Archives For Leadership

Breaking the Chains of Hopelessness

The first time Rick publicly prayed at a weekend church service for people living with a mental illness, his words were simple. He asked God to bring comfort and strength to anyone living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness. He asked God to reassure them that their pain and suffering mattered to God and to their brothers and sisters, and to remind them that as a church family, we would do all we could to offer support to them and their families.

The response from the congregation was astonishing. As he stood on the patio following the services, dozens of men and women who were living with a mental illness, or who loved someone living with a mental illness, lined up to give him a hug and to thank him for bringing their struggle into the light. Many spoke through their tears about the deep gratitude they felt to hear mental illness mentioned from the pulpit in such a loving and positive way. “I’ve kept my illness a secret at church,” several said. “I didn’t know it was okay to talk about it.”

That simple,…

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6 Ways to Prevent Vision Drift in Your Church

Your most important job as a church leader isn’t to hire and fire. It isn’t to manage a budget. It isn’t to mentor younger leaders. It’s not even to preach.

All of those tasks are important. They’re part of what you do as a church leader.

But your main job as a leader is to remind your congregation continually of your church’s vision. Everything else you can delegate. You can’t delegate vision.

Proverbs says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” You have a lot riding on the vision you communicate to your church.

Communicating vision get harder and harder—and much more important—as your church grows. I saw this firsthand at Saddleback. If you’ve heard the story of Saddleback, you know I shared a vision for the future of the church during our trial run, a week before our official launch.

At first, it was relatively easy to keep the church focused on the vision. When we were small, the only people who came were non-Christians. They had zero expectations about what church should be like. All they knew was Saddleback. We didn’t have a children’s ministry, a youth…

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How to Be a Decisive Leader

One thing that will create stress for you, your staff, and even your congregation is when you are indecisive. It is a form of double-mindedness, and James says that leads to instability (James 1:8).

I think part of the problem is that we complicate decisions, often factoring in information that isn’t really important, relying on our own wisdom while failing to specifically seek God and his wisdom.

When I find myself stuck over a decision, I go back to the basics with these four steps:

1. I admit I need God’s guidance to make any decision. 

None of us can see the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow—much less next year or 10 years from now. The Bible says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). On the other hand, God knows everything that has happened to you, that is happening to you, and that will happen to you. In order to keep our ministries heading in the direction God desires, we have to go to him for guidance in making decisions.

2. I ask…

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3 Ways to Replace Busyness with Purpose in Your Ministry

More than 70 percent of pastors say they work between 55 to 75 hours every single week.

Those numbers may not surprise you. But they should.

Just like all the people you serve in ministry every week, you were created for a specific purpose—and that purpose isn’t fulfilled simply through activity and busyness. You might think those late nights hunched over your computer and all those times you’ve skipped family meals are helping you fulfill your unique purpose.

But your purpose is more than what you do on Sunday mornings. It’s more than what you do in meetings and hospital visits. Those activities may helpyou fulfill your purpose, but they must not define your purpose.

Every pastor, just like every person, is driven by something. Many are driven by the pressures around them. Others are driven by responding to crises in their midst—and there are plenty of those, right? Some pastors are driven by the expectations of those they lead.

But God wants something more from us. He wants us to live purpose driven lives. You can’t lead others to make the most of their lives if…

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Why Every Pastor Must Empower and Release Leaders

I know my leadership style. I’m a big-picture, vision-casting leader. The details, frankly, don’t hold much appeal to me.

By itself, my leadership style wouldn’t accomplish much. But surrounded by staff and volunteer teams whose gifts complement mine, I’ve watched God achieve many milestones through Saddleback Church.

He is, after all, both the giver of vision and the giver of those who can handle the details that breathe life into vision.

There’s nothing inherently right or inherently wrong about being a vision-casting leader. It’s simply the way God wired me. He may have wired you differently. The key is for each of us to recognize our personal style, up front.

Then we can recruit a team with gifts that will enhance and supplement our style. This is important because God calls the church a body with many different parts, each having different gifts. Each part is necessary for the overall health of the body.

There’s tremendous power in cooperation. We do our best work when, instead of jockeying for position or trying to build a base of power, we work together—building on each other’s strengths and shoring up each…

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It’s impossible to estimate the kind of good the church could do for the world if every believer was financially healthy and spiritually mature in the area of generosity.

The problem is, the church is hurting in this area–badly. According to USA Today,

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers.

Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039 last year, suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means.

I believe we, as church leaders, often underestimate the amount of financial pressure most families feel because we want to trust that people would be open about poor financial management. But the fact is, people are private about finances.

And pastors, we’re not immune. Many pastors have a hard time teaching about money because of the personal guilt they feel about their own financial problems.

Debt is a problem we can’t ignore any longer. But how do we get out from under it?

We’ve got to commit to these eight steps and help the people in our congregations do the same.

1. Commit to becoming debt-free now.

Pastor, this is the…

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 Keys to Small Group Ministry

I have this displayed on my office whiteboard: “Vision without implementation equals hallucination.” I believe in vision. If you don’t have a plan for implementing your vision, you are wasting your time. Success involves the management of ideas. Ideas can provide wonderful breakthroughs for your ministry. However, trying to implement too many ideas at once can crush or fragment your ministry. Here are five important keys to begin building a solid foundation for your small group ministry . . .

