How to Make Crisis an Opportunity for Growth

Every crisis is a leadership opportunity.

As a pastor, you minister to people in crisis all the time. It could be a health, relational, or professional crisis. It could even be a crisis born out of a natural disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or flood. In these situations, people will often turn to you first.

What should you do when they come your way?

Start with prayer. Don’t use it as a last resort, after you’ve done everything else. Even though there are a variety of actions you should take when ministering to people in a crisis, always pray first.

Daniel is a great model for how to pray during a time of crisis. Near the end of his life, 70 years after he and his friends were exiled into captivity in Babylon, Daniel faced a crisis of confidence. Daniel wanted to go home before he died. He knew the prophet Jeremiah had promised that the Israelites would return home after 70 years—and that time period was finally coming to an end. So Daniel prayed.

His prayer is a great model for believers who find themselves in a period of crisis. Here is how Daniel prayed:

Daniel listened to God.

How do you listen to God? You study his Word. That’s what Daniel did. At the beginning of chapter 9, he is reading God’s promise from Jeremiah to bring back the Israelites to Jerusalem.

When our people are in a crisis, we must help them focus on God’s promises. God gives us thousands and thousands of promises in the Bible. These promises provide a great foundation for prayer during a crisis.

Daniel focused his attention on God.

Daniel did this physically. Daniel 9:3 says, “I turned to the Lord” (NLT). One of the reasons a crisis causes us so much pain is we often take our eyes off God in the middle of it. Instead, we desperately need to focus on God during difficult times.

When you turn toward your family and friends, you focus your attention on them. The same is true in your relationship with God. Many people do this by bowing their heads and folding their hands. Personally, I like to look up when I pray because it helps me focus on God.

During a crisis, teach people how to focus on God—not their circumstances—and on what he is doing in their lives.

Daniel expressed his desires with emotion.

The Bible says that Daniel did more than just make his requests known to God. Daniel “pleaded with him.” Your passion and intensity often reveal how much something matters to you. Show God that your request is more than just a whim, that it’s a strong desire on your part.

The Hebrew word Daniel uses to describe his pleading means “begging.” Daniel wasn’t just asking God to let him go back to Jerusalem. He was begging. Teach your people that it’s okay to fully express themselves to God while in a crisis. When a person doesn’t feel like praying, it’s because they aren’t praying their feelings. Encourage your people to pray with emotion.

Daniel demonstrated his seriousness.

First, he fasted. Most of our congregations are familiar with this spiritual discipline. Then Daniel prayed wearing sackcloth and ashes. No one does this today, but for hundreds of years in the Middle East, this practice showed a person’s seriousness.

Jesus said some miracles can only happen through prayer and fasting, not by prayer alone. Fasting showed how serious a person was about the request. You see the importance of this over and over in the Bible. During a crisis, we need to help people demonstrate their seriousness before God.

Daniel thanked God for his love and promises.

The Bible says that when you give your requests to God, ask with thanksgiving. Daniel prayed: “Lord, you are great and deserve respect as the only God. You keep your promise and show mercy to those who love you and obey your commandments” (Daniel 9:4 GW). Daniel told God he was grateful for him, and he recognized the Lord’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises.

As we help people through a crisis, we need to encourage them to express their gratitude to God. It’s easy to forget this aspect of prayer, but it’s important because it’s God calls us to be grateful people—this is what we see illustrated in Daniel’s life. Thankfulness helps us see beyond our problems.

Daniel humbly confessed his sin.

God doesn’t want to hear prideful complaining, but he does listen to humble confessing. God never responds to our confession of sin with punishment. Instead, he blesses us when we’re honest about our sin.

“We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commandments and laws” (Daniel 9:5 GW).

Daniel didn’t just give a general confession. He specifically mentioned what the people of Israel had done wrong. He knew that God’s help would only come because of his grace—not because the people deserved it.

You and the people you lead will face all kinds of crises. As a pastor, one of the most important things you can do is help them to pray during this time.

