EGALITARIAN LEADERSHIP & The largest church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Saddleback Community Church founded by Rick Warren, ordained three women as ministers.

by Mark Wingfield, Baptist News Global, 5/10/21.

The largest church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention ordained three women as ministers May 6, sending shock waves through the male-centric leadership of the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination.

Saddleback Church, founded by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, in 1980, announced on Facebook that on May 6 it had ordained three women as ministers in a “historic night.”

On Mother’s Day, which fell three days after Saddleback’s ordination, the Sunday morning online message was given by Kay Warren. Although she is not among the newly ordained, her delivery of the Sunday morning message in worship was sure to further alarm the strictest of male leadership advocates within the SBC, who insist women should not preach sermons to men.

The three women ordained May 6 are Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty and Katie Edwards — all long-tenured staff members within the vast network of the church’s 15 United States campuses and four international campuses. The church counts more than 24,000 members and lists 18 “campus pastors,” all of whom are male.

Because of the massive size of the church spread out over so many locations, no complete staff directory is published online. Petty’s LinkedIn profile lists her as children’s minister at Saddleback, where she has served since 1999. Puffer describes herself as a “minister” at Saddleback Church in both her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Her Facebook profile describes her as a pastor for pastoral care at the church. Edwards serves as student ministries pastor at Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus, where she has worked for 24 years.

Saddleback not only is the largest church in the SBC but one of its leaders in evangelism. The church’s emphasis on evangelism and church growth have been studied and duplicated worldwide. Warren was one of the early advocates for what came to be known as “seeker-friendly church,” meaning a church experience intended specifically to welcome unchurched people and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote about this in a best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Church.

Read more at … https://baptistnews.com/article/largest-church-in-sbc-ordains-three-women-as-pastors/

TIME MANAGEMENT & Nehemiah’s reply to needless meetings & heedless critics.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In 30+ years of church consulting excessive meetings and insufficient action is a major misstep that stops churches from moving forward and growing. Too many meetings often drain volunteers and leaders of their enthusiasm, energy and progress.

The Old Testament business leader Nehemiah provides a helpful example of what to do when you are badgered by people who want to slow you down with endless meetings … when action and effort is required. Take this take a look at the way Rick Warren explains this in the following article.

You Don’t Need to Fight Critics by Rick Warren — 04/07/2021

God uniquely created you for an important assignment on Earth that only you can accomplish.

But you will face naysayers along the way. They’ll tell you: “You’re the wrong person. You’ve got the wrong idea. You’re doing it the wrong way.”

Take the Old Testament story of Nehemiah, for example. Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a priest. He was a businessman. Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The Israelites had been in exile for 70 years—and then the Babylonians let them go home.

Jerusalem had been destroyed and was defenseless. But Nehemiah got a big idea to change that. “I’ll rebuild my city,” he thought. “And I’ll start by rebuilding the wall to protect it.”

Nehemiah’s story teaches that every opportunity comes with opposition.

For Nehemiah, the opposition was instant. Israel’s enemies didn’t want to see Jerusalem defended. They tried all sorts of things to stop him from rebuilding the wall. They tried ridicule, rumors, and threats. When none of that worked, they tried to slow him down by involving him in bunch of meetings.

Your critics—the naysayers who want to prevent you from doing what the Lord has called you to do—will use the same bag of tricks. They’ll ridicule you, spread rumors about you, and even threaten you to get you to stop doing what God wants you to do.

But instead of listening to them, respond the way that Nehemiah did: “So I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply”(Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT).

You don’t need to fight with naysayers. It’s not worth it. If you try to take on people who have a negative opinion about God’s plans for you, you’ll just waste your time.

Nehemiah didn’t defend his work. You don’t need to defend yourself either. Just let the naysayers’ criticisms go.

One day God’s work through your life will be proven correct. Have enough faith to wait for that day to come.PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

UNITY & 12 statements that summarize all that the New Testament says about it. #RickWarren

by Rick Warren, message to Saddleback Community Church, 1/25/21.

