'Purpose Driven' Church Model Exhibited to World's Baptists

BIRMINGHAM - The second day of the Baptist World Centenary Congress proceeded with focus groups following Bible studies and worships in the morning.

Out of the eight focus groups held in the various different venues, many Baptists pastors and ministers were attracted to the focus group under the theme “The Basic Purpose Driven Church.”

Gerald Sharon, a pastor from the Saddleback Church in California, introduced Rick Warren’s healthy church model that has proved to be the amazing story of success that is Saddleback Church. The key concept of Warren’s Purpose Driven Church model is that a church is to be built based on purposes instead of personalities.

"How can we define the purpose of a church," Sharon asked the delegates.

As a reply, Sharon said, “It’s not our job to discover the purpose of the church, but our job is to find out God’s purpose for the church.”

Through Warren’s Purpose Driven Church model, five major purposes of a church were defined: Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship and Discipleship – based on the great commandment and the great commission Jesus gave to his people.

The teaching of the great commandment, “love God with all your heart”, represents the purpose of the church in Worship – a way to express our love to God, Sharon explained.

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” corresponds to the purpose of the church in Ministry, which is to serve people and to share with people the love of Christ.

Because the great commission Jesus spoke of in Matthew 28:19-20 said, “Go and make disciples of all nations”, the great challenge to the church is Evangelism – helping those who are lost and are waiting to be found, he continued.

In addition a church is to serve the purpose of Discipleship to train the people of God to live a Christ-like life, as Jesus said “teaching them to do everything I have commanded you”.

Following the detailed explanation of the theory behind the Purpose Driven Church Model, Sharon moved to the more practical side in ministering. The first priority of leadership is to continually clarify and communicate these messages to every level of the congregation, he said.

Sharon suggested the wise use of short slogans and symbols. Other methods include the preaching of scriptures, story-telling and specifics.

Despite his busy schedule, Rick Warren also joined in the focus groups for around 30 minutes to encourage and strengthen the Baptist leaders. He reminded all pastors and ministers that the key to the application of the Purpose Driven Church model is balance.

Instead of overemphasizing only one purpose that the chief pastor is most passionate about, a true Purpose Driven Church is an all-round church that does well in all the five purposes, Warren said. Ultimately, a Purpose Driven Church will be able to demonstrate the life-changing miracle through the Gospel and all to the glory of God.

Warren testified the amazing development of the Saddleback Church throughout the past 25 years. The Saddleback Church started as a family house church with Rick Warren and his wife Kay. He told how he did not imagine that the church would grow from 3 core members to 12,151 core members serving the church currently.

However, Warren said, “This [Purpose Driven Church] is not a strategy for building a big church but a healthy church.”

The “Purpose-Driven” pastor stressed that there is no correlation between the size and the strength of a church.

“Whether the church is big or small is not a matter, health is a matter,” Warren said.

As he had suggested in an earlier press conference, Warren told the Baptist leaders, “The message cannot change but the method has to be changed.”

Skill makes success, and strategy is important, he said, and by using the right skill and right tool, the church can be developed more than just by working hard.

In concluding, Warren urged Baptist leaders to learn from each other endlessly because there is always someone who can do better than you in a certain aspect.

“Don’t compare with others, but learn from others,” he said.

Warren greatly appreciated the wide variety of backgrounds and races gathered in the Baptist Centenary Congress this time. He encouraged Baptist leaders to live up to the purpose of the Church that God has made for them.