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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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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Lasting Changes Require this One Thing

If you want to make changes to your church, you need to ask yourself this question:

“Am I willing to give the rest of my life to this church?”

Making a significant change in your church is at least a five-year job, if not a 10-year commitment. If you’re not willing to stay for the necessary time, don’t make the changes.

A few years ago, I was talking with a pastor about some changes he wanted to make in his church. I asked him, “How long are you willing to stay?”

“Oh, I’m willing to make a commitment for at least six months.”

Do you know what my advice to this pastor was? If that’s all the time you’re willing to stay, don’t even get started with the changes. Nothing will happen in six months. It’s a waste of time and resources.

If you get in the middle of making significant changes in your congregation and then bail, it’s like leaving a patient on the operating table. A doctor would never quit in the middle of taking out someone’s appendix. He’d get sued. It’s not much better when you quit in the middle of making significant changes in your church.

In fact, you’re just messing up someone else’s ministry. It’s the next pastor who will suffer from your lack of commitment. I’ve seen too many hot-shot pastors come to new churches and make big changes. Then, when a bigger congregation calls him somewhere new, he bolts. At that point, the church has to deal with a big mess. When the next pastor comes along, the church won’t even consider making the changes needed to grow.

If you want to make lasting changes in your church, you need to:

Make a public commitment to stay through change

Any pastor looking to make big changes in a church needs to start with a public commitment to stay throughout the process. I did this at the first Saddleback service in 1980. I told everyone that I was going to give at least 40 years of my life to the church. I wanted people to know that the church wasn’t a fly-by-night operation. If people know you’re not leaving, they are much more likely to put some skin in the game themselves and to stick with you through the changes.

Having coached pastors for decades, I’ve noticed that when the pastor leaves, the problems stay, but if the pastor stays, the problems leave.

Be patient

If your church has plateaued in recent years, it’ll take even longer to make changes. A church that hasn’t grown in size for 10 years has a problem. If you’re patient as a leader, you can turn the church around. But it won’t happen overnight. The longer your church has plateaued, the more time it’ll take to implement important changes.

Any issues your church has didn’t develop overnight. You can’t fix them overnight, either. Since you’ve already publicly committed to being at the church for the long haul, take your time.

I once asked a pilot how he turns around a big plane in the air. He told me that it takes time to make a turn in a big plane. “You can make almost a 90-degree turn in the air, and the plane can handle it, but your passengers will go crazy.” He said even a 45-degree turn is rough on passengers, but they don’t usually notice a 30-degree turn.

That’s why it’s so important that you’re willing to stay at the church for an extended period. You can make a bunch of small yet significant changes over a long period of time. People won’t even notice. It’s when you try to make the changes quickly, in a herky-jerky motion, that people get upset and may not support your plans.

Slow the pace of change and be patient; success takes time.

Just ask Hank Aaron.

On baseball’s opening day in 1954, Milwaukee Braves rookie Hank Aaron didn’t get a single hit in five trips to the plate. He could have quit that day. But five outs didn’t define Hank Aaron. He batted another 12,359 times during his career, and he eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.

It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. Your church won’t have the ministry fruitfulness you want unless you’re committed to staying the course to implement necessary changes and being patient in the process.

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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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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Readying Yourself to Be Used by God

As a pastor or church leader, I know you want to be used by God. As a leader of leaders, I know you want to help others to be usable by God.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV).

The Bible teaches five requirements for being used by God.

1. Keep your life clean.

The first step to being used by God is always personal examination. When you find someone whom God is using in a great way, they’ve dealt with the personal sin in their lives by confessing it to God. God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But he will not use a dirty vessel. Matthew 23:26 says, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (NIV).

