21 Apr 2013
- Rick Warren
Do you realize that if your weekend attendance totals about 90 people, you're an above average church (at least in the United States and when measuring by such numbers)?
If you're wondering what you need to do to grow, here are eight steps that can help you break an attendance barrier:
1) Decide you really, really want to grow – Believe it or not, the primary barrier to church growth is desire. Do you really want to grow? If the answer is yes, then you must commit to this goal and be willing to accept changes.
And the people in your congregation must also be willing to accept changes.
The Bible says, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24, NKJV). In order for a church to grow, some things have to die. Those who had intimacy with the pastor have to learn to share him with new people. They have to be willing to let go of the control they have in certain decisions and in certain areas.
It takes an incredible unselfishness. They must be willing to die to some traditions, to some feelings, to some relationships in order for the kingdom of God to be advanced. That takes a lot of maturity.
2) Your role as pastor must change – Once you decide you want to grow, you'll need to analyze your role as pastor. You must be willing to change from minister to leader. If everything depends on you — if you have to personally minister to every person in your church — then the church cannot grow beyond your own energy level. And that is a barrier! You become a bottleneck, an obstacle to growth.
This is called the Shepherd-Rancher Conflict. As the pastor of a little church you know everybody, you do all the praying, all the baptizing, all the teaching, you know every family, every kid, every dog and cat and you shepherd everybody personally. But there's a limit to how many people you can personally shepherd.
As the church grows you must change roles from Shepherd to Rancher. The Rancher helps oversee the under-Shepherds. Practically everybody on my staff does more weddings and counseling than I do (in fact, I do very few now because I don't want to show favoritism among our 20,000 members).
You must be willing to let other people share the ministry. Ask yourself, "Would I be happy being a Rancher?" If you answer no, then I suggest you take on a goal that your church will sponsor new churches — so you're still growing, but in a different way.
3) Mobilize members for ministry – Be willing to give up some leadership and entrust ministry to the people in the pews. After the congregation has decided it wants to grow, then start teaching about "the ministry of the laity" and talking about the importance of every believer using their unique gift to minister to the body.
Let your people know, "If you don't do your part in ministry by sharing your unique gifts, then the rest of us get cheated. If I don't do my part in ministry, then you get cheated." Help your people understand this concept and mobilize them to begin ministering.
4) Begin having multiple services – If you're not already doing so, I encourage you to seriously start planning for it. By offering people a choice of services, you're effectively putting another hook in the water.
5) Multiply your staff – In order to grow past that 200 barrier, you must begin moving to multiple staff. You must begin to specialize the staff under your leadership.
6) Plan big days – The best way I know to break through barriers is to break a few all at one time. Plan a big day — an event — and your numbers go up. Yes, they go back down afterwards, but not as far as they were before the event. Keep doing this and you grow. Big holidays are an obvious time to concentrate on events — Easter, Christmas. Plan outreaches to the community.
7) Have multiple cells – People will often complain about not being cared for when the real issue is that they're losing control. "There are so many people here I don't feel like anybody cares for me anymore" is a common complaint. Another is: "The pastor is too busy for me now." Caring is a legitimate issue, but you can respond through the multiplication of cells — groups of 8-12 people. Cells become tools for caring for the body.
8) Expand your facility – At Saddleback, we had over 10,000 members before we ever built our first building, so I'm not advocating rushing out to build a facility. In fact, many churches build too small, too fast. What I'm saying is you need to plan for growth and project out what your needs will be.
May God bless you and anoint you as you begin to implement these changes.
Article link: http://pastors.com/8-steps-to-grow/
10 Apr 2013
- Rick Warren
It would be impossible, in just one message, to go into all the reasons for suffering and for why God allows tragedy. Instead I want to focus on five ways that we should respond to tragedy.
I need to release my grief.
When you go through a tragedy, which is inevitably going to happen, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy always creates strong emotions. Did you feel any emotions this week? We don't always know what to do with our feelings. If you don't deal with them, but instead stuff them deep, your recovery from a crisis always takes far longer than it should. See some people are stuffers. When they have emotions, they don't know how to handle so they deny them, they ignore them, and they push them down. In fact many people use God as an excuse for this, believing that God wants everybody to have a happy face all the time. But real life isn't always happy. God doesn't expect you to be smiling all the time.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." In other words, it's okay to grieve. Face your feelings. Don't repress them by pushing them down or rehearse them by repeating them over and over. You release your emotions to God. If you don't talk it out, you'll take it out on yourself or somebody else.
I need to receive from others
The Bible says, "Carry each other's burdens... By helping each other with your troubles, you obey the Law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2 NCV) It is a big mistake to isolate yourself from others when you're going through a crisis. Our tendency is to want to be by ourselves, but you need other people in a tragedy. You need their perspective, you need their support, you need their encouragement, and you just need their presence. To make it through a crisis, we need not only the promises of God; we need the people of God.
