Archives For Tom Holladay

Every week you have an audience who gathers to worship, listens to preaching, and considers being on mission in their community and around the world.

However, it’s not an audience you need. To impact your community and fulfill your church’s mission in the world, you need an army. You need to mobilize your congregation to do what God is calling you to do.

You don’t mobilize an army on accident. You do it on purpose. You do it by meeting the specific needs of the groups of people your church should regularly engage—and moving them toward a life that’s on mission.

  • The community: These are the people your church has the potential to reach on any given week. They live near your church and may even visit occasionally.
  • The crowd: This is everyone who attends your church on a regular basis but have yet to join in church membership.
  • The congregation: These are your church members.
  • The committed: This is everyone who is growing in the spiritual disciplines and walking with God daily.
  • The core: These are the people who are not only growing in Christ but are also serving in your church.
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I was talking with a group of pastors in Rwanda and they asked me to tell them what it meant to be a Purpose Driven® church in as simple a way as possible. I said to them that the simplest way I know how to express what it means to be Purpose Driven is “to build Jesus’ church the way that Jesus wants it built.” Jesus shows us how to build his church in both what he taught and what he modeled.

Being Purpose Driven means you’re seeking as a church to do all that Jesus taught his church to do. “A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a great church.” In the Great Commandment and Great Commission of Jesus you find him talking about the five purposes of evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission (Matthew 28:18-20). He talks about these purposes not only in these two passages, but also throughout his ministry—possibly most clearly in his teaching to the disciples the night before he went to the cross in John 13-17. It is his church that we are building, so obviously we are going to do the things…

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When I think about the commitments I’ve made that led to spiritual growth, often a very small step took me to a place where I could make the next commitment. Here are some baby steps that will help your members make the next commitment toward spiritual maturity.

1. Put a place to commit on your welcome cards. If you have a card for guests to use to give you information about themselves, that’s also a great place to offer an opportunity to commit to a class. Your guests will see from the beginning that these classes are a priority at the church. It also gives them an opportunity to sign up without leaving their chair during worship services.

2. Personalize the weekend announcements. When you’re announcing the classes from the pulpit, think about the person who needs to make a commitment to the next step. Ask yourself, what will help him or her to do that? Focus on who needs to take the commitment step. Don’t simply tell people when and where the class will be. Remember, you’re inviting people, not numbers, to the class.

3. Make the commitment to the next class a…

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One of the things we continually emphasize at Saddleback is that the Church is God’s instrument for ministry here on Earth, and that makes it the greatest force on the face of the Earth.

The Church has survived persistent abuse, horrifying persecution, and widespread neglect. Yet despite its faults (due to our sinfulness), it is still God’s chosen instrument of blessing and has been for 2,000 years.

As Rick Warren thought through our missions strategy, The PEACE Plan, he noted the Church has eight distinct advantages over the efforts of business and government to help those in need:

1. The Church provides for the largest participation.

Most people have no idea how many Christians there are in the world: More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. That’s one third of the world’s population! The Church has about a billion more people than the entire nation of China.

For example, about 100 million people in the United States went to church this past weekend. That’s more people than will attend sporting events in the U.S. throughout this year. The Church is the largest force for good in the world. Nothing else even comes…

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The 5 Emotions of Ministry (Part 2)

As I was reading through 1 Thessalonians a while back it struck me when I got to the end of chapter 2 and into chapter 3 how Paul was speaking clearly about his emotions as he discussed his ministry to the Thessalonians. Some are “negative” emotions, some are “positive,” all are important. Understanding these emotions is vital to understanding God’s direction and to gaining God’s power in your ministry.

Read Part 1 to catch up on the first two emotions of ministry.


The concern that Paul had for the Thessalonians was answered when Timothy brought a report back to him: “But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you” (1 Thessalonians 3:6 NLT). He was thrilled that they were growing, and took great joy that they still remembered his visit fondly.

How often do you need encouragement to stay healthy and motivated in ministry? Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage each other each…

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The 5 Emotions of Ministry (Part 1)

How does ministry make you feel? The simplistic first response would be to say, “It doesn’t matter how it makes me feel, because I do it by faith regardless of my feelings.” There is a level on which that may be true, but it ignores the deeper reality of how emotions impact your ministry. Allowing our emotions to completely control our lives or ministries is, of course, a bad path to take, but in trying to avoid that path we can find ourselves taking the equally bad path of ignoring the place of those emotions in our life and ministry. When you look at the example of Jesus you see in his perfection a model of incorporating emotion and faith in a way that deeply empowered ministry. As a person who is deeply in need of better getting in touch with my emotionshello, I’m a man!I want to learn to be more like Jesus.

