Archives For Worship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to honor and depend on God.

Topics include: a leader’s heart, Faith, surrender, tithing, singing, corporate worship services, etc.

How to Help Church Guests Understand What's Happening

One of the reasons people are hesitant to try attending a church for the first time is that they’re not sure what to expect. In fact, they probably expect it to be a little bit awkward and uncomfortable.

Over time, it’s important for your church to become known as a place where people will be able to understand what’s happening. That doesn’t mean changing the message, but it does mean clearly explaining what is going on during the worship service.

If you use words like “prelude” or “convocation” without explanation, you’ll send the message that the service is intended for insiders and those who already understand what’s happening.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make people more comfortable in a church worship service that might be brand new to them.

Use easy-to-understand terminology.

Instead of “Invocation,” call it an “Opening Prayer.” Or better yet, don’t call it anything. Just have the prayer. No one really needs to know that a “Prelude” will be happening. Just play the music.

If you have a traditional altar call, or even an invitation for people to go somewhere for prayer, be very clear and…

Continue Reading

If you’re a pastor, you should certainly be striving for greater excellence as a communicator, as a leader, and as an organizer. You need a vision. You need a strategy. You need a solid, biblical theology of ministry and the church. But you can have all of these and remain stuck in mediocrity without God’s power. The greatest work you’ll ever commit to as a pastor is the work of prayer.

Praying churches, those that experience the miraculous power of God, are led by praying pastors. This is why Jesus spent time teaching his disciples how to pray. He knew that once he had ascended back to heaven, his church would need to connect with him, and the way we connect with God and receive his direction and his power is through prayer.

Jesus gave his disciples at least four reasons to keep on growing in the area of prayer.

1. Prayer is an act of dedication.

It is an opportunity to express our devotion to God as well as our dependence on God. Our biggest problem when it comes to the frequency and passion in our praying is that we don’t feel the need to…

Continue Reading

4 Big Questions to Ask Before Easter Sunday Arrives

For three and a half decades, Easter Sunday has been one of the biggest evangelistic opportunities of the year for Saddleback Church, and for thousands of other churches too. When the celebration of Easter Sunday is such a golden opportunity to tell people about the hope we have in the risen Christ, it’s definitely prudent to start planning for it early.

As your staff and leadership team starts to develop a strategy for reaching as many unchurched people as possible, here are some vital questions for pastors to answer…

What message will I be preaching?

Obviously, you’ll be preaching about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The world is starving for hope, and the resurrection story is the greatest source of hope we have. But the greatest story ever told can be told in many different ways and from many different angles.

Here’s a collection of 10 Easter sermons I’ve preached throughout the years to give you some ideas: Finding New Life From the Empty Tomb of Jesus.

Your message on Easter Sunday should usually be the start of a short series or the prelude…

Continue Reading

2016-01-10 10.53.42

The question often comes up: How can a service be both worship and seeker-friendly? At Saddleback, we believe you can have both without compromising either.

When we speak of worship, we’re talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.

Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate with at Saddleback: “Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”

We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions. God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship.

God is the consumer of worship

Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how worship encourages, strengthens and changes us. They…

Continue Reading

Three Things to Remember This Christmas

At Saddleback Church, holidays are a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to reflect on God’s infinite love, which he pours into our lives. We’ve seen thousands of people trust in Jesus at our Christmas week services, so it’s a great opportunity for evangelism. But we also need to remember how easy it is for people to remain lost even while we’re talking about the birth of Christ.

Here are three principles we should all remember as we enter the Christmas season that will help people experience God’s love…

Keep it simple

Jesus was born into some pretty sparse circumstances. The son of two poor Galileans, he lived a life of humility and simplicity that became a key element of his ministry here on Earth. We try to reflect these same Christ-like attitudes at Saddleback, and that’s why all the activities we focus on at Christmas tend to be small and personal.

We want people talking to each other, helping each other, and growing together. Despite the fact that we have more than 20,000 regular attendees, we’ve found that the larger we grow, the smaller we…

Continue Reading

I’m often asked, “How can a service be both a worship service and place for seekers to experience Jesus?”

At Saddleback we believe you can have both without compromising either.

When we speak of worship, we are talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.

Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate on at Saddleback:

“Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”

We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening, and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions.

God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship.

God is the consumer of worship

Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how…

Continue Reading

Crowded ChurchAlmost every church in the world will see an attendance spike this week. In the this-is-really-obvious-research-finding, we found that Easter was the highest attended day of the church year.

If you work in ministry, you already know this and did not need LifeWay Research to tell you. You’ve been planning for it. But are you planning for next week, too?