I need to refuse to be bitter
One of the things I've learned from being in the ministry for many years, is that there's absolutely no correlation in life between your experiences and your happiness. I've seen people who had absolutely the worst experiences in life – things that would shock everyone of us, and yet they maintain this happy, cheerful, positive attitude, because happiness is a choice. You're about as happy as you choose to be.
In the ministry I've seen people who had every right in the world to whine and who chose not to do so. Happiness is a choice. You refuse to be bitter, because bitterness always hurts you. It never changes anything. Blaming others never changes anything. It only makes you feel worse.
How do you keep from being bitter when the inevitable tragedies of life are going to come?
You accept what cannot be changed.
You focus on what's left, not what's lost.
I remember what is important.
Disasters have a way of clarifying our values and pointing out what matters and what really doesn't matter. Jesus said, "Life is not measured by how much one owns." Lk 12:15 (NCV) Don't confuse your net worth with your self worth. Don't confuse your possessions with your purpose in life. Don't confuse what you're living on with what you're living for. A man's life does not consist of what he possesses. What matters are relationships. You're never going to see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it, so build your life on something that can never be taken from you.
Can you lose a home? Yes. Can you lose a career? Yes. Can you lose a marriage? Yes. Can you lose your health? Yes. Can you lose your youthful beauty? Yes. Can you lose your relationship with God? No.
I rely on Christ.
Christians get to approach tragedy differently than the rest of the world. We get to rely completely on Christ. We get to have hope. But how? By intentionally leaning on Christ for stability, listening to Christ for direction, and looking to Christ for salvation. He is our Rock, our Shelter, our Great Shepherd, our Hiding Place. Suffering and tragedy are inevitable in a sinful world, but Jesus Christ makes all the difference. Decide that you will rely on Him even in the darkest of hours of your life.
Article link: http://pastors.com/how-to-recover-from-lifes-worst-disasters/
21 Oct 2012
- Rick Warren
You've been a church visitor at some point, right?
Ever heard something you wish you didn't hear, right off the bat?
I've got a few that nobody really wants to hear. Some I've heard personally. Others I've heard as they were told to someone else.
10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear
1. Our pastor isn't normally this _____.
Insert whatever you want in this blank: loud, obnoxious, offensive, long-winded. If you have to explain part of your pastor's style because you know that outsiders won't like it, you've got a problem. Talk with your pastor about that.
2. We're full. Sorry.
Always have a backup plan. Always. If someone sees that your service is full once, they'll deal with it. But they probably won't come back if they don't see a plan you have in place.
3. What are YOU doing here?
Never say this. Never. Your shocked, open mouth reveals your judgmental spirit...at least in the eyes of visitors. When you say this, all they can think is, "God couldn't really love someone like you."
4. You can't serve now...you've got to be a member first.
Why would someone want to become a member if they've never had the chance to serve?
5. We don't believe in serving coffee on Sunday mornings.
If you say this, I can only assume you are leading a church in the pit of Hell.
6. What's your address? I didn't catch it on the first 6 forms I had you fill out.
Try to streamline the "first time visitors check-in process." Nobody likes to feel like they're visiting HR on their first church visit.
7. You want to join a small group? You'll have to wait until next Fall.
If you ask people to wait more than a month to join community, they'll often look elsewhere.
8. Here we just care about the Truth. If you don't like it, you can leave.
I get it. You love the Bible. You love preaching the Truth. But don't love that more than you love people.
9. Here are the 38 things we do each week as a church.
Simplifying is the key, otherwise you'll give people decision paralysis.
10. Next time, could you make sure to wear _____.
Fill that in with "something nicer," "something more relaxed," or "something that's clean," and you've offended someone unnecessarily. Creating a "come as you are" culture should be our aim, not creating a "come as I am" culture.
10 Jan 2013
- News Editor
Ron Johnson is not off to a good beginning. The former Apple retail leader is now CEO of J. C. Penney. The most recent quarterly results are not encouraging. After making wide, sweeping changes, same store sales have dropped 26 percent and stock prices are at a three-year low. Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, is attempting a turnaround at Hewlett-Packard. The challenge is daunting. Though she has a long-term strategy in place, many people believe she is moving too slowly.
A pastor of a large church recently resigned after leading the congregation in several major changes. Attendance at the church dropped precipitously as many members voted against the changes with their feet. At another large church just twenty miles away, the pastor is moving so slowly that people are also moving out. They are waiting on this leader to provide visionary leadership, but he is simply too reticent to move forward.
Volumes have been written on change, the pace of change, and the consequences of change. In simplest terms, leaders move at a perfect pace, too slowly, or too rapidly. In this brief article, I address what fast-paced leaders should consider. I offer five basic issues these leaders should grasp.
Understand the Change Tolerance of Those Directly Impacted
Some fast-paced leaders look at the organization only from their perspective. They fail to put themselves in others' shoes to consider what this change might feel like to those directly impacted. These aggressive leaders need to ask more questions and listen more carefully. They may be surprised to hear how those directly impacted will respond to the proposed changes.
