God has a dream for your church. 

I’ve noticed through the years that the common denominator in every growing church, regardless of denomination or cultural context, is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. 

It’s the faith factor. Nothing happens in a church until someone dreams.

But just because God gives your church a dream doesn’t mean you won’t hit roadblocks along the way. David is a great example of this. Right after Samuel anointed him, David faced a major roadblock—a literal giant. Before he would ever lead Israel, before he even endured Saul’s harassment, David had to face one of the fiercest warriors of his time.

But before David faced Goliath, he had already battled giants that tried to derail what God wanted to do in his life. They are the same four giants that your church must defeat before God’s dream for you becomes a reality.  


1. Delay.

God won’t fulfill his dream for your church instantly. God may give your church a dream in a day, but he won’t complete it in 24 hours. It’ll take years.

David’s dad held…

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You Can Forgive Others

By Rick Warren

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

God calls us to forgive others, but how do we do that? Here are four choices that will help you let go of your pain, hurt, or bitterness.

Recognize that no one is perfect. When we’ve been hurt, we tend to lose our perspective about the person who offended us. But we need to remember that we are all imperfect people.

Relinquish your right to get even. Trust God to confront the person who hurt you and trust him to work things out for you. Choose compassion over your desire to retaliate.

Respond to evil with good. Getting even only brings you down to the other person’s level. Take the high road instead. The Bible says to treat your enemies with kindness. It’s nearly impossible to do this on your own. That’s why you need the love of Jesus to fill you up.

Refocus on God’s plan for your life. When you are focused on the people who hurt you, you’re actually letting…

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Breaking Free from Unhealthy Cycles

By Rodney and Carol Holmstrom

Coming into marriage, we brought in our individual hurts from the past. We both had low self-esteem and a dysfunctional view on what a family was supposed to look like. We bought into the lie that marriage would fix all our problems; in reality, it only amplified the issues we needed to face.

When things got tough due to my (Rodney) core beliefs that “I am not enough” resonating in my heart, I slipped into the protection of performance and proving to the world that I was enough. As a result, I hid myself in my work and became a workaholic. This caused an emotional separation between my wife and me. My false understanding of my identity and my low self-esteem affected how I treated her. One day, I came home to an empty house—my wife had left me, and we were on the brink of divorce. There had been so much damage done, I thought that there was no hope for reconciliation, much less a healthy marriage.

I (Carol) retreated behind my familiar emotional walls and masks. Within three…

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By Rodney Holmstrom, Global Field Director

I know when hard things happen around us or to us in life and ministry, it can make us a bit wobbly. It is the hard conversations or facing tough battles that feel scary and insurmountable. Or your personal struggles, seeing people close to you turn away from God, walking through hard relationship struggles, or __________. 

All this can create a rippling wave of hurt, anxiety, doubt, fear, and extensive pain in our hearts and lives. 

I know I am not immune to the same feelings and struggles and can be a little dysregulated in this space. 

Some reminders I hold onto in the messy places of life and ministry tend to help me stay the course in the dry, barren, and even difficult things that life throws at us. 

*If God has called you to this chapter in your life and ministry, He will sustain you through the journey.

*The discomfort you are feeling is temporary. Lean into God with your pain and trust that He is accessible…

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You Matter to God

By Rick Warren

One of our deepest needs is to feel secure. We want to be valued—to know that our lives matter. Many pastors get into ministry for that very reason. We’re searching for significance.

The problem is, many of us search for significance in all the wrong places. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to other pastors. We’re quietly asking ourselves (and others!) if we preach better, if we’re better leaders, and if we’re more likable than other leaders we read about and listen to. 

Inevitably, this leads to insecurity. 

God wants all of us, but particularly leaders, to be secure in his love for us. Our only foundation for self-esteem and feeling good about ourselves is understanding how much we matter to God. 

Here are three truths about how much each of us matters to God.

1. No matter how small you are, Jesus notices you.

I’ve heard from many pastors through the years who feel invisible. They don’t have a large church or a book contract. No one is asking them to speak at conferences. They mistakenly feel like no one sees them and their ministry doesn’t…

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Of all the statements Jesus made in the Gospels, one that is among the most difficult for people today to reckon with is this: “Blessed are those who are gentle. They will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 GW).

We don’t normally think of the people who “inherit the earth” as gentle. But the Bible tells us that the leaders who make a difference in the world around them are gentle. 

This goes against the grain. Too many leaders today, even Christian leaders, believe that gentleness is equivalent to weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, leading with gentleness has at least eight benefits that make you a better pastor, not a weaker one. 

1. Gentleness diffuses conflict.

Facing conflict is an important part of effective ministry. You will face conflict; every leader does. But gentleness will help diffuse it.

