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.

By Danny Duchene, CR Inside Pastor at Saddleback Church

Leilini’s story

During the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, it has not been easy for many of the Angel Tree families who have a mom or dad in prison. One of these families includes the family of a particular four-year-old Angel named Leilini. In 2019 Leilini’s dad was released from prison and, unfortunately, lost his battle with opioid addiction. For those who struggle with addiction, the first few weeks after prison release are a high-risk period for relapse and overdose. Consequently, Leilini’s father died of an overdose shortly after his release. As a result of these circumstances, the Covid-19 crisis has been incredibly difficult for Leilini and her family. However, this tragedy associated with post incarceration relapse is why our prison ministry continues our relationship with this Angel Tree family.

Leilini has been an Angel Tree participant for the first three years of her life. Since she was born while her father was in prison, Angel Tree volunteers from Saddleback Church have taken a special interest in Leilini and her family. During this time, Leilini has participated in Saddleback Church’s annual Angel Tree event at the…

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Sometimes your ministry doesn’t have everything you think it needs. Maybe you need more volunteers, more resources, more money, or more time to do what God is calling you to do. 

When you understand the Law of the Harvest, you’ll understand the secret of how God meets your ministry needs.

What is the Law of the Harvest? What you reap, you will sow. 

The Bible says the more we give away, the more we’ll get back. Many verses in Scripture deal with this principle. I’ve put it into practice multiple times when we’ve had a need at Saddleback Church.

You’ve heard Matthew 17:20 many times. You’ve likely even preached from it—although I think most people misinterpret it. 

“‘You don’t have enough faith,’ Jesus told them. ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible’” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

I believe Jesus is telling us it’s not the size of our faith that matters. It’s…

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Unity has increasingly been on the hearts and minds of many pastors this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial unrest that continue to cause tension among believers, many churches seem divided.

Biblical unity has always been important. Throughout the years, people have attributed the growth and health of Saddleback Church to a variety of factors, but I think one factor that is often overlooked is unity.

God blesses a unified church. Many churches have tremendous potential, but they never achieve what God wants them to achieve because the members spend all their time quarreling with each other.  

Why Church Unity Matters

As a church leader, it’s your job to protect the church. The Bible talks more about unity of the church than it does about heaven or hell. It’s that important. 

Here are six reasons the Bible says church unity is important: 

Jesus prayed for it. John 17:21 says, “I pray that they will all be one” (NLT). The world will be won when the church is one. When you find a church filled with people who really love…

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“Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’”

Genesis 32:26 (NLT)

When God allows a crisis in your life, he doesn’t solve it immediately. Look at the life of Jacob. When he and God had their wrestling match in Genesis 32, God could have overpowered Jacob and ended things instantly—but instead, they wrestled until dawn. Why did God let the struggle continue?

You might be asking God the same question about your life. God lets your struggle continue because he wants to see how serious you are about seeking him. If God answered every prayer immediately, you’d begin to think he was a vending machine: Put in a prayer and pull out whatever you need.

For example, if God instantly bailed you out of a financial crisis caused by your own poor choices, then tomorrow you might overspend again. You wouldn’t learn discipline or how to manage your money. God will help you get out of debt, but he wants to build your character in the process.

If you’re in…

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I still remember the moment I realized I was co-dependent. Through Celebrate Recovery, I had been working on issues with control and people pleasing. However, I hadn’t quite put the full puzzle together yet. I was sitting in a breakout session at the Celebrate Recovery National Summit in 2017 and it hit me all at once. “I’m struggling with co-dependency!” My eyes welled up with tears as I processed that thought. I so desperately wanted to be a strong, independent woman and here I was – co-dependent.

I was born into a broken home, with a father recently home from the Vietnam War and a mother determined not to repeat the mistakes she experienced growing up. Life was unstable and emotional, to say the least. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the last thing my world needed was more emotional turmoil. Instead, I was determined to bring joy and approval into my life. I would earn the love my father wasn’t capable of showing and my parents would never be anything but proud of me. It was a tall order, but it made me feel powerful and in control…

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Choosing Trust

By Celebrate Recovery

By Cheryl Luke, National Director Cultural Communities

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

An interesting exercise in trust is falling backwards into the arms of another person. Maybe you’ve played this game as a child: One person is blindfolded, spun around several times, then positioned in front of someone else. When ready, the blindfolded falls back into the waiting arms of the person standing right behind them. It’s a game of anticipation, hope and trust. Think about the moment just before the fall back. The desire to participate is present, along with the no small degree of trepidation. It’s unnerving! Questions abound. “Can they catch me?” “Will they catch me?” “Do I really want to go through with this?” “I. Can. Do. This!” Fists clenched. Arms crossed tightly over chest. Three. Two. One. Fall back.