… There are 12 statements that summarize all that the New Testament says about unity, and today I’ll give you the first six:

1. My unity with other believers is proof that I’m saved.

2. The Trinity is our model for unity.

3. Jesus’ last prayer was that we’d live in unity.

4. God gives us his glory so that we’ll be unified.

5. Our unity is our greatest witness to unbelievers.

6. Unity removes fear and creates boldness.

If you weren’t able to listen to my message this past weekend, click here to watch the whole service. You can also click here to download your small group discussion questions.

NEED-BASED OUTREACH & Rick Warren on how understanding hurts led a skeptic named Ravi Zacharias to become “a passionate defender of the faith.”

by Rick Warren, Saddleback Lake Forest Campus Update, 5/21/20.

… This week, Saddleback Lake Forest lost a dear friend who many of you will remember speaking at our campus through the years: Ravi Zacharias. Ravi was a vocal skeptic turned passionate defender of the faith, when he found Jesus following a particularly difficult season of his life. He once said,

“You’ll never get to a person’s soul until you understand their hurts.”

… Saddleback Lake Forest has always been about being a big church that feels small – by getting to know everyone who calls our campus home, understanding the hurts that every one of us carries, and providing places to process those wounds in a Christlike way.

This week, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of those safe and healing spaces that are available to you, whether you’re struggling with mental illness, job loss; or hurts, habits, or hang-ups you could use a faith community to help overcome.  We also wanted to invite you to be a part of our first ever socially distant baptism celebration next Tuesday night, as we celebrate the hope and freedom that Jesus offers each of us in a visible and soul-stirring way.

Read more at … https://saddleback.com/visit/locations/lake-forest

FACILITIES & An Example of a Floor-plan That Promotes Multiple Venues

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/25/16.

One of the most cost-effective yet efficient tactics to reach multiple cultures is to offer multiple worship expressions within the same church facility. But unfortunately, most churches are built to hold only one worship celebration at a time. We should learn from movie theaters, who long ago abandoned the one-theater/one-screen to embrace the multiple screen approach (see the interesting history of movie mulitplex here). This allows them to reach out to multiple movie-going cultures at the same time.

I’ve posted elsewhere on this wiki- a leadership exercise to help leaders visualize multiple venue and multiple culture church designs. The attached map is a church in Southern California that is reaching out with multiple worship services at the same time.  Here is the description a friend gave when he visited.

Multiple_Worship_Services_SoCal“A few years ago I visited and was blown away by the number of services they offered, and the way they truly embraced the southern California culture.  Honestly, I felt dressed up and I was wearing pants, nice shirt (untucked), and sandals.  Anyway, regarding their campus layout they have a service for everyone.  Their worship center hosted their main service, where the pastor taught, and the worship was very similar that you would find in most modern churches – mix of acoustic guitar, keyboard, drums, etc..  Outside the worship center, people were seated on the pavilion.  Here people could casually check out the service, while enjoying the beauty of southern California.  Other areas of their campus had different styles of worship, but they all showed the pastor’s message, except the youth service, which had their own message.  The “Plaza Room” and “Terrace Cafe” had a traditional feel where people sang hymns before the message.  Tent 2 was rockin!  Worship is this tent was alternative.  They labeled it by saying it had a ‘Vineyard feel.’  Since I work at a Vineyard Church, I chuckled at this because the worship consisted of some screaming guitar, and people don’t like the screaming guitar when we have it on a Sunday morning.  Tent 3 was a Spanish service.  Tent 1 – I don’t know what was in tent 1.  However, there was a wide range of opportunities for people to check out, and I found it to be very non-threatening.  Also, because the parking was so far away, there was little congestion.  Overall, it was a great experience, and I was amazed at all the different venues they had on one campus.”

Any idea which church this might be and who might be the pastor.  The pastor and I earned our Doctor of Ministry degrees at Fuller Seminary in the same program.  As a result he wrote a book about what he learned (any idea about the name of that book?).

