Archives For Rick Warren

Crosses on a Hill

On Easter Sunday, churches around the world invite their communities to come in and listen to two big, bold claims. First, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, died for their sins and then came back from the dead. And second, that anyone who puts their trust in the risen Jesus will live forever.

That’s a lot to take in for someone who has never given serious thought to the Good News of Jesus before. So when people find their way into your congregation on this very important Sunday, remember how vital it is to practice the ministry of hospitality and be good hosts to spiritual seekers.

Obviously, we should be preparing for the evangelistic opportunity of Easter Sunday long before the big day, but there are still some things you can do in the last 24 to 48 hours leading up to your Easter weekend services that can make a big difference in how effectively you reach people.

1. Do one last big promotional push on social media.

It’s easy and affordable to sponsor an ad on most major social networks. Advertising for Easter Sunday several weeks in…

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Man Praying

We’re looking for better methods, machinery, and motivations, which are all okay, but God is looking for people to use. He is looking for leaders.

And for God to use the leaders, they must be men and women of God.

We have a sample of a leader’s prayer in the book of Nehemiah. You can learn a lot about people by the kinds of prayers they pray.

Remember that Nehemiah, when he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, prayed for four months before taking action. This is not just a casual prayer. The prayer we’re going to look at this week is just a sample prayer he prayed. It gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray as a leader, study the book of Nehemiah, and particularly examine the prayer Nehemiah prays in the first chapter.

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah.

1. Base your requests on God’s character.

Pray like you know God will answer you . . .

I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a…

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In Nehemiah 5, the Israelites faced conflict for one of the same reasons we do today: selfishness. So, what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Take the problem seriously. (v. 6)

Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem; he took it seriously. When the unity of your church gets challenged, it’s your job to protect that unity. It’s serious business.

In times like this, a certain level of anger is completely appropriate and right. Leadership means knowing the difference between the right kind of anger and the wrong kind of anger.

2. Think before you speak. (v. 7)

If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind” (NIV). Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God, and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do you want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God…

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There are a lot of reasons a church might grow. Sometimes people come because of the preaching. Sometimes people come because of the music. Some people like the great programs for kids and youth.

But I’m convinced that amid all of our emphasis in the last few decades on building weekend services that are more attractive to outsiders, there’s an often overlooked factor in church growth . . .

Growing churches are friendly to guests.

All churches think they’re friendly, but when you take a good look at them, you often discover they’re friendly to people who have been attending for 15 years or more—not to new people.

A guest’s experience in the first 12 minutes dramatically influences whether they’re coming back or not. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When non-Christians come to your church for the first time, their number one emotion is fear. What will people think? What are they going to do? Am I going to have to sign something, sing something, sacrifice something, or say something?

They don’t know what’s going on, and they’re scared to death.

Your first goal with guests (and by the way, I…

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5 Ways to Relax When You're Overworked

As ministry leaders, we approach each day with passion because we’re working for God, and our mission is literally to see the world saved. But the fact is, there will always be more work to do in ministry, and that’s why we must deliberately take time away from work.

God did it, resting one day after working six, so why should we think the world will fall apart if we aren’t on the job 24/7?

Here are five steps you can take toward recovery from ministry workaholism.

R – Readjust Your Values

The costs of workaholism are enormous: divorce, alcohol abuse, heart attacks and other illnesses, fragmented and fractured relationships, unhappiness, and loneliness.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why am I working so hard? Do a motive check. What drives you to do this? Are you trying to prove something?

Is the payoff worth it? Why do you keep fighting to get to the next level? What can you realistically expect? Is it worth sacrificing your life for it?

Your life is too important to waste on second-class causes. Readjust your values.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with…

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Small Groups

The designation “active member,” in most churches, simply means those who attend regularly and financially support the church. Not much more is expected. But God has far greater expectations for every Christian.

God expects every Christian to use their gifts and talents in ministry. If we can ever awaken and unleash the massive talent, resources, creativity, and energy found in the typical local church, Christianity will explode with growth at an unprecedented rate.

