Archives For Evangelism

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to share the Gospel locally and globally.

Topics include: personal evangelism, global missions, cultural trends, etc.

The Most Powerful Ministry at Saddleback Church

Do you want to see God change lives through your church?

Since the day I started Saddleback, that’s been my prayer for the church. I’m addicted to changed lives; it’s the main reason Saddleback has continued to grow all of these years. I’ve never been excited about the numbers. In fact, more people means more headaches and more crises, but it’s worth it because it also means more changed lives.

In 1 Corinthians 16:15, Paul writes that the household of Stephanas has “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (KJV). That’s a good cause to be addicted to. God wants to heal broken, messed-up lives—and he wants to use us in the process.

No ministry, in the history of our church, has changed lives more than Celebrate Recovery®. God works powerfully through this ministry!

Not only does it produce life-change, it’s a leadership “factory” for our church. When I choose to share a testimony during our weekend services, Celebrate Recovery is the first place I look. Why? Because I know I can depend on finding stories of life-change in that ministry.

The Story of Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate…

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Great Questions Lead to Great Conversations

I’ve made it my practice for years to have significant conversations with just about everyone I meet. If you have an open mind and humility, you can learn from anyone. The more people I’ve talked to, the more I’ve learned.

It’s easy to have a superficial conversation with someone. Most of our conversations aren’t personal. How often has someone asked you, “How are you?” What’s the universal response? “Fine. How are you?”

What if you didn’t talk to make conversation, but instead you talked to make a difference?

I’ve used “S.P.E.A.K.” as an acronym to help me make my conversations go beneath the surface. You can use these questions with anyone you meet—no matter how much money, power, or popularity the other person has, this tool will help you go deeper and be more personal:

S – Story: “What is your story?”

This is an open-ended question that gets people started. Most people like to talk about their story because being known is a basic need we all have.

P – Passion: “What motivates you?”

Everyone is moved by something. A person’s passion is one of the things that makes that person unique….

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Four Ways to Rethink Missions in Your Church

What if your church could become a catalyst for transformation in your community and throughout the world?

Your church was made for a mission—this is God’s design. Jesus and his disciples modeled that the church is meant to be the place where life change and practical solutions flow out from healthy members to the world.

Here are four ways your church can reach your next level in caring for your community and ministering to communities around the globe:

Reclaim your church’s role in missions.

God designed the local church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community. Jesus showed us his ministry priorities by caring for the sick, assisting the poor, educating the next generation, and loving his neighbors. We are called to follow his model.

For many years, however, organizations and governments have taken on much of the work we consider missional—from caring for the poor in our communities to sheltering orphans overseas. While these entities are important, they alone can’t create change on the scale that will truly solve the problems impacting billions around the globe. We will never have enough doctors, teachers, or…

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The Purpose of Influence

Want to know what matters to Jesus?

Check out his very first sermon.

You can learn a lot about Jesus’ priorities from Luke 4, when he sets his agenda for the rest of his ministry. You can’t read the Gospels without realizing that Jesus had a unique interest in the marginalized of society. The marginalized weren’t on the edge of Jesus’ ministry. They were at the heart of it.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).

Who was at the forefront of Jesus’ mind as he started his ministry? The poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. In fact, how we care for the marginalized demonstrates our love for Jesus.

Jesus told us this in Matthew 25:35-36: “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home….

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5 Reasons People Come Back to Your Church

The best way your church will break through growth barriers is to do so quickly. I hear from pastors all the time who want to break through specific attendance barriers, whether it’s 100, 150, 250, or even 1,000. Churches rarely break those kinds of barriers through gradual growth.

When I started Saddleback, I thought that’s what would happen. I figured I’d add a few people each week and eventually we’d get to 20,000. In fact, I can show you a chart I created that showed how we could grow from just Kay and me to 20,000 in 40 years by simply adding two people a year.

But it just doesn’t work like that.

At Saddleback, we grew to about 15 people in the first 12 weeks of the little Bible study I hosted in our apartment. Then, as we approached Easter Sunday 1980, we prayed, we planned, and we advertised. We managed to get 205 people to show up. Yes, not all of them returned the next week, but we still grew more in the weeks following Easter than we would have in two years by just…

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Why You Need to Think Like a Fish

You can’t be a good fisherman unless you learn to think like a fish. You need to learn their habits, preferences, and feeding patterns if you want to catch them. Certain fish like smooth, still waters. Others like the rushing rivers. Certain fish are bottom-feeders. Others like to hide among the rocks. If you don’t understand the patterns of the fish you’re trying to catch, you’re wasting your time.

The same is true when you’re trying to reach people with the Gospel. Jesus gives us a great example of someone thinking like a fish.

The Bible says in Luke 6:8, “Jesus knew what they were thinking” (GW). In fact, multiple times in Scripture we read that Jesus knew what people were thinking.

But here’s the problem: The longer you are a Christian, the less you think like an unbeliever. I don’t think like a non-Christian; I think like a Christian. In fact, I think like a pastor. That’s even worse! It’s two steps removed from the people I want to reach.

You can tell just how differently pastors think than spiritually lost people when you look at church…

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6 Key Evangelistic Strategies to Help Your Church Grow

I believe church health matters much more than church growth. Healthy churches grow. They grow stronger through worship, warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, and broader through ministry.

