Rick Warren - The Values That Matter Most to Us
Hi everybody and welcome to Saddleback this weekend. The reason I'm on video right now is 'cause I'm actually baptizing throughout every single service here at the Lake Forest campus. If you're here at Lake Forest and you haven't been baptized I want to invite you to get up right now out of your seat, don't listen to the sermon, come on outside and let me baptize you before we hit the 40th birthday deadline next Sunday where we're gonna close the books on those who joined Saddleback Church in the first 40 years as founding members of the first 40 years. I'd love for you to be on that list. And I'd love to baptize you today. So you just get up right now and lean over to your friend or your husband or wife, say let's go get baptized. And come on out and get ready. We've got water and we've got towels and we've got clothes to change into and all kinds of things. Okay.
Now today I want us to do part three of our series that we're calling this is us. And since it's our anniversary month, our 40th birthday, 40th anniversary of Saddleback Church, we're taking this month to just review the question why. Why do we even have church in the first place? Okay, the first week we talked about the nature of the church. That it's a family. It's a flock. It's the body of Christ. It's the family of God. And we talked about the nature of the church. Last week we talked about the five purposes of the church are to help you fulfill your five purposes that God has for your life in your life. This week I want us to look at the values of the church. Particularly I want us to look at the values that matter most to us at Saddleback Church.
Now since we're a Christian church, we have many common foundations with other churches. For instance, we're Christ centered like every other Christian, truly Christian church is. Christ centered. We are Bible based. We are God glorifying. We are spirit led. These are commonalities in all other truly Christian churches. We're prayer powered. We're mission minded and we're doing God's five purposes. Other churches worship. Other churches fellowship. Other churches do discipleship. They do service. They do outreach and evangelism and witness. But what I want us to focus on today is what makes Saddleback different. Every church needs its own thumbprint. Needs its own fingerprint. Needs its own voiceprint. Just like every human being is unique, every church is unique. And so I want us to go over the values that make Saddleback unique.
Now I'm not saying that other churches don't share some of these values. I'm just saying on our list of priorities, these are top. Other churches might say well we agree with that value. But they don't give it as much emphasis maybe as we do. Now the five, or the 10 values that we have at Saddleback, I've put in the letters of our name. S-A-D-D-L-E-B-A-C-K. You know, many people have asked me why did we keep the name Saddleback Church when most of our members can never see Saddleback Mountain? Because they don't live in the Saddleback valley. They are spread out all over southern California. In fact, they're spread out all over four continents. In Buenos Aires, and in Berlin, and in Hong Kong, and in Manila. So those people who are part of our family will never see the Saddleback Mountain, which the church was named after. But over time, in just the early years of the church, we began to use the name with each letter representing one of our key values. I'd like to go through that today.
So get out the teaching notes inside your program, pull out a pencil, because this is gonna show you what is the unique thumbprint of Saddleback Church. What makes us distinctive, what makes us different. Okay? Now the S in our name, the first letter in our name, the S stands for our first value and that is we are a second chance place of grace. A second chance place of grace. That means we're a place for a fresh start. We're a place to start over. We're a place to be born again. We're a place to get a second chance place of grace. God has shown us mercy, so we cut other people a lot of slack. And in Ephesians 4:32, one of our theme verses is this, "Be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other, just as God forgave you through Christ".
Now you know here at Saddleback Church we're famous for having started Celebrate Recovery. Recovery is not just a ministry, it's a signature value in our church. We are a second place, second chance place of grace. And what that means is we understand that everybody's broken. So everybody needs recovery. We are a grace place. We are a shame free zone. And we've had many, many testimonies about every kind of problem you could imagine. You probably couldn't name a problem that we haven't had a testimony about on a weekend service. You know when somebody's bleeding to death, you don't walk up to 'em and say, is it your fault? You just help 'em. And in the second chance place of grace, we believe in Colossians 3:12, "As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved," you're dearly loved. "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience".
In other words, that's how you dress for success at Saddleback. You put on compassion and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience 'cause we're a second chance place of grace. You know those who feel God's love the best are able to love the best. And so we need you to first feel God's love, then you can offer it to others. But we tell people all the time, Saddleback Church is not a, it's not a hotel for saints. It's a hospital for sinners. Like me. And we've often thought about putting up a sign that say no perfect people are allowed. For 30 to 40 years now, we've offered what we call an atmosphere of acceptance. We support those who struggle and stumble. Why do we do this? Because we know that when you come through on the other side of that struggle where you have stumbled, that your greatest life message is gonna come out of your mess.