I believe that the greatest need in evangelical churches is the release of members for ministry. A healthy pastor nurtures a healthy church by creating an intentional, well-planned system for uncovering, mobilizing, and supporting the giftedness of its members. People must be given a simple process to follow that will lead them to deeper commitment and greater service for Christ. They need a track on which they can move forward.

At Saddleback, we use the CLASS system to accomplish this. We offer four separate classes, all designed to move people forward incrementally in their commitment level to Jesus and to the church.

  • In Class 101, we move people into membership.
  • In Class 201, we teach members how to be spiritually mature.
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Colorful

God intentionally created everyone to be unique. And when we appreciate the uniqueness that we see in others, we truly honor the creative work of God around us. The world is a work of art, full of color and full of diversity.

Nobody looks quite like you look. You’re not one in a million; you’re one in 7 billion! And if you have a problem with people who are different from you, you really have a problem with God. Racism is essentially believing that God should have made everyone else to be just like you.

First Corinthians 15:38-40 says, “God gives everything the kind of body he wants it to have. People, animals, birds, and fish are each made of flesh, but none of them are alike. Everything in the heavens has a body, and so does everything on earth. But each one is very different from all the others” (CEV). That’s intentionality.

Then the Bible says, in Acts 17:26, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be” (CEV).

We all ultimately descended from two mutual parents, Adam and Eve. Our unity was fractured by sin…

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Walking Together as a Group

We may attract attenders through preaching, but disciples are made in small groups.

When you’re leading a campaign, like 40 Days of Prayer, or anytime in the future as you lead your congregation toward a deeper relationship with Jesus, you’ll want to explain to your members why small groups are so important to spiritual growth and why they are more than just a Bible study.

Small groups provide the kind of accountability and support we need to mature as believers, so I want to give you four reasons why they are important to your congregation.

1. Small groups are relational.

You can’t have a conversation with 600 people or 60 people, but you can have a conversation with six people. Generally, when there are more than 10 in a group, people stop talking. It is impossible to learn how to love your neighbor as yourself unless you are involved in a small group of some kind. You don’t need a lot of friends in life, but you do need a few good ones, and you find those solid, supportive friendships in small groups.

Sometimes I hear people say they don’t…

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If God allowed you to baptize hundreds of new believers, add hundreds of new members, and increase your average attendance by thousands in just 40 days, would you call that a revival?

If, during those same 40 days, God prompted people in your church who were previously uninvolved to start serving in ministry, and caused others to commit to a world missions project, what would you call that? An awakening?

What term would you use if God led your members to become so concerned for their spiritually lost friends that they convinced their neighbors to study the Bible for six weeks in one of thousands of small groups meeting in homes around your city? A miracle?

Well, whatever you call it, all this has actually happened at Saddleback Church during the various campaigns we’ve conducted over the years, and we stand in awe at what God has done. And God has repeatedly worked through campaigns hosted by thousands of churches around the world in similar ways.

Untold thousands have come to Christ and have been baptized, welcomed into church membership, connected to a small group or Sunday School class, taught the meaning of real worship and fellowship, equipped for ministry, and then…

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Dreaming

Everybody needs a dream. In fact, God wired you to dream dreams, and from Joseph to Daniel to Peter, the Bible is filled with stories of God giving his people great dreams.

Whenever you first got involved in ministry, you probably started with a big dream. Unfortunately, as you get into that ministry, your dreams can shrink to the size of the situation.

If you’re going to be involved in ministry, you’ve got to continue to be a dreamer. You’ve got to have faith in what God can do through your ministry. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). Faith begins with catching a dream, a vision.

When I started Saddleback, I started with a dream. In fact, at the very first Saddleback trial service, I shared that dream with the 60 people in the room. I shared a bold dream that day—a dream of a church of 20,000 people ministering in Orange County and around the world, a dream of a campus that would be a refuge for the hurting, depressed, frustrated, and confused in our community, and a dream of sharing the Good News with…

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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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