Stop Confusing Your First Time Guests

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.

1. 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 specific in how you invite people to respond.

I’ve always said at Saddleback that we have The Living Bible version of the order of service. We’re more interested in making it clear for the unchurched than impressing the folks who know what liturgical terms mean.

2. Provide explanatory notes.

When you go to an opera or play that’s difficult to understand, they provide you with program notes. Tell people why you do what you’re doing in the service. If you hand guests a printed bulletin, it should include a simple explanation of the welcome / commitment card, the offering, the response time, etc.

Something like,

Please fill out one of the welcome cards from the chair rack in front of you and drop it in one of the boxes located at the door where you exit after the service . . .

or,

The offering time is an opportunity for members and regular attenders to invest in the ministry and mission of the church. We don’t expect guests to give.

Those kinds of notes can go a long way to putting people at ease.

3. Eliminate most announcements, and get creative with the few you make.

The best way to recruit people to volunteer, or attend an event, or support a cause, isn’t through an announcement from the stage. It’s best handled through relationships or personalized communication – email, social media, texts, etc.

The few announcements that are made should pertain to the whole body present, not a specific group within the church. And they can be delivered in creative ways. We often have two people on video, making announcements in a lively, news-like fashion.

4. Train members to be greeters and helpers.

Greeting people outside, in the parking lot, is a great start. But it’s also very important to have people insidethe auditorium and classrooms to make people feel welcome once they walk in.

While some people may be part of your official greeting team, you can train all of your regular attenders to be mindful of those who seem new or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Talk about this in your membership class so that everyone who joins understands that they’re informally part of the greeting team.

It really boils down to being sensitive to the apprehension people might feel walking onto a church campus with which they’re unfamiliar, meeting people they don’t know, and participating in a service that might be a brand-new experience for them.

> Read more from Rick.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Lead a Culture of Positive Risk-Taking

I’ve said many times that I want everyone on my staff to make at least one mistake a week.

Through Saddleback, I’ve learned that if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not trying anything new. If you’re not trying anything new, then you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, then you’re already out of date.

I want my staff members taking risks and making mistakes. That means they’re being innovative, and it means they’re not afraid to try.

Now, I don’t want them making the same mistake every week — that means they’re not learning. But I tell them, “Make a new mistake each week.” I also tell them, “Show the innovation and creativity to do something that you’ve never done before.”

Nothing great is ever done without talking risks, and I want a staff full of leaders. Leaders take risks. There’s another word for risk-taking: faith. Faith is a critical element in the success of your ministry. Will you believe God for big things?

One day I asked my staff to flip to Mark 10:27 in their Bibles. It’s the verse that says, “All things are possible with God” (NIV). I asked my staff to circle the word “all” and then to write the letters “NSD” next to that verse.

NSD means No Small Dreams. We serve a big God, and he says the size of your faith will determine the size of your blessing in life: “According to your faith it will be done to you” (Matthew 9:29b NIV).

In Matthew 25, three servants were given different talents. One was given 10 talents, and he went out and doubled it. Another servant was given five talents, and he went out and doubled it. But the guy with one talent dug a hole and essentially said, “I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to take any risks.” The master said, “You wicked, lazy, unfaithful servant.” Why?

Because by not taking risks you are being unfaithful.

So what are you going to do to take risks in your ministry? If you’re not taking any risks in your ministry, then you don’t need any faith. If you don’t need any faith in your ministry, you’re being unfaithful.

Please, go out and make a mistake this week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Great Leaders Must Be Vulnerable

You don’t know it all. There are limits to your knowledge, ability, and energy. And while the competitive nature of our culture, which often sneaks into our lives in ministry, would have us to hid all of our weaknesses in fear, there is tremendous power in becoming vulnerable with people.

Deciding to become vulnerable is risky. As church leaders, there will be people in our congregations who don’t want us to be human. They would prefer that we wear a halo and pretend that we’re never really tempted to sin in the same ways that they are. They feel safer if we, as spiritual leaders, are immune to the crass realities of life.

But when we hide our weaknesses, three big problems arise:

  • Our weaknesses get worse, feeding off of the shame and secrecy.
  • We become dishonest and hypocritical.
  • The truth inevitably comes out and people are disillusioned as a result.

So is bearing our vulnerability worth the risk? Absolutely. Here are some important reasons why vulnerability is a forgotten virtue of great leadership…

1. It’s emotionally healthy.

Maintaining an image of perfection requires enormous amounts of emotional energy. One of the reasons we sometimes get so stressed out and depressed is because we’re working so hard to stay behind the facade and keep everyone convinced that we’re strong.