Once the decision to fall back is acted upon, self-reliance shifts to total dependence. Whole-hearted confidence and trust are surrendered. This is what God asks of us, as his followers. This is where He wants us to live….

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Few things in life happen spontaneously. You need a plan—a plan for building relationships, for witnessing to others, for reading the Bible, and for praying each day. Almost everything in life needs a plan.

Good leaders are planners. They always think through where they’re headed, and they don’t waste time worrying about failure. Effective ministry leaders start with prayer, and then they plan what God wants them to accomplish. 

Why is planning so important for your ministry?

  • God does it. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
  • God commands it. “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (Proverbs 4:26 GNT).
  • Planning shows good stewardship. “Live life, then with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time. Don’t be vague but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord”  (Ephesians 5:15-17 PHILLIPS).

Nehemiah was a master…

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It’s true that Saddleback has gained attention because of its growth over the decades, but I don’t want our church to grow just to add to our numbers. I’m motivated by changed lives. I’m always asking myself, “Who is the next person God will radically change? Whose marriage will be transformed next? What is the next miracle God will do?”

I don’t care what you call your preaching style, but our preaching should lead to life change. I’ve developed my sermon-preparation method around that goal. I call it the CRAFT method.

C – Collect & Compare

I start by asking the question, “What has God said about this topic?” I collect and examine what God has said about this particular topic. I gather my verses, illustrations, articles, sermons, Bible study notes, quiet time reflections—everything. I’m constantly gathering materials for future sermons. I’ve collected material for 20 years on topics before preaching on them. 

Then I categorize what I’ve collected. I begin to look for similarities between verses. Then I group them together by those topics.

R – Research & Reflect

As I research

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By Dickie Everman, SE Regional Director

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Philippians 2:12-13

These verses are two of my favorite verses. I was not raised up in church, even though my grandfather was a pastor. My dad was one of those rebellious pastor’s kids who stopped going to church until later in life. I became a Christ follower when I was thirty-five years old with my wife, JuaNita, and our four children. What brought me to the church was my battle with alcoholism. I wanted to find out who this God was I was praying to. God put some amazing men in my life who invited me to a men’s conference. It was amazing to see and hear 50,000 men singing and praising God with their hands held high. God used this men’s conference and these men to make me want to be a man of…

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By JuaNita

My name is JuaNita, I am a believer who struggles with codependency.

I knew of Jesus and went to church some as a child. By the time I was in elementary school, we quit going to church. I wouldn’t seek Jesus until I was so desperate and hopeless in my life. I became a Christ follower at age 43.

Before giving my life to Jesus, I lived a very worldly life. I took everything it had to offer and lived taking chances. I had so many troubles and I had no idea how to fix them. I suffered the consequences of my actions.

His Word says in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” I love this verse…it tells me that life is not going to be all roses when we serve Him. It tells me we will have troubles and suffering. But look what we gain, HOPE AND JOY.

I was sexually…

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4 Ways to Use My Sermons to Prep Your Own

I’ve been making my sermons available for decades to help you prepare yours. My sermons will save you time, but they won’t do your job for you. 

I typically put about 20 hours of study into each message I teach. Most of the time, I study hundreds of verses for each sermon. While my work may save you some time, you still need to spend significant time crafting your message. There are no shortcuts to preaching the message God wants you to preach. 

Here are four tips for how to use my sermons to help you prepare your own.

Make sure you set aside enough time.

You need more than just time to prepare a message. More importantly, you need enough time to actually hear from God. There’s no substitute for seeking God’s voice. A good public speaker can share an engaging message, but a pastor must deliver the Word of God. 

Before I preach, I get alone with God until I feel confident and passionate about my message. If I don’t feel it, I…

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By Paul

I am a faithful, dedicated, and serving believer in Jesus Christ who has struggled with mental illness, including self-worth and fear. My name is Paul.

In 1986, the case of Jessica McClure captivated a nation. Jessica fell into a well shaft and became stuck. She was trapped alone in a dark place. I can relate to “Baby Jessica” because this is how I have felt living with mental illness.

In “Baby Jessica’s” situation, people were trying to reach her by digging a parallel tunnel next to the well she was trapped in. However, when I was in my own dark place, I didn’t recognize those who were desperately trying to reach me.

The relationship between my mother and I was close, but it was almost non-existent with my father. He wasn’t a bad father; he just wasn’t there emotionally. I made efforts to try to win my dad’s approval. I developed a poor self-image, low self-worth, fear of rejection, and considerable anger.

I was labeled based on my appearance. The labels hit like darts on my self-worth. I was angry, in a dark place in my mind, and I felt powerless to do anything…

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