Granted, this floor-plan is from sunny So Cal, but couldn’t this be adapted to more northern climes with a covered mall-type roof over the common areas? The average church couldn’t do this of course, but a mega-church could learn much from this design. And, since some of my readers will be leading (or advising) a mega church one day, I wanted them to be familiar with this design.

For more ideas about multiple venues see these wiki- articles:

FACILITIES & How North Point Church (Andy Stanley) Does Multiple Venues Right

FACILITIES & Building a New Church Auditorium, Research Suggests Millennials Prefer This Size

FACILITIES & Church Finds Creative Alternative to Building a Bigger Box

VENUES & Are We Dividing the Church With Separate Celebrations? Maybe so, but for a mission

TENURE & Most healthy churches led by a pastor who has been there a long time

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  When is it time for a leader to leave a church? And how is the centrality of Christ enhanced or undermined by our transitions?  What happens afterwards? And, how does the centrality of Christ figure into the important decision that a leader must make about moving on?

These are some of the questions students often ask themselves, and which some of my readers may even be asking at the present.

A colleague of mine, who studied as did I in the Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Seminary, wrote an interesting article about his topic.  In addition, he reflected on the man who greatly influenced my life, and who many say started the Church Growth Movement, missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran.  I thought you might enjoy theses reflections of Rick Warren, and that they might provide some food for thought during this week’s discussions.

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“One reason churches grow,” by: Rick Warren, 3/2/06, retrieved from http://www.christianpost.com/news/discovering-my-purpose-driven-principles-13991

LAKE FOREST, Calif. –In 1974, I served as a student missionary to Japan. I lived with a Southern Baptist missionary couple in their home in Nagasaki. One day, while rummaging through the missionary‚s library, I picked up an old copy of HIS, a Christian student magazine published by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

As I thumbed through its pages, a picture of a fascinating older man with a goatee and sparkling eyes caught my attention. The article‚s subtitle said something like „Why is this man dangerous?” As I sat there and read the article on Donald McGavran, I had no idea that it would impact dramatically the direction of my ministry as much as an earlier encounter with W.A. Criswell had.

The article described how McGavran, a missionary born in India, had spent his ministry studying what makes churches grow. His years of research ultimately led him to write “The Bridges Of God” in 1955 and a dozen more books on growing churches that are considered classics today.

Just as God used W.A. Criswell to sharpen the focus of my life mission from ministry in general to being a pastor, God used the writings of Donald McGavran to sharpen my focus from pastoring an already established church to planting the church that I would pastor. Like Paul declared in Romans 15:20, „It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else‚s foundation.‰

McGavran brilliantly challenged the conventional wisdom of his day about what made churches grow. With a biblical basis and simple but passionate logic, McGavran pointed out that God wants His church to grow; He wants His lost sheep found!

The issues raised by McGavran seemed especially relevant to me as I observed the painfully slow growth of churches in Japan. I made a list of eight questions to which I wanted to find the answers:

— How much of what churches do is really biblical?

— How much of what we do is just cultural?

— Why do some churches grow and others die on the vine?

— What causes a growing church to stop growing, plateau and then decline?

— Are there common factors found in every growing church?

— Are there principles that will work in every culture?

— What are the barriers to growth?

— What are the conventional myths about growing churches that aren‚t true anymore (or never were)?

The day I read the McGavran article, I felt God direct me to invest the rest of my life discovering the principles — biblical, cultural and leadership principles — that produce healthy, growing churches. It was the beginning of a life-long study.

In 1979, I was working as a grader for Roy Fish, professor of evangelism, and finishing my final year at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I decided to do an independent study of the 100 largest churches in the United States at that time. I wrote to each of these churches and asked a series of questions I had prepared. Although I discovered that large, growing churches differ widely in strategy, structure, and style, there were some common denominators. My study confirmed what I already knew from Criswell’s ministry: Healthy, large churches are led by pastors who have been there a long time. I found dozens of examples. A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.