If you are worried about your image, you are heading for burnout. Keeping people happy and impressing others is terribly exhausting, and it’s always temporary. Eventually, people get to know our weaknesses all at once.

Being real and vulnerable, on the other hand, is liberating. It’s freeing. In fact, it’s really the only way to live. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (NLT). We need to confess our sins to God to be forgiven, but we also need to talk about our weaknesses with others to find healing.

In fact, some faults won’t budge until you confess them to others.

2. It’s spiritually empowering.

James also says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NLT). It is impossible to lead in ministry without the grace of God. And how do you find the grace you need? You find it by humbling yourself before God and others.

Remember, pride prevents power! 

3. It’s relationally attractive.

Everybody is wearing a mask, and it’s what we expect others to do as well. When we choose to throw our masks away, we surprise people with our authenticity. Being real is the fastest way to endear yourself to others.

We tend to love people who area real, honest, humble, and vulnerable and we tend to despise people who are deceitful, arrogant, and hypocritical. Paul told the Thessalonian believers, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News, but our own lives, too” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NLT).

When you share your strengths, you create competition. But when you share your weaknesses, you create community. You let people know, we’re all in this together.

Pastors are often incredibly lonely people. Why? I believe it’s in large part because they’re so afraid of the cost of being vulnerable.

4. It’s a mark of leadership.

We only follow leaders we trust. The first requirement for effective leadership is credibility, and the more honest you are, the more credible you become.

Real leaders lead by example. They go first. If your desire is that the church, group, or organization you’re leading be a place where people are open, you must be the first to open up.

You must decide whether you want to impress people (which you can do from a distance) or influencepeople (which you can only do up close).                                                                                      

5. It increases the impact of your preaching.

The concept of preaching from our vulnerability is something I’ve written about before because it’s a really big idea. In the previous generation of great preachers, we usually asked what’s the most powerful way to preach this? Now, we should be asking what’s the most personal way to preach this?

You will always be more effective as a personal witness and a storyteller than as a skilled orator. As you preach and lead, try to answer these questions…

  • What struggles and weaknesses should I share with others?
  • What progress am I making that others could learn from?
  • What am I currently learning, especially from my failures?

Remember this: The minister is the message.

> Read more from Rick.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Learning to Live a Healthy, Biblical Lifestyle

Who takes care of the caregiver?

In your role of a leader and servant to your church, you probably push yourself to a point of exhaustion and beyond, rationalizing that you don’t have time for diets or exercise or that you will catch up on sleep later.

The reality is that the more you neglect your personal health, the less effective you actually are at caring for the spiritual health of others. Nodding off during meetings, eating greasy fast food while you drive, and collapsing on the couch during family time after work can be as destructive and sinful to your ministry as a moral failure.

Many leaders struggle with caring for their own health and well-being, and have become defeated and frustrated through the years as quick-fixes and January resolutions have come and gone. It is easier, and way more fun, to give in and neglect your own health.

Solution – Learn to live a healthy, biblical lifestyle

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman

During an afternoon of baptizing over 800 people, Pastor Rick Warren realized it was time for change. He told his congregation he needed to lose weight and asked if anyone wanted to join him. He thought maybe 200 people would sign up, instead he witnessed a movement unfold as 15,000 people lost over 260,000 pounds in the first year. With assistance from medical and fitness experts, Pastor Rick and thousands of people began a journey to transform their lives.

Here s the secret sauce: The Daniel Plan is designed to be done in a supportive community relying on God’s instruction for living. When it comes to getting healthy, two are always better than one. Our research has revealed that people getting healthy together lose twice as much weight as those who do it alone. God never meant for you to go through life alone and that includes the journey to health. The Daniel Plan shows you how the powerful combination of faith, fitness, food, focus, and friends will change your health forever, transforming you in the most head-turning way imaginably-from the inside out.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Making big and lasting changes in our lives is never easy – especially when it comes to something as personal as health, fitness, and lifestyle issues. In this area, especially around the first of the year, we are excited and firm in our resolve to begin the new year with healthier habits, including diet, exercise, and lifestyle. But oftentimes, those resolutions are forgotten as life continues – often at a faster pace.

The key to long-lasting success in any endeavor – including becoming healthier – is all about developing habits (see this SUMS Remix for help) (link to Remix 16). New, positive habits can replace old, self-defeating behaviors.

Of course, the problem is that old habits are difficult to change! Here are three reasons why it is so hard to develop new habits:

  • Most have lived with our unhealthy habits for years and we are comfortable with them.
  • Most of us are so comfortable with bad habits we identify with them.
  • Most unhealthy habits seem rewarding to us – and what gets rewarded gets recognized.

