Archives For Ministry

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to serve others by meeting needs in love.

Topics include: leadership, preaching, vision, SHAPE, building ministry teams, developing leaders, becoming Purpose Driven, mental health, kids, students, etc.

Three Keys to Tying Together Your Sermons

Good sermons aren’t scattered. They are consistent and whole. 

A great sermon is like a good flight. It includes a smooth takeoff, flight, and landing. But if you have a rocky landing, it doesn’t really matter if you had a smooth takeoff and flight. Because if you don’t land the plane well, you’ve got a problem.

A well-prepared message—where every piece of it ties back to the main purpose of your sermon—leads to spiritual commitments and changed lives.

To ensure that your preaching of God’s Word lands successfully into the hearts of your members, make sure these three elements tie back into your purpose:

Tie your introduction to your purpose. 

One sign of an amateur public speaker is that they tell an unrelated joke at the beginning of their message. Jokes that don’t benefit your listener or connect them to where you’re going aren’t worth the effort for a few cheap laughs. 

Everything you do in your sermon should be on purpose. Your introduction is no exception. In fact, when you don’t tie your sermon to the following four…

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Where Did Your Peace Go?

God wants you to have a fruitful ministry and become a peacemaker—the kind of leader who heals broken relationships instead of creating them.

But too often, there’s conflict. It can destroy relationships, devastate communities, and ruin ministries. Many pastors have seen unresolved conflict wreak havoc over the most important areas of their lives.

It’s easy to see why. Unresolved conflict will block your fellowship with God, prevent answered prayers, and generally make you miserable.

When you find yourself in the midst of conflict, here’s a simple five-step, biblical path to peace.

PLAN a peace meeting. (Matthew 5:24)

Take the initiative. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. It doesn’t matter if you’re the offended or the offender. It’s always your move.

Take the initiative because Jesus said so. Plus, it shows that you’re more mature.

You will never resolve conflict accidentally. You must intentionally deal with it or it will never go away. Schedule a sit-down, face-to-face meeting. Don’t wait to do this either. In Matthew 5:24, Jesus emphasizes…

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“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

When you ask God for help, you can wait with expectation.

You pray to a God who honors his promises. He is a good Father who always gives you what you need. When you wait expectantly, you demonstrate faith by believing God will do what he has promised.

Expectation isn’t entitlement. Entitlement says, “I will get what I need from God because I deserve it, I’ve earned it. I’ve read my Bible five times this week and have been to church twice, so God has to give me what I need.” Expectation says, “God will give me what I need because of who he is.”

Waiting expectantly isn’t easy, especially when you feel powerless. When you are trusting God to do the impossible—in your marriage, career, or relationships—and his timing feels too slow, it’s hard to keep trusting him.

Don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up! Even though you don’t know why God hasn’t answered your prayers, you can trust him to keep…

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By Jeni Baker, Global Co-Executive Director of CR

As a recovering Co-Dependent and an Adult Child of Family Dysfunction, a big part of my recovery was learning that my emotions dont make me a burden. When I share my feelings, people wont think that I’m not worth it and leave me. Im lovable even if Im feeling bad, or low, or having a hard time.

Just shy of a year into this Covid pandemic, I was writing a gratitude list about this past year, and something occurred to me. I spent the first 5-6 months of the pandemic angry. Like really angry, bitter, and resentful. But as I look back on all that God has done for me this past year, I realized he let me have my big feelings, and my temper tantrums, and my pity parties, and he still loved me. He let me work through my emotions without abandoning me, giving up on me, or forsaking me. He let me be honest about how I was feeling, and he so gently led me through the process of refining those thoughts and feelings….

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By Jeni

My name is Jeni, and I’m a believer who struggles with Co-Dependency and Adult Child of Family Dysfunction.

When I was young, my parents got a divorce right around the time I was in 1st grade. My mom remarried, and I found myself with a stepdad who I did not want. I was angry that he had a place in my life and would argue with him often. They eventually divorced, and my mom remarried, and I found myself again with another stepdad with who I argued with all the time.

When I was around 12, my dad started to become less involved in my life, leaving me confused and feeling abandoned. I feared I did something wrong. So I began to perform. I tried to be this perfect kid to earn his love and approval. This started the unhealthy habit of trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be, which I carried right into adulthood.

I met my husband, Johnny, in college ministry. Johnny drank while we were dating, but I didn’t know the full extent of how much.

He continued to drink for the first 3 1/2 years of…

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How to Trim Your Sermon for Maximum Effectiveness

Giving your message a good trim can turn a good sermon into a great one. In a great sermon, every word is solid, lean meat; it’s all muscle. You don’t have filler or fluff. 

Don’t try to squeeze everything into your sermons. It’s important to have far more material than you can possibly use. But make sure every piece of your sermon—from the Scriptures you use to your illustrations and quotes—has a purpose. 