Your message comes out of your mess. Your testimony comes out of your test. You say, well how do we do this practically? How do we offer people a second chance place of grace? Well there in your outline I've written a few ideas. We do it through testimonies. We have people share their failures and their faults. And they're not at, well I thank God I've never sinned in 20 years. No they're gut level. We offer support groups. All kinds of support groups. We offer counseling. About 300,000 hours of counseling a year. In this church that's offered to people. We offered Celebrate Recovery and of course, through over 500 different ministries, you can get involved. And this is a place to start over in a safe place. The Bible says in Roman 15:7, "Warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you". Regardless of what their background is. "And, then God will be glorified"!
Did you know that when you welcome new people, you bring glory to God? You know this week we welcomed here at Saddleback Church, I don't know, at least 1500 new members into God's family, maybe more. And so we welcomed them. But we don't want to just greet people. We want to serve them. There's a big difference between saying hi to somebody and saying how can I help you? So here at Saddleback, when we talk about a second chance place of grace, we don't just accept broken people. We want you here. If you're broken, welcome to the club because we're all broken. Nobody's perfect. And it really doesn't matter where you've been, what matters is what direction your feet are headed now. And it doesn't really make any difference how you've been hurt. I'm sorry you hurt. But there is healing here. This is a safe place for you to get a fresh start. We have a saying here at Saddleback, every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. And we are a family of wounded healers. That's the S in Saddleback. And if you want to be in a place like that, well we welcome you here.
Now the A in our name, stands for the second value. We are an all nation congregation. All nation congregation. We are intentionally multi-ethnic. We're multi-national. We're interracial. We're multi generational. In this church we have every culture, we have every language, we have every age group, we have every economic status. That's intentional. Why? Because in Mark 11:17, Jesus had said this about the church, "My house will be called the house of prayer for all nations". So that's why we call ourself an all nation congregation. We want God's house of prayer, his church, to be a place of prayer for all nations. You know we recently last month, did a survey of our church again. And we discovered that in Saddleback congregation, we speak 168 languages. Imagine that. We say Saddleback is the church that looks like heaven. We want our church to look like heaven.
If you don't like diversity, you're gonna hate heaven. Because not everybody's gonna look like you in heaven. In fact, nobody's gonna look like you in heaven. 'Cause we all are different, we're all unique. You know I have to tell you that when we started Saddleback, everybody in the church pretty much looked like me 40 years ago. Young, white, and drop dead sexy. Our communities grew much more interesting over the years. Far more interesting. I'm glad we're not all plain vanilla anymore. Psalm 22:27 says, "All nations will remember the Lord. From every part of the world they will turn to him. All races will worship him". Have you figured this out? God loves variety? He has never made a person he doesn't love. And he loves all of us no matter how we look or what we say, or how we speak, or what our cultural or religious background has been.
You know, God says my house shall be a house of prayer for all nations. Well the good news is God made it easy for Saddleback Church 'cause we're in southern California. Because in LA and Orange County alone, we speak over 195 languages. So we've got a few more, probably 30 more languages to go before we represent everybody in southern California. There are 10 million immigrants in California. You may not realize this but 25% of all of our CEOs in southern California and in northern California are actually immigrants. 33% of our nurses are immigrants. 50% of our software developers. So God put us in a place where we don't have to go to the whole world, he brought the whole world to us. By the way, I just want to say this as an aside, it's the government's business to sort out who's legal and who's illegal. But it's the church's business to love everybody and serve everybody. That's not my job as the government to figure out who's legal. It's my job to love everybody and serve everybody.
Now how have we become an all nation congregation? Our second key value. The answer is by treating everybody with dignity. And by intentionally reaching out to all backgrounds. By treating everyone with dignity. And intentionally reaching out to all backgrounds. 1 Peter 2:1 says this, "Show respect for all people: Love your brothers, love your sisters in God's family". If you don't respect everyone, don't call yourself a Christian. And really, this is not the church you're gonna be interested in. Because we believe, we are an anti-racist church in this church. All right that's the A. The D, the first D in Saddleback stands for our third value which is this, we focus on doable discipleship. Doable discipleship. That means we're an active church. We're not a passive one. We focus on doing what God tells us to do. Not just knowing it. Not just hearing it. Not just learning it. A lot of churches are learning churches. They hear it but they don't do anything about it. James 1:22 says, "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves".