2. Keep your eyes open.

One of the most misunderstood words in leadership circles is the word vision. We think of vision as predicting the future, but none of us can know the future the way God does. Vision is seeing God at work in your present situation and moving with him. It’s about getting in on what God is doing in the world and being a part of it where he has placed you. If your vision isn’t in alignment with what God is doing, you are off-course. As David said, “Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence” (Psalm 105:4 The Message).

3. Keep your heart grateful.

God uses grateful people. Thankfulness is also one of the keys to longevity in ministry. Thankful people endure longer because they focus on God’s provision more than their problems. Doctors refer to gratitude as the healthiest of all emotions because of its physical and psychological benefits. If you don’t stay grateful, you’ll become cynical. Paul said, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11 NIV). We need to constantly remind ourselves what a privilege it is to serve Jesus. Never take for granted the things that God does in, through, and around us entirely because of his grace.

4. Keep your purpose firm.

You were planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for service, and made for a mission. These are the purposes for which God made you! One of my life verses is Acts 13:36: “David served God’s purpose in his own generation” (CEB). I want to serve God’s purpose for my life, and I know you do too.

5. Keep your mind on Jesus.

Meditate on this verse, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God” (Hebrews 12:2 The Message). God’s purpose for your life is far greater than your problems. Don’t give up when it gets tough. Go to Jesus. Keep your mind on Him!

 

TAKING ACTION

(1) Reflect on these five requirements. Give yourself a grade in each area. Thank God for your strengths and identify how you might strengthen your weaknesses.

(2) Share this article with your key leaders, and follow up with a discussion.

 

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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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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Four Ways Great Commission Vision Takes Great Commission Resources

There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”

The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a social media ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense,” it’s always an investment.

The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the “miracles” of our dress rehearsal service was that a man who had not attended our home Bible study came to that first service gave a check for a thousand dollars when we took the offering. After it was over, the woman in charge of counting the offering came up and showed me the check. I said, “This is going to work!”

Sure enough, we paid everyone back within four months. Please note: I’m not advocating that your church use credit cards to finance it. I’m just trying to illustrate how willing we were to pay the cost of reaching people for Christ.

Often when finances get tight in a church the first thing cut is the evangelism and advertising budget. That is the last thing you should cut. It is the source of new health and life for your church.

Second, people give to vision, not to need.

If “need” motivated people to give, every church would have plenty of money. It is not the neediest institutions that attract contributions but those with the greatest vision.

Churches that are making the most of what they have attract more gifts. That’s why Jesus said, “It is always true that those who have, get more, and those who have little, soon lose even that” (Luke 19:26 TLB).

If your church is constantly short on cash, check out your vision. Is it clear? Is it being communicated effectively? Money flows to God-given, Holy Spirit inspired ideas. Churches with money problems usually have a vision problem.

Third, when you spend nickels and dimes on evangelism, you get nickel and dime results.

Do you remember the story about the time Jesus told Peter to go find money in a fish’s mouth in order to pay the Roman taxes? In Matthew 17:27 Jesus told Peter ” . . . go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin.”

I believe there is an important lesson in that story: The coins are always in the mouth of the fish! If you’ll focus on fishing (evangelism), God will pay your bills. That doesn’t mean we reach people so that they will give. We reach people because Jesus loves them and wants to save them. But one of the supernatural fruits of discipleship is generosity toward the cause of reaching others.

Fourth, remember that “God’s work done God’s way will not lack God’s support.”

This was the famous motto of the great missionary strategist, Hudson Taylor. And I think it’s a timeless truth.

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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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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Lead by Priorities Not Pressures

Your ministry will be shaped by either your priorities or your pressures.

If you don’t decide what’s really important in your ministry, you’ll have people lining up to do it for you. You know as well as I do that many people in our churches have lots of ideas for our ministries. Without a sense of focus, you’ll be pressured to do all kinds of things in your ministry, regardless of whether it’s what God wants you to do.

You must line up your priorities by God’s standards.

It’s like light. When you concentrate light, it has the power to burn. Light defused has no power at all, but if you focus it under a magnifying glass you can burn grass. If you concentrate it even more, it becomes a laser that cuts steel.