It’s no wonder we have difficulty breaking bad habits and developing new, good ones!

What’s needed is a simple, straightforward way to assess your current health, make wise decisions in several key areas of your life, and gather a few friends who will take the journey with you.

Maybe it’s time to consider The Daniel Plan.

The Essentials are a pathway to much more than improved physical health. Each of the Essentials holds up your life, enlivens your body, enriches your mind, and fills your heart.

The Daniel Plan is based on five Essentials: faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.

Faith – God’s power is the key to any transformational change in our lives, including our health. He wants us to plug into that power so that we can live and move the way He intended.

Food – You will be invited to eat natural foods that bring vitality and energy to your body and mind. As you slowly introduce real whole fresh food, your body will respond automatically and heal, and chronic symptoms will fade into memory. The Daniel Plan introduces you to a whole new world of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, fish, lean animal products, and spices.

Fitness – Leading health and wellness organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine have discovered that moving your body even just a little bit on a regular basis impacts not only your physical health, but also your intellectual, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual health.

Focus – When your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is healthy, your ability to focus increases and you make better decisions. So many distractions compete for your attention, so it is important for you to renew your mind and focus on God’s plan and priorities for your life.

Friends – When it comes to your health, every body needs a buddy. Consider what your journey toward whole health would be like if you did it in community. Research shows that people getting healthy together lose twice as much weight as those who do it alone. That success dramatically increases when you are connected with others, receiving constant encouragement to stay focused and motivated toward your goals.

Rick Warren, The Daniel Plan

A NEXT STEP

No matter what shape you are, what age you are, or where you want to go, everyone has the same starting point: where you are right now. Your “right now” is going to be very different from others so you need to make this journey to better health your journey.

Here are a couple of questions to get you started:

  • How is your overall health?
  • What changes do you want to start with?

Using The Daniel Plan website (see link below), download the Essentials Survey.

Work through the survey, completing the questions on each of the five Essentials described above. Use the results as a benchmark as you begin the intentional journey to better health and well-being.

Rather than jumping into all five Essentials at once, use the results of the Essentials Survey to begin with one or two Essentials. As you work in those areas and improve, add one additional Essential at a time.

As a leader in the local church, the temptation may be to walk this journey toward health in isolation from your church body. The rationale comes from the “never let them see you struggle” lies that we believe make us a better leader. Find 2-3 trusted lay leaders and invite them to walk the Daniel Plan with you. If you are in a Small Group – and why wouldn’t you be? – consider walking through this study with your group. Your example and willingness to be publicly open with improvement in health will likely be a catalyst for growth in others of your congregation.

If you choose to follow The Daniel Plan as an intentional journey, take the Essentials Survey several months after beginning, and again at the end to help measure your progress.

 


 

Taken from SUMS Remix 27-1, published November 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Measurements that Right-Size Your Vision

Over the years, I’ve learned that – contrary to popular opinion – the bigger the vision, the easier it is to reach that vision, and, ultimately, the size of your vision should be determined by the size of God.

How big do you think God is? The issue is not who you think you are, but who you think God is. In your dreams for your ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do in this place?”

How many people could be reached here?

When determining the size of your vision, you need to keep three factors in mind. The first factor is the ultimate population of your ministry area. Obviously, if a church planter is going to start a new church, he doesn’t plan a church of 2,000 in a town that only has 500 people in it. Be pragmatic.

I tell people: Go get a map of your community, draw a circle that would include approximately 15 minutes’ driving distance to your church, and find out how many people are in that area. Then you say, “Ultimately, we want to try to reach everybody. We know we can’t reach everybody. But we assume the responsibility for reaching everybody. We pray that other churches will reach people, but we want to assume responsibility for that.”

How long are you willing to stay?

The second factor is a question only you can answer: How long do you intend to stay there? There’s an old saying: “Inch by inch, anything is a cinch.”

Most of us overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in 10 years or 20 years. The trouble with most goal setting is we set our goals too low and try to accomplish them too soon.

Instead, we need to set big goals, huge goals, enormous goals, but plan on plenty of time in getting there. I tell everyone who comes on staff with us, “We don’t expect a miracle overnight. Let’s build.” We’re not interested in building a mushroom. We’re interested in building an oak tree. A mushroom takes 12 hours to grow; an oak tree takes 60 years. But an oak tree is going to last.

