Church Education Trust

a. Spiritual Principles.
Warren was convinced that without the activity of the Holy Spirit the church had no hope of realising the mind of God for its day and generation, or of gaining an understanding of its reason for existence.[1] Bosch suggested that “the Spirit not only initiates mission, he also guides missionaries about where they should go and how they should proceed.”[2]
Warren confirms this to be his understanding of mission; he suggests: “you were made for a mission.”Warren returned to the New Testament writings seeking principles, which could become incarnational in his life and ministry and transferable into his American cultural situation.
b. Spiritual Church.
Warren classifies Saddleback as a “Biblical paradigm, a purpose driven church” [4] led again by the Holy Spirit’s divine and sovereign activity. Warren’s assertion is an ecclesiological judgement on the failure of traditional 21st century church to be an effective witness for the gospel. His section on “Myths about Growing Churches” reveals the conflict between the modern megachurch and the declining traditional churches.
Warren talks about the traditional church’s inaccurate assumptions made sometimes out of envy, sometimes out of fear and sometimes due to ignorance. Implicit in this comment, whether consciously or unconsciously made, is the suggestion that the purpose driven church embodied in Saddleback reflects the first century experience and therefore expresses the 1st century church growth principles clothed in a 21st century post modern culture. The straight answer for Warren was the divine activity of the Holy Spirit and the outcome of such activity was the development of a church and an ecclesiology that formed the answer to his underlying questions.

c. Spiritual Life.
The intensity of Warren’s spiritual experience with God is developed in his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, and must be seen as key to his ecclesiological beliefs. It recognises the Lordship of Christ over the servant’s life, the confession of the servant’s constant need of divine help and the belief that not only is God doing things in our world but God’s servants need to be employed in God led activity, for that is the only place of fulfilment and blessing through the church.
Warren suggests: “While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intended it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity”.That connection that Warren reflects in his comments is spiritual in nature as well as that is the need for a developed process to carry that spiritual life.
Warren’s perception of ministry and the development of the local church is the culmination of a process, which may well lack traditional structuring and may not conform to traditional ecclesiological interpretation. Warren believed that his purpose driven structure would allow believers to fulfil three main issues of life, identity (who am I?), importance (do I matter?) and impact (what is my place in life?).
He believed the outcome of interaction with God’s word and that word being interpreted to his heart and mind by the Sovereign Holy Spirit gives the answers to those questions. He underlines this with scripture from the Old Testament: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”.[8] [9]
This demonstration of the Sovereign power of God through human agencies gives meaning to the existence and brings harmony[10] to the church. Warren links the blessing of God with the movement of the Holy Spirit giving vision to God’s people, which results in spiritual and numerical growth of the Church.[11]From this point he begins to formulate the biblical principles and process, which he ardently believes lead to a spiritually healthy and growing church.
d. Spiritual recognition. 
Warren is confident in the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit and in the belief that the Holy Spirit’s task is to make real within the heart of the believer the purposes of God so that the servant, can, in Warren’s words, “teach you how to recognise what God is doing and how to become more skilled in riding the wave of God’s blessing”.[12] 
. .
Here is a concept of spiritual recognition, the ability to define and know when, where and how the Holy Spirit is moving which theologians have described  in their historical assessments as  “Missio Die”, the activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church may be privileged to participate.
Warren suggests that in the present “he is not only able to identify that spiritual activity but show and teach others how to be part of God’s present activity and the mission of the church”.[13] Warren could identify with Peters, who describes the role of the Holy Spirit as the divine agent to initiate, supervise, energise, and accomplish the purposes of God in the church building programme….. Accordingly the church becomes the primary agent of the paraclete to execute and accomplish the purpose of God.
The primary agent of community change must of necessity be the Spirit led Christian or Christians. To be Spirit led necessitates knowing what the Spirit desires to be carried out. Warren suggests: “I can teach you how to recognise what God is doing”.[15] Therefore the logic of Warren’s statement holds up to scrutiny.  To carry out the desires of God, one must first of all know the mind and intention of God and to know that intention is to then be able to communicate it to others.
That’s the reasoning behind Warren’s statement when he suggests that he can “help people to understand how to recognise what God is doing and how then to identify with it”.[16]From spiritual awareness, enlightenment and blessing, Warren suggests that certain questions need to be asked by every local church which is not growing.
The question which he believes is important to ask is not “what will make our church grow?” but “what is keeping our church from growing?”.Warren believes that the answer to this question is discovered by re-visiting the New Testament. He openly suggests that it is the “task of church leadership to discover and remove growth restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur”.[18]
Warren is introducing a major theme, which he continues to investigate, and seeks solutions to correct and that is not church growth but church health. Warren suggests that “absolutely nothing will revitalise a discouraged church faster than rediscovering its purpose”.
The loss of purpose is the failure of the church and only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit can that purpose be re-discovered.Therefore Warren’s ultimate commitment to the Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit is about being led and guided to rediscover God’s ultimate purpose for His church in the world.
In the light of that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has to be recognised as a major doctrine in the theological development of his ecclesiology. Warren began with the Sovereignty of God, then proceeded to the Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit at work in the world and from that point he moves to the place of the outcome of God at work by His Spirit, which is the doctrine of Revelation.

[1] Warren, TPDL, 145.

[2] Bosch, Transforming Mission, 114.

[3] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 281.
[4] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 80-81.
[5] Warren, TPDC, 47.
[6] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 130.
[7] Warren, TPDL, 312.
[8] Warren, TPDL, 312.

[9] Proverbs, 19:21.

[10] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 86.
[11] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 87.

[12] Warren, TPDC, 15.

[13] Warren, TPDC, 15.

[14] Peters, A Theology Of Church Growth, 16-20.

[15] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 15.

[16] Warren, TPDC, 15.

[17] Warren, TPDC, 16.

[18] Warren, TPDC, 16-17.

[19] Warren, TPDC, 82.

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©2008 Church Education Trust