When you learn to concentrate your ministry, you’ll be more effective.

But you don’t just need a to-do list. You also need a not-to-do list. Why? Because effective ministry means knowing what you personally are and are not called to do. The more you concentrate your life, the more your life will have impact.

How Jesus stayed focused

Jesus is a great example of this kind of focus in ministry. When he was only 12 years old, Jesus said, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49 NKJV). Jesus had his purpose clarified early, before he was even a teenager. Then, some of his last words recorded in the Gospels were, “I have finished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 GNT). Those are bookends on a successful life. At 12, Jesus knew his purpose in life, and near the end of his earthly ministry, he said that purpose had been completed.

When Jesus said he had completed all the work God had given him, had he healed everyone? Of course not. Had everyone become a Christian? No. Had everyone even heard the Good News? Nope.

There are many, many good things you can do. But you can’t do everything. Some priorities look good, but they aren’t going to be worth it five years from now. What counts is doing and completing the things God tells you to do.

What does that mean? It means that God doesn’t expect you to do everything. We have just enough time to do the will of God—24 hours is enough time to do what God has called you to do for that day. He does not have more things for you to do in life than the time he gives you to do it. Learning to minister like Jesus means focusing on what’s most important: life change.

The people who make a difference in the world are the people who are the most focused. They focus their lives around a few goals—not 20. If you don’t live by priorities, you’ll be managed by your pressures. Either you determine what’s important in life or other people will determine it for you.

Learning to delegate

You may read this and wonder, “If I don’t do all these ministry activities I’ve been doing, who will?”

Great question. That’s why you need to delegate, empowering others to serve and make Kingdom impact.

God has called you into ministry, but he has not called you to do it alone. In fact, lone ranger ministers burn out and don’t last. Mark 3:14 says, “[Jesus] appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (NIV).

One of the reasons people burn out in ministry is that they believe everything God is doing depends on them. Jesus himself, who was perfect, enlisted and trained 12 people. That in itself shows the need for partnering together to do ministry. Jesus needed association. He needed community. So do you, or you won’t make it in ministry.

Saddleback outgrew me a long time ago. If I tried to control everything, the church would have stopped growing at about 300. Your ministry needs to outgrow you. You must be willing to share and delegate your ministry. D. L. Moody, one of the great pastors and evangelists of the 19th century, said, “I’d rather put 10 people to work than do the work of 10 people.” There’s wisdom in that.

It may be that the most important work you do this week is determining what God has called you to do—and what he has called you not to do. Then find some people to come alongside you to help with the things you’re not called to do.

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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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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Leadership Lessons from Timothy & Paul

As leaders we cannot successfully walk through ministry alone. We must be connected to people who are ahead of us in the journey, people who are right behind us, and people who are walking alongside us.

Paul described this kind of multigenerational mentoring relationship in 2 Timothy 2:2: “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (NLT).

Paul and Timothy modeled three kinds of relationships all Christian leaders need in order to grow and serve effectively. Their relationship showed us that:

1. We need a spiritual father.

Paul calls Timothy “my true son in the faith” in 1 Timothy 1:2 (NLT). We first meet Timothy in Acts 16 when Paul is heading out on his second missionary journey. He stops in Lystra to pick up the young disciple who accompanies him, assists him, and serves as a sort of apprentice under him. Paul becomes a spiritual father to Timothy.

My heart hurts as I see the number of young pastors and leaders who are enthusiastically serving with big dreams but lack spiritual fathers. I’ve been fortunate: I’ve had many spiritual fathers in my life—from my biological father to other Christian leaders who have taken me under their wings. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

I believe we can learn and be mentored from people who died long ago. For example, I recommend that at least 25% of a church leader’s reading be spent in pre-Reformation era writings and another 25% from the Reformation to the modern missionary age. Another 25% of our reading should be drawn from the generation just previous to ours, and only the remaining 25% should come from contemporary authors. We need to hear from voices that have gone on before us. Those voices connect us to centuries of church history. We must always be learning from our past.