To reach big goals, you have to plan for the long haul in ministry. There are lots of flash-in-the-pan churches. There are churches that have grown larger than our church in a shorter amount of time. There was a church once near Saddleback Church that started with 1,200 people within the first month, but a year later the church was dead. It didn’t build the structure. It didn’t build the roots. It didn’t build all the other factors. Everything rises or falls on leadership.

So how long will you stay there? If you don’t plan on staying someplace for the long haul, don’t go there. You must plan for time. Persistence is the key in reaching a large goal. Conversely, the size of your goal will be determined by how much of your life you plan to spend in reaching it.

How has God gifted you?

The third factor for determining the size of your vision is a frank appraisal of your own gifts. The Bible clearly teaches that there are one-talent people and five-talent people and 10-talent people.

Some pastors will never have more than 150 in their church because they insist on doing everything themselves. They do all the prayers, all the visitation, all the counseling, all the marrying and burying. They want to know everybody by name. This shepherd-type of pastor loves the personal contact of getting involved with people in that area.

There’s nothing wrong with having a shepherd’s heart. God loves people with shepherd’s hearts. That’s why he made so many of them. There are about 400,000 churches in America and maybe 95 percent of them run less than 300 on a weekend.

Most of those are led by pastors who have a shepherd’s heart. But if your church is going to grow, you must be willing to raise up other leaders and other shepherds, too — it’s one of the prices of growth.

In other words, you’ll have people who do not come to you, personally, for counseling. They won’t come to you for weddings. They won’t come to you for funerals.

The same thing is going to be true of your area. If you have a vision to grow a large church that reaches people from across the spectrum, you’ll have to change the way you think. That’s why you have to do an honest assessment of your gifts.

So how many people are reachable where God has called you to serve? How long are you willing to stay? And how has God gifted you?


What is the right-size of your vision? Connect with an Auxano Navigator to talk about your vision.


> Read more from Rick.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Pace-Setting Tools for Lead Pastors

I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?” I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, with all different methods and styles. But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor. So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The very first task of leadership is to set the vision for the organization. If you don’t set the vision, you’re not the leader. Whoever is establishing the vision in your church is the leader of that particular church. A church will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a church will never outgrow the vision of the pastor.

If I’m smart I can always compensate for my weaknesses. I can always hire people to do things or delegate to volunteers the things that I can’t do. If I’m not good at counseling, I can find people who are good at counseling. If I’m not good at administration and details, I can find people to handle administration and details. But there is one thing I cannot delegate. I cannot ask other people to believe God for me. I have to set the pace in terms of vision, in terms of dreams, in terms of faith, in terms of what God wants to do in our lives and in our congregation. You cannot delegate faith in God.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:27a, “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (GNT).

So I want to challenge you to dream great dreams for God. One nice thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t cost anything. You can have great dreams and think through and pray through and it doesn’t cost you anything at all. The Bible says,  “God . . . is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB). God comes along and says, “Think up the biggest thing you think I can do in your life, in your ministry, in your church — and I can top that. I can beat it.”

So you need to ask yourself this question, “What would I attempt for God if I knew I couldn’t fail?” Let that expand your horizons. Let it expand your dreams. Expand your vision. It starts with a dream.

There are three parts to getting God’s vision for your ministry.

The first thing God shows you is the What? He shows you what he’s going to do. The big mistake we make once we have a sense of what God wants to do is trying to accomplish it on our own. Inevitably we fall flat on our faces and come crawling back to God saying, “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. What did I do? Did I miss the vision? You told me what you were going to do, and I went out and tried to accomplish it and fell flat on my face. Did I miss the vision?”

And God will say to you, “No, you didn’t. You just didn’t wait for part two. I told you what I was going to do, but you didn’t wait to find out How I was going to do it.” When God shows you how, it always seems to be the opposite way that you thought. And once you see the What and the How you’re still not finished. There’s a third part of the vision.

God shows you When. The longer that I’m alive and the longer I walk with the Lord and the longer I’m in ministry, the more I’m convinced that God’s timing is perfect. He is never a minute early, he is never a minute late, he is always right on time.  These are the three parts to getting God’s vision: What, How, and When. And you must wait for all three parts for God to work in your life.

When I started Saddleback Church, I didn’t envision the enormous campus and the big building we now have. In fact, I’m not a very visual thinker. Some people can see it. They’re like artists, and they can visualize the church buildings when they’re all finished, and they can see exactly what it’s going to look like in their mind. I’ve never been that kind of person. I have what I call Polaroid vision. Have you ever taken a Polaroid picture? You take it and the longer you look at it the clearer it gets. That’s true in my life. When I first started Saddleback, I didn’t know what it was going to end up like. All I knew was that God had called me to this spot and I had a bunch of ideas in a bag and I wanted to build it on the five purposes of God. As I have walked with the Lord and worked with the Lord over the years, the vision has gotten clearer and clearer.