You know it says that if you read the word of God, or you listen to somebody preach it or teach it, and you don't really do it, he says you're just deceiving yourself. You might think you're growing, but you're not. The fact is you can listen to 20 years of Bible studies and it never do anything to you because you didn't do anything about it. We fool ourselves into thinking that because we've heard something then we've grown and applied it. But that would be kinda like if I picked up The Daniel Plan book on being healthy and I'm eating junk food the whole time I'm reading it. It wouldn't be very effective. D.L. Moody, a famous pastor of 100 years ago said, the Bible was not given to increase our knowledge.
The Bible was given to change our lives. It's a manual for living. 2 Timothy 2:16 says, all scriptures given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. And what that verse means is there are four things God's word is good for. It shows you the path to walk on, that's doctrine. It shows you where you get off the path, that's reproof. It shows you how to get back on the path, that's correction. And it shows you how to stay on the path, that's instruction in righteousness. It's practical. It's real world and you can use it starting Monday a.m. James 4:17 says this, "Anyone, who knows the good he ought to do but doesn't do it, sins".
You know what the problem is folks? We know more than we're doing. We know more, know a whole lot more than we actually put into practice. But the Bible says knowledge increases judgment. And Matthew 7:21, Jesus says this, "Not everybody who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does," circle the word does, "does the will of my Father". I want you to go back and look at the three verses that we just dealt with and circle every time the word do or does is used. He who does the word of God. Be doers of the word.
And then I want you to write on your outline, this sentence. I only believe the parts of the Bible I actually do. I only believe the parts of the Bible I actually do. Do you believe in forgiveness? Yeah, I believe in forgiveness. Do you forgive the people who hurt you? No. Then you don't believe it. Do you believe in being patient and waiting on God? Yeah. Are you patient? No. Then you don't believe it. Do you believe God says he'll bless you if you tithe? Yeah. You tithe? No. Then you don't believe it. I only believe the parts of the Bible I actually do. This is what we call doable discipleship. We focus on helping you not be a hearer of the word, not just take notes, but be a doer of the word.
Now how do we encourage doable discipleship? Well I wrote it there on your outline. By focusing on changing our attitudes and our actions in our teaching. You'll notice that everything I teach and everything any other pastor or teacher teaches at Saddleback, is focused on changing attitudes, and changing actions. Why? Because in Matthew 28:20, Jesus said this, "Teach them to do everything I have commanded you". He didn't say teach them to know everything I've commanded you. He didn't say teach them to think about everything I've commanded you. He said teach them to do.
Now this is why almost every week, I didn't do it this weekend, but in almost every sermon outline I put a verb in every point. Why? Because I want you to be a doer of the word. And I'll say here are five things you need to do to overcome worry. Or here are four things you need to do to build a stronger marriage. Or here are eight things you need to do to avoid depression. Why? Because the Bible says be doers of the word. That's doable discipleship. And now the second D in our name, Saddleback, stands for our fourth value. And that is this, we have a deliberate pathway for personal growth. Write that down. The second D is a deliberate pathway for personal growth. What I mean by that is we give you a simple and practical track to grow on.
Now Saddleback Church didn't just make this up. We're built on the Jesus model of discipleship. And I have spent my lifetime studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, how Jesus helped people grow from unbeliever to believer to mature believer to minister to missionary to helping people around the world. Saddleback is built on the Jesus model of moving people from what we call come and see to come and die. From no commitment to full commitment. Hebrews 6:1 says this, "Let us leave," circle the word leave. "Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and let us go on," circle the phrase go on, "to maturity".
Notice that growth is a journey. Growth is, spiritual growth, personal spiritual growth, is a journey. You have to leave. That means you let go of some old things, and you have to go on. It implies action. It implies movement. It implies progress. So the Christian life and growing in maturity, growing in discipleship is a journey. But here's the thing. Most churches don't give people a map. They don't give 'em a map. And so when we started Saddleback, we said we need to give people a map to help them on their journey of moving from knowing Christ to loving Christ to belonging to his family to growing in Christ to serving Christ to sharing Christ. You know if I said I want you to go to my house, well you'd say first, where am I right now? You have to know where you were. And then you'd have to have a map to get from where you were to where you want to be.
