Archives For Rick Warren

Part One: Start with People

I love the practicality and simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. It was clear, relevant, and applicable.  He aimed for application because his goal was to transform people, not merely inform them.

Consider the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount:

  • Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness;
  • Then he talked about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.
  • Next he spoke of keeping promises and returning good for evil.
  • Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven, and how to overcome worry.
  • He wraps up his message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs, and warning us about false teachers.
  • Finally, he concludes with a simple story that emphasizes the importance of acting on what he’s taught: Put into practice what you’ve just learned!

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today. It changes lives! It’s not enough to simply proclaim, “Christ is the Answer.” We must show the unchurched how Christ is…

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There has never been a more appealing and interesting preacher than Jesus. Why not model him?

Jesus’ preaching attracted enormous crowds, and the Bible often records the positive reactions of those crowds to his teaching.

  • Matthew 7:28 – “… the crowds were amazed at his teaching.”
  • Matthew 22:33 (TLB) – “… the crowds were profoundly impressed.”
  • Mark 11:18 (TLB) – “… people were so enthusiastic about Jesus’ teaching.”
  • Mark 12:37 (NASB) – “The great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”

These crowds had never heard anyone speak to them the way Jesus did. They were spellbound by his delivery.

To capture the attention of unbelievers like Jesus did, we must communicate spiritual truth the way he did. I believe that Jesus – not anyone else – must be our model for preaching. Unfortunately, some homiletics classes pay more attention to Aristotle and Greek rhetoric than to how Jesus taught.

In John 12:49 Jesus admitted, “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”  Notice that both the content AND the delivery style were directed by the Father. This is extremely important to note. We often overlook the manner in which Jesus preached.

There’s so much we can…

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Weak Rock

I think there are two great confessions in the Bible. One of them is Peter’s great confession in Mark 8:29: “You are the Christ.” Our faith is built on that great confession. Then there’s what I call Paul’s great confession in Acts 14:15 at Iconium: “We too are only men, human like you.” (NIV) I know a lot of pastors who are quick to agree with the first confession, but they’re more cautious to proclaim Paul’s confession. A lot of us are more interested in proclaiming our spirituality than admitting our humanity. We want to deny that we are mere mortals and appear super human.

But to deny your humanity is not only untruthful, it’s a disservice to both yourself and those you serve. The fact is that God likes to take weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

In this context, I’m not talking about sins of character – like greed, overeating, or laziness. I mean any limitation in your life or ministry that you’ve inherited and can’t change.

Maybe it’s a circumstantial limitation or a disadvantage that you’re facing in your church. It could be emotional limitations, scars we all carry from childhood. It…

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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 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 that 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, 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 sent out for their…

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I first began to understand the importance of teams as a seminary student. I did a study of the 100 largest churches in the United States, and I asked them a series of questions related to staff and ministry. This may come as no surprise, but the study showed strong churches have a strong team spirit.

They do this by combining two things: a common goal with good communication.

Both of these elements have to be present. You can have people working on the same project but not communicating with each other, and they ARE NOT a team. You can have people who communicate well, but are not working toward the same goal, and that is NOT a team, even if you call them that.

Let me give you some foundation on why I think this is important:

First, the body of Christ functions as a team ministry.

Romans 12:4-5 says that, just as there are many parts to our bodies, likewise there are many parts to Christ’s Body. Essentially, God designed it so that we all need each other to have a fully functioning ministry and EVERY ONE of your staff members (or lay ministry leaders) plays…

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Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

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Shoot for the Moon

Is it possible to be filled with faith and doubt at the same time? Yes!

You can have faith that God wants you to do something and still be scared to death. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is going ahead and doing what you’re called to do in spite of your fear.

You have to begin with the faith you already have: it may be just a little, but you start there. A beautiful example of this is the story of the man who brought his sick son to Jesus in Mark 9. Jesus looked at the man and said, “I can heal your son. If you will believe, I will heal him.”