The point of preaching is transformation, not information. 

When I sit down to edit a sermon, I focus on the following four areas.

I trim the number of verses I use. 

I struggle with this part because I usually collect far more Scriptures than I could possibly use in my sermon. In fact, I often study four to five times as many verses than I actually use. You would probably agree: Once you’ve finished the hard work of studying the Scriptures, it’s tough to give them up.

I often lean on my wife, Kay, to be an objective, second set of…

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By Jill

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, who celebrates recovery over the loss of faith and struggles with codependency, love and relationship addiction, and sexual brokenness. My name is Jill.

I can’t think of a better way to describe my parents other than being a mule and racehorse. My dad was hot-tempered but steady, and my mother was beautiful while always on the run. I truly believe with all my heart that my parents love me and did the best they could with what had been modeled to them, which was a lot of their own childhood dysfunction.

I have two siblings, an older brother and a baby sister, who truly are and always have been my best friends. It is safe to say that we were inconveniences to my parents’ drama, often forgotten, and never afforded the emotional or physical space just to be kids. We were not the siblings who fought or argued with one another as we learned very young to be quiet, be still, and stay unseen. We stuck together to protect one another and keep the peace.

For the first half of my childhood, my parents were…

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By Rodney Holmstrom, National Field Director 

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Have you ever seen the movie “Castaway”?

There is a scene where the main character is stranded on an island all by himself for four-plus years. His time on this island was one of misery and loneliness. His biggest goal was to eventually get off this island that had caused so much harm to his life. He was finally able to build a raft and, after many attempts, was able to escape the grips of the huge waves crashing down on and around him.

After escaping the island, there was a moment when he looked back with grief. You could see in his face extensive agony and pain as he saw the island drift away from his view. From the outside looking in, one might conclude that this man was out of his mind. How can he be grieving the separation from something so ugly and heartbreaking in his life? The reality is, although this place was difficult, it was also familiar and predictable.

Isaiah 12:2 reads, “I will trust and not be afraid.” From this, we find…

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“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

Jesus wants you to surrender your whole life to him. He doesn’t want just a part of your life, he wants all of it.

You may think you’ve surrendered enough to him, but Jesus wants it all. C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist and author of the Narnia series, says Jesus is like a dentist. When you go to the dentist, you want him to fix your toothache. You want him to stop the pain. But the dentist isn’t willing to stop there. If he’s a good dentist, he’s going to poke and prod around your teeth to find out what is causing the toothache. He doesn’t just want to stop you from hurting, he wants to heal what is causing the pain.

This is what Jesus wants to do in your life. He wants to uncover all the sin and hurt…

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How the Church Can Help with Mental Health

I’ve always believed and taught that God uses our pain to help others. I’ve seen that to be true over and over in my life—and in the lives of those in our Saddleback family. Much of the Purpose Driven framework for ministry came from a time of deep pain I experienced early in my ministry. And Celebrate Recovery was born out of the pain of my dear friend, John Baker. 

The same is true with our church’s mental health ministries. My youngest son, Matthew, struggled since childhood with all kinds of mental and emotional pain. These challenges were difficult for him and our family.

Then, the day came I prayed would never happen. Matthew lost his battle with mental illness and took his life in a moment of despair. It was the worst day of my life.

Although not everything that happens in our life is God’s will, I do know he can turn bad into good. God doesn’t want us to ever waste a hurt. 

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By Teri

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, an overcomer of grief and loss, who struggles with food addiction and unhealthy self-reliance, and my name is Teri.

I come from a Christian home with wonderful parents, and I remember well my first encounter with godly conviction and recognizing my need for Jesus. That was the first day I remember asking Jesus to forgive me and telling Him I would love Him forever. Though I strayed away from my faith during my teens, His love wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve now been walking with Jesus for 42 years.

For many years I lived out my walk with Jesus, believing that God gave me a sound mind, and therefore He expected me to be independent and use my head to figure things out. I relied on my knowledge and abilities to solve my problems. Though I would say the words, “I need you, God,” I meant I needed Him to forgive me and to get me to Heaven, but I didn’t really need Him in my day-to-day living. I was self-sufficient. When problems arose, whether in marriage or parenting, my first go-to was…

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God Is on Your Side

By Rick Warren

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

No matter what you face this week, you don’t have to face it alone.

God is with you, working powerfully in your life. The word “working” in Greek is the word energeo, from which we get the word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You don’t have to rely on willpower, and the truth is, willpower isn’t enough.

God’s energy is transforming you from the inside out. This means he gives you the right desires in your heart and mind so that you do the right thing with your actions and words. This is the life he created you to live.

God is also for you. God is your ally. In fact, he is committed to your success. Some people think God is like an angry parent who is mad at them all the time. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s not mad at you, he’s mad about you.

Since God is for us, there is no challenge we can’t overcome….

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