None of us know how to get from here to there without a path. The Bible says in Proverbs 4:26, "Mark out a straight path for your feet, then stick to the path and you will stay safe". Stick to the path. Now notice it implies there's a path. You make a path for your spiritual growth. Now how do we offer a deliberate pathway to growth here at Saddleback Church? Well we're different in that we offer it through the purpose driven life diamond. That's a pathway. If you've been in class 101 you've seen this. If you've been around Saddleback for any length of time, you've noticed that the diamond is there on your outline. And going around the baseball diamond, for first base, to second base, to third base, to home plate, is like knowing Christ and becoming a part of his family, first base. Growing in Christ, second base. Serving Christ, third base. And then sharing Christ, coming around to home plate.
As you know this is explained in detail in class 101, 'cause most of you have taken this. But the bottom line is you don't get credit for runners left on base. A lot of churches get people saved, and they get 'em to first base, and they stop. They don't get 'em to maturity, second base. They certainly don't get 'em involved in their ministry using their gifts and abilities. And they, very few of 'em, actually send 'em out on mission, on their life mission all around the world. You know, physically every human person grows through the same stages of physical development. You have to learn how to breathe, that's the first thing you have to learn once you're born. You have to learn how to breathe. And then you have to learn how to sleep. Then you have to learn how to eat. Then eventually you learn how to walk, and eventually you learn how to talk. Or vice versa. But the bottom line is they're in the same order for everybody. We all go through the exact same stages.
Now, just like physical growth, there are predictable stages in your spiritual growth. You've gotta know Christ before you can love him. And then you've gotta learn to love his family next. What does a believer need most? A church family. Just like a baby. When a baby's born, the number one thing a baby needs is not diapers, it's not food. It needs a caring adult. It needs a family. A baby without a family is called an orphan. And a Christian without a church family is a spiritual orphan. Now the other thing we use to help people in the deliberate pathway besides the baseball diamond is we use classes, we use campaigns. We do an annual spiritual growth campaign. Which is copied literally by tens of thousands of other churches. They've all used it like the 40 days campaigns that have been used by 30, 40,000, 50,000 churches all around the world. We use classes, campaigns. We use covenants and we use small groups.
But our goal is 2 Corinthians 3:18. "As the spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him," that's Christ. "And we reflect his glory even more and more". That is the deliberate pathway for spiritual growth. Now the L in Saddleback stands for our fifth value. And this is love in action. Love in action. We don't want to be a church that just talks about love. That just studies love. That just defines love. That just prays about love. It's not enough to just say we love people. We have to show it. We have to show it. Here's a great passage on love. 1 John 3:16-18. John was called the apostle of love. And he says this. "This is how we know what love is. Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If we have possessions and we see others in need, and yet we close our hearts against them, how can we claim to love God? Our love must not just be words, must not just be words and talk. It must be true love, which shows itself in action".
That's why this is a key value to our church. Love in action. How do we show love and action at Saddleback Church? Well we do it primarily to the world through our local and global PEACE plan. You remember P-E-A-C-E, there's a word for each of these. Promote reconciliation, Plant churches, Equip ethical servant leaders. A is assist the poor. C is care for the sick. E is educate the next generation. These are five big problems in the world. Poverty, disease, illiteracy, corruption, spiritual emptiness. Through our local PEACE plan, which we do in our neighborhood, and through our global PEACE plan, which we do all around the world, this church has made an impact literally by sending well, almost 26,000 to be specific, it's actually 26,869 members of our church have gone to 197 countries. But twice that amount of people have done things in local PEACE here in America.
You know our PEACE center that we have at Lake Forest campus and several of our other campuses, your church has fed hundreds of thousands of people. You've fed hundreds of thousands of people in southern California just from the PEACE centers in the campuses here. Then we have all these other various ministries that come under the banner of local PEACE. But it's not all programmed. The love and action is a personal value and it's a culture that we have in this church that says if you see a need, you're it. You know, just this Wednesday night, I went to say thank you to all of our lay volunteers, the 301 team who serve in our 301 ministry of helping people discover their shape for ministry. And they were having a meal together and I wanted to just come and thank them.
And after it was over I was walking out and a woman in our church came up to me named Sally. Sally McMillan is a shape guide. And she said, "Pastor Rick I need to tell you a story. I want to tell you a story". She said I'm a shape guide. Which means she helps people discover their shape for service. And she said, "I had finished the last interview with somebody helping them, coaching them on discovering their shape for life. And I guess I was the last one and I was closing everything up. And I noticed there was a woman standing outside the door. And she looked like she was in need. And I opened the door and I said, may I help you"? And she said, "I'm here to see pastor Rick". And Sally said, "Well, I'm sorry, pastor Rick is not here right now". And the woman said, "Well where is pastor Rick"? And she said, "Well I'm sorry I don't know where he is right now. But why don't you come on in and I'll be glad to help you". And she said, the woman said, "Can I sit down"? She said, "Of course, sit down".
