Archives For Rick Warren

Fishing Net

Some of the greatest preachers in history were great at introducing and delivering sermons, but poor at closing them. We preach Christ and we preach a gospel that calls for commitment, so powerful preaching presses for a verdict.

This is an area I spend a lot of time on when I’m preparing a message because a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. Changed lives come from great conclusions. John Stott said, “If there’s no summons, there’s no sermon.”

First, avoid these four common mistakes:

  • Don’t just summarize the message. Ask people to act.
  • Don’t announce that you’re concluding, especially if you don’t mean it.
  • Don’t blame the clock and rush to a conclusion.
  • Don’t introduce new ideas or extra points in your conclusion.

Instead, conclude by doing these things:

1. Always point back to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is center-stage. The goal of preaching is not to get people to fall in love with you as the preacher but to get them to fall in love with Jesus. Since the Bible is the story of Jesus’ redemptive work, every sermon ought to draw people to the cross and the resurrection of…

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Every leader needs mentors and models – typically other leaders just ahead of where we are in our growth and our journey. And every leader also needs to be mentoring and modeling those just behind us. This is the only way for discipleship to take on the multi-generational nature described by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (NLT)

In order to both mentor and be mentored effectively, it’s important to see how the relationship between Paul and Timothy developed over time. It unfolded in three phases.

Phase One: Parenthood

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he addresses him as “my true son in the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:2) We first meet Timothy in Acts 16 when Paul is heading out on his second missionary journey. He stops in Lystra to pick up the young disciple who accompanies him, assists him, and serves as a sort of apprentice under him. Timothy’s biological father was Greek, but no evidence is ever given that he was a…

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Road Ahead

Many leaders never achieve the level of influence they could potentially have because they drift through life on autopilot, maintaining the status quo, without a big ambition. They have no master plan, no big purpose, no dreams pulling them along. But if you’re going to be a great leader, you need to dream great dreams.

When you stop dreaming, you start dying. If you have no goals, you have no growth. God put it in your mind the ability to think great thoughts and dream great dreams and to have great visions. When you’re stretching and growing and developing, you’re a healthy human being. We grow by being stretched. We grow by facing new challenges. In fact, I would say that if you’re not facing any challenges right now, you need to go find one quick.

There are three common misconceptions that keep people from having a great ambition in life, and these are especially prevalent among Pastors and Christian leaders.

We confuse humility and fear

God wants you to be humble, but He does not want you to be fearful. And fear will prevent you from accomplishing meaningful things. Every leaders is unique, with an…

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The Bible says that pastors are accountable to God to manage and direct the church (see 1 Peter 5, 1 Timothy 3:5, 1 Timothy 5:17). Good shepherds are good protectors against wolves, and wolves are everywhere. The Bible also says that members of the flock are accountable to submit to the leadership of the church (see Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Corinthians 16:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). God warns pastors about people in the church that have an unhealthy interest in controversy, arguments that result in envy, quarreling, strife, evil suspicions and friction between men.

Satan’s favorite way to destroy a church and its effectiveness is to make it ingrown by creating dissension. If you’ve been a Pastor for any length of time, you’ve seen this happen. Much of the email that we receive from Pastors pertains to handling conflicts and sorting out the relational issues that occur in the church. You may have personally seen a good church go under or be neutralized because of dissension.

Because it is the advancement of God’s kingdom that is at stake, pastors are charged by God to do whatever is necessary to prevent this. Specifically, there are six things pastors are…

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Re-Ignite Your Passion

Passion is what energizes life. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact if you don’t have any passion in your life, ministry will become boring, dull, routine, monotonous. I’ll go so far as say if you don’t have passion in your life you are not living. You are existing. God made you to live a passionate life and to serve Him and His people with vitality. With vibrancy. With energy. With enthusiasm. He wants you to have this in your life.

In John 10 Jesus said “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  God wants you to live a full life, a fulfilling life, which is the basis for a fulfilling ministry. If that’s true that’s the kind of life God meant for us to live life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Sadly, however, countless thousands of pastors and ministry leaders are simply enduring, holding on for the ride and hoping to survive until death without blowing it too badly.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son…

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You want God to use you to influence others in ministry or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. And for God to really use you, you have to be willing and able to get close to people and enjoy real relationships with them. But having mentored thousands of pastors all over the world, it’s pretty apparent that we’re dying of relational isolation.

Many of your relationship problems are not really relationship problems. They’re personal problems that spill over into relationships. Many of your relationship conflicts, including conflicts with people within the church, are really conflicts within you. They are internal battles. If you want to have great relationships and therefore be a better leader, you’ve got to start with some changes in yourself first rather than expecting everyone around you to change and fix your internal issues for you.

