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4.2 Doctrinal Convictions.
Church planting is not an end in itself, but one aspect of the mission of God in our world, therefore church planting must be seen within a wider theological framework. That framework is “Missio Dei”, which is not a human invention but a divine prerogative which flows from the very purposes of God.  While the church has a vital role in “Missio Dei”, Warren believed that the church must not have an inflated view of its own importance.
While he does not mention “Missio Dei” directly, it is quite obvious that he not only understands the concept but allows it to influence his overall view of Saddleback in the greater picture of God’s activity in His creation. In his introduction to his book, “The Purpose Driven Church” Warren has an understanding of “God’s Spirit moving mightily in waves around the world”.[1]
He has this sense that the Sovereign God is actively involved in the affairs of humankind in a way never before experienced.[2]
He suggests that church orientated “plans, programmes and personalities don’t last, but God’s purposes will last”. [3]The purposes of God are found only in “Missio Dei”, experienced in conversion, commitment and divine guidance. Hoekendijk in his book “The Church Inside Out”[4] uses the term “Missio Dei” in such a way that he trivialises the presence of the world church in order to highlight the great movement and purpose of God in the universe. He warns that “church centric missionary thinking is bound to go astray”.[5]
While this may be so, the concept of “Missio Dei” has been a pivotal point of reflection for missiologists. Stuart Murray[6] suggests that when “Missio Dei” is the emphasis of ministry, not the foundation for everything, then church planting finds its place of engagement. Murray and Warren would be holding distinctly opposite positions concerning church growth.
What Murray advocates is balance between divine revelation and church growth, and already that balance in Warren’s presentation of the Gospel is being affected by the contextualised process he uses. Warren desires to reflect something of the missionary nature of God; he expresses Saddleback ecclesiology in terms of doctrinal distinctives.
From personal spiritual experiences of God in Christ as the first step to understanding, Warren’s ecclesiology develops a distinct doctrinal foundation upon which Saddleback is built.  Peter Berger helps our understanding of developing theological principles which directly impact on the nature of new religious movements, by suggesting: "When churches abandon or de-emphasize theology, they give up the intellectual tools by which the Christian message can be articulated and defended.
In the resulting chaos of religious ideas, the principal criterion left to the community as it seeks to find its way is, quite naturally, that of expediency."[7] 
Warren gradually reveals the doctrines upon which his ecclesiological foundations for his purpose driven church are built. In a very disjointed but nonetheless traceable way, he introduces his readers to four major doctrines which become the second layer of his ecclesiology.
The development of his theological beliefs are introduced by his understanding of the Sovereignty of God, followed by his interpretation of the doctrine of  Revelation where he believes that God by His Spirit through His Word directs His servants. Through spiritual principles he creates a process of divine- human relationships from which he delivers the principles to live in the local fellowship. 
The outcome of this spiritual process is the development of a positive influence for good in the community and for growth and spiritual health in the church. This is Warren’s theological answer to the questions about the church’s “existence and being.” Warren’s understanding of the church and its mission is seen in the clarification of certain doctrines which are unchangeable in his ecclesiology.
Peters[8] argues that the test of a good ecclesiology is what he calls the “priority truths”, or a divine frame of reference which needs to be followed. Peters would advocate a particular order in the construction of any ecclesiology of lasting influence. He begins with Biblical Theocentricity, Christocentricity, Pneumatology, Theocracy, Ecclesiology & Cosmology.
Warren’s “priority truths” which are at the centre of his ecclesiological development begin with one doctrine that is key to the development of the purpose driven church, i.e. the Sovereignty of God. To remove this doctrine from Warren’s ecclesiological development would be to see his purpose driven church theologically disjointed and possibly rejected by the very people he wants to reach.[9]
It could be argued from scripture that the New Testament community did not deliver a church but in fact delivered many different church models, unified in their diversity through Christ, directed and controlled by a Sovereign God who expresses His will through His Spirit and Word to the church. The ministry practices of the “purpose driven church” in the local community and the method of delivery of message are important, but the ecclesiological beliefs of the movement will ultimately cause it to be received or rejected by the evangelical church.
The important issue in the evangelical church has always been what we believe and not necessarily what we practise. Leith Anderson reflects that “evangelical Christianity has done well on Revelation (belief & the Bible) but poorly on relevance”.[10] This certainly is debatable; in the eyes of the traditional evangelical scholarship, Saddleback will stand or fall on its doctrinal purity or lack of it. Warren begins with God and develops his doctrine of  Sovereignty. 

[1] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 15.
[2] Warren, TPDC, 12-15.

[3] Warren, TPDC, 81.

[4] Hans Hoekendijk, The Church Inside Out, London, SCM, 1976, 38-39.

[5] Hoekendijk, TCIO, 38f.

[6] Stuart Murray, Church Planting, Milton Keynes, England, Paternoster Press, 1998, 31-34.

[7] Peter Berger, The Noise of Solemn Assemblies, Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1961, 124.

[8] Peters, A Theology Of Church Growth, 29-47.
[9] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 7.

[10] Leith Anderson, Dying For Change, Minneapolis, Bethany House, 1990,17.

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