So she sat down and Sally said, "Tell me your story, how can I help you"? The woman said, "Well, I'm homeless. And I've been sleeping down in Dana Point Harbor at the harbor docks. And I was sleeping down there 'cause I have no place to live. But the police came by and they made me get up and they said, 'You can't sleep here. This is not a homeless park here, you're gonna have to move on.'" And then after the police left, I guess another guy walked up to her and said what was the policeman talking to you about? And she said, "I'm homeless and he said I can't sleep here". And that man, I don't know if he goes to Saddleback Church or not, said to this woman, this homeless woman, "You need to go see pastor Rick". And she said, "Who's pastor Rick"? He says, "Everybody knows pastor Rick. He's the pastor of Saddleback Church". And she goes, "Where's Saddleback Church"? He said, "Well it's actually over in Lake Forest". She said, "Can you draw me a map to get there"?
And the guy said, "Sure". So he drew her a map but he said, "You gotta take this bus here and then you change and you take this other bus, and you get off at the corner and then you walk over to the office. And that's where you'll find pastor Rick". So she said, "I did that and I'm here to see pastor Rick". And she said, "So, how can I help you"? And she said, "Well, I just don't, I don't have a place to stay". And then Sally said this, "Well you can stay with me. I'll take you in". And that woman moved into Sally McMillan's house for two weeks. Sally took a woman she had no idea who it was, but in love, that's love in action. That is Saddleback Church.
I could tell you that story over and over and over where people did not wait for a program to meet a need. They just met a need in person. And I want to say to all of you who are listening right now, no matter what campus you're at or whether you're listening online or on Daily Hope, I am authorizing you to feed the hungry and care for the poor and the homeless. You don't even have to tell me about it. Just do it. Just be Jesus Christ to the people in your life. And when God puts a person like that in your life, this is a test. We have love in action in this church. And Sally you are the exhibit A of that point for me just this week.
Now, the only reason that we're able to do the PEACE plan and local PEACE and global PEACE, and 500 plus other ministries is because of the next letter in our name. The E in our same Saddleback, stands for our sixth value. We believe in empowered members. Every member is a minister. We believe in empowered members. Every member is a minister. Not every member's a pastor. But every member is a minister.
Did you know that in the word in the Bible that the word minister and the word servant are the same thing? And the word to minister as a verb, is the same word as to serve? To serve is to minister. When you serve someone you minister to them. And when you are a servant you're serving heart into somebody, you are actually a minister at that point. We believe in empowered members that every member is a minister. You know I've noticed because I've trained a lot of pastors that a lot of churches are kinda like football games. 22 people on the field, desperately in need of rest, and 22,000 in the stands desperately in need of exercise. Just a few people are doing all the ministry. But the Bible has this to say, 1 Corinthians 12:27, "All of you," circle that, "All of you, all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it".
The pastor's not the church body, it takes all of us to make the body of Christ. It's kinda like a jigsaw puzzle. If you've ever put together a jigsaw puzzle, and you get to the end and one piece is missing, what's the one thing you notice first in a jigsaw puzzle with one piece missing? The one piece that's missing. If you don't use your talents, we don't get blessed. If I don't use my talents, you don't get blessed. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:21-22, "The eye can never say to the hand, 'I don't need you.' And the head can never say to the feet, 'I don't need you.' In fact, some of the parts that seem least important are really the most important". Like, I've never seen my spleen. I've never seen my lungs. I've never seen my heart or my liver. But they're far more necessary than my fingers or my nose. And I know some of you thinking, well I'm just a toenail on the body of Christ. I don't matter.
Well I recently said, have you ever had a toenail removed? I have had one surgically removed three or four times, and when it's not there, you notice. There are no unimportant people in this church. Everybody matters. And everybody is needed because we believe in empowering members. Every member's a minister. You know I've told you before the most important light in my house, not the big chandelier in the dining room. It's beautiful. But the most important light is the little nightlight that I turn on at night that helps me not stumble and stub my toe when I get up to go to the bathroom. That's the most important light. And then of course, pastor Tom has always said, no Rick, the most important light in your house is the one that comes on when you open the refrigerator door.