  1. Think Church-wide

Each local church is meant to be a unified body, working together in a coordinated way toward a common purpose. This means that as you plan your small group ministry, you should start by thinking church-wide. The weekend services, the small groups, and the other church ministries all work together to achieve the outcome of a mature disciple — what Saddleback calls the Purpose Driven Life.

  1. Plan Intentionally 

Whole-church coordination doesn’t happen by accident. It takes intentional planning. As Christians, it is possible to get caught in the passive “If God wants it to happen, it will happen” trap, and this can often…

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What God Starts He Finishes

Before Saddleback moved to its present location, we bought a big chunk of land. While I thought at the time it was a dream come true, it turned out there were giants in the land.

The county began heaping on ridiculous requirements. First they wanted to allow us to build on only nine acres of the property.

Then they instructed us to build a berm — an eight foot ridge of dirt — along the front of the property to hide the building.

Then they decided we’d need to move 150 trees from the back of the property to the front of the property and plant them on that berm.

Next, they told us we couldn’t build a 7,000-seat worship center. Instead, we could build a 1,000-seat worship center and have seven services.

Then they demanded that we put in a charcoal filtration water system so that the water that ran off the parking lot would be nice and pure as it went into the gutter.

Then they told us we couldn’t build a parking lot. We’d have to build a parking garage.

Finally, they decided we couldn’t build a preschool because “that’s not a legitimate…

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By Danny Duchene, National Director for CR Inside

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NKJV).

The paradox of recovery is that both the wounds behind addiction and the healing of those wounds are relationally based. This is why healthy relationships are a protected and essential part of Celebrate Recovery. Unfortunately, many men are resistant to healthy relationships and, as a result, are not maturing in recovery.

One of the reasons men resist needs-based relationships is what I call masculine-masking. I believe one of the most spiritually crippling masculine-masking messages is the belief that “needing someone is weak.” This mask is especially dangerous because spiritual growth is relational. We grow spiritually and emotionally through healthy relationships with God and others. When we say we don’t need anyone, we are halting our own progress. In reality, this mask reveals emotional wounds rather than emotional health.

When I was a young teenager and both my parents were incarcerated, my response was to protect myself from close relationships in order to avoid getting hurt. In his book Hiding From Love, Dr. John Townsend explains this response: “When you experience emotional injury, fear, shame, or pride,…

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Thriving in Ministry Leadership

A lot of ministries begin with a bang, then explode with new growth. But after the initial growth, they plateau. I have seen this repeated thousands of times from pastors I’ve talked with over the years.

God doesn’t want ministries to stagnate. Not only does he want them to succeed, but he also wants us to succeed as ministry leaders.

To help us achieve this goal, God has given us examples of errors to avoid — seven common traps of leadership that Satan is most likely to use to keep your ministry from becoming all that God wants it to be.

1. You stop growing personally

Whenever you find yourself resisting a new way of doing something, defending the status quo, or opposing a change that God has told you to make, watch out — you’re about to lose your place of leadership.

What’s the key to overcoming this leadership trap? You must continue developing your skills, your character, your perspective, your vision, your heart for God, and your dependence upon him.

Never stop learning. Read and reread the Bible. Listen to podcasts and sermons. Read books and blogs and magazines. Attend conferences and seminars.

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Leadership

When you become a pastor, you become a leader.

I’m often asked specifics about my administrative style, but I think leadership style is just as important. Understanding basic, universal leadership concepts is essential to your success.

Here are six non-negotiable facts about leadership . . .

1. Nothing happens until someone provides leadership for it.

This is a law of life. For instance, the Civil Rights Movement made little progress until a man came along named Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “I have a dream.” The NASA space program was quite limited until John F. Kennedy said, “We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”

Saddleback Church started because God said, “Rick, I want you to be a leader and get the thing off the ground.” When problems arise in your own family, nothing happens until somebody assumes leadership and says, “We’re going to do something about it.”

Everything rises or falls on leadership, and many problems can be traced to a lack of competent leadership.

I believe one of the greatest problems today is a leadership shortage within our churches.

2. Leadership is influence.

If I had to summarize leadership in one word,…

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Up Steps

One of the ways I believe you can assess whether or not your church is maturing spiritually is this: The standards for leadership keep getting tougher as time passes. You keep turning up the heat every year, requiring a deeper level of commitment to Christ and spiritual growth.

Every time you raise the standards for leadership, you bring everyone else in the church along a little bit. A rising tide raises all the boats in the harbor.

Focus on raising the commitment of your leadership, not those who are the least committed in the crowd or even the semi-committed in your congregation. Whenever you raise the standard of commitment for those who are in the most visible positions of leadership, it raises the expectations among everyone else.

You must ask people for commitment

If you don’t ask people for commitment, you won’t get it. You have not because you ask not.

It’s amazing to me that many community organizations require more from participants than local churches do. If you’ve ever been a Little League parent, you know that when your child signed up to play, you were required to make a major commitment in terms of providing…

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