June 26, 2009
Dear Saddleback Family,
There is always so much to share with you! Let me start with the “Views” before I share the “News”!
VIEWPOINT: BUILDING A CHRIST-LIKE
receive letters asking, “Why is Pastor Rick speaking to this or that group?”
It’s a great question that I want you to know the answer to. You may have
noticed that outside of Saddleback Church, and our 30 year Purpose Driven Ministry
to pastors, I do very little speaking to Christian groups of believers. Instead, I invest my time speaking to
groups of unbelievers that most pastors never get the opportunity to share
with. These are folks that Jesus
died for, but would never enter a church to hear the Good News. Jesus
said, “It is not the healthy who need a
doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Luke 5:31 (NIV) If you want to have a
Christ-like ministry, you have to associate with the people Jesus did –
Of course, this strategy upset
the religious legalists and self-righteous pundits in Jesus’ day, and it does
today too. Every time I speak to any non-Christian group, I get
criticized by well-meaning believers who don’t really understand how much Jesus
loves lost people. They are more concerned with their own perceived purity than
the salvation of those Jesus died for.
Both Jesus and Paul were very
strategic in who they spoke to, what they said, and how they said it.
Jesus used a style of speaking unlike any of the religious professionals.
“The common people heard him
gladly. (Mark 12:37 KJV) The NIV translation of this verse says, “The large crowd listened to him with
DELIGHT.” If Jesus preached today, a lot professors and preachers
would criticize his communication style, but he said, “The Father who sent
me commanded me what to say AND HOW TO SAY IT.” John 12:49 (NIV) I’ve
been studying Jesus’ sermon style for 35 years and the more I learn HOW he said
things amazes me at his insight into human behavior and receptivity.
No one is ever converted by
labeling, condemnation, or anger. James 1:20 (KJV) says, “For the
anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” We
must LOVE people into God’s family and overcome evil with good. Again,
Jesus is our model. He said, “If anyone
hears me and doesn't obey me, I am not his judge—for I have come to save
the world and not to judge it.” John 12:47 (NLT) Judgment will come
later. If we want to have a Christ-like ministry, we must not waste any time
judging unbelievers (Jesus didn’t), but instead, do everything we can to build
relationships of love and respect and trust with unbelievers. For
many unbelievers, the barrier to salvation is not the credibility of Jesus but our
own lack of credibility and love for them.
Paul’s strategy was the same as
Jesus’ approach: “I happily become a servant of any and all so
that I can win them to Christ. When I am with Jews I become like one of them
so that they will listen to the Gospel and I can win them to Christ. When I
am with Gentiles I don't argue, even though I don't agree, because I
want to help them. When with the heathen, I agree with them as much as I
can, except of course, that I must always do what is right as a Christian.
When I am with those whose consciences bother them easily, I don't act as
though I know it all and don't say they are foolish; the result is that they
are willing to let me help them. Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to
find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ
and let Christ save him. I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the
blessing I myself receive when I see them come to Christ.” 1 Cor.
9:19-23 (LiB) Of course, this is the foundation text of our purpose-driven
evangelism, and as a result, we have baptized over 20,000 adult believers in
the past ten years.
After telling a parable that
praised a shrewd manager, Jesus said, “Yes,
worldly people are smarter with their own kind than spiritual people are!”
Luke 16:8 (NCV) Jesus was pointing out that believers need to be
more strategic in their thinking and approaches. One reason so many churches are stagnant is that their
evangelism strategy is either unbiblical, unworkable or both. They believe Jesus’ message but they
ignore the Jesus model of ministry and mission! Jesus told his disciples,
“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
John 13:15 (NLT) Saddleback’s
unprecedented growth is due to the fact that we’ve chosen for 30 years to
use the Jesus Model of evangelism, and discipleship. (From “Come and see”,
to “Come and die”, to “Go and tell”- and all the steps in-between.)
our secular culture, there are about a dozen different groups of influencers
that we seek to serve and reach out to with the Good News including academics,
business, military, sports, health care, media, prisoners, entertainment, other
faiths, and government. If we are to experience a spiritual revival in
our culture and if we want to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission in the world, we
must build bridges to all of these, and more. Just know the goal of every
speaking engagement is always the same: The global glory of God. We build
bridges of love – from our hearts to hearts of even those who hate us
– so that Jesus can walk across! You cannot win your enemies
to Christ. You can only win your friends.
“God has given us the task of
reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to
himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful
message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is
using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here
pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 2 Cor.
HIV Testing SATURDAY - YOU can help end AIDS! By simply
getting yourself tested, you help REMOVE THE STIGMA FOR OTHERS and make our
church a welcoming place for people living with HIV and AIDS. That’s why I’ve been publicly tested
twice – in front of all the national network TV channels. The test is
free, fast, and painless! They just swab your mouth with a Q tip! No
blood! The results are
confidential to you only, so bring a friend and join us this Saturday, 10 AM
– 3 PM. at Ministry Center 2.
“FAMILIES MAKE A
DIFFERENCE!” We’ll cover Part 4 this weekend. Kay and I were amazed and moved by the
overwhelming response to last week’s Father’s Day Message called: ”Everyone
Needs A Family.” Once again, Saddleback showed its heart of
love. If you missed that message,
or the small group video
on “God’s Heart for Orphans”, you can hear both on our website. God wants
to work in your family and through your family.
ADOPTION & FOSTER CARE INFORMATION SEMINAR
If you’ve wanted to find out how
adoption or foster care works, I’m providing this seminar for you! Learn the facts and get your questions
answered: Tomorrow (Saturday), from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Tent 1 OR
Sunday, June 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Tent 2.
Thanks again to all of you who
prayed for me when I spoke at the inauguration of the new Anglican Church of
North America last Tuesday or showed up on Wednesday afternoon to be a part of
the National Simulcast of “How Jesus Changes Us.” Two upcoming speaking engagements you can pray for: 1)
National Convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Washington, DC.
(This is the largest gathering of Muslim leaders each year in America.)
2) International Triennial Convention of the Assemblies of God in
is Chaundel Holladay’s birthday! (Pastor Tom’s wife and my precious
sister!) I think she turned 29.