Nicola Menzie, a reporter for the Christian Post, asked me some questions for her story, “How to Keep the ‘Chreasters’ Coming: Experts Say Preparedness and Follow-Up Are Key.” The story has lots of helpful information, and the subtitle gets it right, “While Churches Look to Make Converts for Christ on Easter Sunday, Many Fail to Make a Connection.” Her good questions got me thinking—so I turned my comments to her into a full post here.

Let me share some thoughts on what your church can do to follow up its Easter guests.

Seize the Easter Moment.

Easter is an opportunity, but it has to be seized. More people will hear the message this Sunday than any other of the year. If it is worth preparing a well-done service and great message, it is certainly…

Continue Reading

Saddleback JoyWhen I was a kid, Christmas was a time of forced church attendance and family conflicts with out-of-town relatives. We did not have much, the gifts reflected it, and we did not know enough to be grateful that we got anything at all.

In other words, when Christmas came around every year, my focus was on it being an unhappy holiday. I was not at all concerned with the actual meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Son of God. So, I grew up not liking Christmas much. Then I became a pastor, and it got worse. Maybe that’s you, right now, but in a different way. One too may late nights. One too many critics of the technology. One too may experts on what the church Christmas service should really include. Just one too many….I get it—if you are reading this magazine, you probably are at a church where it takes a lot of work to pull off a Christmas service. As a pastor, I see how hard our team works every week and how much time and effort they put into every last detail.

Hours of work already go into a…

Continue Reading

How to Get the Most Growth Out of Your 'Big Days'

Last week, I wrote about the 9 reasons why your church should make the most of ‘big days’ for growth. And I told you that ‘big days’ have been very instrumental in Saddleback’s growth over the last 40+ years. We’ve learned the art of pyramiding growth through special days.

But how? How do we maximize those big days for all they’re worth? Here are nine ways.

1. Plan your big days around your main worship service.

You might host other special events, but if you’re hoping to enlarge your main service attendance, then you will get the most benefit out of big days if they are planned around your existing, primary weekend service(s). It’s very difficult to try to get people who attend a special event during the week to become part of your weekend service.

2.  Plan big days on a naturally high attendance day.

Have your big day on a day when people are most likely to come anyway. They include without a doubt Easter, Mother’s Day, and Continue Reading

Rick Warren BaptizingNearly 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ over Easter weekend at Saddleback Church! The stories of salvations and baptisms have been so deeply moving.

All eight of our Saddleback campuses had record attendance:  Corona, Anaheim, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Woods, San Clemente, Rancho Capistrano, and Lake Forest. Last weekend, three of our campuses had over 3,000 attenders, one had close to 2,000 attenders, and four of campuses had nearly 1,000 attenders!

In addition, about twenty folks around the world rented theaters to show our Saddleback Easter service for their friends. Many were saved in a prison in the Philippines where the service was shown!

On Monday after Easter, I sent a tweet asking for people to email me with the highlights of their Easter weekend. Here are some of the responses I’ve received…


I attend a Korean church in Walnut Creek, CA, but am a member of our English ministry for young adults. Because our church has two different congregations and a youth group, Sundays like Easter Sunday and Christmas Sunday are treats for us. All three groups (who worship separately for language and age group reasons) join together for a joint service.

This…

Continue Reading

Channel“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV)

In faith, I know these things to be true:

  • God is full of love and grace, and he fills me with his love and grace.
  • God’s work within me is to clear a channel for his love and grace to flow through me into the lives of anyone and everyone I meet.
  • I may not be there yet, but I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
  • And I know “God is able to make all grace abound will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV).
  • He will make my joy complete because I no longer live in darkness, but I now live in the truth and have fellowship with God (1 John 1:4; 1 John 1:6).
  • Through the “Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship…

    Continue Reading

Four Ways a Pastor Can Show Love

Pastor, you set the tone and atmosphere in your congregation. If you want to know the warmth of your church, put the thermometer in your own mouth.

I’ve visited some churches where the pastor’s lack of love is the main reason the church isn’t growing. Some pastors, by their cold demeanor and lack of personal warmth, virtually guarantee that visitors won’t come back. And in some larger churches, I’ve gotten the impression that the pastor loves an audience but doesn’t like people.

Great preaching without love is just noise in God’s view.

Every time I speak to at Saddleback, I repeat a simple reminder to myself. I never preach or teach without thinking this:

“Father, I love you and you love me. I love these people and you love these people. Love these people through me. This is not an audience to be feared but a family to be loved. There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out all fear.”

Let me suggest some practical ways that you can demonstrate your love:

Memorize names.

Remembering names shows that you’re interested in people. Nothing sounds sweeter to a…

Continue Reading