Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches in the nation, has launched a new global vision to multiply impact on the local and international levels.
Within the next three years, megachurch in the Lake Forest, Calif., aims to launch nine new off-site campuses in addition to its San Clemente campus, which meets every weekend at the local high school, and step up its global P.E.A.C.E. plan. By 2010, Saddleback hopes to see 10,000 more lives changed and baptized.
"One of the most important words in the Christian life [is] 'go,'" said Rick Warren, founding and senior pastor of Saddleback, during his "Multiplying Our Impact" sermon series last month. "The Christian life is a journey and over and over again God says you are to go. We are not a passive faith; you are a 'going' faith."
Thousands of Saddleback congregants and staff have been on the move to open a campus in Corona and Irvine late this year and early 2008. Two pastors have already been picked out of the Saddleback staff to lead the sites, which will have their own live worship music and video feed from the main Lake Forest campus. The campuses will host smaller congregations of 400 to 600 people.
Matt McGill, pastor of regional campuses for Saddleback, calls the expansion "decentralized congregations" rather than the popular term "multi-site" which more churches are venturing into.
"We clearly are looking at this strategy as one church meeting in decentralized locations to be most effective in reaching those communities for Christ," said McGill.
"Our shift to a regional approach is not about making worship more convenient for our members or emptying seats from our Lake Forest campus," he noted. "We're making this shift to empower our people for evangelism and to reach new communities in the name of Jesus."
The expansion, called the 10x10 vision, also includes 10,000 small groups in homes, work, school and on the Internet and 1 million personal invitations given out by church members.
Answering critics of the multi-site approach, which has become the next big thing for effective outreach, McGill said there will always be critics of any new methodology but methodologies must always change in order to be as effective as possible in the generation we live, he commented. But the message in the church, meanwhile, never changes.
"What we have seen is that many churches that see the lostness that surrounds them are willing to embrace new modern methodologies to communicate the unchanging message of the hope of Jesus," said McGill.
How much technology is too much?
McGill has three tests to answer the popularly asked question.
First, the worship test. "When we worship technology – love it and depend on it more than God – we have gone too far."
Second, the fruitfulness test. "Are we seeing changed lives? If there is no life change, and we still stick to the technology, then we have gone too far."
Third, the test of conviction. "Any choice to use technology is a decision that should come from a clear heart, from a place where you believe God is leading."
Nearly four years after launching a sweeping plan to fight the global ills of the world, Warren introduced P.E.A.C.E. 2.0 – the next phase of the PEACE plan. Some 7,400 Saddleback members have volunteered to take overseas PEACE trips to tackle the five "global goliaths" that are affecting billions of people – spiritual emptiness, self serving leadership, poverty, pandemic diseases, and lack of education and illiteracy. The initiative's main emphasis has been the local church and mobilizing churches worldwide to Plant churches, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation "the way Jesus did," as Warren says.
Now, Warren is building a PEACE Coalition of partners that includes the government and NGOs and businesses in addition to churches. The "P" in PEACE 2.0 now stands for "Promote reconciliation" while churches will continue to focus on planting churches.
By December 2010, Saddleback hopes to have 10,000 more people go on global PEACE trips; 10,000 people per year involved in local PEACE projects; and 10,000 churches in the PEACE Coalition.
Why? Because it's the responsibility of the church to do it, said Warren. And Saddleback wants to be part of God's plan of exposing every tribe, language, people and nation to the gospel.