2. We need to be a model for others.

We need to be an example of what mature ministry looks like. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he points out that, “You, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance” (2 Timothy 3:10-11 NLT). Paul provides Timothy with a powerful example for the younger leader to emulate. Timothy knows Paul. He’s watched him. He’s seen how Paul handles the challenges of ministry. We don’t just need a “Paul” in our lives, we need to be a “Paul” to others.

3. We need a partner.

In Romans 16:21, you’ll find that Paul’s relationship with Timothy has changed. Paul writes, “Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings” (NLT). Timothy has gone from being a son to a student and now to being a colleague and a co-laborer.

We spend plenty of time desiring and praying for more laborers, but perhaps not enough time investing in those with the potential to become our partners in the mission.

Do you have partners in the mission who cheer you on? Do you have other Christian leaders that you can lean on during tough times? Timothy became that for Paul because, for years, Paul had served as a spiritual father and a model for Timothy. Maybe one of the reasons so many pastors feel so alone in ministry today is that they haven’t spent enough time investing in younger leaders.

We need to follow the examples of Timothy and Paul. We need a spiritual father, and we need to be one for the next generation. We also need to partner with others so that we can serve more effectively and finish the race.

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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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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Ways to Keep People Listening to Your Sermon

Preaching is tougher than ever these days. For one thing, we can’t assume that people come to our churches with a basic understanding of the Bible like they may have in the past.

But it’s also tougher because of all the media we interact with on a daily basis—from television to email to social media. It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something or convince us about a new idea.

Just open your email, and you’ll likely see a full selection of pitches asking you to buy anything from lunch to a new fishing pole to a vacation. Turn on the television, and the pitching from commercials continues.

Because of this, when unchurched people hear you preach, they assume you’re trying to sell them something. They believe you’re trying to sell them on religion.

That’s not your purpose, but your listeners often don’t know that.

Every week you’re preaching to people who are more skeptical than ever before.

You used to be able to turn up the volume when you had a weak point and keep people’s interest that way. But you can’t do that anymore. It won’t work.

People don’t want you to preach at them. They want you to talk to them. That’s how you keep their attention.

Here are three ways to keep people listening to your sermon:

1. Be open about your struggles and weaknesses.

Don’t try to hide the pain you’ve experienced—or are experiencing right now. Be transparent.

It’s called confessional preaching, and it can increase your credibility. Your confessions will encourage others when they’re going through tough times.

I remember one time, as I preached on anger, I told the church, “You know, it bothers me that sometimes I say the most hurtful things to the people I love the most, such as my wife and kids. Does that bother anyone else?”

Now, I could have just told people that they should be nicer to the people closest to them. I could have made it a command, but that would have immediately put my listeners on the defensive.

When you start with a confession, people will follow along because they see you as someone like them. Your confession will help your message resonate with authenticity and authority.

One key to effective communication is the ability to drop your mask and share real emotions. People will catch your heart. You don’t get this when you yell at them. You get it when your preaching allows others to see what’s going on in your life.

2. Share how you’re making progress.

People grow best through models. Several times in the New Testament, Paul tells readers, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” I used to read that and think I could never do it. It sounded egotistical.

Paul wasn’t saying he was perfect. If you have to be perfect to be a model, we wouldn’t have any models in the world. Frankly, I’d rather have people following me than following someone who isn’t honestly trying to follow Jesus. And so now, I don’t apologize for trying to be a model for others.

We need to follow Jesus’ example in incarnational preaching—where the Word becomes flesh. The way we communicate has changed. Our message isn’t validated by the text alone. It’s validated by the messenger.

Most of the people you’re preaching to aren’t asking, “Is the Bible believable?” They’re asking, “Are you believable?” They want to know whether you have any credibility because if you don’t, they won’t listen to you even if you’re holding up a Bible as you preach.

