Archives For Rick Warren

UnityOne of the reasons why Saddleback church has grown over the years is because we have maintained a harmonious atmosphere.  When there is a church that is loving, it attracts people like a magnet.  When a church really loves, really offers love to each other and those who are welcomed into it, you’d have to lock the doors to keep people out.  Because Saddleback is a loving church, we continue to reach out and we continue to grow.

Growth is automatic.  All living things grow and if a church is alive and living, it will grow naturally.  The question, if a church isn’t growing, is, “What is keeping it from growing?”  If you remove the barriers to growth in your ministry or in the church as a whole, it will automatically grow.

A simple reading of Romans 14 reveals six ways that we are to build each other up rather than tearing each other down.

1.  The first commitment to make to grow a more harmonious church is committing ourselves to building each other up.  What kind of difference would it make if all of your church’s staff and key leaders began to write one…

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Plenty of highly charismatic leaders have bombed out and failed because they lacked character, which trumps charisma every time. You don’t have to have charisma to be a leader.  You do have to have character, credibility, because leadership is influence and if you don’t have credibility nobody is going to follow you.

While your reputation is about what people say you are, character is who you really are.  D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark when nobody is looking.”  In Timothy 3:1-13, Paul lays out the necessary characteristics for church leadership.  He never addresses having a robust resume, having gone to the right seminary, or having a magnetic public persona. He talks about character traits.

Leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. There is no one particular leadership personality. In fact, there are many. You don’t have to be outgoing to be a leader. God wants to use your personality. Paul was a choleric.  Peter was a sanguine.  Moses was a melancholic. Abraham was a phlegmatic.  They are as different as night and day.  God used them all.

The fact is you will burn out if you try to imitate…

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ThinkingWhen Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building His church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility and fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses and humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul could say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was also honest about his weaknesses and he said, ”I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but He does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that He wants you to be because…

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You Are BeautifulWe affirm people when we treat them with dignity, knowing that they matter to God. If you want to stand out in your leadership, one secret puts you head and shoulders above everybody else – be an encourager. Encouragement is very difficult to find today.  The Bible says, “Encourage each other and build each other up.”

In America, we live in a very negative culture.  Most people get far more jeers than cheers, far more pokes than strokes.  We live in a society where the number one form of humor is put downs.  People are put down, criticized, maligned.

God calls us to do the exact opposite.  God says, as believers and especially as Pastors and church leaders, we are to value everybody.  When you look around at people — even people who are insulting you and putting you down, you must realize that God died for them.  He sent His Son for them and they matter greatly to God.  When you appreciate people, you raise their value.  Appreciation means to raise in value.  If you have bought or sold real estate in these last few years, you know the meaning…

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BullseyeThe Bible is clear that Christians must be “doers of the Word and not hearers only,” (James 1:22) so it’s clear that our responsibility as Pastors and preachers of the Word is to challenge people to do something in response to what we’ve said. In other words, the goal of preaching is life change.

How can you add more application into our message to make God’s Word more doable? Always aim for a specific response.

The greatest weakness of most preaching is that the sermon has a fuzzy focus. So many sermons are vague & abstract because the pastor isn’t really clear about why he is teaching this particular message, nor does he give the audience a specific direction to go in response.

It’s easy to be abstract, but it takes effort to be specific, but nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific! A well-prepared sermon should be more like a bullet than buckshot. Know your purpose and aim right for it!

The most important question you can be asking as you are in the process of studying and preparing your sermon is what specific response am I going to ask for?

Since you are preaching for action, for a verdict, and for…

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Vision+44One of your most important roles as a pastor is as vision caster. Sharing the vision of your church can’t be a one-time event.

The Bible says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.” (Proverbs 29:18, MSG)

As the leader, God has called you to help your congregation see what God is doing in your midst.

That’s why you must continually put the vision of your church before your congregation—at least every 26 days. That’s the Nehemiah Principle.

In Nehemiah’s story of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, halfway through the project people got discouraged and wanted to give up. Like many churches, they lost their sense of purpose and, as a result, became overwhelmed with fatigue, frustration and fear.  Nehemiah rallied the people back to work by reorganizing the project and recasting the vision.  He reminded them of the importance of their work and reassured them that God would help them fulfill his purpose (Neh. 4:6-15).