You get God’s vision by saying, “What do you want me to do? How do you want me to do it? And when do you want me to do it?” You need to stop praying, “God, bless what I’m doing.” And instead start praying, “God, help me to do what you want to bless.” I get up in the morning and I pray a very similar prayer every day. “God, I know you’re going to do some very exciting things in the world today. Would you give me the privilege of just being in on some of them? I just want to be in on what you’re doing. I want to do what you’re blessing.”

God uses the person who has a dream.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Ways to Help Your Team Find Rhythm and Energy

The quickest way to destroy a team is to burn them out. And you don’t have to look around the field of ministry very long to realize that the ministry is filled with burned out leaders. But it’s possible to find a healthy working rhythm and ultimately increase the effective energy with which your leaders serve without causing them to burn out.

Every minute of every day we are using up energy, and every person has a limited amount of energy. If we keep the pace high all the time, we use up the energy people have to give like the way a car with its lights left on will wind up with a dead battery.

This is especially true in times when your ministry is growing. Growth brings change, change brings problems, and problems consume a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy from your leaders.

Here are seven ways to discover a good working rhythm and raise the energy level of your team.

1. Don’t expect every leader to work at the same energy level all the time.

We are all unique, and every leader serving in your ministry is wired differently. Some need more quiet and rest than others. Some work better in organized chaos while some need no chaos at all. At Saddleback, we try to hire workaholics and then force them to calm down and find a rhythm.

2. Be sensitive to external drains on energy and compensate appropriately.

Sometimes leaders have big issues and seasons of transition in their personal lives that affect the amount of energy they’re able to pour out. From health crises to marital crises to pregnancy and new babies, leaders often need time to concentrate on specific family issues.

3. Plan your year in energy cycles.

At Saddleback, we typically move through two major growth campaigns in a year. In the spring and in the fall, we set aside around eight weeks per year when we really focus on adding more small groups and really pushing people to invite their unchurched friends to some big days. Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas are all big days for us, as well as special events that surround some of the global issues we’re addressing.

Between campaigns and holidays, we regroup. Most years, we close our offices between Christmas and New Year. Newspring Church and Northpoint Church usually cancel their post-Christmas Sunday services to give their thousands of volunteers a breather. It’s okay that some weekends are intentionally designed to consume less energy than others.

4. Allow staff members to have flexible schedules.

We don’t watch the clock. We watch results. When staff members travel for church-related events, we want them to take a day of rest afterward. When they have evening meetings, we want them to come in later the next day. My mentor, Peter Drucker, said, “Empasize results, not activity.” Some of our pastors work four or more services per weekend, so we want them to have a day off during the week.

5. Work smarter, not harder.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success (HCSB). There are tools, techniques, and new technologies that streamline the way we do ministry. Use them. And learn from mistakes and failures to avoid wasting energy on what doesn’t work.

6. Focus on the long haul.

James Collins wrote a famous leadership book called Built to Last. Of the 12 values he articulated he found in companies that survived through three generations, 10 are found in Saddleback’s original vision statement which we have had since our first year of ministry. Your church can be a mushroom, which springs up overnight, or it can be an oak tree that grows larger and stronger over time with deep roots.

7. Make the work fun!

People rarely succeed at jobs they don’t enjoy, which explains the success of companies like Google, known for their fun and creative atmospheres. The most successful people get paid to do what they like to do anyway! Saddleback Church receives thousands of phone calls every day and hundreds of thousands of emails every year, and we try to give everyone an appropriate response if at all possible. So, we keep things light.

Over the years, we’ve done Taco Tuesdays as a staff. We’ve hiked around our property during a staff meeting. Once we closed the office and we all went surfing even though none of us knew how. We’ve purposely dressed tacky on the same day. We often send the staff home after a staff meeting just for the fun of it, and I’ve been known to start a food fight or two over the years.

The Kingdom of God is going to last, and your church needs to be built to last, which requires a healthy rhythm of hard work, proper rest, and a good energy consumption pattern for all the leaders involved.

As we head into the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas will both be busy for your church, but between them and after them, ask yourself how you can lead your team to find rest and cultivate joy so that you can head into this next year of ministry stronger than ever.


Learn more about developing your leaders by connecting with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Rick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Sharing a Social Network Gospel

In ministry, some things must never change, but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his Church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing.

