Archives For Rick Warren

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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Caring for the Sick

The Christian approach to pain, suffering, and sickness is compassion, mercy, tenderness, and caring. Matthew records, When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)

  • He didn’t write off their illness as an illusion.
  • He didn’t blame them for their illness.
  • He didn’t discourage them or tell them to give up.

He had compassion. If you’re going to be like Jesus, you have to learn to be compassionate toward people when they’re sick.

Millions of people are suffering unnecessarily from preventable and sometimes curable diseases. Three hundred million people will contract malaria this year, but we know how to prevent it and treat it. Every day three thousand children die of a mosquito bite.

And then there are the diseases we don’t have a cure for yet, but we’re working on it. Three million people die each year from HIV/AIDS. We don’t have the cure yet, but we do know how to prevent it.

We cannot delay. We cannot procrastinate. If we’re going to be people of compassion,…

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The quickest way to destroy a team is to burn them out. And you don’t have to look around the field of ministry very long to realize that the ministry is filled with burned out leaders. But it’s possible to find a healthy working rhythm and ultimately increase the effective energy with which your leaders serve without causing them to burn out.

Every minute of every day we are using up energy, and every person has a limited amount of energy. If we keep the pace high all the time, we use up the energy people have to give like the way a car with its lights left on will wind up with a dead battery.

This is especially true in times when your ministry is growing. Growth brings change, change brings problems, and problems consume a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy from your leaders.

Here are seven ways to discover a good working rhythm and raise the energy level of your team.

1. Don’t expect every leader to work at the same energy level all the time.

We are all unique, and every leader serving in your ministry is wired differently. Some need more quiet and…

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High Pressure PreachingPreaching to people who aren’t accustomed to church isn’t like preaching to a well-churched community. Too many preachers say they want to reach people who are far from God, but they don’t adjust their preaching style to impact the spiritually lost.

One change in your preaching style to consider is how you ask for a commitment. I believe it’s essential that every Gospel preacher ask his listeners to make a commitment. Jesus did it. Paul did it. Faithful preachers throughout the ages have done it.

But an effective invitation to make a commitment to Christ isn’t a high-pressure pitch. I’ve found that pressure is actually counter-productive. It becomes a battle of the wills. It often simply hardens the heart of the listener. That’s the last thing you want!

If the fruit is ripe, you don’t have to yank it. People who listen to God’s Word on a regular basis will commit to him and his ways. It’s just a matter of time until the Holy Spirit draws the person to the Lord. Evangelism is usually a process of repeated exposures to the Good News.

In fact, we tell people at Saddleback to take…

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When we are insecure, our first reaction to change is almost always negative. We resist change. This can be particularly true of veterans with a military past who have moved away, moved around, seen hard and difficult things, and then returned home again.

Resisting change seldom works because change is inevitable. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not. You can’t stop growth. You can’t stop change. Sometimes we resent it. And sometimes we just ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist and we resent it.

The older we get, the more we want security and anything that shakes our comfortable nest threatens us. We don’t like that. We don’t like things to be unpredictable. We don’t like things to change. We want to know exactly where it’s going. We want everything to be programmed, right in place. If anything comes up that is a surprise, we resent it, because it gives us that feeling of uncertainty. So we complain and criticize and we gripe and we grumble.

Change always produces stress. Even positive changes. Negative things like an illness or death, divorce, getting fired from your job, or uprooting your family to move to…

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