Although the wall took only 52 days to complete, the people became discouraged at the halfway point: just 26 days into the project! Nehemiah had to renew their vision.

You’ve got to…

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TransitionIf your church has plateaued in its growth for a while or shows signs of being unhealthy, things may need to change, and the Pastor is the point person to produce positive change in any church’s culture. Having said that, leading a church through change is difficult, and sometimes can be detrimental if you don’t consider some important questions before starting the process.

Three aspects of change you should evaluate before shaking things up are:

Location

  • Is this church in the right place for growth?
  • Are there more people around this church that we should be reaching?
  • Does this church actually need to die and be reborn somewhere else?
  • Is there a more receptive area where we could reach more people?
  • Could I be a more effective leader somewhere else?
  • What is the realistic potential if the church is renewed successfully?

Leadership

  • Am I the right Pastor to lead this change?
  • Is this the kind of church I should be pastoring?
  • Do I match the congregation? Do I match the community?
  • Is the existing leadership likely to support me in change?

Longevity

The final question you need to wrestle with is, Am I willing to give the rest of my life to this church? If you…

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Too many churches are led by wounded pastors and leaders who can’t really love people or be vulnerable or focus on the future because of past rejection and hurt. But there is healing for wounded leaders!

There are a lot of things that wound us in life.  Maybe you were wounded because somebody lied to you.  Maybe a promise was made to you that was broken. Or maybe you were in a conflict with a church member or fellow leader. In that conflict some angry words were said and you were deeply wounded.  Maybe you were wounded by a betrayal, by rejection, or by being misunderstood.  You may have been wounded by being devalued, overlooked, or not valued enough.  And you can be wounded by loneliness.

There are a lot of things in life that wound you, but God says, I need you to let go of these things.  Get them out of the garbage bag and throw them over the cliff so you don’t have to deal with them any more.

David said in Psalm 109, “My heart is wounded…

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PrayerYou can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three T’s for a thriving walk with Jesus…

1.  TIME.

It takes time to get to know somebody.  I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did five years ago or ten years ago or twenty years ago.  It just takes time.  When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious.  It makes you more natural.  In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious.  He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd.  My wife tells me this all the time.  My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people.  Meanwhile Kay would like to get with one person and spend an hour…

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Rev. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847. Preacher and social reformer (shown preaching)Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said… but I say to you…” And even today, his thoughts on leadership go against the grain.

Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice – be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.

The fact is, everybody has weaknesses. And our weaknesses are multi-faceted. We have physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual weaknesses. The question is, what do you do with your weaknesses? While most people deny, defend, or excuse their weaknesses, Christian leaders can embrace them and ask God to use them! When God works through weak people, His power is shown more clearly!

Let me define what I’m talking about when I use the word weakness. I’m not talking about a character flaw that can and should be changed. A weakness is any limitation…

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The Post-It PrankPastors, we tend to share a lot throughout the year. Some of you are preparing two or three messages and presentations every week. When you repeat that process 52 times in a year, life gets exhausting. How do you stay motivated to keep going?

Let me share with you how I’ve managed to motivate myself. Here are seventeen things you can do to keep yourself motivated.

1. Put your plans on paper.

Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. 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 down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague.

A lot of us go around with anxiety which is this free-floating, vague fear that I’m not getting it all accomplished. Just the very fact of putting it down, a lot of times, gives credence and relief to your mind and you’re able to focus on it.

2. Break big tasks into small steps.

When I’m preparing a sermon, I think, “What do I have to do? I’ve got to collect the verses, study the…

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Purpose Driven ChurchWhen I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I predicted that church health – not church growth – would be the primary concern of the 21st Century church. I believe that prediction is proving itself true.

The New Testament says a lot about the health of the church. Consider just a few verses:

“As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow,
so that the whole body is healthy and growing. …” (Ephesians 4:16b, NLT)

“The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church.” (2 Corinthians 2:9, Msg)

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other. …” (James 3:18, Msg)

Church health is the key to church growth. All living things grow if they’re healthy. You don’t have to make them grow – it’s just natural for living organisms. As a parent, I didn’t have to force my three children to grow. They naturally grew up. As long as I removed the hindrances, such as…

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