Bottom line is, the little, it doesn't mean unimportant. Never confuse prominence with significance. My nose is prominent. I have a big nose. It's not significant. I could lose my nose and live happily ever after. But, I have like I said, a liver, it's not prominent. But it is far more significant than anything else. My lungs, and my heart. Never confuse prominence with significance. You may not be seen in what you're doing in your service, in your ministry, but God sees it. And it's all important.
Now how do we empower members for their ministry? Well we do it through class 301, which is called discovering my shape for ministry. And also by offering shape coaching, which includes filling out a profile, getting interviewed and sitting there with a person help you think through what am I really good at? What do I love to do? What's my passion? My spiritual gifts, my heart, my abilities, my passion, my experiences. These are the things that shape your life. So that's the, that is the empowered member of value that's so important to us. About 25,000 people serve in some capacity in this church. You don't know it, they don't get paid for it. Many people don't even know what they're doing, but God sees it. And that's what makes our church so effective.
Now, the next letter in Saddleback is the B. And the B in Saddleback stands for our seventh value. We practice bold faith. Bold faith. This is a church that takes big risks. If you're looking for a status quo church that never rocks the boat, or never challenges you, then this is probably the wrong church for you. Because in this church we're always stretching ourselves. We're always changing. We're always taking risks. We're always growing. There is no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. 'Cause you have to let go of some old things to try the new things. And there is no loss without pain. And there's no pain without grief. A church or a person who wants to grow without changing is like a woman said well I want to have a baby without going through having my tummy get big and go through labor. They don't call it labor for nothing. There is no growth without change. There's no new life without change. And that stretching, it means taking risks in faith.
Now, next week in the message on our anniversary service, on our 40th birthday, I'm gonna cover this in detail so I don't want to say a whole lot about it now. But why do we take so many risks in this church? Well Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God". And Romans 14:23 says, "Anything not done in faith is sin". You know, few churches have taken the huge risks that Saddleback has. And next week, I'm gonna talk more on this in a message called lessons in faith learned over 40 years. This is not a play it safe church. We boldly go where no man's gone before. We boldly do what others have not dared to do. In two weeks, I'm going to share another message called vision 2020 of what's next. It's 40 years after the first vision at the first service. And I'm gonna share the 2020 vision. I hope you'll come back for that as we talk about bold faith.
Now the second A in Saddleback stands for our eighth value. We value authentic fellowship. Authentic fellowship. In other words this is a place where you don't have to fake it. You know, honestly faking it is exhausting. If you're always trying to wear a mask when you don't feel good. You know, when you've had a terrible day, you don't feel like saying well praise the Lord. No, when you're actually feeling my life sucks. Well, this is a place to be real. This is a place to not be a phony. We want authentic, authentic fellowship. And the only way you have authentic fellowship is you have to be authentic.
Now, why do we want authentic fellowship? Well, one reason it's more honest. It's more honest. You're not lying to anybody. But a second reason is this. You actually help people more through your weaknesses than you do your strengths. You help people more through your weaknesses than you do your strengths. If I were to tell you all my strengths, if I were to tell you all the exciting things I've got to do in my life, all the cool people I've met, all the important events I've got to be a part of, you'd go well goody for you. It doesn't draw us closer. It doesn't build fellowship. Telling you my strengths actually creates a barrier. It creates a wall. But if I share with you my failures, and I share with you my flaws, and I tell you that in the second year of the church I had a burnout and was depressed the entire year.
And I tell you how in our early marriage, Kay and I, we'd be divorced if we hadn't gotten good Christian counseling. And if I tell you how we've had cancer in our family, and I had a son who lived his entire life with mental illness until he took his life, those are things people go oh. Well if God can use Rick in spite of all those things, then maybe God could use me. He can. Now how do we develop authentic fellowship? Well we do it through two ways. Through small groups, and through spiritual friendships. Small groups and spiritual friendships. Small groups are the heartbeat of Saddleback. You can't really be authentic in a crowd. But you can be authentic with four people, or five people, or six people, or a small group.
Do you know, Saddleback, to my knowledge is the only church in America that we have more people in small groups every week than we do who have come to church on the weekend. We have more people actually thousands and thousands of small groups in 190 something cities of southern California that meet every week rather than the number of people who come to all of our campuses on the weekend. Why? Because we decided a long time ago we were gonna use the biblical model of the church. Twice in the book of Acts it says that the first Christians met in the temple courts for worship. And in house to house for fellowship. They met in the temple courts for worship on the weekend and house to house during the week for fellowship. Large group worship. Small group fellowship.