Our message, on a weekly basis, should be something like this: “Here’s how God got me through another week.”

If you’re not ready to model your message, you’re not ready to preach it.

3. Say it in an interesting way. 

I actually work hard on preaching in an interesting manner. The Bible says, “When wise people speak, they make knowledge attractive” (Proverbs 15:2 GNT). It’s foolish to bore people with the Bible.

Too many preachers get stressed out about the idea of entertaining people as they preach. Do you know what the definition of entertainment is? Capturing and holding the attention for a period of time.Do you want your preaching to do that? Of course you do—and you shouldn’t apologize for it! Making your sermons interesting doesn’t mean you have to do a song and dance; rather, it means you help people understand that the Bible is relevant to every little detail of their lives.

To the unchurched, dull preaching is unforgivable, and there is no reason for it. Our message is too important to deliver with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.

The problem with a boring message is that your hearers won’t just think you’re boring. They’ll think God is boring.

How do you preach in a more interesting way? It’s not about your charisma. You can learn to do it. Start with these three practices.

– Vary your delivery. Nothing is more boring than a monotone preacher who gets stuck on one speed and volume and never comes up for air. Vary the speed and volume of your preaching to make your sermons more interesting.

– Don’t make a point without a picture. People love stories. Pull them from your life. Pull them from the people in your congregation. Pull them from the news.

– Make people laugh. Humor is good for people. It makes a painful truth more palatable. It creates positive emotions like joy and happiness. By the way, you don’t have to tell jokes to be funny. The best humor is usually found in real-life stories.

Every week you get the opportunity to preach God’s Word to people. It’s an extraordinary opportunity. Keeping people engaged in your sermon is how you can get God’s Word into the lives of your listeners, and God’s Word will transform their lives.

That’s certainly worth the effort.

> 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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Is Leadership a Question of Growth or Control?

The church has been on the front lines of some of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past few decades. The church has 2.3 billion people worldwide and is the biggest institution on the planet.

You might look at those numbers and ask yourself, “Why isn’t the church making a bigger impact in the world?”

I believe one reason is because the most creative people in our congregations must go outside of the church to start new ministries.

Why are they doing this?
Because the church wants to control them.

Instead of working within a church, many of these leaders form a 501(c)(3) to tackle the pressing issues of their communities. Today, there are tens of thousands of nonprofits in America doing what the church did for generations. We’ve structured these ministries right out of the church.

To broaden the ministry impact of your church, you will need to make the difficult choice to give up control.

You can choose control, or you can choose growth. But you can’t choose both.

Choosing growth over control means looking for ways to say yes when someone wants to start a new ministry. I believe most churches need to make it easier for people to start and serve in ministries, but this doesn’t mean I don’t believe there should be standards. I simply believe we shouldn’t bury new ministries with procedures and policies, or committees.

At Saddleback, anyone can start a ministry as long as:

1. They don’t expect the staff to run it. I call this the “You’re it” principle. When someone suggests we start a new ministry at Saddleback, I tell them, “Great. You’re it!”

You’re looking for people to own the ministries they’re suggesting; you’re not looking for people who expect someone else to do it. If a person has an idea for a ministry but doesn’t want to lead it, ask them to pray for God to inspire someone else to lead it. You won’t have a ministry without a minister.

2. It fits our church’s goals, strategy, and culture. Some ministries just won’t fit. If someone wanted to start a political ministry at Saddleback, it wouldn’t fit our culture or strategy. It’s not that we don’t believe elections are important. It’s just that a political ministry doesn’t fit our culture. You can give your people freedom without giving them a free pass.

3. It doesn’t harm the witness of the church. Failure happens in ministry. I don’t want to say no to a ministry just because it might fail. That’s choosing control over growth. In fact, a church without failure probably has too much control.

But failure that damages your church’s witness is a problem. It would confuse the people we’re trying to reach about what we believe and who we are. We can’t let that happen.