And they also grow larger through evangelism.

Healthy churches follow Jesus’ pattern by reaching out to new people with the Gospel.

Here are six evangelistic principles, modeled by Jesus, that will help your church reach new people.

1. Know who you’re trying to reach. No church can reach everyone. The moment you plan a worship service and pick a music style, you’re telling people who you’re trying to reach (and, conversely, who you’re not). If you try to reach everyone, you probably won’t reach anyone.

We know Jesus had a specific evangelistic target. He tells us that directly in Matthew 15:24: “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel” (NLT). Of course, that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t love everyone. He did—and still does! But he was evangelistically targeting the lost sheep of Israel.

The same is true of Peter and Paul. Paul writes in Galatians 2:7, “Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility…

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5 Ways to Break Through a Growth Barrier This Christmas

A few weeks back we talked about some of the reasons churches plateau. I know it’s a popular topic because so many pastors tell me their churches are stuck at a certain number of members or attenders.

Here’s the good news: Christmas is a great time to get unstuck.

People who wouldn’t come some other time of the year show up at Christmas. And we have a great opportunity to tell them about Jesus and to encourage them to come back to church. You can use Christmas services to help your members sense that they are a part of something big and exciting. It can be tough to keep people motivated consistently over the long haul, but we can get them fired up for a specific day.

A “Big Day” can help people feel like they’re on a winning team.

And a “Big Day” like Christmas can help break through growth barriers (whether it’s 200, 300, 400, or 1,000).

At Saddleback, we refer to it as pyramiding growth. You push past a barrier on a “Big Day,” then the numbers might drop a little bit the…

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How to Mobilize Our Churches to Finish the Task

For the past 2,000 years, Christians have been praying for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

And we’re still not there yet. But it’s within sight. We’re closer than ever before.

More than 2 billion people have never even heard the message of Jesus, so it’s time to take a radical stand and say, “This has to be completed in our generation.”

Nothing matters more than getting the Good News to people who haven’t heard it.

It’s why you’re still on this planet. It’s why every person in your church is still around. There are only two things you can’t do in heaven: You can’t witness to other people, and you can’t sin.

Nothing matters more than getting the Good News to everyone—and finishing our task. History depends upon it. The spiritual destinies of people depend upon it.

The church’s birth in Acts 2 gives us a great model for how we’ll reach the remaining unreached people groups on the earth. Within the story of these early Christians, we get the biblical foundation for mobilization.

1. We must depend upon the Holy Spirit.

If we don’t begin, continue, and end with…

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4 Things That Matter Most in Holiday Giving Campaigns

You’ll hear one word more than any other during the holiday season.

I’d like to say that word is Jesus or Gospel or even gratefulness. But it’s not.

The most popular word, by far, is gift. Everyone wants to talk about gifts they’re giving or gifts they’re getting. It’s not just a national obsession. It’s a global one. We spend at least a month—and these days, likely two months—in a mad dash to find the right gifts.

Many people think that the idea of giving gifts at Christmas began with the wise men bringing their presents to the Baby Jesus. It does begin in the Bible, but it isn’t the wise men who gave the first Christmas gift.

It was God himself.

The most famous verse in the Bible says it like this: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die” (John 3:16 CEV).

Jesus was the original Christmas gift. God loved us so much that he gave.

That’s why it’s natural to encourage people to give to ministry…

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4 Ways to Involve Your Small Groups in the Great Commission

If you want your church to balance God’s purposes and grow in a healthy way, your small groups must lead the way.

It’s like this: You’re only as healthy as the cells in your body. It’s a basic truth of human health. If your cells are sick, your body will be sick, too.

The same is true in churches. Your church will only be as healthy as the cells within it.

And your small groups are those cells. They help build God’s purposes into every heart, every group, and every ministry.

In Acts 2, we can read about the first small groups in the early church. The Bible says:

    • They grew spiritually (v. 42)
    • They ministered to one another (v. 45)
    • They fellowshipped (v. 46)
    • They worshiped (v. 47)
    • They evangelized the spiritually lost (v. 47)

Unfortunately, many small groups today just focus on one or two purposes. Often, it’s fellowship or discipleship (or both). Maybe they’ll add some worship songs at the beginning of the meeting time. They might even be involved in ministry as a group.

But evangelism and missions tend to…

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Building Your Ministry on the Promises of God

What makes Christian leaders distinctly Christian?

Some say it’s how they lead—by serving others rather than using forced authority.

Some say it’s the motivation—they lead for Jesus’ sake and to build up the body of Christ.

Those are both great answers, but I believe distinctly Christian leadership is based upon the promises of God.

By some estimates, there are somewhere around 5,000 promises of God in the Bible. Our God is a promise-making God. He is a covenant-keeping God. He made promises to every major leader in the Bible—such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, and Paul.

And God makes promises to you and me, too.

You can base your ministry on a variety of different factors, from your own cleverness to your own giftedness. I’ve chosen to base mine upon the promises of God. I have found, as Joshua did at the end of his life (read Joshua 21:45), that every one of God’s promises has been fulfilled.

I’ve built my ministry on these eight promises.

1. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him”
(2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV).

God used…

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