The Bible says this about small groups. Hebrews 10:24-25, "Let us be concerned for one another, and inspire each other to show love and do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together," Notice it's a habit. Small groups should be a habit. "Instead, let us encourage one another all the more". Now everything that I read in that group can only happen in a small group. It can't happen in a big crowd. And so one of the slogans here at Saddleback is we believe in growing larger and smaller at the same time. And for 40 years we've been growing larger and smaller at the same time. Larger through weekend worship. Smaller through weekday small group. You know, those of you who are at our smaller campuses, you actually get the benefit of both. Because you get the benefits of all the programs of a large church, but it also gets to be personal at the same time.
I'll never forget a guy who attended our church for nine years. And one day he got in the hospital, but he never met anybody. He didn't take class 101. He didn't join the church. He sat up in the bleachers right over there, in the top bleachers for nine years. Never met anybody except me. And one time he had a heart attack and he ended up in the hospital. And, I was actually overseas. I was in Japan doing a Purpose Driven church conference. And when I got back they told me this guy's name. I'm gonna use the name Joe. And they said, Joe had a heart attack and he called and was asking for you. I said, great I'm glad to go see him. So I went to go see Joe and he was mad. He was mad. He said, "I've been in this hospital for 10 days and nobody from that church has come and visited me".
And I looked at him and said, "Joe, it's your fault. Because you never made any connections. You never met anybody. You never got involved. You never joined a small group. You never became a member. The only person you knew in the church was me and I'm here. So what are you complaining about"? Authentic leadership. Authentic membership. Authentic community happens in small groups. One of my favorite verses is Jobs 6:14. It says this, "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty".
What that verse says is sometimes you're in such deep pain, you're in such despair, you are so depressed, you are so at the bottom of the barrel that you go I don't even know if I believe in God right now. I don't even know what to believe. And that's when your friends come around you and say that's okay, get on the stretcher, we'll carry you. We will believe God for you. We will carry you through this pain. A man deserves the devotion of his friends even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. And you need people in your life that when you're going through the toughest time in your life, they can rally around you. I want to encourage you to get that safety net built now before you need it. How do you build it? Through a small group.
Now the C in our name Saddleback, stands for the ninth value. We practice creative outreach. Creative outreach. We are always experimenting. Trying to figure out ways to reach people for Christ. Most of you know, but some of you don't know, that Saddleback was the first church on the internet. In 1992, before anybody had heard of the internet, there was no Microsoft Explorer or Netscape or anything else. No browser. We were using FTP, Gopher, and Mosaic. But we were on the internet in 1992. We've always been early on technologically adapters. In 1980, I got a fax machine and when we started a thing called the fax of life. And I wrote a weekly inspirational fax to business leaders. And we would fax it out and that machine would 24 hours a day back in 1980 or '81.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 says this, Paul's talking about creative outreach. "I became a servant to everyone so that I can win them to Christ. When I am with Jews who follow Jewish laws I adapt them so that I can win them to Christ. And when I'm with Gentiles, I try to fit in as much as I can to help and reach them. To the weak I become weak to win the weak. Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground". That's what creative outreach is all about. "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 good news to them and also for the blessing that I receive when I see them come to Christ".
Now why do we do all these creative things? Why do we have all these programs and all these outreaches? Because everybody needs Jesus. Everybody needs Jesus. And when you match up the fact that we were created to create, you're made in God's image, God is the creator so you have a creative force in you. You were created to create. And you're most like your creator when you're being creative. Now the key to creativity in outreach or anything else is learn to fail fast. Fail fast, fail often, fail cheap. I tell this to the staff all the time. If you're not trying anything, you're never gonna fail. If you're not failing it means you're not trying anything. Don't call it a failure. Call it an experiment. Or call it an education. I am christening all of you today to be creatists. Help us create new ways to reach people. Help us to create new ways to serve people. Help us create new ways to help people grow. Help us to create new ways to lead people into worship.
As we go into the next 40 years of Saddleback Church. Now how do we do creative outreach at Saddleback? Well it's real simple. By constantly changing to reach new people. This church has a culture of change. We're changing locations all the time. We change times all the time. Services all the time. We change styles. We change programs. For those of you who have been around for 40 years, you know it's been 40 years of constant change. Nothing stays the same for long around here except the eternal purposes of God. Why? Because Jesus said in Mark 2:22, "You can't put new wine in old wineskins". If you don't like change, you're probably not gonna feel comfortable at Saddleback Church. But if you like something new and you like to grow, and you like to be challenged, this is the church for you.
