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.

11 Simple Strategies for Helping Guests Feel Welcome

When I think back to some of the factors that have helped Saddleback grow through the years, one of the most important has also been one of the most overlooked.

If you want people to show up, you must be nice to people.

Sounds simple, right? It really shouldn’t surprise anyone. But even though most churches say they’re friendly, some of them really just mean their members are friendly to people they already know. They’re friendly to people who look like them and act like them.

And that doesn’t guarantee they’re friendly to guests.

You must be intentional in your friendliness. You don’t overcome unfriendliness by accident. You need to build friendliness into your worship service.

That’s why, early on at Saddleback, I instituted the three-minute rule. Guests are usually among the first to leave at the end of a worship service. Longtime members stay the longest. I’d tell my longtime members to find someone who looks like a guest (they are usually easy to spot) and talk with the person right after the service. I’d encourage them to spend some time getting to know these guests and making…

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Man Praying

We’re looking for better methods, machinery, and motivations, which are all okay, but God is looking for people to use. He is looking for leaders.

And for God to use the leaders, they must be men and women of God.

We have a sample of a leader’s prayer in the book of Nehemiah. You can learn a lot about people by the kinds of prayers they pray.

Remember that Nehemiah, when he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, prayed for four months before taking action. This is not just a casual prayer. The prayer we’re going to look at this week is just a sample prayer he prayed. It gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray as a leader, study the book of Nehemiah, and particularly examine the prayer Nehemiah prays in the first chapter.

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah.

Base your requests on God’s character.

Pray like you know God will answer you . . .

I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving…

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Prayer on the Beach

“I will . . . station myself . . .” (Habakkuk 2:1 NIV).

If you want to get God’s vision for your life and ministry, you must want to hear it, you must withdraw to hear it, and then you must wait to hear it.

The New International Version says, “I will . . . station myself” ( Habakkuk 2:1 NIV). What does it mean to station yourself before God? It means stay put. It means, “I’m not moving.” It means, “I’m going to be still. I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.”

Hurry is the death of prayer. And, as pastors, we feel all kinds of pressure to get in a hurry. Yet God won’t speak to us as we run out the door. He wants us to care enough to linger and listen in our prayer time.

So many times, we’re running so revved up, we can’t slow down enough to tune in to God.

So, how do you slow down? You calm your mind by relaxing your body. You take deep breaths and you relax your muscles and let…

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Church Building

This week, walk around your church campus and try to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest.

We become so familiar with our surroundings that we become oblivious to the faded paint, the frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the stack of stuff on the piano, or the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact Report on your church. Take pictures throughout your facilities and show them to your leaders in order to figure out what needs to be changed.

Here are some environmental factors to pay close attention to:

1. Lighting: Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. I’ve noticed that even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow, churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that dimming the lights creates a more “spiritual” mood. I completely disagree.

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light. God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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