Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

Helping People Change Their Autopilot

We’re all tempted by something. It’s proof of being alive. If you’re not tempted, you’re not breathing.

So the question isn’t, “Are you tempted?” The question is, “What are you doing about it?”

The key to overcoming temptation isn’t to resist it. You need to replace temptation, not resist it. Whatever you resist, persists.

You might be thinking, “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘resist temptation’?”

It doesn’t.

The Bible tells us to “resist the devil” (James 4:7 NIV). We’re to resist the tempter, not the temptation.

When I was a little kid, my mom would make chocolate chip cookies, usually before dinner. When I would go up to the table to look at them, my mom would say, “Don’t you eat those cookies, Ricky.”

“I’m not, Mom. I’m just smelling them.” Of course, right?

But those warm, freshly baked cookies had my attention.

That’s where a lot of people are when they come to Celebrate Recovery®. Something has their attention. Maybe it’s alcohol. Maybe it’s sex. Maybe it’s codependent behaviors. Maybe it’s shopping.

Or maybe it’s chocolate chip cookies.

And here’s the worst part: Whatever gets our attention, gets us. The Bible tells us in James 1 that whatever gets…

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What's More Important for Your Church: Growth or Control?

The church has been on the front lines of some of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past few decades. The church has 2.3 billion people worldwide and is the biggest institution on the planet.

You might look at those numbers and ask yourself, “Why isn’t the church making a bigger impact in the world?”

I believe one reason is because the most creative people in our congregations must go outside of the church to start new ministries.

Why are they doing this?
Because the church wants to control them.

Instead of working within a church, many of these leaders form a 501(c)(3) to tackle the pressing issues of their communities. Today, there are tens of thousands of nonprofits in America doing what the church did for generations. We’ve structured these ministries right out of the church.

To broaden the ministry impact of your church, you will need to make the difficult choice to give up control.

You can choose control, or you can choose growth. But you can’t choose both.

Choosing growth over control means looking for ways to say yes when someone wants to start a new…

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Four Habits that Help People Become Like Jesus (discipleship)

There’s no such thing as instant spiritual growth; it’s a gradual process of development. The Bible says, “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

Spiritual growth is a journey, and that means it takes time. Sure, we want to speed up the process, but we can’t. It’s a lifetime journey where God teaches us one lesson at a time to develop our character so we become more like Jesus.

At the core of this journey are disciplines that help us grow spiritually. These disciplines—or habits—aren’t new; they’ve been around for thousands of years.

We are the sum of our habits. Here’s the truth: You can preach the greatest sermons in the world, but your congregation won’t grow deeper spiritually until you help people learn how to practice spiritual habits on their own.

At Saddleback, we focus on spiritual habits in CLASS 201. We teach four specific habits that are essential to every growing Christian. These aren’t the only habits that help you grow spiritually, but they…

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Growing Stronger Through Worship

There’s a word in the Bible for focusing on God: worship. Some people think worship is a ritual—that it’s all about a regimens, rules, and regulations. But, it’s not, worship simply means focusing on God.

God wants our focus because he is focused on us.

Our ongoing focus on God is the only real antidote to the worries, frustrations, and stress which causes so much exhaustion in our churches. Our churches need the kind of strength only God can bring.

In The Purpose Driven Church, I wrote about how church growth was more than numerical growth. Actually, God wants every church to grow:

  • Stronger through worship
  • Warmer through fellowship
  • Deeper through discipleship
  • Broader through ministry, and
  • Larger through evangelism

The Bible gives us three ways we can help our congregations grow stronger through worship.

1. Provide an opportunity for vibrant corporate worship.

Let’s face it. Your people can listen to sermons, read Christian books, and sing along with the latest worship music. People can worship on their own, but worship is better when we do it together. All of those acts of devotion are good, but they aren’t enough to truly…

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7 Ways to Welcome Guests to Your Celebrate Recovery Ministry

I’ve said this over and over again at Saddleback.

Out of the 200 ministries we have at our church, Celebrate Recovery® is my favorite.

CR is all about changed lives—and that’s the biggest thrill of my life. If you want to know what makes Rick Warren tick, it’s pretty simple: changed lives.

All I need to do is hear one story of a life changed—a marriage saved, a teen who gets off drugs, or someone liberated from codependency—and I’m good for another month.

Changed lives keep me going.

I’ve never been around a ministry that sees so many lives changed by Christ as Celebrate Recovery. It’s a life-change machine—and I love it!

I know that God didn’t design the church to be a hotel for saints. He designed it to be a hospital for sinners. Your church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry demonstrates this on a weekly basis.

But if your Celebrate Recovery ministry is going to be a hospital for sinners and an incubator for changed lives, it needs to be a place where guests feel comfortable to attend.

Think about the first time you showed up at Celebrate Recovery. It…

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3 Ways to Keep Your Listener’s Attention as You Preach

Preaching is tougher than ever these days. For one thing, we can’t assume that people come to our churches with a basic understanding of the Bible like they may have in the past.