Now the final K in our name Saddleback, stands for our tenth value and it is this. We are kid and family focused. Kid and family focused. Which means, write this down, we are multi generational. Kid and family focused means we're multi generational. Because your family isn't one generation. Your family is three, four, five different generations. It's not just one age group in your family. You are multi generational and we are a multi generational church. You know, some churches just try to reach out to one kind of people. And there are some churches, all they are is college students. You walk in, if you're not a college student, you don't fit. And there are other churches you walk in to they're all senior citizens. And if you don't have gray hair, or silver hair, then you don't fit.
And there are all kinds of churches that focus on just one kind of people. One kind of race. One kind of age. One kind of economic status. That's not us. We're kid and family friendly and we're multi generational. As I said, we have five generations in our church family. Builders, boomers, busters, millennials, and the youngest group, Gen Z. And I say we love and we serve everybody from hot wheels to wheel chair. All five generations. By the way, this week I got some statistics about our church roll of attenders. And when I read through it it made me feel very confident about our future. That we're setting up Saddleback Church for the next generations in a good way. Because I discovered that on our roll of attenders, not members, attenders, that the ages 23 to 38, that's what's called the millennials. Of age 23 to 38, we have on our roll of attenders 39,401 millennials. 39,401 people between 23 and 38. Ready to step into leadership right now, right now.
And then I looked at the next lower generation, Generation Z, which is everybody from a born baby up to 22. So it's mostly the teenagers, but it has 20, 21, 22. So zero to 22. In our church, just Saddleback Church, we have 24,739 active young adults and children. That's birth to age 22. Teenagers. Mostly teenagers and kids and grade schoolers. Nearly 25,000 under 20. Now from the very start, Saddleback's focused on strengthening families. People said, because in the first survey, people said my kids are bored by church and I've got nothing for my teens. And they said we need help in this area. Jesus said in Matthew 18:10, "Be careful. Don't make the mistake of thinking that little children are unimportant. I tell you that they have angels who are always with my father in heaven".
Jesus said that guardian angels are real. Jesus said. Now, some churches only, as I said, try to reach one group. But Jesus said let the little children come to me, they are the kingdom of God. You can't do kingdom of God work without caring about the next generation. You can't do kingdom work without caring about children. Now I want to just say this to you. No matter what age you are, whether you're single or you're married, or you're widowed, or you're divorced, you need children in your life. Why? Because some things you will only learn through children. Sometimes God speaks through a still small voice. And sometimes that still small voice is a child. Though it's not so still. It may be loud. It's a small voice. And I would challenge you that if you don't have any children in your life, you are aging faster than you ought to. And you ought to volunteer for somewhere that you can get in touch with our children's ministry to help you learn some things. You'll be a blessing to them and they'll be a blessing to you.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven". You need little children in your life and you always will. They're God's tool for teaching you unselfishness. Now that's the Saddleback. S-A-D-D-L-E-B-A-C-K. If this sounds like the kind of church you want to be a part of, we welcome you. And if you haven't joined the membership of Saddleback Church, it's not too late before our 40th birthday next weekend. And the first thing you oughta do is after the end of this service, come on out and be baptized. All right? Come on out right after this service. Let me pray for you. Would you bow your heads?
Father, we've been looking this month at why we do church. As we just stop and say why do we do this? We've done it for 40 years and we're getting ready to start a whole new decade again. And I pray that as we've gone through this list together that you've put it into hearts of some people, that's gonna be my spiritual home. And I pray that many people stop waffling and wavering and being a spectator, not a participator. Help us to make the move from consumer to contributor. From attender to member. From spectator to participator. Lord, we love these people. Everyone who's listening right now, I thank you for their lives. And I'm asking you to bless their lives. And as a pastor, I pray for their physical health, their spiritual health. I pray for their emotional health and their mental health. I pray for their relational health. I pray for health in their finances in every area of their life. Would you bless them with health? Not so that they can just feel good. But so that they can be a blessing to others. And there may be someone here who's never opened their life to Jesus Christ. And if you've never done that, you just need to say Jesus Christ make yourself real to me. Say Jesus Christ as much as I know how, I want to say yes to you. I ask you to come into my life, change me, save me. I want to know your purpose for me. I'm sorry for all the things I've done wrong and I ask you to forgive me. Thank you for dying for me on the cross. Help me to understand this. In Jesus' name, amen.