As I was reading through 1 Thessalonians a while back it struck me when I got to the end of chapter 2 and into chapter 3 how Paul…

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I’ve had the opportunity these last thirty years to be with Rick Warren as he has personally taught well over 400,000 leaders what it means to be a healthy, purpose driven church. In that time I’ve been able to observe some things about how to take the principles of being a healthy church from a philosophy into practice, from something you’d like to do to something you are doing. I’ve learned from watching these thousands of leaders that it takes four things to put principles into practice: message, method, models and mentors.


This one may be obvious, but it also must be stated because it is so important. There are a lot of ideas out there about how to grow a church. Many of them will work in one context but not in others or will work for a times but not for the long term. The key to picking the right idea to build on is in looking at the foundation of that idea. While we can learn much from the worlds of business or sociology about how to build a church, those learnings cannot serve as…

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Eight Laws for Spiritual Growth

The discipleship process at Saddleback Church is based on the belief that if we focus on building people, God will build the church. Through a study of how Jesus helped people grow spiritually, Rick Warren developed these eight laws for spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth is intentional.

Spiritual growth is not accidental. You must intend to grow; you must make a choice to grow.

This means that we grow by making commitments. People in churches are at one of six levels of commitment: community, crowd, congregation, committed, core, or commissioned.

The community is anyone within driving distance of Saddleback Church. There is no commitment at the community level.

We want to get the community to come to a weekend service; we want to move them from the community to the crowd. What’s required to be in the crowd? One commitment: show up at church. Next, we want to move people from being an attender of the church to being a member of the church—from the crowd to the congregation. At Saddleback, you do this by coming to know Jesus as your Savior, being baptized, attending our membership seminar…

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Matthew and Luke 10 are deeply meaningful passages of Scripture for how we reach out to the world around us. As Jesus gives instructions for the disciples to go out into the world on mission, he obviously knows that we will be reading these instructions for generation after generation to get our marching orders as well.

These verses can be seen through the lens of specific steps to take as we go on mission – first we pray, then we select the right workers, then we send them out, then look for a receptive person, etc. Looked at through a different lens, they also give us our values for missions; we value prayer, we value teamwork, etc. In this study, I’d like to look at these words of Jesus through a third lens, that of the missions principles that we see in these words of Jesus. One of the reasons that we have frustration and failure in our personal and organizational mission efforts is that we follow our own principles instead of these principles of Jesus. Understanding and implementing these mission principles of Jesus is the key to getting out to everyone…

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Trusted With Little, Trusted With Much

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10 (NIV)

How you spend your money says a lot about how much you can be trusted spiritually. That’s what Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much.” This is the Principle of Trust, the third financial principle from this often misunderstood parable.

God will give us more and more trust based on how we use what God has put into our lives. Luke 16:11 says, “If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?” That’s God’s basic way of looking at this. Your checkbook is a barometer of your heart.

One biographer of the Duke of Wellington diligently went through a lot of research, reports, and stories about the Duke’s life. But in the end he wrote, “I finally found an old ledger account of how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he really thought was important than the reading of all…

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God Gives so We Can Invest in His Kingdom

Jesus taught, “‘Use your worldly resources to benefit others and to make friends. In this way your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven’” (Luke 16:9 NLT).

He isn’t saying you can buy yourself into heaven. That’s impossible. God has already paid the price for us to spend eternity in heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross paid everything. We can’t earn or buy our ticket to heaven.

But Jesus is reminding us of two particular truths about money:

Money can’t last. 

Jesus calls our resources “worldly resources.” That’s because it will only last as long as the world lasts. God has put what we have in our lives in our hands for a very brief time.

Say I hold stock in two different companies. Imagine I could tell you with complete confidence that one of these companies will go bankrupt in six weeks and the other will see growing profits for as far into the future as we can imagine. Which one would you invest in? The answer is obvious.

That’s the same choice we have with our money. This world won’t last….

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Why Your Members Must Learn Doctrine

Here are nine ways to clearly explain to your church members why they need to learn doctrine.

1. Because knowing the truth about God helps me know God better.

“Listen carefully to wisdom; set your mind on understanding. Cry out for wisdom, and beg for understanding. Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand respect for the Lord, and you will find that you know God” (Proverbs 2:2-5 NCV).

J. I. Packer once said, “We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place … for those who do not know about God.”

Living in this world without knowing God is like driving a car with the windows blacked out. It doesn’t matter how hard you step on the accelerator or what direction you steer, you keep running into things and you never get anywhere. If you’re going to get to know God, you have to know the truth about him. You cannot develop a relationship with God…

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