But it’s also tougher because of all the media we interact with on a daily basis—from television to email to social media. It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something or convince us about a new idea.

Just open your email, and you’ll likely see a full selection of pitches asking you to buy anything from lunch to a new fishing pole to a vacation. Turn on the television, and the pitching from commercials continues.

Because of this, when unchurched people hear you preach, they assume you’re trying to sell them something. They believe you’re trying to sell them on religion.

That’s not your purpose, but your listeners often don’t know that.

Every week you’re preaching to people who are more skeptical than ever before.

You used to be able to turn up the volume when you had a weak point and keep people’s interest that way. But you can’t do that…

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4 Steps to Achieving Your 2019 Goals

You’ll never find the ideal time to take the next step toward your goals.

So do it now. Those three words could change your ministry. The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB).

You can’t wait until your life settles down to reach for that elusive goal. You can’t wait until everyone else is on board to do what you know the Lord has called you to do.

The time is now.

Your ministry must thrive under imperfect conditions or it will never thrive. So get started today with these four steps.

1. Clarify your goals.

God gave you an amazing ability to choose what’s important in your life. Many ministry leaders never stop to think through and identify what’s really important to them. You can’t do what’s important in your life until you clarify what it is.

Take a half day, if possible, and pray about two specific things: What do I value? What do I want to change?

Yes, you should think about your ministry goals, but don’t stop there either. I also usually think through:

How God Gives You His Vision for Your Church

You hear ministry leaders talk all the time about what a church needs to grow. Some say it’s preaching. Some say you need a great location. Others suggest you need a vibrant ministry to children or youth.

All of those aspects are important for a healthy, growing church. But I don’t think they are what’s most important.

You start with leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. I see churches in great locations that struggle because of bad leadership. I see churches with great preaching struggle because of poor leadership. Leadership matters.

And leadership rests on vision.

Charisma doesn’t make a great leader. Vision does. In fact, communicating vision is your number one job as a leader. As a pastor, you need to continually clarify the vision of your church. It gets harder and harder (but more and more important) as you grow.

But where do you get vision that will propel your church forward in the new year?

You have to get vision from the Holy Spirit. God’s vision never wears out. His vision will never fail. His vision is better and grander than anything we can think…

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9 Ways to Spot a Great Book for Your Ministry Library

Churches don’t grow without growing leaders.

If we don’t take in truth, we can’t give it out. Over the years at Saddleback, I’ve developed a habit of reading myself out of a rut. When I’m struggling to figure out what’s next or to break past a growth barrier, I’ve leaned into reading before taking my next big step. Few habits will help you in ministry as much as a regular diet of reading.

Every profession has its tools. You can’t be a doctor without a stethoscope. You can’t be a carpenter without a hammer and a saw. The minister’s tools are his books. We’re in the feeding, leading, and communicating business. Reading helps us do that more effectively.

With the new year just a few days away, it’s a good time to start a new reading habit.

But what kind of books should a Christian leader read?

Good ones.

I agree with James Bryce, who is credited with saying, “Life is too short to spend it reading inferior books.”

Here are nine ways you can find a jewel amid all the books out there.

1. Start with the author.

This…

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Lights are everywhere this time of year. In Southern California where I live, you’ll see the first lights go up in the early fall as stores start decorating. Then the cities follow by getting theirs up. Finally, as we finish up Thanksgiving leftovers, many of our neighbors are adding Christmas lights to their homes.

Christmas falls just four days after the longest night of the year; so all of this light comes at a good time.

It’s fitting. When we’re in the darkest part of the year, the light of Christmas breaks through.

Light is a major theme in the Bible. In fact, in the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, we read of a star showing the wise men the way to Jesus. We read of the angels performing a dazzling light show to get the attention of the shepherds, so they could make their way to Jesus.

In fact, Jesus tells us that the reason he came on that first Christmas was to bring light into the world. He says in John 12:46, “I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to…

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5 Ideas for Your New Year’s Sermon

After almost 40 years at Saddleback, I know how tough it can be to come up with a holiday sermon. I like preaching around holidays because I know I’m connecting to something that’s on people’s minds, but it’s hard to come up with something fresh and engaging year in and year out.

As we head into the new year, I know you’re probably preparing for one of your most important sermons of the year. Sure, Christmas and Easter sermons get lots of attention because you’re likely preaching to larger crowds. But the first sermon of the new year tends to bring in people who are trying to fulfill a New Year’s resolution to get back into a church.

So as you prepare your New Year’s sermon for 2019, I thought I’d share with you five of the ways we’ve tackled New Year’s sermons at Saddleback through the years. Some of them started off a new series, while others were stand-alone sermons.

I hope these titles and topics give you some inspiration as you prepare.

1. New You for a New Year 

Our happiness tends to revolve around our ability to…

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