Church Education Trust

a. Worship.

The purpose of the church is to worship, “we express our love for God by worshipping and serving Him”.[1] For Warren “Worship” comes before service, “we should not worship out of duty; we should worship because we want to. We should enjoy expressing our love to God”.[2]

On his web-site, ,Warren concisely expresses his views on worship by suggesting that, “only believers can truly worship.”[3] Karl Barth[4] describes worship as the “opus dei2, the work of God which is carried out for its own sake. Worship is a God given ability and not a human resource or invention. Warren includes the concept of service as being part of the worship experience.[5]  

The English word “worship” comes from an Anglo Saxon word “worthscripe” which means “reverence and honour”. In any act of genuine worship, the “worth” of God is declared. The Hebrew word, “Kabod” is translated “glory” or honour to God. The prophet Isaiah reminds us, that the whole earth is filled with the glory of God, the context of his writing was one of worship. 

Warren suggests that “when we are expressing our love to God, we are worshipping”.[6] He also suggests, “that God pleasing worship is deeply emotional and deeply doctrinal. We use both our hearts and our heads”.[7]

The idea that to have knowledge of God which is revealed through his world causes worship that is, “accurate, authentic, thoughtful and practical”.[8] “Real worship is rooted in the word, Shema”.[9] .Warren’s concept of worship is heavily rooted in his use of the Old Testament, he suggests that, “in the Old Testament, God took pleasure in the many sacrifices of worship because they foretold of Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross” and because of the worship challenges of the “Shema,” as used by Matthew in his gospel` Warren formed his theology of worship.

The Hebrew word “Shachah” is translated, bow down or worship. Exodus 4:31 reveals that the children of Israel “bowed down” and worshipped God. The Greek word, “proskuneo” is translated “worship”, it has the idea of prostrating oneself before God in worship. This is clearly seen in John 4:24, “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” Christian worship cannot be defined completely; it can only be experienced and generally expressed in taught form.

In general worship is, “mystery”, worship and communion with God is in its self a miracle, while one can come to know God in worship, God can never be fully known, but those who worship him must worship him in spirit, and according to Warren “worship is your spirit responding to God’s Spirit”.[10] 

The idea of celebration is clearly indicated by Warren’s understanding of the “Shema.” When one worships he celebrates God’s goodness in all his precious acts of history, his creation, his providences, His covenants of redemption, Incarnation, etcetera. Worship is also related to the way we live our lives, in our dedication and commitment to God.


Therefore the God of all glory is worshipped through the activity of our being. Dialogue contains the idea of both “revelation and response” worship becomes that special personal encounter with God. Warren’s first level is conversion, commitment and guidance so therefore the sum total of these three spiritual activities is worship.


Worship for Warren is also about “giving” of oneself to God as an act of committed thankfulness[11] and it is also part of the eschatological fulfilment. Worship is the outworking of salvation history[12] and ends in total adoration and worship of God. For Warren the first and most important act of the community of believers was to respond to God’s love with worship and that is derived from a pure, prepared and thankful spirit.


Having said that Warren qualifies his understanding of worship by suggesting that “you don’t need a special building to worship God, nor is there a correct style of worship”, he also suggests that, “unbelievers cannot worship God but they can watch believers do so”.[13] When dealing with a new purpose driven church, Warren suggests that “worshipping together increases our joy, enlarges our perspective, helps others believe and guarantees God’s presence in our midst”.[14]


He suggests that in worship, “there is a unique and powerful sense of his presence that can only be enjoyed and experienced in community with other believers”.[15] Warren’s understanding of worship is completely orthodox while contemporary, but where it differs from orthodoxy is when Warren suggests that in worship, “God expects us to be sensitive to the fears, hang-ups and needs of unbelievers when they are present in our worship services”.[16] 

He quotes from Colossians 4:5, where Paul the apostle suggests that we, “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make most of every opportunity.” While Warren uses this verse to support his seeker sensitive worship services, it could be argued that Paul is taking about the believers general testimony in every day life.

b. Fellowship. 

Warren’s second biblical principle is “fellowship” or as in the Greek language “konini” being translated means “having that which is in common”.[17] Fellowship has the idea of partnership or union with others. The idea of devoting oneself together with others for a common cause is indicated in its meaning.

In his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, Warren has a complete chapter on the subject of fellowship, he deals with fellowship as an “experience of authenticity”,[18] he suggests that real fellowship is “heart to heart, gut level sharing”,[19] “it’s about honesty, sharing hurts, doubts, fears, sharing weaknesses and asking for help in prayer”.[20] 

Warren suggests that fellowship has the deep meaning of identification with the body of Christ and as Christians “we are not just called to believe but called to belong”. [21] He qualifies this by suggesting that fellowship contains the experience of sympathy, entering into other people’s pain for Christ sake.[22]

He quotes the Apostle Paul’s understanding of fellowship, “As holy people, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle and patient”.[23] Warren also defines fellowship as, “experiencing mercy”.[24] Fellowship is the place of Grace, where “mistakes aren’t rubbed in but rubbed out”.[25] He believed that we all need mercy for we all stumble and fall and need in the context of fellowship reviving love.Baptism for Warren was not just a symbol of salvation, it was a symbol of fellowship, it visualised a person’s incorporation into the body of Christ.[26]