For instance, when I first started Saddleback Church, fresh out of Southwestern Seminary, computers were in their infancy, slow and cumbersome and capable of very limited functions. The Internet was just a crude academic network and nobody had even heard of email. Now I often sit in my pajamas and have conversations with people across the globe.

In addition, you can get on a plane and within a few hours fly to almost anywhere in the world, and that means there’s even less of an excuse for not being involved in foreign missions, even if just for the short-term. The times, they are a-changing, and they’ll keep right on a-changing whether we want them to or not.

And that’s why at Saddleback, any time a new tool becomes available, we embrace it. Before the world wide web, there was Gopher, and Saddleback used it. And we’ve used the web, Facebook, Twitter, and every other major social media tool since.

Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next 10 years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles in worship, programming, architecture, music, and evangelism. That’s okay, as long as the biblical message is unchanged.

But whatever is in style now will inevitably be out of style soon, and the cycles of change are getting shorter and shorter, aided by technology and the media. New styles and preferences, like fashions, are always emerging.

Let me give you a word of advice. Never attach your church to a single style – you’ll soon be passé, and outdated. One of the secret strengths of Saddleback Church is that we’re constantly adapting; we’ve changed styles of worship, programming, and outreach many, many times in the last 36 years, and we’ll continue to do so because the world keeps changing.

The only way to stay relevant is to anchor your ministry to unchanging truths and eternal purposes but be willing to continually adapt how you communicate those truths and purposes.

In 36 years at Saddleback, we’ve never had a planned, organized visitation program. Yet, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people! Our church has grown simply by inviting one person at a time, friends from work, from school, and from the neighborhood, and from social networks.

Our members are constantly on mission to bring their friends and neighbors to our weekend services, where we reach out to non-believers – particularly those who have no real church background – by singing songs they can embrace, by voicing prayers that help them relate, and by preaching messages they understand. We make Christianity available on an introductory level to any visitor to Saddleback.

You might wonder if we attract these visitors by watering down the Gospel, but we don’t; we simply communicate it in ways that non-believers understand! Jesus drew enormous crowds (called multitudes) without compromising the message. He was clear, practical, loving, and he presented his timeless message in a contemporary fashion.

Lost people have a need for meaning, a need for purpose, a need for forgiveness, a need for love. They want to know how to make right decisions, how to protect their family, how to handle suffering, and how to have hope in our world. These are all issues we have answers for, yet millions are ignoring the message of Christ because we insist on communicating in ways that make little sense anymore.

In a sense, we’ve made the Gospel too difficult for a changing culture to understand. Let me give you this analogy: Imagine a missionary going overseas and saying, “I’m here to share the Good News, but first you have to learn to speak my language, learn my customs, and sing my style of music.” You can immediately see why this strategy would fail!

Yet, we do that all the time in a culture that is in radical flux. If we want to reach people in the current century, we must start thinking differently. I believe the most overlooked requirement in the church is to have spiritually mature members – members who unselfishly limit their own preferences of what they think a church should look like in order to reach lost people for Christ. As Jesus said in Luke 5:38, “New wine must be poured into new wineskins!”

Here’s a simple tradition to break in the 21st century: stop thinking of the church as an institution. Emerging generations are desperately looking for community. You and I may know that the church is a community, but emerging generations have never seen it that way. They’ve seen a list of rules, not a loving community. This is a prime example of an opportunity to restate the eternal truths of the Bible in a fresh, contemporary way.

Emerging generations are also focused on the experiential, and that means we have to adjust the way we teach and preach because most traditional churches focus almost exclusively on the intellect. In the 21st century church, we not only want people to know about God, we also want them to actually encounter God.

Of course, this means rather than preaching simply for information, we should also preach for action. Our message is not meant to just inform, but to transform the lives of those in our congregation. In almost every single sermon I preach every point has a verb in it – something to do. What are you going to do now that you know this godly truth?

Why do I do it this way? Because God says, “Be doers of the word, not hearers only,” and our entirePurpose Driven process at Saddleback is designed to move people, not only into intimacy with God, but also into service for him, where they’ll experience a deep and broader faith in the midst of community and ministry.

Since planting Saddleback, spiritual seekers have changed a lot. In the first place, there are a whole lot more of them! There are seekers everywhere! I’ve never seen more people so hungry to discover and develop the spiritual dimension of their lives. That’s why there’s such a big interest in Eastern thought, New Age practices, mysticism, and the transcendent.

