Archives For Rick Warren

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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When it comes to ministry leadership, I don’t focus on trying to motivate other people. I worry about motivating me, and if I’m motivated it will be contagious. This is true in any area of ministry. Your duty is not necessarily to motivate others. But if you stay motivated, people will catch your enthusiasm. They will catch your vision.

1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor is not in vain.” I spend most of the weeks of the year preparing to preach multiple services on the weekend, plus writing and all of the other speaking opportunities that come along. I have to continually come up with material that is fresh and powerful and practical and witty and useful in people’s lives, and that’s a burden, but I manage to stay motivated. This list isn’t deeply theological – it’s just practical, usable advice.

1.  Put your plans on paper (or on screen).

Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it…

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Instead of hiding and denying our weaknesses, we need to learn to recognize them. We need to learn to share them. And we need to learn to glory in our weaknesses.

If God is ever going to use you greatly, you’ll walk with a limp the rest of your life. I have struggled with a handicap all my life. I was born with a brain disorder. My staff knows about it. My church knows about it. My prayer team knows about it. I was born with a disorder in my brain chemistry that makes public speaking excruciatingly painful for me. It is a genetic problem that is resistant to any medication.

In a nutshell, my brain over reacts to adrenaline. I’m allergic to adrenaline. First I get very dizzy. My vision blurs and then it blacks out. Sometimes I get headaches – severe headaches and sometimes severe hot flashes. Any of you who have ever seen me speak have seen me wipe my face. But the most common reaction to this is an absolute sense of irrational panic. Sometimes I’m speaking and I cannot even…

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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…

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Rick Warren PreachingHopefully, by October, you’re already thinking through your preaching calendar for next year. Part of shepherding a congregation toward long term health is offering a balanced diet from the pulpit. Your preaching over a twelve-month period should be pre-planned with certain factors built in.

Before a new year begins, I try to identify eight to twelve series’ that I’m going to do for the year. What I’m looking for most is balance. There is no way I’m going to be able to use all of the themes that I come up with, but I want to be balanced. And I want to look at several factors as I seek that balance.

First I want to be balanced in content.  That means I need to do a doctrinal series, a relational series, and an ethical series. I want to strike a balance between Old Testament and New Testament. And I want to preach to people at various stages of spiritual growth.

Second, I want to have balance in terms of style. I may do a character series such as a series on Moses, Joseph,  or Joshua from Hebrews 11. I may also do a…

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If you want your church to grow, you must learn how to motivate believers to invest their resources into the kingdom for ministry and for facilities. It is a key responsibility of leadership. Whoever writes the agenda must be able to underwrite the agenda. If you’re going to form the vision you also have to be able to fund the vision.

A lot of pastors, a lot of elders, lot of church leaders have a real hangup about asking people to give. They allow personal insecurities and personal fears to limit the ministry. You don’t need to be embarrassed about asking people to give. There is nothing greater than the kingdom of God. There is no more significant cause than the church.

I am very much against fundraising, but I am in favor of teaching people to give.  Fundraising is what I call collecting money from other people in return for a product, service, reward or recognition. But in giving, we simply challenge ourselves to give out of our own resources for spiritual reasons. The result of fundraising is that funds are collected.  The results of…

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If you want your church to grow, and if you want the Kingdom to grow, you’re going to need to develop many more leaders. In the early church, an interesting turn of events happens when the apostles shift from simply preaching to releasing leaders.

The Bible says in the early chapters of Acts that God was “adding” to the church daily. Shortly into the life of the Jerusalem church, there arose a conflict between Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews over the care of orphans and widows. The apostles asked for leaders from the church to be pointed out and then they released seven men to oversee a new area of ministry. Suddenly, the terminology changes from God “adding” to the church to the church “multiplying.”

Out of Acts, chapter 6, we can take away at least seven lessons for churches that want to grow by empowering and releasing more leaders.

1. A growing church is a Biblical idea.

It says, “In those days the number of disciples were increasing.” If a church is not growing, it is often because something is unhealthy. Healthy things grow. Unless the community…

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