The father then makes a classic statement: “Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

Have you ever felt like that? “Lord, I have some faith. But I also have some doubts.” This man was filled with faith and doubt, yet despite his honest doubts, he went ahead and asked Jesus for a miracle. And he got his miracle – Jesus healed his son.

No matter how weak or how frail you think your faith is, it’s enough….

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Clear Lake

No matter how many times I hear it, it still shocks me: A pastor announces his resignation because of adultery. Often it’s with someone within his church, sometimes even someone actively involved in ministry, such as a choir member or Sunday school teacher.

It’s such an incredible waste of God’s resources that it not only grieves me, it angers me. I have told my staff that if any of them even flirt with temptation, I will come after them with a baseball bat, and I’ve told them to do the same with me.

As Christian leaders, we need to be above reproach. Paul wrote, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” (1 Cor. 10:12, Msg)

That’s why I established these Saddleback Staff Standards for maintaining moral integrity:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex. *
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you. *
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could…

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It’s not uncommon for me to remind the leaders at Saddleback that they have my permission to make at least one mistake a week. I tell this to staff members and to lay leaders, explaining periodically that it’s OK to make mistakes — provided they’re not making the same mistakes over and over again each week.

Now, obviously, I don’t want the leaders at Saddleback to fall into sloppy habits, but I do want them to feel free to fail because that means they’ll also feel free to take risks! My point is that, if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re probably not trying anything new. And, if you’re not trying anything new, then you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, then you and your ministry will quickly be out-of-date, perhaps even irrelevant.

The secret to being innovative is not being afraid to fail. So, let me encourage you to take risks in your ministry. Don’t be afraid to try different methods or to think way out of the box. The great inventor, Thomas Edison, saw mistakes in a positive light, saying they taught you the things that won’t work, freeing you to discover…

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Napoleon once pointed to a map of China and said, “There lies a sleeping giant. If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable.” Today the American church is a sleeping giant. Each Sunday, church pews are filled with members who are doing nothing with their faith except “keeping” it.

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. He 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. One of the key challenges facing a pastor is positioning his church as a creative place that needs the expression of all sorts of talents and abilities, not just singers, ushers and Sunday school teachers. And one of the reasons enthusiasm is so low in many churches is that creativity is discouraged. Great ideas are shot…

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Saddleback Patio

We’re right in the middle of our Daring Faith campaign at Saddleback and lives are already being changed in amazing ways! One element of this campaign is that we’re asking people to give to some really big goals. We’ve printed a brochure helping people to clearly understand every aspect of the campaign, and one section of that brochure is designed to help people have confidence when they give.

A Church Worthy of Your Support

Any time you are asked to consider giving to an organization you should ask three questions:

1. Do they have a track record of success and effectiveness?

2. Do I trust the leadership and have they proven to be competent?

3. Will they make the best use of my gift?

With a 35-year record of effective ministry, global impact, world-wide respect, and countless changed lives, you can be certain that your gifts to Saddleback Church will produce the greatest impact for Jesus. After planting 15 campuses around the world, training over 400,000 other churches in the purpose driven strategy and sending PEACE teams to every nation in the world, it would be difficult to find a more influential church. At…

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America is in its worst condition in our generation. Politically, our government has been paralyzed by partisanship. Culturally, we’re becoming more and more secular. And internationally, our reputation has never been lower.

America needs healing.

We need healing in our economy. We need healing in our businesses. We need healing in our schools. We need healing in our marriages and our families. And, most of all, we need healing in our hearts.

But our wounds are not fatal. I’m very hopeful. My hope is not based upon some vague wish. It’s rooted in the Word of God. It’s rooted in the belief that even when life is tough, God is good and he has a plan and purpose for our lives and for our country.

So what will it take to heal our land?

Almost 3,000 years ago God made a promise to King Solomon that’s particularly appropriate for us to internalize today. It’s a promise that he has made to all of us – even 21st century America. God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I…

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