Understand That Change Tolerance Is Contextually Driven
I have seen too many leaders move to a new area and assume that change tolerance would be very close to their previous place of leadership. If they came from an organization that dealt well with change, they might assume that the same leadership pace would work at the new organization. Unfortunately, many leaders have been burned when they discover their assumptions to be wrong. Many contextual factors affect the tolerance level of change. Again, it is incumbent upon leaders to know their contexts and how to lead in those contexts. Listening to the stories of those in the organization is vital to this process.
Understand That Most Change Resistance Is Emotional, Not Rational
Such is the reason that well-thought, calmly-presented, rationally-explained reasons for change might not be well received. The leader must understand the hearts of those impacted, not only the heads. Why are they so emotionally attached to the status quo? What stories can the leader share that would address the hearts of those feeling the changes?
Understand That Leaders Must Have Sufficient Tenure to Deal with the Change
Too many leaders initiate change but fail to see the obstacles before them. As a consequence, they often leave before the changes are fully implemented. The organization is thus left with frustrated people and a void of leadership. If a leader is seeking to lead change, he or she must be willing to stay at the organization a sufficient time to see the change accomplished, and to deal with any aftermath caused by the change.
Understand That Leaders Must Understand Themselves in Leading Change
Self-awareness is vital here. If you are a slow-change leader in a fast-paced organization, you will likely encounter frustration and impatience. If you are a fast-paced leader in a slowly-moving organization, you will likely encounter resistance and resentment. A good simple exercise is to rank yourself on your comfort with the pace of change on a scale of one to ten. Then do the same for the organization you lead. If you have a gap greater than two, you have major work to do before you even begin to lead change. Sometimes the work must be done on yourself. At other times, there is greater work to do in the organization. The gap must be closed or the leader will find himself in a position of frustration and, ultimately, failed leadership.
14 Oct 2012
- Rick Warren
I was talking with some people after a weekend service once, and I mentioned that we really needed someone to create a multimedia video for an upcoming event. The person I was talking to said, "Why don't you get her"?
And he pointed to a woman standing a few feet away. I walked over, found out the her name, and asked what she did. Her reply was, "I'm the chief video production director for Walt Disney".
Another time, I mentioned that we needed a flower designer to decorate our our worship center for Mother's Day. Someone pointed to a person in the crowd and said, "He designs many of the prize-winning floats for the Rose Parade"!
It bothers me when I think talent like that could go unused.
You have talented members sitting in your congregation, and you need to uncover, mobilize, and support their giftedness for ministry.
This is vital because your church will never grow any stronger than your core of lay ministers who carry out the various ministries of the church.
Based on Romans 12:1-8, I believe there are four pillars of lay ministry that our churches should be upon –
Pillar #1: Every Believer is a Minister
To be a Christian means being like Jesus. He said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". (Mark 10:45)
We believe these two activities — service and giving — are the defining characteristics of the Christ-like lifestyle expected of every believer.
At Saddleback, we teach that every Christian is created for ministry (Eph. 2:10), saved for ministry (2 Tim 1:9), called into ministry (1 Peter 2:9-10), gifted for ministry (1 Peter 4:10), authorized for ministry (Matt. 28:18-20), commanded to minister (Matt. 20:26-28), to be prepared for ministry (Eph. 4:11-12), needed for ministry (1 Cor. 12:27), accountable for ministry, and will be rewarded according to his or her ministry (Col. 3:23-24).
Pillar #2: Every Ministry is Important
There are no "little people" in the Body of Christ and there are no "insignificant" ministries either. Every ministry is important.
"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." (1 Cor. 12:18-22)
Small ministries often make the greatest difference. The most important light in my home is not the large chandelier in our dining room but the little night light that keeps me from stubbing my toe when I get up to use the bathroom at night. It's small, but it's more useful to me than the show-off light (My wife Kay says that my favorite light is the one that comes on when I open the refrigerator!).
Pillar #3: We Are Dependent on Each Other
Not only is every ministry important, every ministry is intertwined with all the others. Since no single ministry can accomplish all the church is called to do, we must depend on and cooperate with each other.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, every piece is required to complete the picture. When one part of your body malfunctions, the other parts don't work as well.
One of the missing components in the contemporary church is this understanding of interdependence. Our culture's preoccupation with individualism and independence must be replaced with the biblical concepts of interdependence and mutuality.
Pillar #4: Ministry is the Expression of My S.H.A.P.E.
S.H.A.P.E. is an acronym we developed years ago to explain the five elements that determine a person's ministry. Those five elements are:
Each of us is uniquely designed — or "shaped" — by God to do certain things. If you don't understand your S.H.A.P.E., you end up doing things that God never designed you to do.
When your gifts don't match the role you play in life, you feel like a square peg in a round hole. This is frustrating, both to you and to others. It is also an enormous waste of your talent, time, and energy.
Napoleon once pointed to a map of China and said, "There lies a sleeping giant. If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable."
In many places today, the church is a sleeping giant. Our pews are filled with members doing nothing with their faith except "keeping" it.
If we can ever awaken and unleash the massive talent, creativity, and energy found in those pews — if we can mobilize the ministers in our midst — Christianity will explode with growth.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)