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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:

1. 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…

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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.


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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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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 is available now! Some of our other campaigns have included 

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What should we do during seasons of discipline and delay? Four simple things:

1. Wait for the Power

You are going to need the full power of your dream to work for you, not some watered-down, premature version. Jesus made his followers wait until they received power from on high. That’s a promise for us, not just them. You will receive supernatural power for the task ahead if you don’t try to rush God’s timing.

I’m convinced that much of the dream-centered life is simply saying, Okay, God. It doesn’t make sense to me. All of culture is going the other direction. But I’m going to do exactly what you say. That posture of pa­tience and obedience is much more powerful than our own efforts.

2. Remember the Voice of God

Psalm 34:3 encourages us to “magnify the Lord.” Does that mean make him bigger? No, but it means we make him bigger in our own lives. By doing this we make God’s voice bigger than the voices of doubt in our own situation.

Imagine the dream busters who rose up against Noah and the pres­sure he got from his own family. I picture his three sons…

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By Dee Brestin

Idol Lies by Dee Brestin

At the root of every destructive behavior is a deception. We may think that our identity is in Christ, but in reality it may be in the success of our marriage, mothering, or ministry. We may think that God is our refuge, but in reality, we may find refuge in friendship, food, or Facebook. Seeing the lie is half the battle in being set free. These are deceptions that are common among Christian women, though they certainly can snare men as well.

My Friends Can Be My Security

Women are the relational gender and, generally speaking, their friendships are more intimate, more enduring, and more satisfying than the friendships of men.

But the dark side is that women can begin to expect their friends to be what only God can be. When Christy’s best friend, Brooke, began to be less available because of a new boyfriend, Christy felt avoided as if she had the flu. A wise friend gave her the name of a good Christian counselor, and Christy finally decided to go. She remembers the opening conversation verbatim:

“Christy, you became a…

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A few weeks ago, on a day out with my wife, we ended up at the local home improvement store. Eighty-four aisles ranging from showers to shrubs greeted us with the express purpose of expanding my to-do list. We’re in the midst of tackling some much-needed repairs and updates on our home, and as we walked from home and garden to plumbing. then into electrical and paint and appliances, the list grew. This gave me the perfect opportunity that comes every time a home renovation needs to be done: the excuse to purchase a new tool.

Tools are designed to make the job easier. The right tool is often vital to getting the job done right.  It is the same with small group ministry leadership as it is with home remodel and repair. Tools assist and empower us to do more and do it better.

But what are the right tools? As I stood in the midst of tool world at that home improvement store, I realized a lot of tools might work, might help, but what is really going to improve my odds for success? I find it the same with leading a growing ministry….

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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 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).


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High Voltage

I had been in ministry long enough to hear the stories. It’s a familiar narrative these days: pastors disqualified from ministry due to moral failure. For years I had listened to devastating tales of infidelity and broken families in the lives of fellow pastors. My immediate reaction, in all honesty, was typically swift judgment. I mentally distanced myself from such pastors, believing I was cut from a different sort of spiritual cloth than such sinners. How on earth could this happen? How could anyone, let alone a pastor, ever do such a thing? These stories, while far too commonplace, were quite removed from my immediate life and church world. I couldn’t imagine any of my pastoral peers ever experiencing such a fall from grace.

Then it happened. I remember the phone call vividly. A dear friend, a fellow pastor, called me to confess his infidelity and ask for prayer amid the consequences he was going to face from the leadership of his church. As he talked I felt numb. The shock of the moment gripped me in a way I had never experienced. I knew this man. I thought I knew him well….

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The word “ministry” contains within it the idea of service, and to some it may come as an unexpected surprise that even ministers struggle with the pull of seeking status or striving illegitimately after ambition as we pursue our careers  –  uh, I mean callings. However, the fact that we are ministers does not remove us from a world in which both nature and nurture often orient us in another way. In fact, having been so oriented toward the pursuit of self, we might even be prone to ignore and justify it in our ministries for Christ. In Servant of All, Craig C. Hill examines the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament regarding leadership, providing us with a biblical call to examine the way we view ourselves and ministry.

Dr. Hill, who is dean and professor of New Testament at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, laments that those studying the Bible often do so with an eye toward theology, thus missing the practical teaching related to the doctrinal…

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