In Ephesians 2:29 Paul explains fellowship by suggesting “that you are members of God’s very own family”. In Warren’s understanding the church existed to provide fellowship for every believer. His Web-site, sums up fellowship “as a commitment to build each other up, to recognise the value of each person, to focus on what’s important, not insisting on my own way but accepting one another because of the gospel”.[27] 


As with the CGM and the MCM, Saddleback existed to make disciples. The word “discipleship” originates from a Greek word “mathetes” which is simply translated a learner or a pupil of some teacher, it has the idea of submitting to the views and practices of a teacher. In the wider New Testament sense it means those who accept the teaching of anyone, like the disciples of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew[28] or followers of the Pharisees.[29]

In New Testament times a disciple was simply a follower of Jesus, Warren places a strong emphasis on the need to be teaching and training all who come to God in Jesus Christ. Discipleship is one of the five purposes of Saddleback ministry. Warren believed that the church existed to edify, educate, exalt, equip and evangelise.[30] For Warren discipleship meant the expressing his conversionists views.

Dicipleship begins when “a person is born again”[31] and then he suggests it is at this point that a defined teaching ministry must begin. Warren identifies with Matthew’s Great Commission, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. There is the clear cut distinction in Warren’s ecclesiology of conversion, baptism and then disciple making. It could be argued that this was the real mission of the church.

Warren’s ministry was to make disciples and this is also reflected in Matthew’s approach to mission.[32] It has been argued that Matthew’s interpretation of mission has somewhat differed from the interpretation of the other Gospels and Acts. In Luke’s gospel the message is one of repentance and forgiveness.[33] 

In Acts 1:8 the disciples are told that they will be witnesses to the Easter events and in John 20:21-23 the disciples would be authority to forgive sins.[34]Matthew does not seem to fit easily into these types of ministry and in some ways neither does Warren, for there seems to be in the background of his ministry this constant Matthean influence which makes his gospel presentation somewhat didactic.

In many evangelical circles, preference is given to the centrality of preaching and calling people to Christ, while Warren works hard at creating an environment, suitable for teaching people how to become disciples. Initially Warren’s 40 days of purpose helps the new believer through defined programmes to understand membership (Class 101), maturity (class 201), ministry (class 301) and mission (class 401).

This is a controlled teaching process designed to build the spiritual life and discipleship qualities of new believers.  Like Matthew, Warren believed that the Great commission meant three things, make disciples, baptise and teach them. His purpose driven process gives every indication of that commitment. Warren’s “Life development process”[35] signifies a determined approach to discipleship, while his book the Purpose Driven Life reflects clearly the five purposes of God for the disciple, i.e. “planned for God’s purpose, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for serving God and made for mission”.[36] 

In his book, “Better Together” which is a 40 days of community workbook, Warren clarifies again the need for discipleship by reflecting his deep Christological beliefs that we desire to be disciples because we are motivated to “grow and become like Jesus”.[37] His clear evangelical beliefs are evident in his description of the disciple and are summed up in the words of Abanes who records an interview with him reflects that discipleship is “about driven by purpose and directed by God”.[38]

[1] Warren, TPDC, 103.

[2] Warren, TPDC, 103.

[3] , ministry tool box issue 339 / 28/11/07.

[4] Karl Barth, Translated by G.W.Bromiley, Church Dogmatics, Vol.4, Part 2 Edinburgh, T&T Clarke, 1958 recorded in Franklin M.Segler, Christian Worship, Nashville, Tennesse, Broadman Press,1967, 4.

[5] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 103-105.

[6] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 103.

[7] Warren, TPDL, 101.

[8] Warren, TPDL, 101-105.

[9] Warren, TPDL, 105.

[10] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 101.

[11] Warren, TPDL, 105.

[12] Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, 4.

[13] Issue 339, 28/11/09

[14] Rick Warren, 40 Days of community, Lake Forest, California, 2004, 8.

[15] Warren, 40DOC, 9.

[16] Issue 339, 28/11/09.

[17] Douglas & Tenney, The New International Dictionary of the Bible, Grand Rapids,      Zondervan,1987, 352.

[18] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 139.

[19] Warren, TPDL, 139.

[20] Warren, TPDL, 139.

[21] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 105.

[22] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 141.

[23] Colossians 3:12.

[24] Warren, TPDL, 142.

[25] Warren, TPDC, 142.

[26] Warren, TPDC, 106.

[27] , issue 58, 10/07/02.

[28] Matthew, 9:14.

[29] Matthew, 22:16.

[30] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 106.

[31] Warren, TPDC, 106.

[32] Bosch, Transforming Mission, 65.

[33] Luke, 24:47.

[34] Bosch, TM, 66.

[35] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 144

[36] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 7-8.

[37] Warren, BT, 40 days of Community, 7.

[38] Abanes, Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him, 43. 


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©2008 Church Education Trust