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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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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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A Spiritual Growth Campaign Will Transform Your Church

I know a proven tool that will transform your church.

That tool is a spiritual growth campaign. I’ve seen God use campaigns repeatedly at Saddleback Church. They have helped us grow from two members to more than 36,000 people each weekend across 18 campuses. I’ve watched God use campaigns to transform our church again and again for nearly 40 years.

Campaigns not only grow the church numerically but also contribute to people’s spiritual growth. They are a “shot in the arm” that move our people from nonbelievers to believers, to members, to mature members, to ministers, and to missionaries who multiply the message all around the world. Here are four reasons campaigns are so effective in helping churches become healthier:

Campaigns build habits.

Making disciples is all about helping people develop strong spiritual habits. Your character is determined by your habits. Far too many Christians never grow because they’ve never developed good solid habits like prayer, fellowship in a small group, tithing, daily Bible reading, and fasting.

Read any decent psychology book, and you’ll learn that it takes six weeks to develop a habit. You’ve got to do it…

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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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9 Ways to Spot a Great Book for Your Ministry Library

Churches don’t grow without growing leaders.

If we don’t take in truth, we can’t give it out. Over the years at Saddleback, I’ve developed a habit of reading myself out of a rut. When I’m struggling to figure out what’s next or to break past a growth barrier, I’ve leaned into reading before taking my next big step. Few habits will help you in ministry as much as a regular diet of reading.

Every profession has its tools. You can’t be a doctor without a stethoscope. You can’t be a carpenter without a hammer and a saw. The minister’s tools are his books. We’re in the feeding, leading, and communicating business. Reading helps us do that more effectively.

With the new year just a few days away, it’s a good time to start a new reading habit.

But what kind of books should a Christian leader read?

Good ones.

I agree with James Bryce, who is credited with saying, “Life is too short to spend it reading inferior books.”

Here are nine ways you can find a jewel amid all the books out there.

1. Start with the author.

This…

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Tips to Improve Your Sermon Preparation

One of the ways I prepare for sermons is by constantly collecting content—things like news stories or statistics that might make a good illustration, anecdotes and quotes, and Bible verses based on a common theme.

I usually start collecting this stuff months or even years before I ever write the sermon. This kind of collecting is one of the most underrated habits of great preachers. We can learn from them by always being on the lookout for things that will help us develop future sermons.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. A few years ago, I preached a sermon series on Psalm 23. It turned out to be a great evangelistic series. In fact, 446 people gave their lives to Christ during the seven-week series. But here’s the thing: I started collecting material on Psalm 23 back when I was in college! And so when it came time to preach this series, I had a huge file of information to draw on. I’d been thinking about the topics in Psalm 23 for years, so I don’t believe it was accidental that God used the series…

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4 Reasons Church-Wide Campaigns Are So Powerful

No other institution on earth has the potential to change the world and address global issues as the local church. No force on earth is as unstoppable as the local church when it is functioning as a unified body of believers. And nothing brings a church together in unity better than a growth campaign.

The greatest waves of growth that Saddleback Church has ever experienced have been the result of the various church-wide campaigns that we’ve done. When we set aside six to eight weeks to concentrate, as a church family, on a single theme, amazing things happen, such as…

  • People bring their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church.
  • Hundreds of people are baptized.
  • All kinds of new small groups form and launch.
  • Some people give financially for the first time, and everyone sacrifices for the Kingdom.
  • The church grows larger, deeper, broader, warmer, and stronger.

As you plan your preaching over the next twelve months, plan at least one, if not two, opportunities for your church to align around a single theme. Our newest campaign, 40 Days of Prayer

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I’ve often said that your network is way more important than your net worth.

God created us for relationship, and I believe that connecting with people is powerful.

I would love for our team here at Pastors.com to get to know more about you so we can better serve you. It will take less than a minute for you to complete the survey below.

Thank you, and God bless you!

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Mountain View

William Rainey once said, “Why didn’t somebody ever tell me that I could become a Christian and work on all my doubt afterward?” The fact is, every little step you take toward Christ moves you further away from the four “D”s—doubt, discouragement, depression, and despair.

We’re all moving, but sometimes we move slowly. Are you struggling this Easter with one of these “D” issues?

Are you doubting God’s love because you’re in a crisis? “God! I’ve just found out I have a terminal illness! Don’t you love me?”

Are you discouraged because you don’t think he cares for you? “God! Don’t you see the trouble I’m in? Don’t you care?”

Are you depressed because life has not turned out the way you thought it would? “God! My spouse is leaving me! Can’t you stop this from happening?”

Are you despairing because you don’t think he’s forgiven you for your latest sin? “God! I still feel guilty. Haven’t you forgiven me?”

The Bible makes this statement in 1 John 5:13: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (NASB).

There’s a…

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At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God. One pathway to increased influence is a road we often overlook – the one behind us.

Looking back can be good. It can give us wisdom and perspective. It can also help us look forward to what God is doing next in your churches and ours.

This helpful book looks back at ten historic spiritual shifts of the last century and identifies a church closest to the center of each one. You may not have heard of these pioneering churches and their leaders, but we suspect you have been influenced by them far more than you realize. And we strongly suspect that after reading each of their stories, you’ll be glad you did – and you’ll have a better perspective on your own church and how God is at work in and around it.

It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified to identify and describe these trends and the personalities behind them than our friend, mentor, co-author and fellow researcher Elmer Towns. Starting in the 1960s he became the nation’s leading figure in…

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Life on MissionMatthew was a tax collector. The Jews hated tax collectors because they were usually swindlers and “sell outs” who worked for the Romans. You couldn’t get any lower than a tax collector. They even had their own category. There were “sinners” and there were “tax collectors.” Like there are normal sinners, and then there are tax collectors.

So Jesus and the disciples came upon Mathew one day and Jesus says, “Why don’t you quit your job and follow me?” (Matthew 9) Matthew says “yes,” and the next thing you know Jesus is at a party at Matthew’s house. There are no details about what happened next, we just know that Matthew throws a party and Jesus is there.

So who would Matthew invite? MORE SINNERS!

Can you imagine the scene? Put it in modern day context. I can only imagine Matthew running back and forth from the kitchen, making sure everyone was being looked after as he listened to the conversations that took place around the table and out in the hot tub. He’s restocking the beer cooler. There is NON–Christian music on the stereo. You know Naughty Matt had a…

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CR DevotionalCelebrate Recovery is not just a program but a means toward lasting life change, and the key to recovery is to keep the eight Christ-centered Life Principles alive.

As readers engage with the devotions, they will discover the principles more firmly cemented in their daily thinking and actions, and will find ongoing support and hope for the road ahead. Each powerful devotion is a reminder of God’s goodness, grace, and redemption, and will be an inspiration to anyone struggling with old hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Start where you are. Begin today.

The Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional is 366 original brief readings, designed as a daily reinforcement and encouragement for millions who are on the road to recovery.

Get the Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional

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