Can you imagine what the kids would be like in a family where they got a new daddy every two or three years? They would most likely have serious emotional problems. In the same way, the longevity of the leadership is a critical factor for the health and growth of a church family. Long pastorates make deep, trusting, and caring relationships possible. Without those kinds of relationships, a pastor won’t accomplish much of lasting value.

Churches that rotate pastors every few years will never experience consistent growth. I believe this is one reason for the decline of some denominations. By intentionally limiting the tenure of pastors in a local congregation, they create “lame duck” ministers. Few people want to follow a leader who isn’t going to be around a year from now. The pastor may want to start all sorts of new projects, but the members will be reticent because they will be the ones having to live with the consequences long after the pastor has been moved to another church.

Knowing the importance of longevity in growing a healthy church I prayed, “Father, I’m willing to go any place in the world you want to send me. But I ask for the privilege of investing my entire life in just one location. I don‚t care where you put me, but I‚d like to stay wherever it is for the rest of my life.”
—-
Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

MULTIPLICATION & Rick Warren’s 10 Points For Structuring Your Church to Grow and Not Plateau

Excerpts from an article by Rick Warren, ChurchLeaders.com, 2/20/15.

1) You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth. First and foremost, you need to settle on the idea that God wants his church to grow. And he doesn’t want it to stop growing!

2) You must change the primary role of the pastor from minister to leader. You can grow a church to 300 with pastoral skills or ministry skills, but growing beyond 300 will require leadership skills… A leader also equips others for ministry. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and the church won’t grow…

3) You must organize around the gifts of your people. The team God gives you will show you how to structure… Building your structure on the gifts and talents within the church promotes creativity and allows for spontaneous growth. Ministries bubble up rather than waiting on a board meeting to dissect every possibility…

4) You must budget according to your purposes and priorities. Obviously the budget of the church shows the priorities and the direction of the church. I’d suggest you take the budget items and ask of each item, “Which purpose does this fit under?”..

5) You must add staff on purpose. Build your staff by first adding generalists and then specialists. First, you want to add people who can do lots of things because you’re only going to have one. Then as you go down the road, you can add more and more specialists.

When do you want to add staff? As soon as you can … immediately, if at all possible. You want to build as many volunteers as quickly as you can and also add staff as quickly as you can. Anytime you add a staff member, that’s a faith step and allows the church to grow to the next level.

6) You must offer multiple services. Obviously to expand the structure, you will have to multiply, and to multiply, you have to offer multiple services. Why? Because more hooks in the water mean you can catch more fish.

At what point should you add a new service? I would say when you can have at least 75-100 people in that service. If you’re trying to reach new people, you have to have a large enough crowd so that the new people who just walked in don’t feel like everybody’s looking at them.

7) You must create affinity groups to enhance community. The more affinity groups you have, the more ways you have to connect with people. You want to avoid your church becoming a single-cell amoeba, so deliberately structure your church so it won’t become one big group that doesn’t reach out to other people.

8) You must intentionally break through attendance barriers with big days...When you have big, special days—maybe Easter, maybe a Friend Day—there’s something about seeing an extra 100 people (or an extra 1,000) that expands your congregation’s vision…. These special days help the church to see itself as bigger and growing and vibrant.

Now you know this is coming (Ha!), but this seems like a good time to mention again how a special 40 Days emphasis could energize your church. For more information, visit www.PurposeDriven.com.

9) You must add surplus seating space and parking.

When it comes to building a facility, most churches build too little and too soon. And then the shoe begins to tell the foot how big it can get! …We didn’t build at Saddleback for years because we knew we wouldn’t be able to build big enough—we were growing so fast. So don’t limit yourself by building too early.

10) You must continually evaluate your progress… If you try to study everything, you’ll end up with the paralysis of analysis, so decide to track three or four significant numbers, such as attendance or small groups.

Then compare the numbers of where you are now with where you’ve come from and where you want to be. Don’t compare yourself with a church down the road. Frankly, that won’t help evaluate the health of your own church.

Finally, decide on a standard for measuring the health of your church and shoot for it….

Read more at … http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/247657-structuring-church-grow-not-plateau.html