Gentleness is an antidote to anger.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NIV). Humans mimic the emotions of those around them. That’s why, when someone raises their voice…

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Motivation is an indispensable part of leadership. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, Nehemiah gives us a master class in motivation in Nehemiah 2.

I shared these four principles of motivation drawn from that chapter:

  1. Expect opposition.
  2. Wait for the right time.
  3. Get the facts first. 
  4. Identify with your people.

This week, I’ll share four more:

5. Dramatize the seriousness of the problem.

Nehemiah didn’t hold back when he told the people in verse 17, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” (NLT).

Nehemiah chose his words carefully. He painted an emotional word picture with phrases like “Jerusalem lies in ruins” and “end this disgrace.”

Nehemiah dramatized the seriousness of the problem because the people had been living with it for years. When you live in a difficult situation long enough, you ignore it. Nehemiah knew this. He had to get the people…

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Leaders must be able to motivate others. Success in leadership is never a solitary endeavor.

One of the biblical figures who understood this the best was Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah knew that rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was not a task he could accomplish alone. When he arrived in the city, he found the people defeated and apathetic, living among ruins. Previous attempts to rebuild the wall had failed twice in the last 90 years, leaving the people without confidence and mired in negativity. For nearly a century, they had been convinced that the task was impossible.

But Nehemiah’s arrival marked a turning point. Within just a few days, he rallied the support of the entire city, mobilizing them to rebuild the wall in a mere 52 days—a feat they hadn’t achieved in nine decades. So, what set Nehemiah apart when others had failed? He wasn’t a miracle worker. He was simply a great leader who understood the principles of motivation.

During the next two weeks, I’ll share the eight principles of motivation Nehemiah shows in Nehemiah 2:10-20. Here are the first four.

1. Expect opposition.


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For some time now, many churches have been in a crisis of effectiveness. I know many church leaders who work hard. They spend hours and hours in ministry each week, but don’t see many results.

There’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Howard Hendricks has said that efficient leaders do things right, while effective leaders do the right things. We need to strive to be like the latter.

The Apostle Paul gives us an example of ministry effectiveness in Romans 15. In that passage, we find seven pillars of effective ministry.  

1. We build an effective ministry on God’s grace.

Paul tells us that he served in ministry not in his own skills or innate goodness, but “because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:15-16 NIV). None of us earn our ministry, and we’ll never deserve it.

God’s grace means that he knows every mistake we’ll ever make in ministry, and he uses us despite our flaws.

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Our mind is a powerful tool God gives us for ministry. But our thoughts can also hinder what God wants to do through us. The Bible has a lot to say about our thought life and how we can align it with the mind of Christ. 

These nine biblical principles will help you—and the people you lead—bring your thought life under control.

1. Our thoughts control our lives, but we can control our thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us we have a choice of what we think about. “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (NCV). 

Since you have a choice over what you think about, you don’t need to obsess over problems in your church. You don’t need to replay criticisms in your head. In fact, Paul instructs, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

Nobody is forcing you to think about your fears, worries, and insecurities. You have a choice.

2. Change…

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As a pastor, you may be tempted to believe you’re immune from letting your spiritual strength slide. But it’s just not true. 

Believe it or not, you share more in common with the story of Samson than you realize. You may not have bulging biceps, but you’re just a few choices away from spiritual weakness—the same spiritual weakness that caused Samson to waste his potential. Understanding some of Samson’s temptations can help you maintain spiritual strength so your ministry can flourish.

Samson had everything going for him—good looks, great abilities, and early successes in his work. But he was a spiritual weakling. Eventually, his spiritual weaknesses caused him to lose everything. Samson chose a lifestyle that zapped him of his spiritual strength. 

Pastor, don’t let what happened to Samson happen to you.

Three attitudes led to Samson’s downfall. If we as pastors aren’t careful, they can lead to ours as well. The good news is the Bible gives us a solution for each attitude. 


Samson followed his feelings, doing whatever he found pleasurable. Unhealthy relationships with women, of course, were his major weakness. Your…

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5 Principles for Building an Evangelistic Culture in Your Church

We all want God to use our churches to reach people for Christ. I don’t believe there is anything more important to do with our lives than helping people begin a relationship with Jesus. 

But I also know many people in our churches are fearful of telling other people about Christ. Jesus made it clear in the Great Commission that evangelism needs to be our priority—but it’s not the priority for most Christians. 

For the Great Commission to be your church’s priority, it must be a part of your church’s culture. 

Five principles played a major role in how we approached evangelism during my time at Saddleback. They are universal principles that I believe any church can use to build an evangelistic church culture.

Principle 1: Think like an unbeliever.

The longer you’re a Christian, the more difficult it is to think like a non-Christian. Worse yet, if you’re a pastor, you’re even further away from the experiences of non-believers. Your perspective changes the longer you’re a Christian. 

To bridge this gap, we need to spend…

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