4. They don’t do any fund-raising for the ministry. We don’t allow any independent fund-raising for ministries at Saddleback. You simply don’t want every ministry in your church sending out appeal letters to your members. It’s chaos, and it’ll wear out your congregation.

You can’t have a unified church without a unified budget. You’ll have the best-marketed ministries getting the most funding, rather than the worthiest ones.

A huge reason why Saddleback has grown through the years is that we allow people to be as creative as they want to be when starting new ministries.

I could tell you story after story about the ministries started at Saddleback. Most of our 800 ministries weren’t started by staff members. They were started by people who saw a need and had a creative idea to meet it.

Celebrate Recovery® is probably our best and most well-known example. No one on staff started it. Instead, we received a 13-page letter by John Baker, a layman in our church. He told us about his own journey with alcoholism and his vision to start a Christ-centered recovery ministry.

Today that ministry reaches far beyond Saddleback. There are more than 35,000 churches around the world with Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery step studies have helped more than 5 million people worldwide.

All of that has happened because God inspired a layman to start a ministry in a church where we choose growth over control.

What could happen if your church did the same?

Questions for Self-Evaluation

  • Do you have more volunteers now than you did a year ago? Why or why not?
  • How many volunteer-led ministries does your church have?
  • Do your volunteer leaders have the freedom to fail? When was the last time that happened?
  • If a volunteer wanted to start a ministry, how long would it take? Have you defined a simple process?
  • Specifically, how is your church caring for—not just equipping—your leaders?

> 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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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

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Building a Better Easter Welcome

Easter services are among the most important events at your church each year. You not only celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but you also have one of the best opportunities all year to reach new people.

In chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Church, I shared some ideas on how you can improve the guest experience at your church. With Easter coming up, I’ve put together this checklist to help you prepare for the big day.

Now is the time to get started!

  • Include a map of your church on all advertising. A small map can provide clarity, especially if mapping apps can’t locate your church accurately.
  • Create a system to give guests the best parking spots. At Saddleback, we have a sign at our property entrance encouraging guests to turn on their headlights if they want a reserved parking spot. Then our parking team directs them to spots near the worship center.
  • Make sure you have clear signage. Show people how to find the most important places on your campus, including restrooms, information tables, coffee/snacks, kids ministry, and student ministry.
  • Prepare greeters to welcome your guests. The first people your guests see on your campus ought to smile and welcome them warmly. If you already have an established greeter ministry, remind your greeters of the importance of their role on Easter.
  • Offer children’s programming simultaneously with each service. Guests generally don’t want to deal with wiggly kids (either theirs or anyone else’s) during the service.
  • Ensure your building is sufficiently bright. Most church buildings are too dark. Brighten up your environment and watch your service come to life.
  • Set up an info table. Give name badges to these volunteers so your guests know where to go with their questions. Try to anticipate the most common questions guests might have. (Where are the restrooms? Where do I take my child? How do I get into a small group?) It’s also helpful to have basic information available in printed form for guests to take with them to review later. If you already have an info table, make sure it is well stocked and ready to go.
  • Allow guests to remain anonymous. Avoid doing anything that makes them stand out.
  • Pass out welcome cards or bulletins to everyone. When everyone gets a card, guests aren’t singled out.
  • Provide some refreshments. Food relaxes people. Almost everyone loves a donut, but also offer some healthy (or semi-healthy) options. If you can’t get food, at least try to provide coffee.
  • Have recorded music playing when people get inside the building. Music puts people at ease. We’ve noticed that the louder the background music is, the more animated people are when they talk.
  • Begin and/or end your service by asking attendees to greet one another. It’s a great way to help guests feel like they belong.
  • Print out a simple order of service. When possible, use straightforward, non-religious terms that people understand even if they’ve never been to church.
  • Look for ways to save time during the service. Most of your guests have short attention spans. Have the components of your Easter service written down for your team, with an expected time for each element. Trim that time as much as you can.
  • Keep your public prayers short. Unchurched people can’t handle long prayers. Their minds wander.
  • Structure your music for IMPACT. We try to follow this flow for our worship music.
    • Inspire Movement: An upbeat song that makes you want to clap or stomp your feet.
    • Praise: Joyful songs about God.
    • Adoration: More meditative, intimate songs sung to God.
    • Commitment: A song that gives people an opportunity to affirm or reaffirm a commitment to God (usually in the first person).
    • Tie it all together: Another short, upbeat song to end the service.