The Bible says in Romans 12:9, “Love from the center of who you are.  Don’t fake it.”  (MSG) Authenticity is when what you see is what you get. It’s when you don’t play a role, you don’t wear a mask. Most pastors…

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If God’s objective for every believer is to transform us into total Christlikeness, then the objective of preaching is to motivate people to develop Christlike convictions (to think like Jesus), Christlike character (to feel like Jesus), and Christlike conduct (to act like Jesus). Every other objective of preaching is secondary. At the end of the sermon, if people aren’t being transformed in how they think, feel, and act, I’ve missed the mark as a preacher.

To put it another way, the ultimate goal of preaching is not information. In fact, giving people a greater knowledge of the Bible can cause pride to develop in our hearers rather than humility if that information isn’t translated into obedience. And the goal if preaching is not merely instruction either. Preaching certainly includes instruction, but there is more to preaching that mere behavior modification. The goal of well-rounded preaching is transformation and obedience.

If we preach with life transformation as our goal, then the result will be believers who are more obedient to the Bible, and we call obedient believers disciples. Just look at the challenges Jesus gave as He taught people – He continually…

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301 TentSaddleback’s purpose statement has been quietly guiding much of our decision-making for nearly three decades. Our purpose statement is:

To bring people to Jesus and membership in his family, develop them to Christlike maturity, and equip them for their ministry in the church and their life mission in the world in order to magnify God’s name.

That statement captures the five purposes God has given the church. Though the five purposes are the same for every church, each church must decide how to articulate those purposes in a way that shapes the culture of the church, but there are at least three characteristics of an effective purpose statement.

1. It is stated in terms of results instead of activities. The church shouldn’t be defined or driven merely by activities or functions. Instead, we’re to be driven by our intended product – changed lives! We are in the business of developing disciples, so we state our purpose in terms that can be measured for effectiveness.

2. It is stated in a way that encourages participation. It’s something everyone can be involved in. Within those five purposes, and among the many different ministries that flow out of them, there is room…

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Christmas at Saddleback

If the two times of the year that guests typically show up for a weekend church service are Easter and Christmas, then we have an evangelistic mandate to make the most of the opportunity to welcome them, show them grace and love, and initiate a relationship with them if at all possible. The problem is, the people who attend faithfully the other fifty Sundays of the year often forget about the priority of welcoming and greeting those who are attending for the first time.

One of the most valuable things church leaders can be doing right now is reminding their members about the fundamentals of receiving guests. And that starts with a basic understanding of the kind of guests you’re going to meet at your Christmas services.

  • There are those who come seeking – like the wise men
  • There are those who come surprised – like the shepherd
  • There are those who come distracted – like the innkeeper and his wife
  • There are those who come kicking and screaming – like Herod.

In other words, your crowd will include those who are present with family but don’t really believe, or at least they don’t believe that Jesus is for them….

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When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and as you prepare to lead your church into another new year, you must decide what will drive your congregation.

I can predict with certainty that in the next year, some churches will be driven by tradition. 2014 won’t look much different than any other year other than a few new faces and some tweaks here and there. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches will be driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings, or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, will be driven by God’s purposes next year. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission and they’ll discover that God wants His church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship – Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism – Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to…

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As pastors, we tend to like to focus on “spiritual” things. But God is the Creator of our physical bodies, and it’s in our physical bodies that we live our spiritual lives out before others. Pastors have a tendency to let our physical health go unchecked, and we have plenty of excuses such as our busy schedules, our calendar being heavy with meal-centered meetings, and our need to be behind a desk a lot to feed people spiritually.

For every excuse we can come up with to ignore our physical health, there are other pressing reasons to consider it.

  • Our longevity in ministry can be cut short by poor health.
  • Our sharpness of mind is affected by what we eat and our activity level.
  • We challenge others to live healthy lives, so we should set the example.
  • Our physical energy level rises to the demands of ministry if we’re in shape.
  • Our bodies are temples too, created by the Master Craftsmen placed under our stewardship.

The Bible is full of health rules and guidelines. I want to remind leaders of just six principles…

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Jesus said in Matthew 20:26 & 28 (Living Bible), “Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like My own. For I did not come to be served, but to serve.” Then Luke 22:26, “But among you the one who serves best will be your leader.”

These two verses are the foundation for Christian leadership. Jesus said the exact opposite of what the world says as what a real leader is. In the world, you build a pyramid and you climb to the top. But Jesus said, “No, he who serves best leads best.” Servanthood is leadership. The better you serve the more God raises you up to leadership.

Leadership is not a matter of getting people to serve your interests. Leadership is a matter of serving the best interests of others. Jesus said, If you want to be great, you learn to be the servant of all.

God is much more interested in why you do what you do than He…

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