Archives For Rick Warren


Everything rises or falls on leadership. No organization, no ministry, no church, no family, no school, no business can go any further than the leaders who are leading it. If everything rises or falls on leadership, then the quickest way for the opposition to halt any project, any family, any business is to neutralize the leadership. When the shepherd is removed, the flock scatters.

That’s true today in our churches. When Satan wants to cripple a church, he takes on the leadership. And this is not just about the pastor and the paid staff, but the church leadership’s — the lay leadership. If you want to be a leader, some people aren’t going to like you, and they’re going to attack you. Some people are going to try to make you fail.

Here are four characteristics of leaders who last long enough to accomplish big things in spite of the challenges.

1.  Leaders who last have a compelling purpose.

This is the very first element of leadership. A cause. A vision. A dream. An objective. A goal. It doesn’t drive you, it draws you. You have to have a compelling purpose.


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Rick Angel Stadium

Last week, I wrote about the 9 reasons why your church should make the most of ‘big days’ for growth. And I told you that ‘big days’ have been very instrumental in Saddleback’s growth over the last 34 years. We’ve learned the art of pyramiding growth through special days.

But how? How do we maximize those big days for all they’re worth? Here are nine ways.

1. Plan your big days around your main worship service.

You might host other special events, but if you’re hoping to enlarge your main service attendance, then you will get the most benefit out of big days if they are planned around your existing, primary weekend service(s). It’s very difficult to try to get people who attend a special event during the week to become part of your weekend service.

2.  Plan big days on a naturally high attendance day.

Have your special day on a day when people are most likely to come anyway. They include without a doubt Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas Eve. Those are a…

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Easter is coming! And it will be one of the most well-attended Sundays for churches this year. Wise church leaders will take advantage of the opportunity to present the simple but profoundly hopeful message of Jesus’ resurrection to all of the extra guests who come.

One of the secrets to Saddleback’s growth over the years is big days. There are three holidays we’ve used powerfully – Easter, Christmas Eve, and Mother’s Day – and then a few other weekends such as the kick-off or celebration of a big campaign. We plan for those days and we use them as an evangelism tool and as a stimulus to motivate our members on to growth for the rest of the year.  These days are big high points and there are some real advantages to planning big days with a special emphasis, particularly around Easter.

Here are nine reasons why high attendance days can be so meaningful. 

1. Big days build morale.

Without a doubt, people enjoy being a part of something big, something exciting. It develops unity and pride among our people. When people work together, there’s just a sense of excitement. It’s hard…

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Clay Pots

If you’re a Pastor or church leader of any kind, you most likely found yourself in that place because you want God to use you. And chances are, you want God’s help releasing and freeing other people to be used by God as well for both ministry and mission.

The question is, what kind of person must I be to be used greatly by God? 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them.”
If you want God to use you greatly, here are five things you need to do to make yourself usable by Him.

1. Keep your life clean.

The first step to being used by God is always personal cleansing. Without exception, when you find someone whom God is using in a great way, they’ve dealt with the personal sin in their lives before God.

It’s not about your past or your status in the world your your talent. God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But He will not use…

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I wrote last week about the first two of these five renewals through which God takes us as we become healthier. And here are the other three.

Missional Renewal

The third renewal is missional renewal or “purpose renewal.” This stage of renewal has to do with “purpose.” In missional renewal our church realizes that we are not here for ourselves; we’re here for a purpose. God has a job for us to do. We have a mission, an objective; we have some work to accomplish. We’re not just a little “bless me” clique where we get together in church, have a good time, love God and one another, and then go home. No, God has a purpose for us. He has a kingdom to be built. Understanding this and making God’s purposes our leadership responsibility will inevitably cause our church to grow. The book, The Purpose Driven Church, is all about purpose renewal and how to structure and organize around God’s purposes for his church.

Structural Renewal

The fourth renewal is structural renewal or “organizational renewal.” As your church begins to grow, the way it is organized—the way it makes decisions—has to change. This…

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If you are being led to change the way your church serves God’s purposes, it is helpful to understand the process of renewal. Many leaders want to start by changing the structure of their church. However, this can be destructive for you, your leadership and your church.  People don’t like to change unless their hearts have been warmed and prepared for change. We believe that when God wants to work in a church he takes it through five renewals.

I’m sharing the first two today and the other three in part two of this article.

Personal Renewal

The first renewal is personal renewal; it starts inside the heart of the leader. We cannot take people further than we have been ourselves. We cannot expect other people to be more committed to Jesus that we are. We cannot expect other people to grow or sacrifice unless we are willing to continue growing and sacrificing. We cannot expect other people to change if we are unwilling to change ourselves. We must model this in our leadership.

Personal renewal is basically when I get my life right with God. It’s when my heart warms up to Jesus, and…

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There is no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. And there is no loss without pain. A church that wants to grow without going through growing pains is like a woman who says, “I want to have a baby but I don’t want to go through labor.” Is the pain worth it? Yes, it’s worth it. People need the Lord and as long as one person doesn’t know Christ we have to keep reaching out.

As your church begins to grow you’re going to face a lot of different criticisms. But there are three really common ones to prepare for starting with these three:

1. The care issue.

As your church begins to grow, some of the people who have been around the longest will say, “Pastor, you don’t care about me anymore.” What this really translates as is, “You’re not available to me like you used to be when the church was little.” The truth is, they’re right. You aren’t. The solution to that is not that you double up and work harder.

The solution is small groups. You cannot personally care for everybody’s needs or the church…

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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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