, or you’re dealing with a loss or health crisis you didn’t see coming.

Here’s the good news . . . God wants to bless you when you’re broken!

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1,4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (NIV). In other words, life is a series of opposites.

The Bible says that sometimes weeping is appropriate. Sometimes mourning is appropriate. Sometimes grieving is appropriate. In fact, God blesses you when you grieve.

Processing grief is absolutely essential and is the healthiest choice when you experience a loss. It is essential to your emotional health, your spiritual health, your physical health, and your mental health. In fact, grief is God’s tool to get you through the transitions of life.

There is no growth in your life without change….

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Prayer on the Beach

“I will . . . station myself . . .” (Habakkuk 2:1 NIV).

If you want to get God’s vision for your life and ministry, you must want to hear it, you must withdraw to hear it, and then you must wait to hear it.

The New International Version says, “I will . . . station myself“( Habakkuk 2:1 NIV). What does it mean to station yourself before God? It means stay put. It means, “I’m not moving.” It means, “I’m going to be still. I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.”

Hurry is the death of prayer. And, as pastors, we feel all kinds of pressure to get in a hurry. Yet God won’t speak to us as we run out the door. He wants us to care enough to linger and listen in our prayer time.

So many times, we’re running so revved up, we can’t slow down enough to tune in to God.

So, how do you slow down? You calm your mind by relaxing your body. You take deep breaths and you relax your muscles and let the…

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Thinking

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building his church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility with fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses; humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul was able say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was honest about his weaknesses. In addition he said, “I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but he does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility, but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that he wants you to be because of fear.

We…

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Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down neglect, conflict, or from misunderstanding. 

Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?

The Bible tells us that the secret to great relationships, is humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward on another” (NIV).

You’re not dressed for successful relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility.

The cross shows that you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed. Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It is does not mean denying your strengths, but rather it’s being honest about your weaknesses. 

Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself. 

One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because, frankly, many people are unwilling to do the serious difficult work that humility requires. There are five steps that you can take in humbly restoring a broken relationship.

1. Ask…

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Baptisms at Saddleback Church

At Saddleback Church, we’ve always given a lot of attention to baptism, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve had so many baptisms over the years. A little boy asked me one time, “When can I get advertised?” That’s the mindset I want our congregation to have about baptism: “When can I get advertised? When can I publicly proclaim that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ?”

The most basic way I spotlight baptism at Saddleback is by talking regularly in my sermons about the value, the purpose, and the benefits of baptism. The sermon doesn’t have to be specifically focused on baptism to make the connection either.

We have found that a sizeable number of people intend to be baptized, but they never do it. They say, “I’ll do it next month,” but then the next month they forget. So any time I promote baptism, I challenge people to commit on the spot to being baptized. There are a couple ways I do this.

First, during our services, we give everyone a card that includes a place where people can indicate a desire to be baptized. Asking people for a commitment…

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Photo Credit: Aaron Burden

If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the New Testament shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations.

Rely on supernatural power

“Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:3-4 NLT).

We don’t just talk about God; we experience him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit.

Microsoft doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The United States government doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The Red Cross doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. No other organization has the power of God in it. God promised his Spirit to help his church.

Use everybody’s language

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4 NLT).

This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the Gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their…

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You can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three Ts for a thriving walk with Jesus . . .

1.  Time

It takes time to get to know somebody. I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did 5 years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It just takes time. When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious. It makes you more natural. In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious. He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd. My wife tells me this all the time. My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people. Meanwhile Kay would like to get with one person and…

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