Today seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories that reveal the greatness of God. Because seekers are constantly changing, we must be sensitive to them like Jesus was, be willing to meet them on their own turf, and speak to them in ways they understand.

Remember: the world changes but the Word doesn’t. To be effective in ministry we must learn to live with the tension between those two.

My prayer is that God will use you the way he used David, as described in Acts 13:36, to serve God’s purpose in your generation. We need churches that are both Purpose Driven and post-modern; timeless and timely at the same time! May God use you greatly and may you fulfill his purpose for your life.


Learn more about your church’s unique purpose through Auxano’s Vision Framing process. Connect with one of our navigators today to find out more.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Exegete Your Community

Often when I ask another pastor who his church is trying to reach, he gives me a very spiritual answer—lost people. It sounds good, but it usually means the pastor has a very fuzzy view of his own community.

When I was in seminary, I was taught I had to understand the culture of the New Testament before I could understand the message of the New Testament. If I understood the culture that the New Testament was set against, I could extract the timeless truth from the text. Every biblical preacher does that when he preaches a sermon.

But I was never taught to exegete the community where I serve. That’s what targeting is. I should know the geography, customs, culture and religious background of my community as much as I do about the biblical times.

You can’t faithfully communicate God’s Word until you exegete your text and your community.

So what about your community should you know? I’d start with these four areas.

  • Its geography. Simply define where the people you want to reach live. Get a map of your city or area and mark where your church is located on that map. Estimate a 15 to 20 minute drive (reasonable driving distance may be a bit different in your community) in each direction from your church and mark those as borders of your primary ministry area. This is your “evangelistic fishing pond.” You may have people drive a couple of hours to get to your church. But most of the people who’ll attend your church will live nearby. By the way, your “fishing pond” will likely expand as your church grows.
  • Its demography. You need to know who lives in the area you’re targeting. Not all demographics will be helpful. I’d focus on a breakdown of these stats: age, marital status, income and occupation. Other stats are interesting but won’t make a difference in what you do in your church. Don’t overdue demographic research.
  • Its culture. No missionary in foreign lands would try to evangelize without understanding the culture. You shouldn’t either. You can’t learn it from studying census data either. Looking for the values, interests, hurts and fears of people means you have to talk to people in your community!
  • Its spirituality. Try to determine what the people in your community understand about the Gospel. Other pastors are often the best source for this. When I started Saddleback, I wrote a letter to all of the evangelical pastors in the Saddleback Valley and asked them some basic information about the spiritual background of the community. I got some great insights from that!

Read more from Rick here.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 World-Changing Convictions of the Church

You tend to base your decisions on one of four motivations in life: circumstances, conveniences, criticisms, or convictions. Yet only decisions that are based on your convictions will last and leave a lasting legacy.

The people who have made the greatest impact on this world, for good or bad, are those who had the deepest convictions. They weren’t necessarily the smartest people, the brightest people, the most educated, the wealthiest, or even the most famous.

If you’re going to build convictions, you need to build them on something that’s going to last. Everything changes. Fads change, fashions change. Psychology changes. Even science textbooks change. We keep learning more and more. There’s only one thing that never changes. That is the truth of God. If it was true a thousand years ago, it will be true today and it will be true a thousand years from tomorrow because truth does not change.

The Bible says this in Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (NLT).

Saddleback has been built on six biblical convictions that are all based on God’s eternal Word. I’m willing to go to the mat for all six convictions. Here they are.

1. It’s all about God.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about profit, politics, or anything else. It’s all about God. Until you understand that, life and ministry are never going to make sense. In Romans 11, the Bible says, “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory” (Romans 11:36 NLT).

What’s the implication of that?

If it’s all about God, and it’s not all about making money or being popular or anything else the world thinks is important, then the implication is that it is more important to love God than anything else. It’s my very first priority. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (NIV).

2. Only the Church will last forever.

Nothing on earth will last forever – no business, government, or nation. But the Church will.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (NLT).

A thousand years from today, there probably will be no United States of America. No nation lasts forever – no empire lasts forever. Where’s the Roman Empire today? Where’s the Greek Empire? A thousand years from today, there probably won’t be a Microsoft. A thousand years from today, even many of our good Christian organizations will be gone. Nothing man-made lasts. Nothing but the Church.

I’ll give my entire life to serve the Church – Saddleback and the global Body of Christ.

That matters more to me than anything else in the world. All of our staff tithe their time. That means 10 percent of our time goes to help other churches. We’re not in this just for our church. Over the years we’ve trained more than 400,000 pastors from 163 countries.