MAKING IT PERSONAL

Print this checklist out and talk about it with your team. What’s missing?

Call three to five guests to your church from the last six months, and ask about their impressions—both positive and negative. If you leave a message, follow up with an email to ask for their feedback. Take what you’ve learned and let that influence your plans for Easter.

There’s a lot on this list, which will be even longer if you and your team include additional items! You may not be able to address all of these issues. Which issues are critical for your church? In what ways is God calling you to prepare?

> Read more from Rick Warren.


 

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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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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

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Learn to Navigate Conflict from this Biblical Character

In Nehemiah 5, the Israelites faced conflict for one of the same reasons we do today: selfishness. So, what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Take the problem seriously. (v. 6)

Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem; he took it seriously. When the unity of your church gets challenged, it’s your job to protect that unity. It’s serious business.

In times like this, a certain level of anger is completely appropriate and right. Leadership means knowing the difference between the right kind of anger and the wrong kind of anger.

2. Think before you speak. (v. 7)

If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind” (NIV). Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God, and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do you want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (NIV).

I’ve seen a lot of leaders who were highly effective for the Lord blow their ministry in an impulsive moment. Don’t let that happen to you. Get angry, but then take some time to think and pray about what to do next.

3. Rebuke the person individually. (v. 7)

Go directly to the source. You don’t deal with somebody else about it. You don’t talk with five or six different people to get everybody on your side. You don’t say, “I’ve got a prayer request . . .” and then spout it out.

Instead, you go directly to the person causing the disunity. Nehemiah did that: “I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them ‘You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!’” (Nehemiah 5:7 NIV).

Nehemiah wasn’t making a polite social visit. He was angry, and he didn’t gloss over the fact that these guys were ripping off other people. He wasn’t watering it down. He was confronting the troublemakers. You and I are called to do that, too, when disunity threatens our churches.

Titus 3:10-11 says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self‑condemned”(NIV).

Warning troublemakers is an important task of ministry.

4. Publicly deal with public divisions. (v. 7)

In Nehemiah’s situation, everyone knew that the rich people were ripping off the poor. He had to deal with it publicly. Nehemiah 5:7 says when going privately to the rich officials didn’t work, he called together a large meeting to deal with them. It must have been a tough conversation because it was probably the rich officials paying most of the expenses to rebuild the wall. It took guts to confront them publicly.

You, too, have to deal with problems to the degree that they are known. If the problem has spread to the whole church, then you have to deal with the problem publicly.

5. Set an example of unselfishness. (v. 10)

Nehemiah led the way in unselfishness. It was the foundation of his leadership. When he asked them to rebuild the wall, he was out on the wall rebuilding it. When he asked them to pray, he had already been praying. When he asked them to work night and day to get it built, he did the same. When he asked them to help the poor, we find out in verse 10 he’d already been doing it.

Nehemiah never asked anyone to do what he wasn’t already doing or wasn’t willing to do. Leaders only ask others to do what they are already doing or are willing to do. If you cannot challenge someone to follow your example, whatever you say to them is going to lose its impact. Churches have fewer conflicts when their leaders live unselfishly and model that to the congregation.

You’re going to have disagreements in your church. There’s no perfect church. But God wants us to minimize disunity in our churches for his glory. The testimony of a church should not be the beautiful buildings, great sermons, or lovely music, but how the people love one another.

> 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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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.