What does this conviction mean for you and me? If we’re all going to live together forever, we better get along. It’s not enough just to love God. You must love the Church – despite all of our differences. The Bible says Christ died for the Church, the whole Church, anyone who has made Jesus Lord of his or her life.

Love is more important than personal differences in the family of God. Love is more important than political differences. We need to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. God expects me to love everybody else too.

I don’t know if you see the pattern here, but it’s all about love. Life is not about the acquisition of things. It’s not about achievement. It’s not about popularity. It’s about learning how to love. If you miss that, you miss the lesson of life. God is love. And he says the most important thing is to love him. The second most important thing is in Mark 12: “The second most important commandment is love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NLT).

So who is our neighbor? That’s not a new question. It was asked right after Jesus said this. That’s when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The short answer is everybody is your neighbor. There is nobody you’re allowed to not love on this earth.

That means you’re to love the unlovely, those who are different, difficult – and even dangerous. You’re supposed to love everyone.

It’s easy to love people who agree with you. It’s easy to love people who are cool. And it’s easy to love people who are safe. But God says that he wants you to take it even further. He says we’re to love even our enemies (Luke 6:35).

It’s tough to love people who are treating you poorly – or love someone who believes something totally antithetical to what the Bible teaches. But God says we’re to love even our enemies.

4. The whole world needs Jesus.

The whole Bible testifies to this, particularly the Great Commission. In it, Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). Does it say, go and make disciples of some nations? No. All nations. Does that include Syria? Yes. Does that include North Korea? Yes. Does that include Iran? Yes. No nation is off limits. As Christians, we report to a higher authority – Jesus Christ. I’m not a politician; I’m a pastor. If Iran opens the door, I’m going. There is no place I won’t go. I’d go into hell if I could bring people out with me. There is no place I would not go.

If the whole world needs Jesus, then we have to share the Good News. To keep it a secret would be criminal. If you knew the cure for a dreaded disease – like cancer or AIDS – and you didn’t share it, that would be criminal. We have something better than that. We know the cure for the human heart. We know the cure for the deepest needs of mankind. We need our past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven – we need Jesus.

You may be a pastor, yet you’ve never made this truth your own. It’ll change your life. How? First, it’ll change your priorities. You no longer live for yourself; you’re living for Jesus.

Then your perspective changes. You no longer regard people the way you used to. They’re not objects; they’re priceless souls that Jesus shed his precious blood for. They’re worthwhile and they’re valuable. I don’t care if the person is a coke smoking crack junkie in the alley, he or she is valuable to God. We must look at people not as objects but with a broken heart.

5. Everything is possible with God.

The Bible says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26 NIV). Why did we launch the P.E.A.C.E. Plan? What makes us think that Saddleback Church could lead hundreds of thousands of other churches to go after the five biggest problems on the planet? The answer is we have a big God.

Jesus also said: “According to your faith it will be done unto you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). You know what the implication is? God’s waiting on you. God is waiting for you to trust him. God wants to use you. He wants to bless you. He wants to do amazing things in your life. He wants you to be a world changer. You just need to stop saying, “I can’t.” That’s a lie. All things are possible to him who believes God. God gets the most glory when we trust him for the impossible.

6. History’s conclusion is inevitable.

I believe this with all my heart. It’s a fait accompli. It’s done. It’s finished. There’s no doubt. I’ve read the final chapter. The Bible tells us how it’s going to end. One day, God’s going to wrap it all up here on earth and he’s going to take his children who’ve trusted him to heaven for ever and ever. In Matthew 24 the Bible says, “The Good News about God’s Kingdom will be preached in all the world to every nation, to every people group, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ICB). It’s a certainty.

Fellow pastors, we are not trying to bring in the Kingdom here on earth. It’s not going to happen here on earth. What we are trying to do is populate the Kingdom of Heaven. We want to take all our friends and everybody else with us. We want to get people into the Kingdom of Heaven, where they’re going to be for eternity.

These six convictions of mine are behind everything we do at Saddleback and everything I say. It’s all about God’s glory. God gets glory when I love him with all my heart. He gets glory when I love you and other people in the family of God. God gets glory when I love my neighbor and the people I’m least likely to love. He gets glory when I love my enemy and when I treat them with dignity and respect even though they disrespect me. God gets glory when I share the Good News with everybody. God gets glory when I trust him with problems in my life that cannot be solved except through a miracle. And God gets glory when I know and trust that the end is inevitable and, in the end, he wins.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Ruth Kamau — 09/16/16 9:20 am

Thanks for that its very encouraging yeah i agree with you all we have to do should be to the glory of God

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If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
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